Three Quarts to a Gallon

The Congress in Peru recently approved a law saying that the internet companies have to provide at least 70% of the internet speed that they are selling.  This law was designed to improve what the companies provide, up from 40%.  My question all along has been, if I am paying 100%, why are they allowed to give me 40%?  Thankfully, now it is 70%, but I am still paying 100%.

Can someone explain to me why they don’t just say, “We can provide this level of service and will charge you this amount”?  It doesn’t change the internet speed; it just makes the transaction clear. Then, when they give me higher speeds, I will be thrilled!

What if other companies did that?  Can you imagine a dairy company selling you a gallon of milk and promising you that there will be at least three quarts?

Anyway, I wrote to La República and offered this commentary… that was not published.

Si Movistar te puede cobrar 100% y darte 70% (La República, 20 de mayo 2021), imagínate…

Después de confirmar la elevación de 40% a 70% la velocidad mínima de los servicios de internet por el Pleno del Congreso de la República, el vocero de Leches Gloria comentó, “Estamos muy de acuerdo.  De ahora en adelante vamos a rellenar nuestras cajas de un litro de leche con un mínimo de 700 ml.”  El coordinador del mercado de Santa Anita también apoyó la decisión del Congreso asegurando que pueden re-calibrar las balanzas para que cada casera reciba un mínimo de 700 gramos en cada kilo de fruta o verdura.  Toyota, por su parte, anunció que están considerando la posibilidad de poner 3 llantas en vez de 4 en cada auto vendido. Todavía tenían que conversarlo porque 3 llantas sería 75% y eso excede el 70% aprobado por el Congreso.

Imagínate.

I thought it was funny.  I also think that Peru has other priorities right now with the pandemic and the election.

Learnings from Distance Learning

Beginnings and endings are wonderful times for reflection.  Maybe you are starting a new job, making a new friend, or celebrating the birth of a child.  Perhaps, on the other hand, you are leaving a country, ending a relationship, or mourning the death of a loved one.  All of these events invite pause, reflection.

How has the last year and a half been for you?  For many, including me, the arrival of COVID-19 brought change: Change in schedules, possibilities, health, and even brought death closer.  I have been teaching from home since March 2020.  Never in my life did I anticipate learning so much about distance learning, Zoom, and Google Docs.  But learn I did!

In the hope of holding on to the good, the silver lining in a difficult situation, I offer the following related to online, distance education:

  1. Relationships are still key.  Building and maintaining relationships continues to be the cornerstone of teaching.  When I know who you are and you know who I am, we can work so much better together.  I love seeing your cats and dogs, siblings and parents wander in and out of Zoom classes.  I love that you notice my haircut or new glasses.  I especially like it when, in the middle of class, you ask, “Can I show you a picture that I drew?”  Maybe the timing isn’t the best, but you feel comfortable and that is worth gold.
  2. Distance learning tools are only tools.  The real learning comes in the doing, the reflecting, and doing again.  We can use all the wonderful apps and programs, but without the purposeful lesson design that gets students doing the work and open to new ways of seeing and doing, the apps and programs are worthless.
  3. Today is enough. Maybe I had plans for more or different, but student questions and interest and worries led us on a useful tangent.  That’s OK.  That’s where we needed to go today.  When I am present to who you are today, right now, to what you need, right now, we will always move forward.  I am not going to assign you the work we missed; I am going to adjust my teaching for the new learning that we will do tomorrow.
  4. There is no learning loss.  Students always learn.  They may learn what we teach, and they always learn who we are.  There are all sorts of unplanned learnings that happen, too.  Always we start from where the students are and move forward.  If they missed something from a previous lesson or year we can sneak it in around the edges, in a small group or one-on-one.  Anyone who tells you that the students learned less this past year and a half is mistaken.  They learned a lot more, just maybe not what the curriculum guide says they “should” learn.  There is always a variety of student learning in a class; there is always a variety of levels of understanding in every class.  This year is no different.  We move forward because students always learn.

Take a moment and think about what you want to take with you from this challenging year (and a half!), and what you want to leave behind.  Move forward knowing that learning moves forward.  We continue to become.  So do our students.

A Year with COVID-19

On March 16, 2020 online, emergency teaching started at my school in Peru because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.  As of right now, we are still teaching online and there is still a global COVID-19 pandemic.  Thankfully, we are no longer in emergency mode.

I call it online, emergency teaching because, well, it was online and it was an emergency.  There were no solid plans in place, no best practices, and we had never used Zoom.  All of that has changed.  We have solid plans, we have learned and honed our best practices, and we are practically experts in Zoom.  I never imagined that I would have a YouTube channel, and that my one Zoom video would have over 2,000 views!

We have been very lucky.  The school where I teach and the families I work with have the resources to make online school work.  Yes, the teachers have worked hard to get up to speed, and the families have been incredibly supportive in the process.  The students have rolled up their sleeves and rolled with the punches–huge learning curve, inconsistent technology, muted microphones, … Yes, the students, too, have been amazing.  I am so thankful for the students, the families, my colleagues, and the leadership at school.  Together we have made it work.  Together we continue to make it work.

After a year of this, what have we learned?  What have we reaffirmed?  I have learned that technology is an amazing tool (when it works!) and there are some amazing technological tools that we can use.  Some of my favorites are Quizlet, Kahoot!, EdPuzzle, FlipGrid, and Padlet.  Technology is still only a tool.  The foundation of all learning is relationships.  This is true online or in person.  When I know my students and they know me, we can learn from and teach each other.  

When I first started teaching reading I knew almost nothing about it.  (I had been teaching middle school social studies and Spanish.)  The literacy coach at my school said to me, “To begin with, just listen to students and watch them.  They will show you what they need.  The theories you can learn later; the students will show you now.”  Brilliant!   Relationships still prove to be key and the students are still teaching me.

I have also learned that less really is more.  Less content, taught more deeply, will actually be acquired by the students.  I will never “cover” the material; I will teach the students.

Finally, we live in partnership with the environment.  When we treat each other and the environment with respect, we all live better.  I think Paul Wellstone said something similar.

A year of challenge has much to teach us.  I hope we continue to learn its lessons.  Thank you to all of the students, parents, and colleagues for keeping on.

Quarantine, Part Two

EstFHEaW4AAP6wKThe original COVID-19 quarantine in Peru started on March 16, 2020.  After about three months, restrictions began to ease and life returned to a more normal, though fully masked, version.  We never went back to school, and all teaching/learning has been done online since then.  A few weeks ago, the government announced that all classes will stay virtual through April 15 (of course that can be extended).

Yesterday, the government announced that with increasing numbers of COVID cases and over-full hospitals, the full quarantine is returning to Lima and other parts of Peru from January 31 to February 14, 2021 (we have a few days to get ready). Casinos, gyms, theaters, and restaurants will be closed to the public.  (I mention casinos first because they are first on the government graphic–interesting first choice.)  Restaurants can offer take-out.  Malls and stores will be closed along with churches and social clubs.  Supermarkets, pharmacies, and local markets will stay open at 40% of capacity.  People will be allowed to go for a walk or run for one hour daily; no personal cars will be allowed unless you receive a special permission.

So, here we go again.  If we get it right, the full quarantine will be lifted in two weeks.  If we don’t get it right, well, who knows.  It’s up to us.  As a community, how will we do?  It’s up to us, together.

Turkey Salad

Anyone ready for a picnic?  This turkey salad went with us to most picnics and church festivals that I remember.  I won’t vouch for it being too healthy with its Miracle Whip and Western Dressing; I will vouch that I loved it as a kid.  I wonder if my tastes have changed since I last had it?  Try it and see what you think.

18 Turkey Salad

Lasagna

Lasagna! It was always my choice for a birthday meal.  Well, there was that one year that, when asked what I wanted for my birthday dinner, I responded, “Liver and onions.”  Thankfully I was told, “No.”  (Of course that made me wonder, why did you ask if you don’t want my answer, but that is for a different day.)  

Lasagna is tedious, and worth every minute of effort.  You will notice that the second recipe is for the spaghetti sauce.  It is a recipe for 40 people because grandma catered events such as weddings and church dinners, so we often worked with large quantities.  

16 Lasagna

17 Spaghetti Sauce 40

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is my mom’s secret chocolate chip cookie recipe, handed down from generation to generation, from back of bag to recipe card.  Yep, I found out that this recipe is the same as the back of the Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips bag.  I think she doubled it, probably so it will go further, last longer.  You can probably reduce the amount of sugar (my notes on the card suggest 1 cup and not 1.5 cups) and not notice much difference.  I have also tried half butter, half shortening and it turned out awesome. My suggestion is to stick with the semi-sweet chips.

Chocolate Chip Cookies