Meetings Post Hurricanes

Always learning something new with the Cyberix Club members! ~~LMMolina

CBCMR IT CLUB

After Hurricanes Irma and Maria we’ve had meetings #3 (Oct 19th), #4 (Nov 2nd), and #5 (Nov 16th).  With little power and no Internet, I had to come up with activities that needed neither! My thanks to those who’ve been attending all the meetings despite the circumstances.

We did a bit of programming on paper with the Hot Dog Programming Game at the 3rd meeting. At Meeting #4 we worked with Legos to build a “spooky” theme and completed the project at Meeting #5. All activities involved teamwork. I hope everyone enjoyed them. I sure did!

Next week we’ll have our last meeting of the semester. Since we’re back on the grid (finally!), we’ll probably do something online. We’ll also have some kind of ” get together” to celebrate the holiday season.

STeM Week will probably be held next semester if all goes as planned. If not, the Club will…

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After two hurricanes 

Our small island in the Caribbean was hit by two hurricanes this season, one of them being a category 5. For the past two months most of the island has been without power and water. Our school has been operating since October 9th but under poor conditions. It was greatly impacted and we’ve just recently had power restored 100%.  During that time the teaching staff has been working but it’s been an uphill battle. We’re a school that has been dependent on technology for almost everything for the past 10 years or more! Our community took a hit when we were stripped of that technology which kept everyone informed of all that went on in our school. The teachers could no longer use the electronic platforms. The office staff could not work to their full capacity. It was a blow to our system which has left us reeling from the aftershock.

As an educator, I’ve had to adjust to the “new” school by going back to some of the “old ways” of teaching and keeping records. This has meant more paper work and less electronics. It has meant redesigning some of the courses. Academic activities have been changed. Perhaps that’s been a good thing because we’ve learned to focus on important aspects of teaching. It’s made some us think outside the box.

This course of events has made me realize that we can adapt and adjust to circumstances beyond our control. We can go on, no matter what happens. It’s also been a lesson that has taught us to plan for unforeseen events such as these. Will we come ahead? I certainly hope so! Only time will tell. In the meantime, let’s stick with the basics. ~~LMM 

School Building after Hurricane María

Poetry Prompts

Thinking about ways to get my students to write poetry or just simply write, I got inspired by a photo I took of my plants for Instagram. I thought of the well-known nursery rhyme “How does your garden grow?” It’s simple and at the same time thought-provoking.

A few questions immediately came to mind: How does your garden grow? Can a garden be compared to life in general? Do you let your garden be overrun with weeds? Who are the weeds in your life? Do they serve a purpose?

This would be either an excellent poetry exercise in which the students might find words to rhyme with weed, flowers, thorns, green, insects and so on, or a writing prompt to get them to reflect on people or situations in life.

It might be a good way to assess what my students are capable of writing. I could use it as a diagnostic exercise to introduce a poetry unit. The possibilities are endless. ~~~LMM

Humor in the classroom:

It’s summer so it’s time to reflect on some of our teaching practices and what we can do to improve them. It’s a healthy activity and one that should be taken seriously but not so seriously that we berate ourselves for making some mistakes. After all, we’re only human.

One thing that any wise teacher should “seriously” consider is having fun in the classroom. Why not take advantage of humor to get your ideas across? I’ve listened to some comedy routines that could be used as grammar exercises.  Jerry Seinfeld has a skit dealing with the words “down” and “up”.  He says that as children we were always told to “sit down,” “settle down,” “quiet down” and “stay down” or  they were told to “sit up” straight, not to “stay up” late, and that they should “get up” early.

Comedy can also be used with debatable topics. What do most comedians usually do anyway?  They make fun of ordinary events. Things as simple as going to the grocery store or visiting the family doctor can turn into a hilarious situation. One popular topic that frequently pops up is that of food consumption.  Whether it be eating an ice cream cone on a hot summer day or baking cupcakes for the first time, there’s bound to be something laughable to discuss with a classmate or post on a blog.

When you have your students discuss daily activities that involve humor, the class seems to be more enjoyable.  Students will come away with a bit more knowledge and a healthy attitude towards life in general. So let’s “lighten up” a bit!~~LMMolina

Google Forms: Surveys, Assessment, and Elections

Computer room at CBCMR: 2017 polling station

During this school year I’ve had the opportunity to use Google Forms in various contexts: as an assessment in the classroom, as a questionnaire to elect candidates for different organizations and as a tool to determine students’ perceptions of their teachers. My tech students who are in their Senior year of high school have used it for their science and Spanish-language research projects. Bear in mind, that a form is only as good as the items created by the teacher (or student).

So far I’ve found Google Forms to be effective. A G Form is easy to create and the results can be had almost immediately (depending on the Internet connection). The resulting graphs are usually visually pleasing and relatively simple. This past week, the student body elected their student council representatives using Google Forms. The results of the voting of 212 students were obtained in less than two hours without the hassle of a hand count! Half-way through the second-class period (Note: We have 80-minute periods) we were able to announce the winners. The student council adviser was impressed and rightly so!

However, there is one drawback with Google Forms which I haven’t been quite able to work out. When it comes to printing out the graphs, not all the data can be seen. Unless, the print version is scaled down quite a bit (and you have a magnifying glass at hand to read it!), there is always one circle that is cut off or some of the percentages aren’t visible. I suppose it depends on the length of the form. But I’m still trying to work around this “glitch” and the Google Forms HELP section is really not helping at all. So, if there is anyone out there in the cyber world who can provide assistance, I’ll be eternally grateful!  I will continue to use this app because, frankly, I like it, and the best part of all, it’s free! ~~LMMolina

Life Lessons: Questions for this time of year

As an educator, I take advantage of every opportunity to teach some facts about life. In the process, I’ve learned some valuable lessons!

This is my most recent post from lmmolina97.edublogs.org

This is the time of year that we take to work on our spiritual side. It’s a good time also for getting our students to think about their actions and how they affect those around them. As a school community we go on a pilgrimage each year to visit churches or religious sanctuaries on different parts of the island. When we come back, I take advantage of the outing for students as English-language learners to express their feelings about the experience. The results are interesting and often eye-opening. I discover that some students are indifferent, others come back a bit changed but not so much. As leaders of an educational community and one with a Christian philosophy, are we doing our best to get our students to reflect on their attitude towards that philosophy? How are we doing? What can we do to get them more involved, not only in the school’s pastoral affairs, but in activities sponsored by their parishes? In a world that has globally changed (for better or worse), are we doing all that is within our means? If there is any progress in this area, how can we measure it? These are questions that are food for thought! What are yours? ~~LMMolina

 

EduBlog post: Reflections on Holy Week 2017

The social network: Uses for the student blogger

I’ve been getting my technology course students to integrate their social apps in their blogging. Social sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, G+ and LinkedIn are a few that they can use so their followers can get another view of their interests. Of course, I always advise them to be careful when posting content no matter what social media they use. More often than not, prospective employers are turning to these sites to get a feel for future employees. I cannot stress this enough. In my role as administrator, I’ve checked out profiles of recruits to see if they are good candidates for our school community. Social apps should be used to promote oneself and one should always put the best foot forward. Right? ~~LMMolina

Apps for the classroom

 

Interesting how the “big picture” changes in the classroom when it comes to Web 2.0. So many apps are available to an educator to make a class more engaging! This morning our staff participated in a workshop in which each teacher experimented with an app to use later in the classroom. The staff created Memes, Avatars and Vokis. They also used Kahoot and powerpoint templates to get ideas for preparing their own activities.  I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with on their own! It should be fun! ~~LMMolina

Another look at Wikispaces

I’ve been checking out Wikispaces to see what they have going for them that’s new, and exploring the possibility of using it in one of my courses this new year (2017). Wikispaces is now Wikispaces Classroom.  Competition for Google Classroom? More than likely. And by what I’ve discovered so far, Wikispaces Classroom seems to be in the lead. Why? For one thing, the teacher can invite all students no matter what their e-mail addresses are. Google Classroom needs every student to be in the same organizational domain. Something , that right now is not user friendly for me as a teacher. It would mean that I would need someone at the administrative level to do that. I’m not sure my school is ready for that yet.

However, I can invite my students to join my Wikispaces classroom through the Wiki I’ve created, in this case, mrsmolinatechnology. Each student can use his own email address. I can create group projects and monitor each student’s work.

How is Wikispace different from Wikispaces Classroom? Apparently, it’s “social writing with formative assessment.” A place for a classroom to work, connect and communicate. Sound cool? I think so. With Wikispaces I can email and receive private messages. I can also customize permissions: who can view, edit, or create pages. I can allow discussion posts from non-members if my Wiki is public. To safeguard my students’ privacy, I think I’ll keep it private for now.

Wikispaces by TES has brought me to Blendspace. This is a free web tool for teachers to collect resources in one place to form a bundled, interactive lesson for students or colleagues. I’m experimenting with that, too, and looking forward to using it with the students during the new semester of the current school year.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping I’ve found the ‘ideal educational platform’. Here’s to a successful semester for all! ~~~LMMolina

 

Sources:

https://www.wikispaces.com/content/classroom/about

https://www.tes.com/lessons

Prisma: An App to try out

Just recently I was introduced to an App I decided to experiment with and decided it might be useful. Prisma is an app for editing photos artistically.  If I want to post photos of my students and I don’t want their faces to be easily recognized, this just might be the ticket!

I tried it out with a photo of the school’s female volleyball team.

volleyball-team-prisma-app

Only the teammates will know who’s who! ~~LMMolina

Check out the site for more details: http://prisma-ai.com/