Saturday, November 6, 2010

Elves secretly texting

The grouchy porch steps denotes my footsteps,
a dominant trees hangs over its offspring,
a street light powers down and winks me away,
and manic cars stop and start again in anxiety.

My bag bursts open like eggs on a sidewalk
and I fret like parents can on tomorrow’s plan.
My thoughts drag along, like hippos in mud
and I drop my keys, try to smile but only frown.

I drink coffee, one too many, and jittering
I drive daringly and skipping stop sign, and staring
I skim past a man on his bike, practically unperceiving,
I arrive, stepping out, looking up, not naming the stars.

So what? What now? Curl up into a tight ball?
Perhaps the proverbial writing is on the wall,
not graffiti, but secret elves texting last night.
Saying “Nothing is good if lost in plain sight.”

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Student Stories

A mother tells me that your child recently chose to write about his math teacher who took the time and patience to show him the meanings of math and that is what he wants his perspective high schools to know. A huge gift was laid at my feet today.

Student Stories

A new student won't step into the class the first day, still won't come in the next, writes about family kidnappings, draws me falling down and breaking my leg, but after four days, waves at me every time she sees me in the hallway. These are the small gifts that make teaching worthwhile.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Student Realities

 I love the autobiography project with my 6th graders. They have incredibly sweet, funny and powerful stories to tell. Today one student was recounting her family life in San Quentin, Baja California. Me "Oh, I know San Quentin." (I was there 25 years ago, a tiny town). She: "Really? they you probably know my tía...her store's on the corner." Such sweet surprise that actually I didn't know where her tia's store was.

Student Realities

One of my students, with a dark cloud over his head all class, came up to me at the end to tell me that he had just fought with his novia because he had given her some chocolate so she wouldn't talk to this other boy, but she went anyways.

Student Realities

Yesterday I teared up at student story of confused frustration with living in small room with mom and new baby sister in a house of strangers and his father, drowned 1.5 years ago and him wanting to play baseball once again, like he did with his father years back.

Grammar Lesson

Will it be nouns
or will it be verbs
who choose to sing
escaping their cage?

Break away!


Be the baby bird who
one evening
lifts wings, flutters,
floats up, high
flaps and reaches
feathers full,
turning and looking
to land
somewhere new,
some place wonderful.

Hold it.
Grasp the instant.

Be the noun and
be the verb

be the same, but seeking,
rolling, now alighting
on a branch,
near a flower,
rhyme or fall, 
beat in time.

Lift your song
and once again,
call and fly.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Modelos de interacción en una clase

Desde más centrado en el alumno a más centrado en el profesor
  • Autoaprendizje (autonomía)
  • Interacción en clase abierta (debates)
  • Trabajo en grupos
  • Trabajo individual
  • Colaboración
  • Alumno inicia la interacción y el profesor responde
  • Pregunta abiertas del profesor
  • Preguntas cerrados del profesor
  • Respuesta corales
  • Discurso del profesor

Sunday, September 5, 2010

JLMS Back to School Night Parent Presentation

This is what I put together to support me as I speak to the parents about my new 6th grade classroom.

Esta presentación la hice con la intención de apoyar mi charla con las familias en la noche de regreso a la escuela.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Our Spiraling Lives...

In preparation for a large autobiography project, I asked my students to create “mapas de la vida” (life maps). I remember doing an activity like this years ago at a previous school. I had spent some time considering the best approach to get my students to write meaningful things about their lives. I notice that when they talk about their day to day existence, it often rotates around video games and television shows. I was hoping to find a way to channel some deeper thought. 
The idea is to map out one’s life mostly with drawings rather than writing. They could organized these drawings as they saw fit: time lines, spider webs, random, but the example I gave for my own life was a spiral line whose center represents my birth. I spoke about few events in my life I could choose to represent: my childhood house, my family divorcing, kayaking and tennis, going to Mexico etc… But I also included one family tragedy: my brother’s death. My students immediately wanted to know the circumstances of his death, which I wasn’t really interested in telling them, so I let them know that while I included it on my spiral map, I did not necessarily want to talk about it (though I may change my mind later as I am writing).
Something about the sample events I put on the map seemed to inspire many of my students. As I walked around I saw my students intent and even passionate about their sketches. Many wanted to share them with me; explain them in very personal ways.
One of my students came to the US only two years ago from El Salvador. She drew herself being raised by her grandmother, then, later one, a bunch of people gathered around a plane saying “Adios”. Later down the spiral, though, was a birthday party and right next to that, a body laying down next to a cross. She really wanted to share that this was her grandmother who had died on her birthday. I was surprised. “On your birthday? She was there with you?” 
“No, she was in El Salvador. I was having a birthday party here and on that same day my grandmother left her house in El Salvador on a bike and was hit by a car. She died on my birthday”. 
What can I say? What a powerful autobiographical story awaits to be read and shared?

Monday, August 30, 2010

6th Grade Autobiography stories to come

Will be starting autobiographical writing with my 6th graders later this week.

I do wonder what stories they will choose to write about their lives. Many tell me that they have little to say about themselves.

Example: today I asked community circle: what did you do this weekend? Most said little other than videogames and family visits.

I think the family visits are probably very rich events to describe, but they rarely (never) expand upon these stories.

I suspect my students feel their lives aren't worthy of writing. My primary task will be to show them otherwise.

(I wish I had family visits to write about ...)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Esperando el inicio de mi segunda asignatura

Modos de conducir el aula.

Es interesante estudiar la maestría através del Internet.

Interesante y también difícil.

Interesante y a veces, frustrante.

Pero siento que me ayuda a ser mejor maestro y más actualizado. Ni hablar de cómo me ayuda a mejorar mi dominio del español.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


El Adamiaje: Este término metafórico hace referencia al fenómeno que se produce cuando el conjunto de intervenciones del participante competente en una interacción permiten al participante menos competente realizar un enunciado que no hubiera podido hacer sin su ayuda y, por tanto, puede alcanzar una competencia, un nivel superior a la actual.

Dos tipos de comunicación en el aula

La comunicación en clase de lengua se ha definido como 

transaccional : se transmite información, como, por ejemplo, en el caso en que el profesor explica algún punto gramatical o da la definición de alguna palabra;

interactiva : la comunicación con fines personales, reales y comunicativos, como en el caso del profesor que le pregunta a un alumno/a si ha pasado un buen fin de semana.

¿Qué tipo de maestr@ eres tú?

un director: establece condiciones idóneas para el aprendizaje;
un organizador: planifica el desarrollo de la clase y elabora actividades;
un guía: organiza el trabajo en clase y ayuda a solventar problemas;
una fuente de información: proporciona información necesaria para la realización de actividades;
un evaluador: analiza el progreso de los alumnos; reflexiona sobre la propia actuación;
un investigador: investiga sobre las necesidades de los alumnos y analiza la dinámica de grupo.

Homínidos en mente

Thursday, August 26, 2010 (a poem)

Package at doorstep 
means you, excited,
scurry up wooden steps.
News: your red
plastic Halo Megablocks
arrived, finally
lifting gloom
to forgotten heights.


Play as long
as you can.
Play, but also
sing to them,
leave no note,
not one,
held inside 


Let your red
Halo song symphony
burst out of nothingness,
divine in delight
each figure making
something out of nothing,
in your mind,
with energy sublime.

Formando grupos "virtuales" para mi Masters

Hoy pasé un poco de locura tratando de encontrar 3 personas para formar un grupo de trabajo "virtual" dentro del curso de Modos de conducir el aula del programa de FUNIBER.

Me puse a pensar lo dificil que es para nuestros alumnos cuando l@s maestr@s pidan lo mismo a sus alumn@s en un salón físico. Es incómodo adivinar si tu grupo va a funcionar o si van hacia el fracaso.

Tengo esperanza de que todo saldrá bien, pero no se puede decir que fue fácil. Es una buena lección para mi en el momento de pedir a mis estudiantes formar grupos.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I'll just admit:
wind is harassing
my little red shack.
Trembling, it cries,
and sounds like
a big baby rattle
(an object made,
I do believe,
to mimic some
ancient sound) 

It’s not unlike
the insanity
of endless ideas
clattering my
eyes and ears,
fingers and tongue
to collaborate
and re-create
the simple echo of 
what I’ll just admit.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The only truth, ever

At times I learn
no truth for whole days
until my boy insists
that I listen. 
Floating, sinking and
floating again
in his sound, his voice
the stories invade,
heroes in conflict,
dramatic dialogues,
no pauses:
bit rather
action and action.
I listen.
I float 
in his voice,
so excited,
dense in detail.
My heart slows,
dances in little 
amongst clouds. 
Only then do I
release tiny sighs,
open my fists,
smooth the frown
stare at his moving lips:
Only then do I
How real we are
in the stories we tell
no matter the fiction
from which they spring.
No longer the quizzer,
the teacher, 
the disciplinarian.
I am the listener
the only truth
I need to remember, 

Canción favorita: Alfonsina y el mar: Mercedes Sosa

Alfonsina Y El Mar
Composión: Ariel Ramirez / Felix Luna
Por la blanda arena
Que lame el mar
Su pequeña huella
No vuelve más
Un sendero solo
De pena y silencio llegó
Hasta el agua profunda
Un sendero solo
De penas mudas llegó
Hasta la espuma.
Sabe Dios qué angustia
Te acompañó
Qué dolores viejos
Calló tu voz
Para recostarte
Arrullada en el canto
De las caracolas marinas
La canción que canta
En el fondo oscuro del mar
La caracola.
Te vas Alfonsina
Con tu soledad
¿Qué poemas nuevos
Fuíste a buscar?
Una voz antigüa
De viento y de sal
Te requiebra el alma
Y la está llevando
Y te vas hacia allá
Como en sueños
Dormida, Alfonsina
Vestida de mar.
Cinco sirenitas
Te llevarán
Por caminos de algas
Y de coral
Y fosforescentes
Caballos marinos harán
Una ronda a tu lado
Y los habitantes
Del agua van a jugar
Pronto a tu lado.
Bájame la lámpara
Un poco más
Déjame que duerma
Nodriza, en paz
Y si llama él
No le digas que estoy
Dile que Alfonsina no vuelve
Y si llama él
No le digas nunca que estoy
Di que me he ido.
Te vas Alfonsina
Con tu soledad
¿Qué poemas nuevos
Fueste a buscar?
Una voz antigua
De viento y de sal
Te requiebra el alma
Y la está llevando
Y te vas hacia allá
Como en sueños
Dormida, Alfonsina
Vestida de mar.

Refrán del momento

Cuando te señalen el sol, no mires el dedo.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

6th Grade Spanish Immersion Reading List

Refrán del momento

A cada puerco le llega su sabado.





José de Diego

¡Ah desgraciado si el dolor te abate,
si el cansancio tus miembros entumece!
Haz como el árbol seco: reverdece
y como el germen enterrado: late.

Resurge, alienta, grita, anda, combate,
vibra, ondula, retruena, resplandece...
Haz como el río con la lluvia: ¡crece!
Y como el mar contra la roca: ¡bate!

De la tormenta al iracundo empuje,
no has de balar, como el cordero triste,
sino rugir, como la fiera ruge.

¡Levántate!, ¡revuélvete!, ¡resiste!
Haz como el toro acorralado: ¡muge!
O como el toro que no muge: ¡embiste!

Love, polished and pure

On the whole
your love is good,
pure and polished.  

But say
on the school yard
your son does bad
action one day
-like- perhaps hurting another,
maybe too brusque for taste,
too boy in the moment
embarrassing you,
or perhaps, worst
exposing imperfections.

So you withdraw
symbols of love
-like- eye contact,
silly smiles, voice
and he cries.

He sobs,
begins to shake
like a child
(he is a child)
He reaches up,
to nothing,
or crouches down
into a tiny ball.

“I’m sorry” he whispers
between tears,
hoarse, paused,
then adds
“I’m scared”.

Then, only then,
do you cry
begin to sob,
to sob with him,
for him,
sobbing alone
from a hurt inside
as wide as the sky

And then, right then,
do you know
what love was,
and just what
it might become.

-Glenn Kenyon, 2010

Creando nuestros proprios glosarios geográficos

En vez de simplemente explicarles el uso de un glosario, yo decidí que sería más interesante que mis estudiantes trabajaran en pareja para crear sus propios glosarios. Fotocopié el imágen de un glosario geográfico de nuestro texto donde todos los términos se ilustraban en una especie de mapa.

Les pedí que escribieran todos los términos en órden alfabético en su cuaderno, ya que un glosario se organiza igual a un diccionario. Luego les pedí que hablaran con su pareja y que escribieran una corta definción para cada palabra. Si no sabían bien el signficado, les pedí que vieran de cerca la ilustración que tenía. Si después de esto no lograran a entender, que dejaran en blanco y se discutiría en clase.

Pasaron casi 90 minutos en esta actividad y me impresionó el nivel de involucramiento que hubo, esto siendo apenas el cuarto día de clase. Recibí una cantidad de preguntas relevantes y además, sirivió como una pequeña evaluación sobre cuánto ya sabían y cómo iban a colaborar en clase.

Me espera un año fantástico, ya lo veo. :-)

Lectura al final del día.

New job

This year I have started a new job, returning to my roots as a Spanish Immersion teacher, but instead of elementary, I am teaching 6th grade Immersion at a middle school. I have come to love teaching middle school and feel I have a lot to offer my students. For the past 5 years I have been a 7th and 8th grade math teacher at a private school. I loved my job and love the school (my son goes there), but there was a change in the air, so I decided to see what jobs were out in there that intrigued me. Luckily with my professional background as math and bilingual teacher, there were quite of few options and I was able to choose. That is how I came to my new job.

I do love my job, not even faking a little. I can't believe I actually fell into it accidentally. I feels like it was waiting for me patiently. Last night I had dinner with a good friend and former colleague from my previous school and I did feel a few tiny pangs about not returning, but only slight ones and they will disappear quickly when compared with what I am living professionally. 

My new principal and colleagues are over the top supportive and just appreciative of the order I bring to chaos, which has always been my reputation. They trust me and see that I deserve that trust. I am humbled daily by this faith in my capacity and work hard to be worthy of it. 

Now that I am teaching Spanish Language Arts, I am once again relishing speaking Spanish and helping kids improve in language in general. Perhaps a math teacher (as much as I love teaching math) just never will have that type of relationship with students due to subject matter fears and prejudices.

I am in a fantastic job situation, too, because they capped my classes at around 20 students each, only 4 more than my previous school, and my students' attitudes are miles beyond the "put upon" attitudes of my former students. No irritating adjunct duties, either. No recess or lunch duties. My own classroom. Two prep periods a day plus a lunch period. Sometimes I wonder if I am dreaming.

So in the end, I am responsible for fewer students over all, less high school pressure, happier students, excited administrators, supportive colleagues, and and more $$$. I just can't find the downside to this change, other than it was forced upon me against my will.

Not everything forced upon us is bad. So say we all. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What is the defining difference between history and prehistory?

According to Wikipedia:

The history of the world is the memory of the past experience of Homo sapiens sapiens around the world, as that experience has been preserved, largely in written records. By "prehistory", historians mean the recovery of knowledge of the past in an area where no written records exist, or where the writing of a culture is not understood.

That seems like a great demarcation and a great point from which my students will come to understand history.

In class we started with a Venn Diagram: one side history, other prehistory and the common area would be which characteristics are shared: artifacts, analysis and interpretation where ideas I wanted them to intially have there.

Glenn dando clase introductoria: escribir una carta a ti mismo/a

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Using Images to Channel Student Intuition about School

I have been doing this activity for several years with older private school students and public university students. I give them a set of images I have collected over the years that could symbolize any number of feelings about the school year in indirect manners. In my new job as 6th grade teacher at a public middle school, I was wondering just what these images would elicit from my students. I asked them to look at the images, choose one that seemed to represent something about their school year, then spend some time describing the image in writing. Then I gave them a sentence starter: This image represents me because....

Here are a couple of example:

I did this activity with my English class of students from our Spanish Immersion Program. It took about 30 minutes. I was impressed with the positive energy expressed by most and the sense of fear from other. I thought that the Rock picture interpretation by the first student was particularly poignant. I hope I am not just stacking her again.

Monday, August 16, 2010

6th Grade Goal Setting for my English Language Class

6th Grade Goal
As you start 6th grade and Middle School, you will learn that you are more and more in charge and responsible for your own learning. If you have a good understanding of what you want to happen as a result of your work, you are far more likely to achieve it.
This about these questions and answer them carefully and honestly. They will help you set goals for your own education and guide you towards making good decisions.
  1. What is one thing you are good at and how do you know this?
  1. What is one thing you need to work on to get better and how do you know this?
  1. Write one specific goal for one thing you would like to achieve in school while in the 6th grade.
  1. List any challenges that might prevent you from reaching this goal.
  1. List any benefits from reaching this goal.
6.  Who can help you reach this goal and how can they do this?