1) Travel to expand students' horizons
2) An explicit connection between the classroom and real world
3) The use of sweat equity for students to see that their efforts can make a difference
During the early fall, the curriculum was largely focused on developing the 21st Century Skills of problem solving, critical thinking, decision-making, and collaboration. This was initially done using group challenges in the classroom, but then became vitally important once we started raking lawns. In addition to being our major fundraiser, this hard work put students in positions that required group problem solving, as well as perseverance and responsibility – traits that we all know are central to changing the trajectory of their lives.
During the winter and spring, each student will be developing an independent research project on a chosen aspect of Puerto Rico. We hope that you will keep checking back as we share our learning, growth and adventures.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Monday, June 11, 2012
Thursday, June 7, 2012
|Here is the photo of the group before our zip lining tour!|
|This is me getting hooked onto the platform before zipping over the tree tops.|
|This is me again hanging from the wire on my way to the next platform.|
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
- - Explored in and around the amazing Cueva Clara (a beautiful cave in Del Rio Camuy)
- - Stepped back in time hundreds of years at the Parque Ceremonial Indigena de Caguana (a sacred meeting place of the original inhabitants of Puerto Rico)
- - Learned about and saw the world’s largest single dish radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory
- - Went horseback riding at Hacienda Carabali Ranch – a sprawling 600 acres of diverse terrain at the base of El Yunque National Rain Forrest. Where we walked, trotted, cantered and some of us even galloped the horses – which was all the more impressive as at least half of the group had never been on a horse before. A personal favorite was getting a chance to ride ahead and turn around to watch the rest of the group trot/canter up the path with each rider wearing the same ‘Holy smokes I’m running a horse!’-perma-grin-expression on their faces. It was spectacular! As an added bonus we rode to a river site and dismounted for half an hour to play in the water and have our faces painted with the mineral clay from the river banks.
- - Finally, we explored the El Yunque rain forest where highlights included seeing the Cascada La Coca waterfall, climbing the stairs of the Yokahu Tower to see breath-taking views from the top and lastly going extreme-hand-over–foot hiking into the woods with our amazing guide, Mario, to a remote waterfall . Admittedly, I had not intended to see the falls up close and personal, but after a spectacularly graceless slip into the water, I joined the others and am really grateful I got drawn into the fun.
Friday, May 18, 2012
Monday, April 9, 2012
Now, I have gathered the information, I have to find a unique and creative angle for my final project. For the Spanish Rule period, I have decided to do a collection diary entry for the major explorer of the time—Christopher Columbus. I am going to create some (mock) diary/journal entries for him that chronicle his adventures and discoveries. I hope that I will be able to shed a “new light” on a very over-popularized historical character. For instance, Columbus did not just sail up to Puerto Rico and say “Hello, Indians. I’m here to claim this land for Spain, so if you and your tribal folk would be so kind as to vacate the area immediately, I’d be much obliged. Oh, and before you leave, don’t mind if we steal your food, sleep with your wives, and spread terrible European diseases like smallpox and Syphilis to you all.” Obviously, that is a poor dramatization, but it demonstrates my point well. My point being, when Columbus arrived at Puerto Rico, he did not just sweet talk his way into controlling the land. There was fighting and bloodshed, and discord for both sides. I heard a quote recently that stated: “History has a tendency to paint murderers as heroes.” It really made me stop and think, and I’ve concluded with the impression that sometimes, this is true. Now, I’m not calling Columbus a murderer—at least not at the moment—but there is evidence to suggest that he was not nearly as saint-like as people regard him as being. I hope that when I am writing my final project, I am able to include my thoughts and opinions without it sounding too much like an editorial. I, myself, am not a fan of projects that are simply facts and data, with no creative thinking. There is no point in doing something—whether it is a poster, a research paper, or a slideshow—if it does not include some semblance of the author/creator’s personal thoughts or opinions on the subject.
I have also decided to create a children’s book based on the adventure and journey of Juan Ponce de Leon and his notorious quest for the Fountain of Youth. I am particularly excited about this part, because it incorporates my lifelong passion for mythology. I still haven’t decided if I am going to center the book around Ponce de Leon, himself, and include elements of the Fountain of Youth—or if I will make the story about the legend of the Fountain of Youth, and have Ponce de Leon as a character.
For the Pre-Colonization portion of my project, I have a few ideas for final projects, but I haven’t reached a conclusion as of yet. I have decided to base this period on the two main Native-American tribes of Puerto Rico (the Arawak tribe and the Carib tribe). What I really want to put across in my project is a familiarization, of sorts, that these were people—and not savages—and they existed, functioned and succeeded as a society long before we (the Europeans) interfered, and tried to “improve” (via converting) their lifestyle so that they were “civilized” like us. They had a quality of life that suited them just fine; just because they were not as technologically advanced as us, that does not diminish their respectability, as people.
Monday, April 2, 2012
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
In other news Titus molted over vacation. It was the most uneventful molt I have ever seen one night he was just sitting content in his terrarium, and then when I checked on him the next morning I saw him sitting next to his molt. When my other tarantula molted, she took about a day and a half and it was like was almost like waiting for a mother to deliver a baby (I was away and it was the first tarantula molt I experienced. I kept having my boyfriend update me on how she was doing every hour or so =P )Titus is about the size of the palm of my hand now, and has long legs and a small body almost like a baby horse. I can't wait until the next time I feed so then he'll get big and happy again =]
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
One issue that has become a growing concern for many of us is our physical limitations. It has been nearly four months since the Lister Leaf Busters were in business. The work we did (the yards we raked) and the physical exertion was, for many of us, our primary source of exercise, and, although all the raking helped get us into shape, the completion of the raking season also meant the end of our free work outs. Most of us are not super fit and drawing from past experience (like last year’s trip to Costa Rica) it is important that some of us (like myself) practice getting into physical shape so that we are able to participate to our fullest and not become exhausted after short periods of time. To help with this, our teacher, Bryan, has arranged for several weekly opportunities for us to exercise and build up our strength, both physically and psychologically. During Skill Center (Study Hall) on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, the members of our class are going to engage in outdoor activities that will help improve us, physically. The exercise regime has not been determined as of yet, but some of our ideas are: hiking, walking, rock-climbing, and strength-training.
These exercises are intended to benefit those of us who need to improve our physical abilities, but it will also bring us closer as a group. How? Those of us who are lacking in strength and endurance will learn to pick up the pace and push ourselves harder so that our presence is not detrimental to the group; those who are already in good physical shape will practice holding back and reducing their pace slightly so that they are not largely ahead of the rest of us. The overall goal is that when we hike in Puerto Rico, we are able to do so together as a group. This will undoubtedly enhance our trip and our ability to experience all the extraordinary things Puerto Rico has to offer to a hard-working and well-deserving group of students such as us.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Friday, February 17, 2012
Monday, February 13, 2012
HERE ARE SOME INTERESTING FACTS I'VE LEARNED ABOUT THE ARAWAKS AND THE CARIBS:
-The evidence suggesting that the Carib people were, in fact, cannibals appears subjective. Apparently, after greeting Columbus, the Taíno Indians told him that the Caribs "ate human flesh," among other things. Considering the hostile relationship between the two tribes, it'd be like having your greatest enemy describe you to someone; they probably wouldn't say very nice things.
-Both the Arawaks and the Caribs were skilled craftsmen: The Arawaks were extremely talented at pottery and jewelry-making, whereas the Caribs were exceptional basket-weavers.
-The Taíno (Arawak) developed the cotton hammock for sleeping in; the Spaniards later "stole" their design and brought the idea back to Europe. The advanced concept flourished as a clever solution to the common issue of sleeping arrangements in ships, and is still used to this day.
Friday, February 3, 2012