Happy Sunday, everybody! The forensic science presentations by my students were postponed slightly due to some various scheduling issues. The presentations officially happen tomorrow, Monday, January 28th. So, next Sunday’s blog post will be about the presentations. In the mean time read about some amazing web 2.0 tools and other possibly little known resources that you can utilize in your classroom!

The New York Times Learning Network

This one is my personal favorite for many reasons. Over the past year, I have learned to love integrating current events and journalism into my curriculum. I briefly discussed this in my post about our school’s interview with Sarah Koenig. The New York Times Learning Network is a resource that utilizes the brilliant reporting by the Times. Lessons plans are pre-made and neatly laid out for educators from all backgrounds to easily understand and implement. The blog is organized and easy to navigate. They put on regular student contests for students participate in. The current ongoing contest is their 5th Annual 15-Second Vocabulary Video Challenge! The blog has a section dedicated to categorizing the various activities available for students. Just below that are lessons plans separated into the various subjects (ELA, social studies, science and math, ELL and arts, and current events). This obviously comes in handy when you are looking for a quick lesson plan and have little time to spare for planning. You can also search the blog to find any teaching activities for a specific topic that has been archived. The Learning Network is, hands down, a fantastic resource for those educators who occasionally have little time for planning, need something authentic or meaningful, or who just wants to try something new!

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Buck Institute for Education (BIE)

The Buck Institute for Education (BIE) is an organization dedicated solely to the wonders of project based learning. The website houses a selection of materials for educators to be introduced to or strengthen their PBL knowledge. Available for readers are blogs, books, and articles to peruse. What may be even more helpful for you, though, are the variety of rubric, planning forms, and student handouts that are available to download for free on their site! These documents are highly professional and can be used in a multitude of subjects. Wether you are a beginner or a pro at PBL, these resources are sure to help you!

My personal favorite on BIE is the interactive project search. I practice PBL in my classroom everyday and when I am struggling with developing a project, I need some innovative ideas to spark my imagination. This is where the project search comes in. Here, you can search by source, subject, and level to find incredibly creative and authentic projects that your students can engage in.


National Center for Case Study Teaching In Science

I came across this great site by linking through on BIE. Based at the University of Buffalo, SUNY, this site contains a vast library of case studies (721 to be exact!) from virtually all areas of science. The premise of the case studies is that students are introduced to an authentic scenario that could easily be present in the real world. From there, the students answer a series of questions in which there are to problem solve and critically think their way to the answer. This site probably provides the most realistic application of science than either BIE or The Learning Network. These case studies also come in handy when you are short on planning time and need an engaging, easy to understand activity. Just a note: If you sign up for an account to access the answer keys, you will need to prove that you are an educator at which time the organization will provide you with a password.

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The entrance to the hike down to Earth Lodge

About 20 minutes outside of Antigua is a tiny village called El Hato. The town is made up of a one lane dirt road next to a cliff that barrels down the side of the mountain. What you’ll find in El Hato is one restaurant (El Tambor), kids playing in the street, women cleaning clothes in the local pilas, and one eco-hotel that provides for essentially the entire town, Earth Lodge. Earth Lodge is well-known with locals in Antigua and tourists alike. It’s a mountain getaway with excellent food, cozy treehouse accommodations, and an even better Thanksgiving dinner. My last two Thanksgivings, including just two days ago, have been at Earth Lodge. They serve a traditional Thanksgiving meal in family style setting. Strangers and friends from all parts of the globe come to enjoy a great meal together sitting at large table benches. Throughout the night, we all stuffed our faces, drank too much, and enjoyed each other’s laughter playing various card games.

Earth Lodge is crucial for the sustainability of El Hato. In the three times that I have visited, there have been goods for sale promoting that some of the proceeds will be donated to the local school. During the famous Thanksgiving dinners, local businesses specializing in artesian, handmade goods donate a product to be auctioned off after dinner. The entire proceeds are donated to the local school. It’s a win-win situation. Businesses benefit by having their name promoted and, more importantly, the school is provided with a large sum of money to help them purchase simple items such as pens, pencils, notebooks, and backpacks for the children.

Thanksgiving isn’t the only time in which donations are requested. On their website, Earth Lodge explicitly states that you can “Help the El Hato school by packing school supplies.” Since 2004, when Earth Lodge first opened its doors, they have helped “fundraise to buy school supplies, food for the breakfast program and anything else needed at the school” and have assisted in “getting running water and helped fund the computer lab.” Such a simple business with a ecology-based mindset can go so far in supporting local communities who are not as lucky to have consistent, modern amenities.

Also, don’t forget to check out my full story of moving and teaching in Guatemala featured last week with Haute Teacher!


Mr. Noondi

Views of the volcanoes Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango (left to right)