A Few Good Writers

The school year is approaching its sixth week of classes. So far it’s been a busy one with the usual curricular and extra-curricular activities. School life goes on as students and teachers get back to doing what they must do: studying and learning.

As an English teacher, I love to get my students writing. Whether it’s journal or blog writing, the idea is to get them to express themselves, especially in a language that is not their native one.

Recently one of the language arts teachers came up with the idea of an online magazine covering writing in different languages and in various genres.   The magazine may include art and photography but I want my students to develop their writing skills by submitting a piece in the form of a poem, a short story, or an essay. This first edition will focus on the theme of horror in our daily lives. After experiencing first-hand the effects of a category 5 hurricane last year, I’m positive several good submissions can be show-cased.

Our magazine art concept

Teachers and other members of the school community will be invited to participate. What a nice way to get students to view their classmates’ thoughts on horrifying events! Expressing yourself about something horrific can be therapeutic.  However, we’re advising our students to leave out details which may be offensive or hurtful to others. 

Of course, I’ll probably be submitting a literary piece myself. After all, I must model for my students. Hopefully, this literary magazine will encourage those students who have difficulty expressing themselves verbally to do something creative through another medium. It’s an excellent outlet for the timid ones! Students will have the option of submitting work anonymously if they so desire.

I’m excited about this project and glad that someone came up with this new venture! Looking forward to enjoying a few good pieces! ~~LMMolina

Magazine promo in Spanish

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Summertime Reading: A “High-Octane” Story

“When Johnny Comes Marching Home” might not be your typical summer read.  Does the title conjure up the idea of zombies? Maybe. Who knows?

Set during the time after the Civil War (1865), this story is a thriller written by Heather Graham. Would this selection be appropriate for a language arts course? Why not? At least, it has elements that would attract any high-school student: war, love, family ties, and zombies! We’ve got history mixed with the elements of science fiction.  What an unsual combination! Or is it?

The following topics are excellent for debates or written exercises:

  • the effect of war on soldiers and their familues;
  • post-tramatic stress syndrome;
  • the role of zombies in this selection;
  • urban legends and how they arise;
  • the elements of a thriller in a historical setting;
  • history versus science fiction;
  • science fiction in other historical settings.

And the artisitic student might want to depict a scene from the selection. There’s something about zombies that attracts teens! How do you explain the popularity of The Walking Dead?

When getting reluctant readers to actually READ, this topic might actually get their attention. Just make sure the parents are fully aware of what you’re reading in the classroom and why you chose this particular story!

Consider adding this one to your reading list for the coming school year.

Enjoy your summer reading!~~LMMolina

 

Source: First Thrills: High-Octane Stories from the Hottest Thriller Authors (Lee Childs, Editor)

 

End of school year self-evaluation

Animal Farm puzzle activity

As part of my reflection as an educator in the classroom, I always like to administer a questionnaire to find out what my students thought of my teaching performance. I use Google Forms and DO NOT collect email addresses so the students can remain as anonymous as possible.

The questionnaire I used this year was developed by some of our teaching staff but I decided I wanted the students to provide their own items. They came up with some interesting thoughts as to how a teacher should work in the classroom.

Items in the form usually include how a teacher uses time, returns corrected work, posts grades, handles behavioral situations, and uses technology, among others.

Some of the items that my students wanted to include were the following:

The teacher offers opportunities to make up work after student has been absent.

The teacher helps out the student who needs it.

The teacher discusses the topics for an upcoming test.

The teacher assesses what has been discussed in class.

The teacher reacts favorably to questions asked by students.

The teacher respects the students’ personal space and property.

(This last one was unusual, but I decided to use it.)

The choices used were (1) always, (2) almost always, (3) sometimes, (4) very few times, (5) can’t say

Suffice it to say that I got some feedback that I will consider in the future. It’s always wise to reflect on past teaching practices and use these opportunities as a measuring device for future growth. For those of you who use a self-evaluation instrument, what do you include? ~~LMMolina

Hidden Figures: Excellent Themes

If ever there was a film that had a multiple supply of themes, Hidden Figures is at the top of my list. Racism, black women’s rights, work conditions, sexism, the space race, and male-dominated careers are just a few that provide excellent topics for discussion and writing.

As one of the last activities of my 10th grade English course this year, we viewed this film based on true events. The black women who played a significant role in the space program at NASA should be role models for all females. Their passion for their work and a willingness to fulfill their dreams despite the odds against them make for an ideal debate in class. What qualities do you most admire in these women? Would you like your daughters to emulate these women? What role do men play in their lives? Would you face the challenges of this period as these women did? How does computational thinking factor into this time? Why is math sometimes considered only for the male mind? Why did we have so few women in the engineering field at that time? These are just a few of the questions that can contribute to a lively discussion in the classroom.

I wrote a blog post on my EduBlog in which students had to comment on the film. I asked them the following: What do you find the most admirable about them? Would you consider them heroes? If you had a daughter, which one of these women would you like your daughter to emulate?

This is one of my favorite comments by a female student:

After coming out of the theater and re-watching it every time I saw it around on TV I’ve come to realize that these women’s work paved a way for not only black women, but for women in general. It is surprisingly easy to find the theme of racism prevalent in the film but one only has to give it a second glance to find the sub-theme of sexism (in and out of the workplace) all around the theme. If (great emphasis on ‘if’) I have children one day, I’d surely love for them to emulate the teachings about discrimination this film points at. Notice how I said ‘children’ and not only ‘daughter’. Not only are the women presented on the film a great source of inspiration and an example of heroism for little girls, but I believe the same can be applied to the little boys.  (H. Yllescas, 2018)

For those who had to take the final exam, I asked them to write a brief essay on the topics discussed in class based on the film.

In conclusion, I discovered that the film had made a strong impact and got them thinking, which was my objective, of course. There are number of movies out there that I’m sure will do the same but this one will eventually become a classic. ~~LMMolina

Teacher Evaluation: The Eternal Conundrum

 

Teacher evaluation time is a headache for most school administrators. How to be fair? It’s definitely not a simple task.

When it comes to evaluating a teachers’ performance, the student factor is essential. After all, who is exposed to the teacher on a daily basis? At our school we use Google Forms to assess a teacher’s work. We’ve prepared a form that hopefully gathers all the components that will give us an idea of how well the teacher is performing. This questionnaire was prepared by the department heads along with some of the teaching staff. It’s quick and easy to administer.

Now, I believe that students should be able to prepare a questionnaire of their own. I think their form would be vastly different from our own. Why?  Because they see the teacher from a totally different perspective. But we should take into consideration how they feel a teacher should work. By combining the results of both questionnaires we should get a better picture of the teacher and her classroom. Don’t you agree? I’m going to give it try and see what happens. The findings should be enlightening! ~~LMMolina

Professional development: Blogging workshop

Teacher Appreciation Week 2018: A Reflection

I wonder if students and the general public really appreciate the hard work and long hours most educators put in on a daily basis.  Not only the time spent but usually the materials and economic resources that come out of the personal pocketbook! Most do it out of love and a desire to do what’s best for their students, particularly those students who may not be in an ideal environment at home.

The satisfaction one gets when doing something worthwhile without getting anything back is priceless. I know that not every one may feel that way and that teachers get frustrated at times but that frustration vanishes when they see their students achieve worthwhile goals.

I look back when I was a student and wonder how many of my teachers sacrificed personal time to be a better instructor. Here’s to all those educators who’ve gone and still go the extra mile! Happy week to all! ~~LMMolina

Integrating skills: Reading, writing, and coding!

Welcome to the wonderful world of computer science! With coding, a whole new language to learn and embrace. ~~LMMolina

English & Mrs. Molina

Session #4: Google ignitesCS Program

Some of the students from the 10th-grade English class have been delving into the world of computer science these past few weeks. Why not? It helps them see a whole new world.  It broadens their horizons, so to speak. At the same time, they continue to use their English-language skills.

Computer science uses the English language as a medium of expression.  So, not only do these students practice the English language but learn new terms such as, programming, machine learning, user interface, debugging, merge, decomposition...the list continues. I certainly hope they’re aware of how important the English language is when it comes to reading about technical topics!

Studying the topics related to computer science should expand their brains by making them think in different ways.  One topic that is in vogue is CODING.  Coding is what makes it possible for us to create computer…

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A Little Bit of Coding Can Go a Long Way!

At one of my IT Club meetings, I let the club members get a feel for coding by playing a card board game. I chose Robot Wars Coding Strategy Game because I found it relatively simple to play. Some of the student members found it challenging and fun at the same time! I discovered that the game made them think critically before making a move. And, as in any computer program, there were bugs! The members were so enthralled with the game that the meeting concluded way past the scheduled time. Hats off to the creators!

Any game that can make a student analyze how and when to move is a game that should be brought into the classroom. Those are the elements of programming which don’t always have to be for the geeky soul. Students can create their own board games based on what they’ve acquired in class. Creating and playing these games is conducive to higher learning. So why not give it a try? ~~LMMolina

Cyberix Club

 

A comical numbers game: “7 into 28”

Working with numbers should be fun. Right? Unfortunately, not everyone agrees. But if we don’t make it fun or interesting at least, we’ll zone out the students. How can we get students to get some humor out of something as serious as math?  I came across this comedy sketch featuring a lovable actor from way back. I decided to show it to my tech students and see their reaction. I didn’t think they would get it but surprisingly they did and now want to try it out on their math teacher! I wonder how she’ll react. (By the way, the students requested to see the video twice!)

The scene: Bud Abbott doles out $28 to pay his room rent even though he owes his landlord way more than that. How much is 13 times 7? Ninety one? Are you sure? With Abbott it comes out a bit differently! His reasoning? Check out the video! ~~LMMolina

 

A Reflection: Getting Ready for a New Semester

Once we hit January 1st, the holiday season winds down and I begin to think of the new semester.  How will I deal with the students who still have no electrical power in their homes? Our island is still in the process of recovering from two major hurricanes.

Although the school is going back to what may be called NORMAL. It’s been painstakingly slow getting there. Our technology has been adversely affected and a few classrooms have little or no access to the Internet. When most course contents are online, this hurts!

How have the teaching staff dealt with this? By going old tech in many instances. But since we have 100% power most of the time, teachers have prepared PowerPoint presentations using the content that students may not have access to in their homes. We will not go back to old methods after we have advanced so much regarding technology and all the resources the Internet has provided! Imagination and creativity are a must if we are to keep ahead in the learning game.

This not only applies to the classroom but to our daily routines outside of work. Can we handle school and home if Mother Nature strikes again? I certainly hope so but contingency plans must be put in place and these must effectively resolve emergencies as they arise. Will we be ready? For everyone’s sake, I certainly hope so! Wishing everyone an excellent New Year 2018!~~LMMolina