Observe best practices among dual language schools in Costa Rica to strengthen English Language Learner literacy and create a classroom culture in which all students are appreciated and validated.
Visiting La Paz has opened my eyes to so many ideas and possibilities. I have gained more knowledge on student portfolios and student led conferences with parents. The new books and titles that the teachers introduced me to give me more insight into different authentic texts I could use for instruction as well as recommend to my students to read on their own. My knowledge on rain forests has increased so much and I am very excited to revamp my informative writing unit as a result.
I teach across content areas and plan to incorporate more project-based learning for my students. This will give them the chance to get hands on experience in real life situations they will use the skills taught in class. Also, students will now keep work in a portfolio that will be used in January to show parents the progress that their child has made since September. The pictures, videos and information I acquired visiting the rain forest in Monteverde will improve my informative unit.
Surfing was hands down my greatest personal accomplishment! Since surf is such a big part of the culture in the community, I knew it was something I had to try. The instructor also happened to be the parent of one of the students I met at La Paz community school. It was a very trying experience and for a long part of the lesson I thought I would not be able to stand up on the board. When I finally got up, it was such an accomplishment for me. I would love to give it another go!
After learning so much in Costa Rica, my students will be able to learn about the country in different ways. I look forward to teaching them and showing them what I learned in the museums as well as in the rain forests. My students will be challenged a new light as they take on different challenging projects that will incorporate what they have been learning in class. They will be come more confident in their learning and also knowledgeable in different areas across content material.
Currently, I am working to see how what I learned regarding student led parent conferences can be incorporated in the school. I have been brainstorming with the principal and teachers to find new, engaging and rewarding ways for students to put on display what they have accomplished to their parents. In addition, I will be meeting with the kindergarten teacher to show ideas that I learned regarding stations in the Spanish classroom. It will be a great way for us to collaborate cross grade level.
I imagine the students work on display on walls and bulletin boards. The parents will come in January after a few months of hard work to see how hard their children have been working in the classroom. I look forward to their end of unit writing project on rain forests that shows off their knowledge. They will create learner profiles that encourage to be reflective of their work and think of both their own strengths as well as areas of growth.
The La Paz community school has such a strong sense of the environment and natural resources around them that I hope to make my students more aware of as well. They interact within their own community as well as partner up with other organizations/programs around the area. While we do not live in a similar climate/ecosystem, I hope to make students more aware of the resources around them and what they can do to help the environment as well.
This has been the most valuable experience in my professional career. In the few days that I was able to visit the school, I learned so much about things that I had never imagined before. It opened my eyes to new possibilities. I noticed a change in my thinking from "We can't do that" to "What if..." and "Maybe that's not exactly something we can do but we could...". Throughout the time I was there I became more reflective and creative in ways to make the classroom and school a better place.