Closed by Corona

Today Martin Vizcarra, president of Peru, made the decision to close and/or not open schools until March 30, 2020.  Most private schools in Peru had already begun the school year (my school had already begun the second semester); public schools were scheduled to open in Peru on Monday, March 16, 2020.  This is to say that my middle schoolers will not be coming to school tomorrow as the teachers move classes online for the next two weeks.  If the situation warrants it, I am sure that schools could remain closed.

Is this a good idea?  Perhaps an over-reaction?  In Peru there are now 17 cases of coronavirus.  Considering population of almost 33 million, 17 cases seems pretty small.  The problem is that not all schools have the conditions necessary for students to stay virus-free.  According to one article, 10% of the schools in Lima do not have water.  If students cannot wash their hands, the virus spreads more easily.  Such a statistic begins to explain the decision.

While I would much rather have students come to school, I understand the decision.  So, I will look forward to learning more about online teaching as I practice it for the next few weeks.  I completed my M.A. in Teaching Writing from John Hopkins online; I have some experience as an online learner.  Three years ago school was closed because of the huaicos in Peru so I had the chance to get my feet wet in online teaching.  This time I will only get better.

If you have any suggestions for online learning, please let me know.

Middle School Writing Lab

As we work to systematize the writing work we do in Middle School, we decided to start a new website: Middle School Writing Lab.  It will be a constant work in progress (and it was only started last Thursday so, keep that in mind).  I hope to include in each section:

  • How-To/ Explanation
  • Examples
  • Rubric
  • Word Bank

I am looking for that sweet spot between “formula” and “stream of consciousness.” I want writers to use their personal voice while accomplishing the task at hand.  If you have any amazing resources please send them my way.  Let’s Write!

Fidget Spinner

A broken skateboard on the ground
was days-old trash until I found
some greased ball bearings deep within.
Thought I’d take ‘em for a spin.

I grabbed a vice grip and a pliers
and pulled apart the useless tires.
When I got the needed part
was when my project I could start.

My sister drinks a lot of juice-
her bottle caps I put to use.
In three red caps I placed a dime
and filled with clay to save some time.

The fourth red cap- I had to cut
away the top and leave a rut
around the middle without tearing
the place I’d put the greased ball bearing.

But still my project wasn’t done
I went to get my grandma’s gun
(a gun for glue, so don’t you worry).
I pegged the pieces without hurry.

So now the part I really hate
the glue sets slow so I must wait.
My patience pays off in the end.
Participating in the trend

I rush to show it to a friend.
He laughs and asks what did I spend?
“Designed and built with nothing new!”
He pauses, asks, “Can I …
… build one too?”

Kindergarten or Middle School

This week I have been learning about a new way of teaching kindergarten that my school district is implementing.  I don’t know much about kindergarten and I know even less about kindergarteners so, there is a lot for me to learn.  About the first ten years of my teaching was in middle school and then mostly 4th and 5th since then.

I commented to a colleague about my lack of knowledge/ experience with 5 and 6 year olds.  She asked, “But you know a lot about middle schoolers, don’t you?”

“Yes, I do,” I answered.

“They are very similar: unpredictable, variable moods, they want to be grown up  and little kids at the same time, they learn fast, they say everything they think without filtering, they want life to be fair and consistent,” and on she described the wonderful, amazing middle schoolers I have worked with (with whom I have worked!).

I think I will have to spend some more time with 5 and 6 year olds and see if she is right. What do you think?  Is my colleague right?