An Amazing Journey

During this week my third grade class completed the Project Based Learning (PBL) unit plan. Last Wednesday most students of third grade gave an oral presentation about the page they created. They presented themselves, presented their pages, explained why they created their pages the way they did, explained what media they used to create their pages, explained what they would do better in a next time and gave thanks to their classmates for their attention. Most used crayons and color pencils to make their pages. The most common details they said they would do better a next time is writing a bigger text, coloring the background and align the drawing better.

Yesterday we had the read-aloud of the product of the PBL, the e-book, with the third-grade students of the Luis Muñoz Rivera Elementary School, a public school that is just besides the UPR Elementary School. We had a lot of fun learning together! The Arts teacher was kind enough to let me give my class in his classroom. First, we discussed together what is a sentence and how do we usually recognize a sentence. Then I explained the process of creating a “sentence” as a protagonist character for our story: Mr. Sentence. Then I presented the tittle of the e-book: It’s Hard To Be A Sentence! I began to read-aloud the e-book with the help of the students, discussing how we can make Mr. Sentence happy. Through the story we discussed the characteristics of a written sentence, the parts of a complete sentence and the kinds of sentence of sentence. The kids participated actively from the beginning to the end of the read-aloud. After the read-aloud, some students wrote in the whiteboard examples of sentences that would make Mr. Sentence happy. They verified that each example was a complete sentence, they identified which kind of sentence each example was and they corrected the sentence If necessary.  After that they had a time for sharing together a simple snack: gummy worms candy, bananas, Cameos, Oreos, Chips Ahoy and Capri Sun juice, besides the water that is always available at the classroom. I thought they would not eat all the bananas, but they did ate them all, around 25 very big bananas! Actually, they ate everything, as any happy kid would do.

Here are pictures of the read-aloud:

Read-Aloud 1Read-Aloud 2Read-Aloud 3Read-Aloud 4Read-Aloud 5Read-Aloud 6Read-Aloud 7

A few students that were not able to give their oral presentation on Wednesday gave it today. Today the students, all of them, also danced the Weekend song. Here is a video of part of the Weekend song:


We had a few free minutes today in class, so I asked the students to take a photo together for the e-book. They had casual day today, so today was a perfect day for a photo! Here are the pictures we took together:

Besides sharing it with the students of the nearest elementary public school, the final product of this PBL, the e-book, will be shared with the student’s parents also, via email. I am in the process of gathering all the emails.

Now I am preparing to begin the final unit plan: verbs. It will begin on Monday with an effect of instruction instrument: an instrument to measure how much they know about a theme before beginning to discuss it. Those results are compared with the student’s results of the summative assessment, the evaluation after the theme had been discussed in class. I am enjoying so much my teaching practicum that beginning my last unit plan is a true pity to me. This semester had been truly short for me!

As a personal note, I must say that I am discovering that for me teaching is not only can be a professional vocation: it can be also a faith-based vocation. I believe that being able to teach is a gift given by God to serve others a Jesus did. As I had told in other blog posts, I usually do not talk to the students about my faith in order to let them embrace their own preferred beliefs, but even if I do not say nothing about my faith, I am “radiating” it through my personal formation, through my growth and my works. Discovering this way of living my faith, a way that is not ideological at all but “integractive”, based in helping to be, in helping to do, in helping to grow and in helping to radiate every human being unconditionally (as God does), beginning with my students, had been an amazing journey! I thought all this yesterday, while contemplating how the students were participating in the read-aloud and how to help them to understand better what we were discussing (they were having problems to distinguish between an imperative sentence and a declarative sentence because both may end with a period. I helped them to distinguish the content of an imperative sentence and the content of a declarative sentence). Yes, I am able to pray and teach at the same time without the students noticing it! This doesn’t mean I am perfect, I have a lot of things to improve, but that I am choosing to embrace teaching as a faithful service to my students, as Jesus served His disciples through obeying His Father in unity to the Holy Spirit. I am discovering that teaching can be an amazing way to cultivating faith, to live the works of mercy, to form my personal formation as a work of God’s Love and to grow in communion.

Let’s keep growing!

Two Amazing Opportunities

Last week was the school’s English week. The third grade celebrated it with a poetry recital. The ten students who won the place to be in the finals during the try-outs made an outstanding recital of the same poem (The Voice, by Shel Silverstein). The ten students did it great, but a jury composed of three ESL student teachers chose the three students that did it best: two girls (first and third place) and one boy (second place). The first three places won a medal, besides the book I bought for the first three places. The others won a participation ribbon. They did the poetry recital in front of some parents and all their third grade classmates. After the poetry recital, we enjoyed a cookies-and-juice snack together.

Here are some pictures of the poetry recital and a video of the student who won the third place:

In the night between Friday and Saturday third grade had a sleep over night. That night was full of activities! Look at the pictures of the snack tables prepared by their parents, they were amazing!:

The first activity of the night was a living museum (students dressed like some historical people). After that they participated in a play. After the play, they had a music recital with flutes. You can see in these photos how packed was the music classroom were all these activities happened!:

After the music recital they had dinner, and after that I made an activity with them: a ceramics workshop. We created a clay medal to celebrate what we do best. For example: some made a medal with the inscription “best singer”, or “best student”. There were varied medals. At the end, I kept them in ziploc bags in order to prepare them for the clay oven. My ceramic’s professor helped me a lot with the process of designing the workshop and simplifying my ideas. We had a lot of fun, and they learned to apply the superlative “best” (almost all of them got that superlative adjective wrong in the comparative and superlative adjective test because it’s irregular). Here are some pictures of the medals they sculpted in the ceramic’s workshop:

After the ceramics workshop they had a movie night with popcorn included. They chose to see “Lego Movie”. They began to fall asleep during the movie. I stayed awake until 2 am and there were still voices speaking in very low tones at that hour, but they were very few. Almost most of them were already sleeping.

They woke up at 7:00 am (the parents and teachers woke up around 6:00 to help to prepare everything they needed) with soft hits of pillows given by the teachers. They were too tired to fight the teachers back. After they woke up we suddenly became sleeping bag packing experts: the parents (some parents stayed with us, but not all of them, some arrived early in the morning to prepare the breakfast) and teachers needed to pack around 15 sleeping bags (they were 19 students, and most of them brought sleeping bags) as fast as we could to re-organize the classroom. Meanwhile, the students changed clothes and had some hygiene time. After parents, teacher and students finished to do our respective things, the breakfast was ready. We shared everything with a great joy due being together. We all helped to clean and leave everything as it was before the sleep over. The students played a little bit, received some gift bags, and shortly after we all left.

At the beginning of this week the students kept working with their Project Based Learning (PBL) activity. My mentor teacher explained them that his is a good example of team work, because creating this e-book needed the participation of everyone to be a success. Each one created his or her page, and then began working in their tomorrow’s oral presentations. I created a graphic organizer for helping the students to prepare their oral presentations. Here is a picture of the graphic organizer:

Oral Inform Graphic Organizer

The sleeping over and the PBL had been two amazing opportunities for us to experience how to teach and learn with a different approach. I am very grateful for both opportunities!

Let’s keep growing!

It’s Hard To Be A Sentence!

On Friday I prepared a cause and effect summative assessment for my students to conclude that theme. Instead of giving them a test, I gave them an multiple intelligence exercise: writing a cause and effect from the story It’s Hard To Be A Verb!, making a drawing about each one of them and then writing a sentence describing them. Here is an image of the exercise and of the rubric I made to grade the exercise:

Cause and Effect Summative Assessment

Cause And Effect Rubric

For me is very important to do a diverse assessment: to evaluate my students in different ways, not only through tests. For me test should not be more than 50% of the summative assessments. That way I give the students the opportunity to demonstrate his or her learning through different learning styles. I have planned four summative assessments for the time of my teaching practicum: two tests (one about comparative and superlative adjectives, that I already gave, and one about verbs, that will be given during the last week of class), one multiple intelligence exercise (the one I gave yesterday) and one Project Based Learning (PBL) product that they will be creating during these two weeks.

My students of third grade are going to have a sleep over in the school at the end of this week, and I will be with them. I need to have an activity for them, and I thought about a very cool activity. At Saturdays, I have a ceramics class at the University. I have almost completed the two required projects for the class, and I still have one whole bag of clay to use. I have thought to use that bag of clay to give my third-grade students a ceramics workshop during their sleep over. We would be creating clay medals. I have always dreamed about giving a ceramics workshop, I love to teach by modeling things. We would be creating clay medals. For doing this I would need the permission of my ceramics professor, because I would need to review some teaching techniques and he must agree to fire my student’s medals with the University’s clay oven. I asked him this last Saturday about this, showing he a lesson plan for the activity, and he agreed to help me to give a ceramics workshop during the sleepover. I will be modeling the clay medals with the students and he will fire the medals in the University’s clay ovens. I am very happy about giving this workshop!

I am also very happy because today we begin our PBL. I structured it a lot in order to be able to complete that kind of learning method with third graders. Here is the lesson plan of the PBL: It’s Hard To Be a Sentence PBL Lesson Plan

The product of the PBL will be an e-book, we are going to create it together and share it with a read-aloud with third grade students of a public elementary school that is nearby. Today I introduced the PBL with the following Power Point presentation: Its Hard To Be a Sentence! PBL

We also discussed the driving questions of the PBL and designed the e-book story (it must be related with the driving questions) and delineated the PBL schedule. We titled the story “It’s Hard To Be A Sentence!” Here is the story design of the PBL, for a group of 19 students (each student is supposed to design and create one page of the e-book): It_s Hard To Be A Sentence! Story Design

The hardest thing of today’s class for my students was understanding the homework: to bring ideas about “imagining” the sentence as a character. I mean: usually, when we want to visualize a sentence, we write just it, but in this story the sentence is not just written text: it is a character, so it needs to have a concrete image, a body, two eyes, a mouth… They got the idea of “visualizing” the sentence as a character after the third time of explaining it, when I explained it with an example.

Today we were told that on May 3 we are expected to go to the University students’ general assembly, so we should not be teaching in the school that day. I already have a coordinated an activity for my students for that day: the read-aloud of their PBL product (the e-book) to the third-grade students of the nearby elementary public school. Because the activity was already coordinated and it took some effort to choose a day and an hour in which both groups could be together, I was told I could come that day to the school. I had barely come to students’ assemblies, I came to two the last year and I had a lot of anxiety when I was there because I am usually against strikes, and my University campus is very well known for its students’ strikes. I had rarely agreed with doing a student strike, although I had collaborated with food to those students who chose to make a strike because no matter how disagree I could be with that they are human beings and they need food and water. Some people insist we should behave as victims of the powerful, of our limitations, of our lack of resources, of what we can’t do, of all the kinds of crisis that our society faces… I don’t agree with that. I think that we all are always able to keep working and shape ourselves according to what’s inside of us and according to the best person we can be in every circumstance, and by doing so, not by engaging in strikes, we are able to create a better outcome for everyone and for our country. I believe that all my students have the capability to define themselves as person according to who they are meant to be, and my duty as student teacher is not participating in strikes, but to help them to be the best person they can be. This is my opinion. I understand that each student has his or her own approach to strikes and I never have sought to impose to anyone my anti-strike vision. My style of fighting for a better learning community is by investing my class time in affirming the best personal growth possible of those who I am called to serve and teach, not by investing my class time in opposing to someone or something with a strike.

I probably will be going to the students’ assembly as soon as the PBL read-aloud is over. It is important to go, because part of being an University student learning to hear all voices democratically and respectfully, even if you don’t agree with each other.

Let’s keep growing!

Growing Opportunities

Today I had plenty growing opportunities. The first thing I did today was completing and correcting the Power Point presentation for tomorrow’s class (it was supposed to be for today’s class, but they came late to class and I used another shorter material), that is aimed to discuss the reading of It’s Hard To Be a Verb! from the cause and effect perspective. This presentation integrates the enduring understanding of the lesson plan: knowing the causes of what we do can help us to change our behavior.

Later I printed, folded and prepared the invitations to our celebration of English Week: the poetry recital of Shel Silverstein’s poem The Voice. Here is an image of the invitation:

PoetryRecitalInvitationEnglish Week Invitation 2

When I went to the library for printing I discovered that the school is having a book fair this week. I love book fairs! I was among the first ones to see the available titles. I went to the classroom to tell my fellow student teachers about the book fair and then I went with them to pick some books. I saved some money last week by eating Chef Boyardee at lunch instead of buying food, so I was able to buy three books for my students: one of National Geographic about famous failures, a graphic novel of Shakespeare and a coloring book about the Dalai Lama. These books will be the prizes for the first three places of the English’s week Poetry Recital. I liked the famous failure’s book so much that I wanted one for myself, but there was only one copy left in the book fair. I ordered it and the librarian will tell me on Wednesday if it is on stock. Here are pictures of the book fair and of the books I bought for my students:




At English class, we first talked about how much we all enjoyed the field day, about what we did on weekend and about the English week. This Wednesday they will have trials for the Poetry Contest (only ten students can participate in the final Poetry Recital) and they need to know it for practicing the poem prior that day. Some of them already know it! I showed them how to recite a poem by reciting myself a poem that I wrote when I was in high school for reciting it in my graduation. The poem is in Spanish, but it works to show how a poem can be recited. The poem is titled Desideratum. I recited it to my students by memory because I still remember how I recited it when I graduated from high school:


Yo creo en mis sueños

Vivo, lucho por ellos.

Cada instante en vuelo

Me remonto alto al cielo.


Ser estrella es mi fin

Siempre seguir, vivir

Proseguir, feliz ir,

Cual el viento existir.


En mi ser tengo fe

Hallo fuerza y poder

Yo digo “lo lograré”

Todo, sé lo podré.


Me Abrazo a Su mano

Y de Él yo me fío

El camino trazado

Recorreré sin desvío.


Sea bueno, sea oscuro,

Será lección, será paso

Cuando llegue el futuro

No miraré el ocaso.


Mis ojos contemplarán

El albor de otros sueños

Y alas me surgirán

En pos de sus destellos.


Con el alma engrandecida

Y el espíritu aventurero

Emprenderé nuevas vías

Recorreré nuevos senderos.


Mas mi corazón aquí queda

Entre sueños y quimeras

Ya mi niñez se aleja

El futuro me espera.


Cuando mire hacia atrás.

Y vea el camino andado.

Mi alma con gozo gritará.

“Lo logré, he triunfado”.


After talking about the Poetry Recital, we discussed some vocabulary words of the reading and some details of its story elements. They wrote in the white board the words they didn’t understand and we learned their meanings together. There was a word that was particularly problematic: the word “sitter”. They all thought it was a person who cares a child, like in “baby sitter”. However, in the story it means something else. I asked them to read the sentence where that word that used to see if they could discover the word’s meaning with its contexts. They read the sentence and they were able to discover the word’s meaning: in this story, “sitter” means “chair.”

I was supposed to be interviewed last week by the professors of the Differentiated Education master degree as part of my process of admission, but then the power outage happened, the Faculty of Education student dean told me that all the activities were cancelled and I left the University without being interviewed. They called me later to let me know that they would be making the interviews in another place, but when I got their call I was too far away to come back to the University. Well, after today’s class that interview was rescheduled for tomorrow at 3:00 pm. I will take it as another growing opportunity, no matter if they admit me or not.

Let’s keep growing!


Today’s Adventure

The first thing I did yesterday at the school was correcting my student’s tests. In general, they did amazingly well, I even had several perfect scores. While correcting them I discovered that three students did a part wrong simply because they did not understand the instructions correctly. In the way they did it, their answers were correct, but in the way that the part was supposed to be done, their answers were incorrect. What I should do? After consulting it with my mentor teacher, I went to the third grade classroom in the morning and asked the three students to come to the English classroom during their lunch break to complete that part of the test again. When the break time came, I waited them patiently during thirty minutes. When I realized that they weren’t coming by their own, I went looking for them in the school playground. I found the three students in the library: they totally forgot that I asked them to come to my classroom during their lunch break! They made the test part again, but this time they followed the correct instructions. The three students did the test part almost completely correct!

When those students completed their tests, I could finally grade all the tests. I did it, and I wrote the test results in an excel table that I use as a grade book (I don’t have a physical grade book, all my grades are supposed to be kept digitally).

At the class time I discussed the test. My mentor teacher have an amazing and very practical protocol for doing this in order and avoiding the loss of any test during the discussion, what is important to me because years ago, when I worked as teacher (before studying to be a certified teacher), I accidentally lost a test and I had an awful time due that. How is my mentor teacher’s test discussion protocol? First, the teacher remembers the students that their grades are private and they are only supposed to share them with their parents or guardians. My mentor teacher explained me that I must do that because in third grade they are still learning to take tests and they constantly forget that their grades are private. Then the teacher gave the students their test face down, in such a way that only the student that completed the test could see the test’s grade. After that the teacher discusses the test, asking the students why their answers were correct. It took me so long to discuss the test that I almost did not finish on time for doing the next steps! The next step after discussing the test is asking the students to sign the test in a space, a small circle, provided to them to write their initials after they discussed the test and are agree with the grade. That way there is evidence that they saw and discussed the corrected test. After that, they write their test score in their English notebooks, in a table glued in the end of each notebook. Then they are supposed to give the teacher (me) the tests back in alphabetical order to file them in a plastic document filing box where all their summative assessments are, but I had no time for doing this. Instead, I asked them to give me their tests in alphabetical order and I would file them after the class.

After they left the classroom I took the plastic document filing box and began to file each test in their respective file. Suddenly I realized that one test was missing. I freaked out first but began to think coldly almost immediately: where that test could be if I always had in my hands the folder where I placed all the tests when the students gave them? I thought in several possibilities. The first one, the easiest one, was that the student forgot to give me the test, so I went to ask her. She told me that she gave me the test, so I eliminated that possibility. The next thing I did was checking the working tables to see if there was a test in any of them. There was no test in anyone. Then I realized that I could have filed the lost test in the precedent file in alphabetical order (the students gave their tests in alphabetical order). I mean: if the last name of the student of the lost test begins with “B”, her test could be in the file of the student whose last name begins with “A”.  I checked the files of the last names that begin with A, and I found the lost test! The big difference between the time I lost a test years ago and yesterday is that yesterday I did not spent time feeling awful due losing a test. Yesterday I kept myself thinking were the test could be until I finally found it.

That’s why I did not write a blog post yesterday after my class, as I usually do: I was busy searching for that test.

I made several things for today. First, of course, the new lesson plan for reading and discussing It’s Hard to Be a Verb, by Julia Cook. I will be using that reading for discussing several topics. The first one of them, the one I am discussing in this lesson plan, is the cause and effect reading comprehension strategy. You can see the lesson plan here: It’s Hard To Be a Verb Reading Lesson Plan

Second, I made two handouts for today’s class: one for discussing the story elements and one for discussing the new vocabulary words. These are the pictures of those handouts: Story Elements.jpg

My Vocabulary Words.jpg

Finally, I made a poetry handout for a poetry recital that the students are going to have on April 25 to celebrate English week. The chosen poem for the recital is the one that I proposed, “The Voice,” by Shel Silverstein. They need a handout of the poem for memorizing it for the poetry recital. Here is the picture of that handout:

The Voice.jpg

About thirty minutes before my class the school (along one million of Puerto Ricans) had a power outage, so my lesson plan needed to change because I couldn’t use the Smart Board to show the You Tube read-aloud video. Instead of using a You Tube video for making the read-aloud, I practiced making the read-aloud myself. Two days ago I transcribed the whole story in a single Word document and printed a copy for each student for use them in case of any technological failure, like this one, that do not allowed me to use the You Tube read-aloud video that allows me to show the book pages to everyone at the same time. I practiced the read-aloud by hearing the You Tube read-aloud with my iPad (my iPad has cellular internet). I also practiced the wiggle dance of the story, so I could do it while reading the book to make my students laugh. At the end, giving the class without power made it more fun. I gave a printed document with the story to each student so they could follow the read-aloud, I showed them the images of the story as I read it, and we did the wiggle dance. Another student teacher was so kind she took pictures of me giving class today and sent them to my What’s App. These are the pictures of today’s adventure without power, as my mentor teacher called it:




Although I give class to the third grade, I usually work in the fourth-grade classroom because that is the English classroom. Tomorrow is the school’s field day, and the whole school is going to wear the same t-shirt but each group is going to wear accessories of a color. I was told, very seriously, that if I come tomorrow with the color of fourth grade and not with the color of third grade I would be considered a traitor. Oh my goodness, I can’t be considered a traitor of my own students, I told them. I asked them which is third-grade color, and I was told by them that their color is marine blue. Then I asked fourth graders (I will be with them tomorrow for an extracurricular activity after the field day) which is they color. They answered: marine blue. I raised an eyebrow: the two groups have the same color? I asked further among teachers and I was told that there are two competitions in the same field day: one for kindergarten to third grade, and one for fourth grade to sixth grade. That’s why both groups wear the same color: they are in different competitions. So, I told third graders, tomorrow I will be wearing something marine blue (I still didn’t know what at that moment) and I cannot be considered a traitor by anyone because both groups wear marine blue.

I was given the school field t-shirt today. My mentor teacher gave me it as a gift (he paid for it) and I am really thankful for that gesture. I don’t know if there is a competition for student teachers, I hope not, but I will be there for cheering my group of third graders. I will be with the fourth graders tomorrow in the afternoon, but I will write about that in one of the next posts.

Due the power outage, I needed to take the bus until Bayamon because the urban train didn’t work. I took three very crowed buses to arrive there. Once in Bayamon, the bus left me in a small mall where things are very cheap. I managed to get a pair of tennis, earrings, a headband, a bracelet, a feather boa and some hula necklaces for my third graders (one per student), all in marine blue. I also found some giant bubbles to have fun. Here is the picture of everything I got today for under 40 dollars:


Tomorrow will be an exciting day! Let’s keep growing!

The Voice

Today my students had a test. I talked with them during their snack break and they have studied the review and seemed prepared. They only asked me if the test had many “different adjectives” (they mean irregular comparative and superlative adjectives). I told them that each multiple selection had only one irregular adjective each. You can see the test here: Test 1.

At the time of the test, my mentor teacher helped me with learning how to give all the test’s instructions with clarity. All students were able to finish the test during class time. The first finished the test in about half the class time and the last student finished three minutes before the bell rang.

Today I also attended a meeting for planning English Week. We planned different activities: a picture bee, a verb bee, a debate… My third graders are going to have a poetry contest. I proposed for them a poem that is relatively short and that has a great message: The Voice, by Shel Silverstein. If you haven’t heard that poem before, here it is:

There is a voice inside of you
that whispers all day long,
‘I feel that this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.’
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
or wise man can decide
what’s right for you – just listen to
the voice that speaks inside.

I like this poem a lot because it talks about something we all must learn sooner or later, to listen our own consciences, and because it inspires a richer, deeper and more human learning environment. It can help my students to become better human beings, as I became a better person today by teaching them about resilience with a test!

Let’s keep growing!

Small Growth Victories

On Friday I did not have time for writing a post, so I will write for both days today.

On Friday I had a seminar about inclusive technology. It was given by a blind professor. He taught us technological skills and technological notions for exceptional students. He also thought us to define what is a blind person in a different way.  He told us that when he asks his students what is a blind student, most of them answer: “someone who can’t see, can’t read…” He showed us that we need to overcome the “can’t” view: we need to see what the student CAN do. Always. So, a blind student is a person who learns through audition and tact. We need to have the highest expectatives possible for our exceptional students. We learn about many really cool apps and hardware for exceptional students: Prizmo Go, Office Lens, Seeing AI, Dot Watch, Sunu band, braile screens, OrCam, Argus II…

After that seminar I had my first job interview as an ESL teacher. It was for a district in New Jersey. I did it just for the experience: I am not prepared yet to move to United States, I want to study a master first. I felt comfortable talking in English with the interviewer, it was a great first experience.

After the job interview I walked to the UPR Elementary School. I prepared the lesson plan for today’s class. You can see the lesson plan here: Comparative And Superlative Adjectives Review Plan . I also prepared a Power Point presentation to give my class. You can see that Power Point presentation here: Test Review.

Today I began my day preparing tomorrow’s test. My mentor teacher already corrected it and photocopied it, so it is ready for tomorrow’s class. He was kind enough to also photocopy for the students the Test Review Power Point presentation.

I discussed the Test Review like a competition. The students loved it so much that some of them did not want to leave the classroom. I let them know the bonus for tomorrow’s test: they need to write the word “resilience” correctly in the test. They had a hard time reminding how to write that word. I discussed that before the last weekend.

Last week I had problems with one student who forgot her eyeglasses many days, so she couldn’t participate properly in class (I needed to read for her). Today she brought her eyeglasses and participated by her own in the class. I was so happy for her! Another student had problems last week with waiting for his turn, but today he was able to wait for his turn many times. Those are the small growth victories that inspire me to keep teaching and learning how to help students to grow.

Let’s keep growing!