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 17, 2012

So excited!

It's going to be March in a few weeks, which only leaves two months left until the trip,and Puerto Rico seems so real now. I am nervous and exited all at once and I think my fellow students feel the same!


Monday, February 13, 2012


The more research I do on the Native American tribes of pre-Columbian Puerto Rico, the more interested I become. I was shocked and horrified to learn exactly how bloody and horrific life was for the Arawak and Carib tribes, particularly after the usurpation of the Spaniards. I keep coming across the word "Genocide" which cannot be good. On the other hand, perhaps it will help in the near-future when I am defining my project; maybe I could do some sort of in-depth exposé on the mistreatings of Native Americans by Europeans or something to that nature. Actually, I have been so enthralled by the Native American tribes that I have done little research on the other two historic eras of my project (The Spanish Rule and the U.S. Rule). But seeing as how I am on a roll, I think I will continue to indulge my curiosity with the Arawak and Carib tribes...for at least one more week.

-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.