Last year's trip to Costa Rica showed us that education can, and should, be a life-altering experience. This year, a largely new group of students, have decided to learn about and travel to Puerto Rico. With this new topic and destination in mind, we have developed a year-long interdisciplinary class that is based on the same three core principles:

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.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Settling Titus

So I finally got Titus into the classroom... He has been doing great with his heat lamp and seems to be a happy spider. I am so glad that I have 10" tweezers because this guy is quite fiesty! I went to grab his water bowl with my tongs and he attacked them. He also went into a threat pose when I put the water back in to "warn" the water bowl that he may attack. When they go into a threat pose they raise their first pair of legs which makes them look bigger. This usually precedes a bit or flicking of urticating hairs (Small irratating hairs on their abdomen that they can flick into an enemy's face) or a bite. Although he is fiesty I feel safe with him... I don't think I will ever handle him or even put my hand in his cage move stuff around though =P Anyways I love this little guy and will post more picture soon!



WOW! I have been doing research on what Puerto Rico was like before it fell under Spanish rule. I've discovered that there were two tribes, the Arawaks (Taíno) and the Caribs. The Arawaks were a more peaceful, agricultural tribe, whereas the Caribs were more aggressive and were even thought to have engaged in cannibalism. The two tribes fought often (the Carib were stronger and the result was the decline of the Taíno people. However, both the Taíno and the Carib tribes were eventually wiped out by the Spanish Conquistadors (whose claim for Spain to Puerto Rico was later usurped by the United States).
Huh! I guess it just goes to show that no matter how strong you are, there is always somebody stronger.

COMING SOON: For my next post, I will compare and contrast the two tribes (Arawak and Carib) of Puerto Rico. YAY! Looking forward to finding out more about them.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Damien's Puerto Rico project: The Guardians of the Carribbean and other forts

I have decided on a topic and done some of my research on my project. I have decided to do my project on the three forts that make up the Guardians of the Caribbean and other forts of Puerto Rico. I decided on this subject because the architecture and the history around all of it fascinates me. When we go to Puerto Rico my plan is to film a tour of the tour-able forts following the history of what each piece of the fort has. I also want to point out the architecture that has been lost over the years and what we kept alive and still use.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Team Building

It's a new semester and we are making great progress towards our goals. Now that we have gotten past the hard labor, we are working on our communication and collaboration skills. The way we are doing this is through team building activities, like we did at the beginning of the year. This week's activity involved taking a long piece of yarn tied in the shape of a circle and turning it into a star. Sounds easy right? Well, we were allowed to communicate before the actual creation of the star. As soon as we started to transform the shape, we could not remove our hands or communicate, (like talking, pointing, or looks). Eventually we made the star, but not without a few "do-overs".

As you know each student in the class is doing a project based on something that is connected to Puerto Rico. With mine, I'm going in a slightly different direction. This is my second year in the Sustainable Education class, and my last year in public school. I wanted to show people what the class goes through when they sign-up for this class. I have said all along that being in this class is amazing and now I want to be able to show people what that means. I want to show how challenges become stepping stones in the student's lives. Because at this point that is what really matters, how we got to the goal, that we will remember the most.