Monday, February 27, 2017

Agur Basque Country!

I cannot believe that my [ed]venture in Mondragon, Spain has come to an end. There are so many memories I will never forget and will never forget the impact the Basque Country has had on me.

On Friday, the 24th, all five of us headed out of Arrasate for our last trip to Bilbao, Spain, which is about an hour away. While we have traveled through Bilbao, we did not have the chance to experience the amazing aspects this town had to offer. We began our trip closer to 11am because packing and walking with all our stuff was harder than expected. Once off the bus, we realized how long our trek we had to get to our Hostel, which was a super cute flat close to the Guggenheim museum. According to our maps, it was an 11 minute walk to the train, on the train for about 4 minutes, and then another 5 minute walk. But as we got to the train station, there were no escalators to help us bring our bags down, so we just walked the whole way. By the time we were in our flat, all of us were out of breathe, sweating, and needing some water.

With the whole day in front of us, we were ready to get some good food, as always. We all just headed for the main part of the town and were in awe of the beauty and the churches. Since we have eaten in Bilbao before, a few of us went back to the first place that had a great 3 course meal. The rest of us went to an awesome new place that also had a great 3 course meal. I ended up having mac and cheese first, with a chicken meal second, and I ended with an amazing brownie. As we ate, we talked about how crazy it is that we were leaving the beautiful Basque country in about 20 hours. After our meal, we all wanted to walk around to find souvenirs for our families. We began to walk closer to the Guggenheim museum because we had tickets for 3 pm. Like in Mondragon, we needed to remember what time
of day it was because shops were beginning to close for their naps or late snacks.

We ended up being able to go into the Guggenheim early. The shape of the building was something to be taken into account for the beauty of the whole place. Everyone was given a recorder to listen to as we walked around. I was very into all the paintings and took my time. I was in awe of all the different types of artists. We spent about 3 hours there and I was glad that we were able to take our time. After the museum, we needed to grab jackets and repack our bags to make sure that all of our gifts fit our bags. It took us a few hours to find a place we wanted to go; however, we did not have reservations. We were able to find a place for all of us to eat and we had a great last time together in Spain.

The next morning, we all were up early ready for the full day of travel. I was full of mixed emotions. I was ready to go home to see everyone and have my schedule, but I was truly going to miss the people in Arrasate, my school, and most of all the people I have met. I had a really hard time staying awake for all the airplane rides. I was only able to sleep on the last flight and was overwhelmed with the whole trip. I was overjoyed to be home and being able to be closer to my family. I was just anxious for the days to come.

Now that I have been home for two days and have been able to share my experiences with friends and my school, I am starting to see how this trip has changed me as a person, friend, and educator. I am more confident in my view of the world and feel that I fully immersed myself into the culture. While I was shocked, I never felt as though I shouldn't understand their ways or disagree with what they do. I feel lucky to have been welcomed into their culture and into their schools to see their educational system. I have learned what patience is and what I want to implement into my classroom more than before. I hope that these memories will last forever and hope to continue to feel the impact for years to come. So thank you, Mondragon. I will miss the mountains and the views. I will miss the school and the amazing students. I will miss being able to explore in a new place. Beyond thankful and hope to visit again.

Agur Spain,

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Final Days in School

Tuesday, the 21st, I was with Anabel all morning. As usual, we started with the older students who are in 6th grade. Since I missed yesterday, I was behind on what the first section of 6th grade accomplished last class. The 6th graders are working on recipes and quantities of ingredients. The first class was able to sing the cook's song, while the second class was just learning the song. Both classes worked on cooking vocabulary like peeling, chopping, boiling, and frying. The first 6th grade class has a lot of trouble listening to Anabel, but throughout the weeks, I have seen her become more stern and make it clear that she is in charge. The first class was able to go through all the ingredients for a banana cake and they had to look up some pictures for reference. Afterwards, the listened to a recording that told them how much of each ingredient they needed. Groups worked together to make sure that all of them had the correct amounts. The next class of 6th graders just started learning the vocabulary; thus, they worked on a program that went through pictures and vocabulary that deals with cooking. Anabel made this into an activity and race between the students to see who could do the whole list correctly and the fastest. The same activity was in their textbooks so they had to match the words to pictures correctly there by the end of class. The last class I had with Anabel today was with 5th graders. They were working on the English program, Trainer for the class period. Many of them continue to work on copying sentences that deal with colors and weather. They work on numbers in the thousands and work on emotions. I am very proud of this group for working hard throughout the entire class.

In the afternoon, I am with Unai with 4th graders during gym class. I love this time of the week because I get to really bond with students and have fun with them. Today, they were working on group activities where the teachers expected them to listen to each other and think strategically. The first activity is where the students were first standing on benches that were half way to the goal line. They were given a limited amount of hula-hops and they couldn't step outside of them, if they do, they have to start over. With the first try, the students were all over and no connecting line for all of them to make it to the goal. Unai stopped them to remind them to talk it through and then work together to make it work. The second time around, they were able to start the train. After 45 minutes, they had made it to the goal line. They were all so proud of themselves that they sang and jumped together. After that, they split into 4 groups. Unai and the other teacher set up four square on the floor. Two groups at either station and they all had to run one-by-one to get 4 in a row before the other group. The groups were getting so serious and there was lots of screaming. After awhile, they switched it to 3 in a row and even switched groups around so they could play new people. Overall, the groups really had to think about what the other team is going to do. The big group had many long conversations in Basque and it was time to go. Cannot wait for Thursday!

Thursday, February 23rd, was a hard day to say goodbye to the school and the students I love. I began the day with Anabel and we were in a 5th grade class and 6th grade class. In the 5th grade class, we started the class as we normally do by talking about the day, what the did yesterday after class and telling the time. The 5th graders were working on the English program, Trainer during the whole class today. Unlike other days, they all were super into the program and were working hard throughout. Many of the students were on the same level that had them copy sentences with names, worked on vocabulary like coast, surname, and first name. Others were putting th or rd on numbers. Today, many students would ask Anabel to help them with words and or how to say certain words in English. This class left the room without saying much, which was a new thing to see.

In the 6th grade class, they were all very excited that Carnival is coming up this weekend. They all went around and said what they are going to dress up as. Some examples are: Lions, batman, batwoman, police, singers, and muscle guys. Here, they celebrate in the streets on Saturday and they celebrate Carnival at school on Tuesday; thus, many of them will have two different outfits. Anabel then began to review what they worked on last class, which was taking the quiz on the computer to practice cooking vocabulary before they work on the recipes. Now, they are asked to open their books so they can go through the ingredients for the banana loaf. Anabel had to show pictures of most of them to this class, but they were able to fully understand what each English word represented. Like the other day, Anabel played the recording that matched the ingredient to the quantity of that ingredient. She had to play it a few times before they worked as a group to make sure all of the amounts were correct. I had a group call me over to check their work and then they began to ask me about why I am leaving and why I wasn't at their school on Monday and Wednesday. I explained that I was seeing other schools and a boy told me that he wants to see those schools in the future as well, maybe there is a future teacher here. After each group checked their answers with the other students in the class, they had to match the utensil to the picture in their textbook. The recording named them and explained how they looked like so they could match them easier. Since this activity was all about banana loaf, Anabel cooked one last night and brought it for them to eat. However, she said she forgot an ingredient and they have to decide which one. She happened to have enough for me and we both agreed we did not like it, but all the students guessed right that cinnamon was missing.

I was with Unai to work with third graders next. His other student teacher was here again and was very sad that today was my last day; she is so incredibly nice. They began class by stating what day is today, talked about the weather, and saw if anyone was missing. Then Unai asked this class to tell us what they are going to dress up as for Carnival. This group was going as: thieves, animals, batman, ballerinas, vampires, witches, and cowgirls. Some of the students brought in activity books to work on later in class. Since they were so excited about Carnival, Unai asked them to bring in pictures of them for homework. Next, Unai had them play a game of pictionary with old English vocabulary words. The kids LOVED this game and came up with many vocabulary words. With only 10 minutes left of class, they opened their activity books to work on a coloring page. Unai had students read the instructions on which numbers were certain colors. While they were able to read it, he had to say many of these colors in Basque for them to connect the colors in English. At the end of class, many students gave me hugs and said agur.

In the afternoon, I was with Unai and 6th graders for gym class. They all were sad that today was my last day and I was excited that we got to bond again once last time in gym. To begin, they had to work on their dance for carnival. I had to fill in for one of the students right away and was lost the first cycle, but caught on quite well. This dance is to the same one as the 4th graders, but has different moves. I have a full video, but the blog won't let me post. After they worked on the song 3 times, they had three students teach the class for 20 minutes. The first game they had us play was one we played weeks ago. There is a cone set up on both ends and there are two teams. Each team is trying to tap the other team's cone without being tagged. The second game they played was 3 person tag. Each group had three people with numbers 1, 2, and 3. When they call your number, the other two members are trying to tag you. I was in the group with the other two male teachers and it was super intense.

For the rest of the class, the 6th graders were working on getting from one part of the room to the next with only hula-hoops, just like the 4th graders. These 6th graders were screaming non-stop and had a very hard time listening to each other. One student would have an amazing idea and then would change their mind when someone else wanted a hula-hoop. Unai stopped them about 5 times before they found a way to the other side. It took them twice as long as the 4th graders. I feel as though they needed to have a conversation as a group as to why it took them so long. Unai said he hopes they will do that next week.
I said my goodbyes and was very emotional. I am beyond thankful to have been able to meet all the students and work with these amazing teachers. I have learned so much and will miss them dearly.

Agur Anabel, Unai, and Arizmendi Ikastola!


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Last Meeting with our Coordinators!

Wednesday was full of goodbyes and great reflection on our fabulous experiences here in Mondragon.

Us girls started the day off by going to an Educational Museum in Bergara called Laboratorium Bergara. We walked in knowing we should ask for a specific guy, but we had all forgotten his name. But when we explained to the receptionist about what we needed, she said they were expecting us. They handed us two tablets that were set to have displayed explained in English for us. The museum started with a video that talked about how the Basque country began to use world-wide technology. There were many displays that had interactive screens to watch or play games on. Then there were cases full of science tools, animals, and books with discoveries. I spent time checking out all cases and played with all interactive screens. It walked us through the secret Society of Basque people. I found one that allowed me to discover Wolfram, which was actually discovered in Bergara. Wolfram was the 23rd element found on the periodic table. I was able to view all around the room to pick up the element, crush it, heat it up, and then find the new element through this program. I loved how interactive it was and I was very engaged. There were a few interactive screens that were only available in Basque or Spanish, but those languages are most used here. There was even a section about how Charles Darwin's work influenced the scientists and community in Bergara. The last video was encouraging everyone to realize that so much information is at our fingertips, but that doesn't mean that we all should stop searching for new information and being curious.

If you want to find out more about this museum, check out this link:

After this, we were able to explore Bergara more than before. We were in this town on Monday when we visited the deaf school, AransGi. Today it was beautiful, sunny, and warm outside; thus, we all sat on a bench for about 30 minutes taking in the beauty of this town. As per usual, we were on a time crunch and we were all hungry. After a few failed attempts to find food we liked, we made our way to Eskoriatza, where we had a meeting with Tane and Sinead, our coordinators.

Luckily, Tane was able to set up a time for us girls to see an infant school that has students ranging from 0 until they are 6 years old. This building was incredible and looked like a treehouse on the inside. There were 4 levels in this building and it had the youngest on the bottom and oldest on the upper floors. In this school, they have recently changed their teaching approaches and that included the change in layout of the rooms. The bottom floor had the babies to 1 year olds. These rooms were set up for them to explore all different types of textures and materials that are natural, such as wood, steel pots, grass, and bread crumbs. We met the 1 year olds outside, and I scared one so they all weren't fans of us. We made our way upstairs where I made friends with a few of the little boys who made faces at me. They began to laugh and talk in Basque.

The next level had even older kids who were working on cutting and coloring. They showed us a room that was supposed to expose these students to explore 3D by playing with these different level obstacle courses. The set up was amazing and I would have loved to have played with this as a child. There were materials in the other room were also natural and very stimulating. The teachers change out these materials every few days unless they are very interested in them.

Later the women explained that the students are able to explore throughout the whole day with what they are most interested in. The older students pick projects to work on that can take as short and or as long as they want. This mindset reminds me of Montessori and Dewey. Students are able to learn math through centers such as working with money at grocery stores and or with number sticks. Each level had the sand-tables filled with different materials such as sand with beads, bread crumbs, sand with lights underneath, and sand with pasta. We kept walking through classrooms to see all the students. Many of them were joking with me with noises and funny faces. They all were so excited to see us and were ready to communicate with us, but Tane did the talking for us. There was one level that had a climbing wall, play house, and mats to create structures with. All these materials were very stimulating and made me excited for items I could have in my own classroom. I just love all the texture stations and saw many opportunities to teach letters, words, numbers etc.

Overall, I absolutely loved this school and wish we had more time to visit, but we had more to do. I loved all the opportunities for these students to explore and feel materials. Tane and Sinead said that I should consider teaching the younger students because I was making friends all over the place. I just love the little kiddos. When we all were leaving, a little boy called down and said we were the prettiest girls in Spain! There were so many cool places in this school, below I will post extra pictures.

Our meeting with Tane and Sinead was a wrap up to our whole experience. We gave suggestions on what kinds of experiences we want future TCU students to have here in Mondragon. I loved my school and suggested that we all still have a main school, but asked if we could have seen other schools like this infant and deaf school before the last week when we want to see our kids for the last time. In addition, we all talked about how all students have struggles with the language barrier and that's what makes this experience so impactful for all involved. As a group, we talked about the special education school and saw a video. I wish we had more time here so we could all visit each other's school for lessons. I also suggested that us TCU students should have had lessons on Basque so I could say more than just hi, bye, and thank you to my students. Everyone agreed and hopefully that will happen in the future. Overall, I highly suggest any TCU student to come to Mondragon/Basque Country to learn about their education system and fall in love with the beauty of the mountains.

Until next post,

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sign Away!

Today, Monday February 20th, us girls, Melissa, Andrea, Camila and I meet up with our favorite coordinator, Tane. We have been given the amazing opportunity to visit a Deaf school in Bergara, Spain called AransGi. The school is in a cute town that used to house the nobles. Tane picked us up and drove us to this school, which she has never visited before. However, one of the teachers was a student of hers. We walked through a beautiful park to find this cute school. When we walked in, we were met by a man who ran the school. He spoke super fast Spanish and was very welcoming. He lead us to his office where he explained what kind of school we were at. He explained that AransGi was a dual-language and dual-culture school. This means that the students speak orally in Spanish and speak with Sign Language and in the culture there are people who are deaf and people who are not. These students spend three days at AransGi and the other two they spend at mainstream schools all around the Basque Country. In addition, he expressed that these students have many questions and love visitors. He was very animated in his speech and we found him signing along.

Then, he lead us to our first room with students. We met the teacher who also spoke in very fast Spanish. She told us that we need to tell them our names, write them on the board, say where we are from, and create a signal for our names. Two students walked in and were immediately nervous. One was a student from Ukraine and the other was a boy from Nigeria. The girl has been with this school for awhile; thus, she did most of the talking and explaining to her peer. They began by asking each of us our names orally in Spanish while signing. Andrea went first and spoke Spanish while attempting to copy the same sign language back. Her name sign was her sticking her hand flat under her chin, like the emoji. I was next and my sign was "J" in ASL. Melissa created an "M" in ASL and hit her heart. Camila almost framed her cheeks down to her chin for her signal. Both of the kids drew pictures along with our names in their notebooks. The students asked us why we came to Arrasate and why we are visiting schools. We explained that we are going to be teachers and we wanted to learn about how their schools run. They were so excite
d to have us and were a delight to meet.

We then headed down the hall to another room with two boy students who were working on the Respiratory system in their textbooks. One boy right off the bat introduced himself in Spanish and sign language. He explained how old he was and where his other school is located. The other boy then introduced himself and asked each of us to introduce ourselves. My name gave all groups the most trouble, just like students in the United States. They asked us where we were teaching and they would sign while we talked. One student then only looked at me to ask questions in Spanish and in sign. I would have to look to Andrea to translate so we all could answer. He asked me what I like the most about Mondragon and I explained the mountains. The other's began to answer and I added that I like the people. The boy student then asked me if I liked the people because I thought the boys were handsome. Man, these kids had great personalities. We all then talked about what they were learning and we explained that we wanted to become teachers. The teacher was signing everything she was saying in Spanish as well to help her students and it even helped me understand.

Next, we headed into another room with 4 students who had two pages worth of questions to ask us. We sat opposite of them. They introduced themselves after we did and they were very interested in what our sign was for our names. These students had a huge range in hearing. Two of them watched the two teachers to sign everything that was being said. These students asked us about why we are in Arrasate and what we love about the Basque Country. Then they asked if we knew about the all Deaf College in Washington called Gallaudet University. I did not recognize the school until they all were passionately talking about it. This conversation then lead to them asking if any of us had deaf students before and or grew with with anyone who was deaf. Many of us haven't had too much experience, but I did explain that I have used sign language with little kids and my cousins before.

As they asked questions, I came up with a few. I began asking if they did sign language with their parents to which all of them replied with a hard no. The teacher began to explain that parent's around here are very shy about starting to learn this language and refuse to learn it. We all were shocked and explained that in America, the first thing the parents would do is learn the language to help their children learn and to communicate. Along with this information, the main teacher explained that recently, using sign language has been banned in Europe because they want to preserve their beautiful languages. It makes me very upset that these students could become more isolated and they should be able to communicate with others through the language they know. However, at this school, they talk about what a great bond they all share and should be proud of their language and abilities. They are a great community and they are all great friends with great connections to others like them. After this, I asked more questions about their lives such as hobbies and what sports they liked to play. They all were very excited to answer and did many things. One of the boys commented, "I couldn't invite you to my farm. You all are too elegant." Then they finally asked about politics, like all the students here. They had a sign for Donald Trump, which shows one fluffing the side of their head. They asked about the administration and we all said we haven't been keeping up.

At the end of the trip, we all went outside to take group shots! The students were signing and talking to us more. I feel as though we made great connection with these students and I wish we had more time to be with them. The teachers now explained that since we visited, they are able to connect more lessons to their schooling because they have met students from the United States. I am beyond glad we were able to learn about their school and meet these sweet sweet kids.

Until next post,

Barcelona Weekend Trip!!

Every conversation we had ended in a song! Barcelona stole our hearts and I want to go back already!

Day 1: We left midday Thursday to Bilbao so we can catch our flight to Barcelona at 6:20pm! Since buses to Bilbao are limited, we all had to leave our schools at lunch. We had to take two different buses to get to the airport and it took longer than expected. Fortunately, we still had time to get a good meal at the airport and fly through security. By the time we make it to our gate, we had a 10 minute delay, which is nothing and we all were just thrilled to be on our way to Barcelona. While in line, we realized that some other TCU Education majors were in Barcelona and hoped we could meet up with them once or twice. Once we stepped off the plane, our moods automatically changed and we were ready to find our hostel. We had to take a train to our area and we all waited patiently for the train to arrive. The train was packed, but we all sat together joking around, making American's look crazy probably.  Due to this, we missed our stop by three and were in a sketchy part of town. We immediately got off and walked to the other side of the station to take the same train back to our stop. We walked about 6 blocks before we found our hostel, generator hostel, which was super hip and very packed. We got settled and were starving. As a group, we began looking for places and since I am most picky, I was asked to find a place and I wanted Italian. However, my GPS lead us in the wrong direction and neighborhood. As we kept walking, we found many places that were about to close as it was close to 11pm. Fortunately, we found a Mexican restaurant that was ready for us. We all had yummy meals and were stuffed. Satisfied, we made our way back to our hostel to get a good night sleep before our exciting adventures that awaited.

Day 2: We were out the door by 9:30 so we could hit all the places we needed to for the day. Camila found a great place of brunch. We sat for a good amount of time just excited for the day. After, we began our walk to Sagrada Familia, which is the biggest catedral I have ever seen. We had tickets to get the audio recordings plus access into the church and a tower. Unfortunately, the tower we picked was closed for the day and we couldn't get into the other tower. We spent close to two hours walking around and in awe of the beauty around us. As we were walking, Ave Maria began to play. I was overcome with emotions and began to cry. Words cannot describe the beauty and the way I was impacted. We all were going through the church at different speeds, but I met up with Victor to look outside once again and look at the shop. Of course, I found things to remember this experience. We met up with the rest and found that there is a small school that schooled the workers of the Sagrada Familia. The inside was small, but had the same beauty as the church. I took too many pictures, but there is no picture that fully captured the beauty of the stain-glass windows and how powerful the sun shined through it. With the others, I made another trip into the gift shop and found more, oops.
We all had to make sure we had great group shots of us before we left and found a guy who showed us how to take better pictures. I loved the history behind this architecture and how there has been continuous construction. The construction should be complete in 2026; thus, our group decided we will all meet in Barcelona then with our future families!

After the church, we had time to go back to our hostel so we did not have to carry our bags all day. As we made our way back, we found a Barcelona Futbol museum. Since many of us wanted to look at the stores, we realized we needed to keep moving and even find lunch. Once we put down our things, we decided to make our way closer to Park Guell where we had to go in around 4:30. We took a cab and the driver had many connections with Camila, such as living in Columbia. He took us to a great place for lunch where we all ate too much. I had some great pasta with pesto, which is a favorite of mine. We took our time and then finally made our way to the park. It was stunning from the outside so I was super excited to see what we were about to see. We had to wait a few minutes and were attacked by some birds. Once we walked in, there were too many places to look and take pictures. I was in awe of the beauty of the work and the views of the full city. We all were taking pictures of each other and took many group shots every single level and or famous place. Once inside, I could tell why this place has brought travelers so much attention and would have loved to stay longer. Since we were in contact with the other TCU students, we decided to meet a few of them here around 5:30.
To our surprise, we ran into two more TCU students than expected. The group from Denmark came, Kathyrn and Courtney, and two from the Netherlands group, Fallon and Amanda. We all discussed what we have been learning in our placements and how different it is from America. It was great catching up with them and see how their travels were going. Turns out, all the other groups got Fridays off to travel over the weekends plus a full week to travel. They were interested in what we had to say and were jealous that we have spent so much time in this country. As a group, we took great pictures. After the park, we all looked through some gift shops and ended up going our separate ways. Team Spain had reservations at a Taco place for dinner that had amazing reviews.

We walked all the way back to our hostel, which was over a 30 minute walk. We all began to discuss how blessed we have been to have a great group like ours and talked about what kinds of teachers we hope to be. With some time to spare, we all sat down in our beds, exhausted from the day. At the taco place, we realized that many of us couldn't eat a full meal, especially me. I found a local Italian place for us to go to after a few of the others had finished eating. Now this Italian place was incredible. The pizza was thin and I ate the whole thing. As we all were talking, we realized that we were the only voices we heard. A few got some weird looks as well. Camila and Andrea had great crepes and Melissa and Victor also had a great pizza. Once again, we all overate and were ready for a good night's rest.

Day 3: We all were still exhausted from the day before, but we had a lot of places to go and people to see. We were up and ready to go by 9:30 again and took a train closer to the gothic area of town. We were planning on heading to a few major spots around this part of town. We walked through the quiet town and passed the famous street that really did not seem special in Winter here. The brunch place Andrea found was incredible. We all got stuffed and were ready to explore. We made our way through beautiful streets and saw many shops that were filled with people. Clearly, today was a great day to be walking. As we walked through the streets, we were able to visit the church of Barcelona: Cathdral of Barcelona. Part of this church is outside and it is stunning. From one side, it does not seem like a large church, but once inside, it is huge and spectacular. I walked around and paid for a few candles to light up in honor of certain disciples. We continued to walk around and look at shops. Of course, we had to stop for more ice cream and treats.

Andrea's father's cousin owns a restaurant in another part of town. We took a large taxi to take us there. When we arrived, it was clear we were under-dressed. We were greeted by the aunt and she was very nice. She sat us down in our own room, that was eventually filled. She told Andrea that they were packed for the evening, but were glad we were able to stop by. Before we knew it, the waiter was just placing plate after plate on our table. They brought us three appetizers and by then we were already stuffed. Next, the waiter came into the room with a 2 foot wide pan filled with paella. All the shrimp were not cut open; thus, they all had the eyes and I might have been freaking out. However, the rice was delicious and I was obsessed. We got a plate full of four different kinds of desserts as well. In addition, our whole table went through 12 bottles of water! We all gave great thanks to Andrea's aunt and uncle, Pepe. Since we were full, we decided no matter how long the walk was, we were going to walk to the beach.

As we made our way to the beach, we passed a carnival and beautiful views. As per usual, we all had to take obligatory pictures for us to remember the beauty by the water. When we kept walking, there were thousands of people walking through the streets. They were holding blue signs and capes. We do no know what they said, but we heard that there was going to be a protest against Donald Trump. Spain wants to make it clear that they will take refugees if the United States won't. The crowds were overwhelming and we had to find a good place to walk through without being stuck. Finally, we made it to the beach where we all walked on the sand and watch the locals with their families. It seemed as though the whole town was enjoying this wonderful Saturday evening. We began to become too cold; thus, it was time to head back to the hostel.

We were ready to take a bus; however, the protest made it impossible for certain buses to get to our area. All of us walked 40 minutes to see the Parc de la Ciutadella.  It was super dark outside; thus, we weren't able to see much, but we made our way through it. At one end, there is the Arc de Triomphe. It had so many people around it hanging out with their friends and family. Once again, we all were starving and ready to eat. If any of my friends know me well, they know I LOVE bagels. Well, here in Spain, there are no bagels. Fortunately, there was a Barcelona Bagel store by our hostel that was open at weird times. Since we were out late, we were able to go to this place and I was in heaven. I had two. Melissa and Victor both have fitbits and we all had walked over 27,000 steps this day. My body was sore when I went to bed.

Day 4: With our bodies tired, we all woke up later until we had to check out. Melissa and I have had friends that have studied abroad here before and told us we needed to go to a place that sells cake for breakfast. We found a popular place and had to go to the second shop due to our group size. The food was very interesting, but I only had some oreo cake that was incredible. I couldn't even finish the cake for breakfast. Our flight was at 4:30; thus, we had only a few hours to explore. Victor found the Picasso museum that was free for students. Once again, we all had to walk awhile to get to the area, but it was worth it. We saw a few of the creator of Park Guell's buildings on the way. In the museum, it had Picasso's works of arts from when he was only 12-14 and sketches throughout his schooling before he developed his signature style. We spent a good hour walking around and looking at his different phases in life. I would recommend this museum to anyone visiting Barcelona.

Finding our way back to the airport was a struggle, which is normal for our Spain group. We had to walk 6 blocks to the nearest train station that had a direct train to the airport. Once in the station, we had 10 minutes until our train, but the same number train came before. A few of us got on, but a couple yelled at me to not go and I got the others off. Everyone around us had suitcases and were waiting anxiously for this train. Turns out, the train was just late and we all rushed the train. When we got off, our group began running so we could beat most of these people through security because the line was already huge. Apparently, this was the time to fly. Luckily, we got through security quite fast and we were able to get some food. By the time we got to our gate, it was clear that our flight was not going to leave on time. We did not board the plane until ten minutes after our initial flight time. Once on the plane, we were delayed for over an hour. Good thing my mother gave me the gift of being able to sleep anywhere and anytime. I was asleep until we landed in Bilbao.

We all had to run off the plane to attempt to grab the 7:15 bus; thus, 10 minutes to get there. We grabbed our bags and ended up finding the direct bus by the Grace of God. We all know that we have people looking out for us because we somehow always make the right buses. After over an hour bus ride, we all were tired and hungry. Melissa, Victor, and I ended up going to dinner for about 2 hours. It was a great end to the weekend!

We miss you, Barcelona!
Until next post,

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Terrific Thursday

This Thursday, I was only able to stay half day because in a few hours I'll be in Barcelona!!

I started in a 5th grade class with Anabel. This class walked in before Anabel did and they all took out the chess supplies, even though they knew we weren't going to play today. Once she walked in and said no, many did not stop playing for her. After a few minutes, we were able to start the class with the normal routine about asking about the day, weather, and asking each other what they did after class yesterday. Next, Anabel said that she was going to pass out another chapter for their comic book. Before passing it out, Anabel asked comprehension questions about the previous chapter they had read. She then passed out the next chapter, which was a front and back sheet comic that is written in English. The students were instructed to read it to themselves for a few minutes. During their reading time, Anabel let me read the other chapters so I was caught up. This tale connects to chess and the journey this boy takes to find the master of chess. Once they were done reading, like before, Anabel started asking comprehension questions about this new chapter. This chapter the main guy met Mozart and many students wanted to listen to his music, which they will next week. She only asked a few before she decided it was time to move on. Students put this new chapter in their binders and grabbed laptops to work on the English program, Trainer. Many students were working on copying sentences and working on colors. I had to sit next to a kid that kept cheating and copying and pasting his sentences. He was super mad the whole time, but I rather them take learning English seriously when Anabel has to leave the room.

The next class we had was with 6th graders. This group is calmer than the other class of 6th graders. Anabel reminded them about the work we did last time we met, which was putting those rules into the four categories: chill, cook, separate, and clean. Most students remember many of the rules and we were able to move on right away. I pulled up the document that has pictures on three different sheets of paper. Anabel explained that we all need to describe the pictures and decide if this rule is good or bad. As a class, we did about 4 examples and then I was able to pass out copies of these pictures to each table group. They were supposed to go one-by-one and discuss each picture and say if they were good or bad in English, but it is a difficult task for them. Most were able to switch back and forth between Basque and English, but some could only explain in Basque. Like the other group, when students asked Anabel and I about vocabulary, we would write down those words on the board for later. We gave them about 10 minutes to work through this activity. After, Anabel pulled up the pictures on the projector to go through some as a class again. Some students had a harder time expressing in English to the whole class than one on one; thus, Anabel was translating a lot. We worked through the vocabulary words and even Anabel was asking me how to explain what they were like a stove and tie back something. Like the other group, they were asked to then copy these vocabulary words into their English notebook.

My last class for the day was with Unai in a 3rd grade class. Unai has another girl student teacher that comes sometimes during the week. Since she has an observation with her teacher coming up, they had decided that it was time for her to start leading the normal routine and get the respect from the students. Before we started, the 4th and 3rd grade began listening to music so they can relax with deep breathing. Once finished, the other student teacher began with calling up the student to say the date, talk about the weather, and ask other students if they had anything they wanted to say. The next part of the routine was the number guessing game. The students flew through this game because both times the kids guessed the right number within 5 tries. They were all super excited that today they got to work on the English program, Trainer. Students were working on section 4, which was different types of food. Students were supposed to type the words, match pictures to the food, and copy sentences about the food. Like other classes, I had to stop 2 students from copying and pasting all the words and sentences. These two would even try to do it with me over their shoulders, so I did a lot of erasing. Overall, they did well and I'm glad that they are always excited for this program.

Cannot wait for another great week at this school, even though it will be my last.

Until next post,

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Wonderful Wednesday

Wednesday's at Arizmendi Ikastola is filled with the little kiddos. I am following the guy English teacher, Unai, for most of the day. I did not realize until today that, while Unai does see the 1st graders, he does not teach them English. All of first grade has 20 to 30 minutes at the beginning of the morning to do whatever they want. Most students play with legos or color or talk with each other. As you can imagine, students are rough housing and some get hurt. I love how close the kids are to Unai and the other teachers. Unai loves on them when they are hurt and they feel better before you know it. While all the students were engaged in their activities, a little boy was walking around slowly and kept looking at me. He finally made his way over and in a very small voice he asked me something in Basque. He looked like he was about to cry so I held his hand as I lead him over to Unai to translate. Apparently, he was asking if I could get him a coloring sheet. Unai said he was very shocked that he asked me because he never talks in class. I helped him and he went hard to work. Practically all the 1st graders have barely any vocabulary in English so we all just stare at each other and or smile.  After their free time, they all met by the projector to watch and sing to YouTube videos. All the grades have been working on a song for Carnival. The song is located below! Once they had finished singing, Unai took our 1st grade class to the floor to talk about what they were going to do in Basque. They all then stood up and grabbed a computer. Unlike the other grades, 1st graders are working on a program in Basque that helps them with vocabulary and spelling. The program is a cartoon story that leads them to different activities and videos. Since they normally only have about 20 minutes to work on this program, their main teacher allows them more time from their math lesson. While I was watching them work on their programs, I began looking around the room. I love that everything is very bright and colorful. The class has 3 large fish as pets and have lots of artifacts around the room. I then caught all the letters of their alphabet, which is way less than ours. Since most of them are certain sounds, I was not able to write down all of them or understand how they connect to English.

The next class we had was 2nd grade. We took them into a separate classroom down the hall. They all walked in with their pencil cases and placed them before they sat down in a square on the floor. Like the other classes, they have a normal beginning routine. One student sits at the front of the room and is asked what day is today and what is the weather like today. Then the student is asked if anyone is missing, which means that the student needs to count all the students in English and then say who is gone. I can Unai is starting to try to speak more English is his English class around me so I understand more. He explained that they are going to go over the flashcards of the vocabulary that was used in a story they re-enacted last week. Most students had to think a little about the pictures, but a few were right on the mark immediately. Then Unai explained the next game we were going to play. He was going to pass out flashcards to pairs to have. As he kept trying to say it in English, students were super confused so he switched to Basque. I just watched to get the rest of the instructions. A student would pick two cards and say they need to switch. It is a running game so they do not have to be in the front to pick the cards. This class always has a lot of energy and Unai normally has to wait to keep the game going until they are quiet. After they did about ten rounds, the main teacher walked in and took about half of the class. The rest of the class was given instructions, in Basque, about the next project they need to complete. They are given a sheet that has 4 talk bubbles. The other page has 4 descriptions that fill those bubbles; thus, the students needed to figure out the order of the descriptions that are in English. They recognize the main characters due to the story they did last week. I was asked to check off students before they cut and glued them down.  There wasn't enough time for most students to finish. I sat next to a student who had hurt his finger so I cut the paper for him and once we finished, he high-fived me. Then it was time to clean up and head back to their main classroom.

The third class of the day is the other 2nd grade class. We followed the same routine. These students had more to say in English than the other class. The timing of the class was different and we did not have time to do the flashcard games. They just went through them all to make sure they knew what each one was. Then he just talked in Basque to explain the next activity with the two sheets of paper. This group had a hard time listening to the instructions; thus, they really had no idea what to do when they sat down. I walked around more to help because many did not remember the story they heard last week so I was trying to explain the story. Unai kept following me to make sure that if they did not understand the English, he would repeat in Basque. I sat next to a group and watched them work for awhile as well. Most students again were not able to finish, but more were determined to stay after to finish cutting and gluing.

After lunch, I had my only class with Anabel for the day. We had a 6th grade class. Today we worked on our health and nutrition section. Anabel was stuck in a meeting and came about 10 minutes late to class. We started with students telling things that happened that was exciting last night. Since it was one of the student's birthday yesterday, she explained to us what her favorite present was. One student said that they had a large music exam yesterday and it went well.  This class was then shown the website that connects with the lesson we worked on yesterday where they can play games and watch videos. Once all the students wrote down the website for homework, Anabel had them look at the categories we did yesterday. They were given 3 minutes to try to remember which ones went into each category for the next activity. As they were working, Anabel pulled up a document that had 3 sheets full of pictures. She had already had 5 copies of them printed, but kept them on her desk. She asked the kids to then look at the projector and they looked at the first 3 pictures. They had to describe what the picture showed and say if it was a rule or not. The students had to explain in English, which was very difficult to do because they did not know all the vocabulary in English. Anabel then passed out the sheets to each table and told them that they all need to go one by one to pick a picture and explain it in English. They also need to say if the rule is right or wrong. I was walking around and only a few groups were doing this activity in English, but a few groups would ask me for vocabulary. After a few times, Anabel started a list on the board of vocabulary they needed to go over. The words that were on the board were: Pan, Trash Can, Chopping board, to burn, danger, and oven gloves. Anabel asked the students to describe these words and if not, she drew a picture of them for them to understand. For a few, she had to write down the Basque word for the item for them to connect the words. Anabel then asked them to write these new vocabulary words into the English textbook in the back with other learned vocabulary.

My last class of the day was with Unai in a 3rd grade classroom. I walked in a few minutes late and the class was in a new room in the school. The students were going around talking about what they were going to do after school. After this, the students played the guessing number game. First, a student picked a number between 0 and 200. They picked on students to guess and the student at the front of the room had to say if their guess was higher or lower than the right number. The second round was a number between 0 and 20. However, if the student who guessed was wrong, they needed to spell out their number in English. Unai then held books for the students, but he told them he had a special surprise. He said that since today has been so beautiful outside, that they are able to play outside during class. All the students ran down to their room and ran outside. I am very glad that they got to play outside because it is normally raining in Mondragon. I love watching them all interact and have fun!

Until tomorrow,