Wednesday, November 30, 2011

All I want for Christmas...

I taught my first real lesson today, about prehistory! Well, it wasn't exactly solving linear equations, but I did okay. I made a Prezi. You can find it here.... Prehistory Lesson . The kids were really into the presentation. They liked it. I included a youtube video about Lucy, the skeleton discovered in Ethiopia that is supposed to be an ancient human ancestor. They were excited, and asked many questions at the end. Because of my lack of content knowledge, my teacher stepped in and answered most of them. However, I picked up the slack when the kids wanted to know how tall Lucy was when the video said 3 and a half feet. Familiar with the metric system, this unit was meaningless to them. I did this lesson twice with the 1 ESO students (7th graders).

In my technology classes, two classes were building their robots out of legos today. I have to say, I know what I want for Christmas! They were having so much fun and learning at the same time. Watching the students problem solve, work together, and troubleshoot was awesome! I took lots of video for my teacher. I will try to post some soon. One group had an amazing design for a motorcycle on the accompanying design software. But, when it came time to actually build they ran into the issue of the connecting pieces not holding the desired shape. It was an engineer's dream. I had to stop myself from helping. (I did actually help two girls. They were getting frustrated and I wanted to play. Together, we figured it out.) I wish I could teach a class with legos when I get home. I will have to work on finessing that into the curriculum.

Since today is Wednesday, I wasn't suppose to have class after lunch. But, my geography/history teacher, Jesus, asked if I would give my US Geography presentation to a 2 ESO class right after lunch. I said sure. The kids were about 8th grade and very attentive. They listened and asked questions at the end. Although I talked for about 25 minutes throughout the presentation, I am including the slides so you can see what it looked like (around 2 minutes). US Geography Presentation 

I still do not feel well. I think it is a cold or sinuses. My throat/glands/nose are all messed up. I am trying to stay inside and get plenty of rest to get better. I am also eating a lot of clementines. I am hoping they are loaded with Vitamin C. I have eaten 2 every day this week for lunch. They are so good. That might be something I follow up on when I get back to BG. Also, the cook brought us a bag of chocolate bars tonight! That's awesome!

Well, I am off to try and make a timeline of my life for history class for Friday. We'll chat tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New SEK School Post

Below is the link to another school blog that I wrote. This week, it is about the upcoming food and toy drive that the school is hosting. There were 2 of my students that suggested making posters and hanging them around campus...2 girls! I was proud of them.

SEK School Blog

Just to make everyone aware of what I have to go through everyday at SEK, I am showing a picture of the breakdown of the number of stairs that I climb throughout the day. From the list, you can see that I go up/down nearly 4,000 stairs weekly! That's crazy!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Weekend in Rome

This weekend, several of us ventured to Rome, Italy. We left school early, missing the last two classes after lunch on Friday. We walked to La Garriga, then hopped a train to the airport, flew an hour and half, and landed in the awesome city of Rome! We caught a taxi at the airport to our hotel. That alone was a trip that almost made me want to go back to Spain. The driver was a crazy driver, weaving and changing lanes without signaling. He was an expert at using the horn. (I wonder what the life expectancy or an Italian horn is?)

Once we arrived at our hotel, Hotel Giorgina, we dropped our bags off, and headed across the street for our first Italian meal. What else would you eat in Italy, but pizza! And it was amazing! Then, because that wasn't enough, we went next door for some gelato. Yummy! Finally, it was time to go to sleep our first night. It was super clean with 3 twin beds and one double, perfect for us 5 girls. We slept well and sound.
Hotel Giorgina
 Day 1
The next morning, we headed out to the Coliseum. It was amazing! We were able to walk all the way around it and take lots of pictures. It was cool and surreal to be standing in the Coliseum. Next, we walked towards Vatican City. The streets were fill of shops and boutiques. We stopped frequently to window shop and check the map. Fact: there are no street signs, the road names were carved into the building corners.
The Coliseum
The Coliseum
 At the Vatican, we toured St. Peter's Basilica. While I am not Catholic, this was still amazing. The detail and the feel of the building was not at all what I expected.  We went to the basement and saw where the Apostle Peter was buried and the tombs of other Popes. Up next, the view from the top! We climbed 551 stairs. Did you read that carefully? 551 stairs to the top of the Cupola to have the most amazing view of the city. 360 degrees of Rome, wow!
St. Peter's Basilica
 Once we climbed back down, we headed to the Vatican Museum to get a look at the Sistine Chapel. The museum was huge and it took a solid 15-20 minutes of walking to get to the famous room. Once there, it was pretty impressive. It was very crowded and you couldn't take pictures, but made me think about how he did it.

From here, we left and went to next Italian meal. After pizza, what else could you have, but pasta! I had a massive plate of spaghetti. It was the best spaghetti I have ever had. The noodles were perfect, and the sauce had cheese melted into it. And once again, finished off the meal with gelato.

After lunch (at 5PM), we headed to our next stop, the Trevi Fountain. We hit the fountain at a peak time; there were lots of people. It was dark so the fountain was all lit up and gorgeous. The fountain has a story that says if you throw a coin into it, you will one day return to Rome. Another story says you just make a wish while you throw a coin in the fountain. Well, I threw in 3 coins! I can't wait to see what happens!
Throwing my coin in, making my wish!

The Trevi Fountain

After the Trevi Fountain, we made our way back to the hotel. We stopped along the way to buy souvenirs and look in the shops. We rested for a bit at the hotel and then headed out again for dinner at the Pizza Forum. The place was recommended to us by Giovanni, the night desk clerk at the hotel. It was situated near the Coliseum, so we got to see the Coliseum again, at night, all lit up. This pizza place was different than the first one, because this was thick crust. The first night, we had thin crust. However, their thick crust would just be normal crust in America. But, it was delicious!  And from here, we walked back to the hotel and went to sleep.
My dinner

Day 2
Day 2 started with  hotel continental breakfast around 8:30. Then, we headed out to a couple of sights and shopping. We went to the Pantheon, toured, took pictures, and enjoyed our last Italian meal, spaghetti. I love Italian food! The Pantheon was free and very crowded, but still cool to visit. 
The Pantheon
 From the Pantheon, we headed to the Spanish Steps. This too was free and very crowded. It was interesting to see all the people just sitting on the steps and enjoying the day.
Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps was the last major tourist thing we wanted to do. At this point, we were all tired. We headed back to the hotel, slowly, shopping along the way. We stopped for gelato, of course. At the hotel, we picked up our bags, talked to Giovanni for the last time, and jumped in our taxi to the airport. Good bye Rome.

The journey back to SEK (the school) was long. We caught our flight, which I think was late, that took us to the Barcelona airport. Then, from there, we had to get on the Aerobus to get us back to the center of Barcelona. Once there, we hopped on the night bus to La Garriga. And once we got off that bus, we had to walk 45 minutes at 2 AM to get back to school. I finally passed out in bed around 3 AM. was a long day, but a great weekend. Overall, the trip the Rome was amazing. The people were so nice and friendly. They would smile and call us various names, "Angel", "Bella", etc. The city was fairly clean, busy, fun, and overall a great experience. I hope that my Trevi Fountain wishes come true and that I get to go back to Rome someday.! Here is the link to all my pictures of Rome. I am also adding the link to my Spain pictures.

Rome Pictures 2011

Spain Pictures 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

When in Rome...

We arrived safely a few hours ago! We have already had our first Italian pizza and gelato! It was amazing. We also made friends with the desk manager. He gave us a map to help with our touring. Everyone here so far, has been crazy nice and polite. I will write more when I get a chance.


I hope that everyone has had a great Thanksgiving and is super busy right now with Black Friday shopping! I know my family is! All of us WKU'ers and the England GAP students attempted our own Thanksgiving feast last night. We had chicken, potatoes, corn, mac and cheese, and some other stuff. Afterwards, some of the girls enjoyed themselves by showing off their dance moves.

Several of us are leaving for Rome today. I am excited! We fly out tonight from Barcelona and will arrive back in Barcelona on Sunday night.

I woke up this morning somewhat sick. I think I have a cold. I am very achy and have a really sore throat. It hurts to swallow and my glands are swollen. Hopefully, I will feel better before we leave.

I don't have time to post a whole lot, because I am trying to get ready for my first class and packing for this weekend. But I did want to let my peeps know that I gave a presentation about American Geography, twice, to my 1 ESO classes on Friday. They loved it. They asked so many questions. I had never seen either class so well behaved and into the lesson. I must say I was as interactive and animated as I could be. I actually like these middle schoolers. I am going to teach secondary, but I am surprised by how much I like them. Since I talked a lot about the land features of the country and most are natural parks, I got really lucky because I had taken stickers from Mammoth Cave for all the kids. They loved them! I also took SKyTeach ink pens, that change color as they get warmer, and they flipped out! Most of them took two. It was a blast! And then my teacher complimented me on how well the presentation was. He said the students had fun but also learned. (I think that is the goal.) He asked if I would give the presentation to another class, that I don't teach, next week. I said sure! I will try to post the Powerpoint when I get back from Rome.

I am also working on another technology blog for my other teacher, Jordi. It should be up today. I need to interview a few students in class today.

Well, I need to sign off and get moving! It is exactly one month till Christmas! I am so excited!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thursday!

Or....Happy Thanksgiving!

To those of you in states, I hope you have a great holiday full of good food, good company, and good shopping deals! Sigh, I am missing Black Friday. Oh well, I know my mom and my aunts are more than making up for it wherever they decide to go.

Have a great day!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Since I left...

I have now been cell phone free for over a week and I have survived! It is currently being used as an overpriced alarm clock. I do have computer access at all times, but the cell phone has not been missed. I have been able to communicate to those I want to with Skype, my blog, email, and facebook. It has been nice not always having something in my pocket.

I have also been without some of my favorite foods since I left. For example, I have not seen anything resembling a pancake, grilled chicken, or popcorn since I have arrived. I have not had a single turkey sandwich, bowl of ravioli, or Taco Bell. Or salt! There is no salt or pepper to be found in this place. (Future students: Pack some seasonings! )But being here, I have learned to love my carbs. I eat bread, a lot of bread, daily. I eat fruit, a lot of fruit, daily. The fruit was actually a surprise to me. They keep fruit (apples, bananas, oranges, pears, clementines) in our flat, then they are also available at breakfast, morning snack, and lunch. Today, we had pizza for lunch. It was actually pretty good. Some of the food has been iffy. But the pizza was cheese with some type of pork on it, maybe ham pieces.

Today, was a pretty easy day. Jordi was gone to a UNICEF conference in Barcelona. I still went to class, with no students, and worked on the computer. I am giving a presentation tomorrow to my 1st ESO classes (12-13 year olds) about American Geography. Hmmm....I had to do some refreshing on this. So, I spent the majority of the day fighting Spanish Powerpoint to put together a presentation. Now, back in my flat, I have been able to work better with my English Powerpoint and thanks to Google images, am just about done. The rest of the gang went into town to gather supplies for our Thanksgiving feast tomorrow night.

Thanksgiving in Spain...should be interesting.

Below is a picture of what the outside of the school looks like when the students are released. Their school buses are more like greyhound buses.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Check this out!

Hey everyone...

One of my teachers, Jordi, keeps a blog for the school I am at. He asked me to write a post about what the 4th year secondary students are doing in the technology class. They are the ones that are playing with robots.

Here is the link to the blog. I wrote it in English. He told me to tell all my teachers that this is proof that I am working and not on vacation.



Here is a link to all my pictures thus far.

This link will still work when I update my album.

Go check them out!

This is a video from one of my younger students classes. It is a History and Geography class, taught in English. These students are all around 12-13 and would be in 7th grade in the states. This clip is in the middle of class, while students were changing presentations. The man in the front in the red sweater is the teacher. Also, if you notice around 6-7 seconds, on the right, there is no door to this classroom. There is a half bookshelf and a large walkway. That is the entrance to the class. Outside this door, there are 3 other classrooms. This noise level is typical for this class. Enjoy!

Also, there is another entry below this one that I just posted as well. Make sure to check them both out!!

About the school...

This is going to be an overview of the school for those students that will be here in the future and others that are just curious.

  • School is from 9:30 to 5:10. There is a 30 minute break at 12 noon and then 1-1.5 hour break(depending on the class you are in) at 2:20 for lunch. On Wednesdays, there is no class in the afternoons. I am told that in the rest of Spain, most schools do not have class on Wednesday or Friday. Interesting...
  • The schedule here is very lax. I write that school starts at 9:30, but kids are still arriving 10 minutes or so after that. During the day, there is no allotted time for class changes or locker breaks. Therefore, if class is supposed to start at 11:10, then expect it to start around 11:20. Teachers do not arrive early to class. If they are there at 11:10, that is good enough. There is an occasional bell denoting that class is over, however students will just leave around the right time. 
  • The school is laid out so that most of the classrooms have walls of glass or no walls at all. I see this as a major cause for distractions, including both visually and auditory problems. Most of these kids seem to do fine with the extra noise and movements, however, they are still just kids. They notice changes. I think it has been more of an adjustment for me than them.
  • They will go to school until December 23. But they do not come back till January 9th. They celebrate another holiday on January 6, which is like Christmas again but just for little children. My teacher explained that it is when "the magic kings bring gifts to the infants."
  • Most(all but 2, maybe) girls have long, brown hair, usually straight or wavy. The boys all have short dark hair. All students wear uniforms and I have witnessed several teachers reminding students to tuck their shirts in. Girls all wear plaid skirts and tights while boys all wear jackets and ties. These items can be purchased at the school store for a price, and used clothing can be bought.
  • The biggest difference that I have noticed in my short time here is the classroom management. It is completely different. These students are very loud and talkative. Granted, I cannot confirm what their discussions are about since my Spanish is limited to 5 words, but Jordi assures me it is mostly work related. From what I have seen in the classrooms before my arrival in Spain, this would not be tolerated. I find all the talking and moving around to be disruptive and in some cases, disrespectful. Most of these students that are at this school, have been here for years and are used to it. There is also a lot of group/partner work in my classes that require communication with another student. This is different than most American schools that I have been a part of, where independent work is the majority.
Overall, I am finding this experience to be eye opening. It is amazing what these children can soak up and learn. And the vast difference in the teaching styles is crazy. I have questioned both of my teachers about the standards to which they are held to. I am wondering how they can get away with doing so many projects and group assignments and still cover all the necessary content, a frequent discussion among SKyTeach students. From what I can gather, the government does give them a curriculum to follow, but it is so broad that really anything can be taught. If I understand Jordi correctly, there are end of the year assessments that the students must take. It is the same test, "state" wide. He made it sound like it was multiple choice, but I hope to gain more information about this.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A few pictures...

This is my attempt at taking a creative picture.

I want one of these!!

Me at La Sagrada Familia

The train station at La Garriga where we catch the train to go to Barcelona.

Colonel Sanders in Barcelona!!

Look at all the motorbikes...This is their favorite way to travel.

View from the top

Lazy Sunday

I am currently on my lunch break, 2:15 - 3:30. Crazy, huh? After this, I have two more classes, till 5:10ish and then I am done for the day.

Yesterday, since we have mastered the train, we went back to Barcelona. We decided that to get the best view of the city and decide what we want to do next, we would take a double decker tour bus around the area. This was a great idea. For 23 euros, we were able to ride on a tour bus for around 3.5 hours. It showed us all the important tourist stops. Future travelers: I highly recommend this. It will give you an amazing view and let you see all of Barcelona easily instead of walking the whole thing. The best part, that we didn't utilize yesterday, was that the price included unlimited passes to get on and off the bus. At each stop along the way, we could have gotten off, walked around, etc., and then gotten back on the next bus. Another great feature was that there were 2 routes in process right now and the price got us on to both of them. So, after we finished the blue tour, we hopped another bus and visited the Mediterranean Sea coast on the red tour.  To finish our trip in Barcelona, we stopped and ate gelato. Chocolate with chocolate chips...yum! Can anyone tell me the difference between gelato and ice cream. I hope it's healthier!!

Overall, this was a great and lazy day. 

Yes, I took pictures! I will post a link when I get out of school. Also, I am writing a blog posting for my teacher's website (in English) describing what some of the students are doing. I will post the link to that as well, when we finish.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Successful trip to Barcelona

Good morning all!

Yesterday was our first trip to Barcelona! I had a great time. The morning started with us figuring out the train system. Because we will be traveling into Barcelona numerous times, we all bought T10 passes which is good for 5 trips, to and from, Barcelona.

We have to walk 20 minutes to La Garriga to catch the train, which is a 40-45 minute ride. There were lots of different people on the train. It was interesting. I enjoyed people watching; since the train was moving so fast, I couldn't take in a whole lot of what was going on outside.

Once we arrived at Barcelona, we all stopped to remember the pickpocketing issue, conceal our purses, and decide on a destination. We stopped at the El Corte Ingles, which was a huge Macy's type mall, with around 8 floors! There was everything from perfume, toys, clothes, furniture, electronics, and a supermarket in the basement. There was also a Christmas area that we stopped and looked at on the way back. This first time in, we went straight to the information desk to get a city map.

We used our map to get us to la Sagrada Familia. It was a huge Catholic church, designed by Antoni Gaudi. It has not been finished and they are still working on it now, with an expected time of completion around 2025. Important note to future travelers: Bring your student ID, you will get a discount. We got in for 10,50 euros without the audio and around 13,00 euros with the audio. It was a couple of euros cheaper with our IDs.

At this point, it started raining some. We left the church and headed back toward the train station in search of other sites and food. Most places have little indoor seating and rely on outdoor seating for their customers. But since it was raining, we needed seating for 6. We finally found a place and ordered. We had some kind of shaved chicken with lettuce, carrots, corn, cucumbers, etc stuffed into a pita type bread. Add to that french fries, and you have my first meal of Barcelona! Exciting stuff! It was very good!

Next, we walked to the Arc de Triomf. This is the entrance to the main Barcelona park. However, because it was raining, we decided to wait to go to the park and coast another day. Besides a lot of walking and looking, this was basically the end of our first trip into Barcelona. We headed back to the train station, grabbed the 5:11 train, and enjoyed a relaxing ride back to La Garriga.

Once in La Garriga, we hung around at a spot for a few hours and caught the first half of the Barcelona football game. They love their football! We stopped at a semi-dollar store, bought an umbrella, and walked back to the school.

Overall, had a pretty good day. Tiring, but a good day. The plan is to go back again today and take a bus top tour and check out the park. I will post a link of my pictures soon!


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Headed out...

Heading to Barcelona today with the other girls...will report back soon!

Friday, November 18, 2011

For all my education followers...

I had the last of my new classes today. I had 12-13 year olds working on presentations to give to the younger students about the upcoming food drive and the importance of giving to those less fortunate. These students were using computers to create Powerpoints and Prezis. Most teachers in BG aren't even aware of Prezi. I was amazed. And they are good presentations! So, out of the 13(I think) classes that I am in, 10 of them are working on some type of project with a presentation and written component. I have yet to see over 15 minutes of direct instruction.

The expectations of these students are different (what seems higher to me) than those I have experienced as a student and what I have observed in classroom. Overall, their ability to use computers is unbelievable. They are doing things that college students have trouble with. They are able to correctly and accurately use Excel. I can think of at least 10 students in my Research Methods class that couldn't use Excel. These students are able to find data on the internet, import it into Excel, and make bar/line charts with a double axis, WITHOUT HELP! I will brag that my Excel skills are being tested because I can't read the commands on the toolbar, so I am having to go completely off memory and what looks close. And I am okay with saying that I have been successful at every question asked of me. LOL

Granted, they have the resources that most schools in the US don't have. They have many mobile labs that the teachers will just wheel into the rooms. They have problems with the battery life but the computers are good dell laptops with up to date software. Most students have their own laptops, flashdrives that they carry around, iPads, etc. It makes me wonder what would be possible if our students had these resources. And let's not forget that these students are the best of the best and they are paying a lot of money to be at this private school. Nearly all will go on to achieve college degrees.

Interesting fact: Most teachers do not count tardies. If a child is late, so what. It is not seen as a big deal.

My First Spanish Robot

As promised, here is a picture of my first Spanish robot. I think I will call him Alex. Next week, I will program Alex to follow a black line around a track. He is so excited!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Another First

Hello all!

Let's start with a little about the school. It has kids from 3 to 18. It is divided into several levels including infant, primary, secondary, and baccalaureate prep. In Spain, kids only have to go to school till 16. At that point, they can either start baccalaureate prep classes or get a job. Baccalaureate prep classes are supposed to get students ready for uni (college) which the majority of these students will do. Secondary is split into 4 levels, and starts at around 12 or 13 years old. Tuition here is 600-700 euros....a month, which is about 800-950 US dollars. To me, this seems like a lot. Apparently, the students that go here are wealthy and have no problem with that. Most get mini coopers or Ferraris when they start driving.

Today was the first day in the classroom. I got to meet all the kids. I was actually surprised to learn that I will be assisting two teachers! The first one is Gordi, who does all the computer/technology stuff. The second is Jesus (prounced Hay-Seuss (like Dr. Suess)). With Gordi, I am helping with 3 upper level robotics classes. I am really excited about this class. They are using Lego Mindstorms kits including the software to design and build stuff. Kids were designing elevators, motorcycles, bridges, trains, etc. They will start building next week. Gordi let me take a kit with me so I can start practicing and help them next week. I have already built a robot! Picture to come.Then, he also has 3 low level secondary geometry classes. His utilization of the internet resources is amazing. I am really excited for what I can pick up and use when I get back. And finally he has 2 other upper secondary classes that didn't meet today.

So there are 7 hours (or periods) throughout the day. During the majority of Gordi's free(planning) periods, I go and assist Jesus. Here's the kicker, he teachers history and geography to 12 year olds. I was nervous about the history part, and the geography part, and well, the 12 year old part too! But they are really cool kids. They asked me a lot of questions about myself and about the US. They are doing oral presentations next week over a country of their choosing. I am excited to listen to them. I am hoping that I can video a few of them. One group is doing their presentation over the US.

Interesting fact...they don't address their teachers by Ms. Jones or Mr. Smith. They call them by their first names. I was called Tammi or Ms. Tammi.


First Day

Today was a very long day. We were picked up at the airport around 7 AM local time. We were then taken to SEK Catalunya, our school for the next 4 weeks. We were given a short orientation about the school, getting around on the trains, and what to expect. We were served a light snack consisting of a small sandwich and cookie with coffee or hot tea. Then, we took our bags to our room. There are 4 girls in one building over the secondary school and 4 girls (including me) over the primary school. We dropped our bags off and then went to the town of La Garriga. That is where we will do our quick trips for supplies, dinner, etc. at night. We walked around a bit and saw what they had to offer.
Then, we came back, rested for a little while and went to eat lunch at 2:30. Lunch consisted of a noodle soup (all that I ate), sausage, mashed potatoes (kinda), cabbage and apple salad, fruit, bread, and water. It was an interesting experience. Then, we went on a tour of the school and met our mentor teachers. All seemed nice. We have to meet them at 9:30 the next morning.
Finally, it was time to go back to our rooms for rest. We all crashed for a few hours till we had to meet another group of students from the UK and have sweet bread and champagne. They had all been here a while and were used to how the school was. We all asked each other questions till around 9:30 when we all left to go to bed for the first real time in what seemed like days.

Have a good day!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

View from the terrace

This is a picture of the view from my terrace.

Arrival - Safe and Sound

Finally..we are here! We arrived several hours ago, but have had our plate full (literally). I feel that every time we turn around we are discussing our next meal.

We had a small orientation, were shown our flats, and then did a quick grocery run to get air fresheners and water...the necessities.

We have about 30 minutes then we go eat again! I will type more in a few hours.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Flight status

Well, packing is still going on, but I am almost done. Yippy!

I am adding my flight info below so you can check on us.
Nashville to JFK, Flight 4197
JFK to Barcelona, Flight 0066

Monday, November 14, 2011


Well, I have waited to the last minute to pack...shame on me! How am I supposed to get enough stuff for a month into such a small space and still be able to carry it when I get there?!

I am sure that Barcelona has a store where I can buy poptarts and baby wipes, but right now, I am not willing to part with them! They will fit, they will fit!

Stay tune for more updates!