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?