Viaje a las Islas San Blas

This past weekend we got to visit the San Blas Islands of Panamá, or I’d like to call paradise. Before I talk about how gorgeous and perfect these islands are I want to give some background on them. These islands are actually not owned by the Panamanian government but are rather owned by a ingenious tribe called the Kuna. So these islands have their own laws and government. In order to get into San Blas you first have to pass through the border patrol and show your passports to enter. Once we were in we went to the bay to find our guide who would take us to each island in a panga boat. The water was a bit choppy so it made for some rough sailing but in the end it was completely worth it. The islands were something out of a movie or even a computer screensaver! The water was a gorgeous turquoise color and was crystal clear. You could see easily the bottom of the ocean as we sailed over the waves. We first went to the main islands were a majority of the Kuna people lived. We got to interact with some of the locals and even checked out a small cultural museum to learn about their heritage. We even got to check out the school they had on the island!

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The second area we stopped was called the Natural Pools, in this area the sea was shallow enough to stand in. At the Natural Pools there is a cluster of starfish that live there. We spent around thirty minutes snorkeling around checking out the starfish and the fish in the area. After that we went to our third and last stop for the day, Dog Island. We ate lunch at the local restaurant which had amazing local food that literally fished our order as we ordered it! I had the lobster which was out of this world, I’ve never had such fresh lobster before. The best part of the day was after lunch we got to snorkel around a sunken ship that was just off the island. There was a ton of life all throughout the boat and I did a little free diving through the ship to see if their was any sunken treasure! Sadly I did not find any but seeing all the vibrant sea life was very cool. Sadly it rained on us which has NEVER happened during February, which is their dry season, and had to leave a little bit earlier than we planned. Even though it seemed like our time on the San Blas Islands were short we actually spent a good couple of hours there. We were just having so much fun in paradise, time seemed to slip away a lot quicker than usual. I am coming back soon just to see these amazingly beautiful islands.

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Segunda Semana en Balboa

My second week at Balboa seemed to go by so fast! This week we started our pin pal activity. I started this activity in Texas, I had my students write pin pal letters to my students in Panamá. In these letters my students described three things about themselves and three things about Texas. I gave out each letter to one of my students in Panamá to read. Unfortunately I only have seventeen students back home and I have twenty-two students at Balboa, but some of the students did not mind sharing! I was kind of surprised to see how excited the students were to do this assignment. I think it helped that both of my classes are third graders and a lot of them seemed to share interests. The coolest part of this activity seeing the students enjoying writing and making a new friend in a far place they’ve never been to before. I had my students at Balboa do a similar letter back to their new pin pals, write three things about themselves and three things about Panamá. A lot of my students back home wrote about the stockyards in Fort Worth and a lot of my Panamanian students were super interested in what they are. So I showed them a informative video about the history of the stockyards and the rodeo we have in Fort Worth. To my surprise they went absolutely nuts about how awesome they thought the stockyards and rodeo were! Many of them want to come to Texas now to experience Fort Worth, where the West starts. When I get back home I want to continue this activity between my two classes and I plan on sending pin pal letters back and forth for the rest of the semester. I also might try to get a Skype session in at the end of the year so the students can meet their pin pals!

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Dragon Festival

After the school week, we had Dragon Festival which is a festival the school holds for the elementary, middle, and high school. The festival had carnival games, food, a haunted house, water slides, foam pits, and food! The food was made by all the parents that are from different places around the world. So we had everything from Panamanian food to Korean food to Colombian food and much more! This was an awesome way to celebrate the diversity at Balboa and seemed to bring the community together. I loved that all three schools were brought together because it is a great opportunity for the older students to interact with the younger ones and become friends. A lot of the high school students were just volunteering but it still sets a good example for the younger ones. I think my students favorite part of the festival was seeing me and my cooperating teacher in a setting outside of school. They were so excited to see me selling tickets, maybe they were just trying to be sweet to get extra tickets! Anyhow it was fun seeing my students outside of the school setting enjoying a fun day. The festival is not all about the fun though, it is also an opportunity to raise money for the PTSO (parent teacher student organization) so they can help fund the extracurricular activities and field trips. This year it was especially important to raise money because one of the teachers was just recently diagnosed with breast caner and had to take a leave of absence. Balboa decided they would also raise money and awareness to help this teacher in her time of need. It is awesome to see three schools come together to help a teacher, this showed me that Balboa has a strong and wonderful community. This is another good example to set for all the students to take care of those who are in of need.

 

 

Viaje a El Valle de Anton

El Valle y La India Dormida 

This past weekend we got to do an awesome day trip to El Valle de Anton which is a neat little village nestled in the mountains of eastern Panama near Costa Rica, and is also on top of a dead volcano. In this village they have a famous mountain range called La India Dormida (The Sleeping Indian) that looks like a a person laying down and sleeping. The story behind the mountain range is long ago there was a Indian prince and princess who were in love with each other but the princesses father wanted her to marry a wealthy Spaniard instead. The prince was heartbroken that he would not be able to be with the one who he loved so he went up into the mountains and never returned. When the princess heard that this happened she too went up into the mountains and went to sleep and never awoke again. So the mountain range that looks like a sleeping person is supposed to be the sleeping princess! It was hard to get full picture of the mountain range but I was able to get a picture of the mountain peak where the prince supposedly died

 

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Zip Lining, Waterfalls, and Natural Pool

When we first arrived at El Valle, we went immediately to the zip lines. I was the only one who went but I still had a blast by myself!  In order to get to the zip lines a guide had to take me through a pretty intense hike straight up the mountain and through the rain forest. Even though it was a steep hike, it was very beautiful and got to see lots of awesome plants and trees.I got to do three different zip lines which all went through the lush rain forest. My favorite zip line was the last one because it was the longest and highest one of the three. I also got zip by an awesome waterfall called El Macho! After zip lining I met up with the rest of the group to hike to a natural pool to cool off. In order to get to the natural pool we had to use some gnarly bridges that looked like they were out of an Indian Jones movie! The natural pool was very cool but was extremely cold so we only stayed for a bit. After our little adventure we ate at a local restaurant and hit up the local artisan and vegetable market to get some fresh fruit and some souvenirs.

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Nuestro Primer Fin de Semana en Panamá

Our first weekend in Panamá was amazing! We had an action packed first weekend and got to experience a lot of the country. We arrived on Thursday night and had our first adventure Friday morning. Friday was our first full day in Panamá and we got to go see the Canal in the morning and went to see Casa Viejo (old Panamá City) to explore the city.

Panamá Canal – Friday

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The Canal was amazing to see, it is truly an engineering feat and meets the criteria for being one of the seven modern world wonders. We got to see a massive cargo ship go through the locks and it took about 10 minutes. Once the ship enters a set of locks water fills and lifts the ship up to the same level as Gatun Lake. After the ship enters the second pair of locks, the water drains and lowers the ship to sea level. This process of filling and draining is accomplished by using good old gravity. This whole process uses fresh water because it costs less to maintain the mechanical parts using fresh water rather than salt water. The locks are a massive 8 stories high, 35.5 meters wide, 304.8 meters long, and it takes 100 million liters (26417205.236 US gallons) to fill them! These locks are also extremely heavy, weighing 700 tons which are comparable to more than 300 elephants. The main commercial routes that use the Canal are:

  • Between the east coast of the US and Asia
  • Between the east coast of the US and the west coast of South America
  • Between Europe and the west coast of South America
  • Between the west coast of the US and Canada and Europe

Casa Viejo – Friday

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After the Canal, we continued our trolley tour to Casa Viejo which is the old Panama City that is being restored into a cultural district.  This part of Panamá has extremely gorgeous architecture, especially with the old churches that are in the town.  We did not stay long here because we were pretty worn out at this point but we made plans to come back for another weekend to explore more!

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Colón Diving/Snorkeling Trip – Saturday

On our second day in Panamá, we got to visit a city on the Caribbean side called Colón. This part of Panamá is very poor but is covered with a beautiful lush jungle and is right on the Caribbean side. This was by far my favorite activity of the weekend because I got to go diving and had an amazing experience! A Remora fish (fish that clean sharks) decided to befriend me while on my dive and latched onto my leg and was trying to keep me nice and clean. While diving I also saw some stingrays, needle fish, lion fish (invasive species), and a lot more sea life! I hope we get to go back and do at least one more dive or maybe just do some snorkeling!

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Gamboa Rain Forest- Sunday

On our last day of the weekend we got to go to the Gamboa resort and got to explore the rain forest a bit. This was also a ton of fun and got to see a beautiful part of Panamá. While at Gamboa we got to go on a awesome hiking trail and saw some cool monkeys. I brought a banana for a snack but our guide said we should feed it to the monkeys instead! It was really cool to watch the monkeys scurry down the tree and snag a banana from my hand super quick and run back up into the tree lines. After our hike we did an awesome kayak trip that was pretty intense at first but turned out to be really nice in the end. It was peaceful to be out on the calm parts of the water floating through an amazing rain forest

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Primera Semana de Escuela en Balboa

This is the post excerpt.

Overview

Wow, my first week of teaching at Balboa Academy was jammed packed and was a ton of fun! My cooperating teacher and I have decided we will split the teaching time between us so I have been getting a lot of experience teaching  lessons on my own. Unfortunately, I do not think I will be able to cover everything I did because so much happened and my post would be endless. Instead I am going to write about the highlights of the week and about my favorite moments. The best part of teaching at Balboa academy is that their school day is scheduled differently than the school I am at back in Fort Worth. Back home one teacher teaches one subject and the classes rotate while down here at Balboa one teacher teaches all the subjects and keeps one class all day. I am glad I get to experience both scheduling types so I will know how to work within both when looking for a job in the future. Another huge difference between Balboa and my school back in Fort Worth is that they have so many specials to go to in one day here! They go to three different specials a day while back home they only go to one.

Science Class

I was so blown away by how awesome the science class is at Balboa Academy. The teacher has her room set up to make it look like an actual science lab, not just some classroom that is the same as the others. The teacher has multiple dead animals, bugs, sea creatures, and even a human brain in jars with preservatives for the students to observe. I thought this was so awesome because I have never seen a science class have these things out for the students to look at, I have never even seen stuff like this in a high school class! The teacher also had a cool sedimentary rock display that had samples each rock type with descriptions on it. Even though these things might not be apart of the lesson, it makes for a cool classroom atmosphere and the students are always excited to go to science. Another cool display the teacher had was she had a bug specimen display with all sorts of bugs and their scientific name/regular name beside them. I truly do think if more science classes had this sort of atmosphere, students would enjoy the class much more and be more inspired to follow a field in science when they get older. I could use this entire post to talk about how awesome the class was set up but I want also highlight actually how awesome the class was!

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This week the students were doing a lesson on the moon and sun. This lesson included the phases of the moon, position of the sun at different hours, and how the sun creates shadows. First I will talk about the sun part of the lesson because we did this part of the multiple times throughout the week. The students were tasked with going outside and track the the position of the sun at different hours throughout the day with a partner. While outside one partner would have to point in the direction of the sun while the other partner had to draw the position of their partners hand on a worksheet. I thought it was really awesome the students got to go outside and enjoy the beautiful weather while also learning. The second part of the sun lesson was about how the sun can casts shadows and at different hours the size of a shadow can either grow or shrink. They learned that shadows change size based off the position of the sun. For their activity, my favorite part, they again got to go outside and instead of a worksheet they just had to draw the outline of their partners shadow with chalk on the sidewalk! To me the lesson seemed way more meaningful to the students because they actually enjoyed the lesson and got to see with their own eyes how shadows are made and how they can be different shapes. The funniest part of this activity was once everyone finished it looked like a giant murder scene with all the chalk outline of bodies! The students even wanted to do an outline of me to see if my shadow would be bigger or smaller than theirs.

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The moon part of the lesson was equally as awesome as the sun portion of the lesson. In class they learned about how the moon goes through different phases and had to sketch which moon phase the moon was in for that night on their worksheet. They also learned that the moons phases goes through a cycle so you will see each phase of the moon every month. What made this lesson super awesome was the fact the school was having astronomy club on Friday after school. All of second, third, and fourth grade were welcome to come with their families because all those grades were doing a lesson on the moon. Astronomy club was so awesome because members of the Panamanian astronomy observatory came and brought their extremely powerful telescopes for the students to use to view the night sky. One of the telescopes was so powerful you could clearly see the craters on the moon, it looked like a photograph you would see on the internet! They also had awesome telescopes that showed us Venus, Mars, and the stars in the night sky. This was such an awesome learning experience that not only enhanced their lesson on the moon but their overall experience of being a student. Balboa does an amazing job of inspiring students to enjoy school and want to succeed by giving them amazing experiences and opportunities.
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Math Stations

I will end the this post talking about our math class we had on Friday because I thought the lesson went really well for both the students and the teachers! On Fridays we do math stations and have a math specialist come in to work with the students. What was awesome about the math stations was that we were able to teach multiple lessons at the different stations and was able to get a lot covered. The math specialist was teaching a new lesson that we would be working on more the previous week, my cooperating teacher taught a review lesson of what we were covering this week, and I helped students with playing a math game on the iPads. The lesson the math specialist was working on was line segments, rays, lines, and angles. The review lesson and the game they were playing on the iPad was about decimals and place value. The reason why I really liked the math stations activity was that the students were able to experience three different teaching strategies and rotating helped in keeping them fresh. The iPads were also a nice change of pace for the students because doing work on endless worksheets can get mundane and make them lose their attention. Next week my cooperating teacher and I will switch roles and I will lead the review lesson while she helps the students with the iPads and make sure they are on task.

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