If you are a consumer of edu-blogs like me, you've probably already seen this post on the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics blog from January. Basically, the author calls into question many of the practices we routinely repeat during calendar time. During my 25 years in kindergarten, I mixed and remixed. I flipped and flopped by routines trying to increase engagement and target key skills. We tried high tech. We tried low tech. We practically turned it into a full scale musical production in a attempt to get it right!
Nothing seemed to be exactly the right thing to keep student engagement high. The days of the week are only SO exciting and WHY are we so concerned with tracking them after all? Oh, how I wish I'd had access to THIS mission while in MY classroom. It's so mathematically juicy!
So, if your class has lost its passion for counting up the days in school, why not re-purpose those counters for this mission. Your students will have a REAL and IMPORTANT reason for working with numbers!
We rose early for breakfast at the hotel and made our way to the Wreck Bay dive shop. We’d booked a boat ride and equipment rental with them the previous day. We walked with our group to the town landing to wait for our boat. While we waited, students from the local high school approached us. They had beautiful, handcrafted brochures they’d produced in class to inform tourists about various natural history topics. They’d been tasked with approaching English speakers and then explains the contents in their procures in English. Many students approached us and we met their teacher just before we had to leave on our boat. The students had wonderful English and did a great job with their presentations.
We left the students and climbed aboard our transportation for the day. Our boat held the captain, Angel, our naturalist/guide, John, a ship’s helper and his apprentice, Angelo, along with the other tourists. There were nine of us all together. We struck up a conversation with Christel, who was also visiting the island for work. She was very helpful!
We slowed to look for Frigate Birds along the way, but after about an hour we dropped anchor and the zodiac shuttled us to the beach. John proceeded to tell us some interesting facts about Marine Iguanas and Sea Lions. Marine Iguanas are not great swimmers. Only 5% swim and dive to feed, most wait until low tile reveals the green algae they eat to survive. Curtis and I took the opportunity to snorkel by the beach before we had to join the group to boat to our next location. While Curtis has had music experience snorkeling, I have not so it was good to practice. As it turns out, I’m not terrible at snorkeling.
The boat transported us to Kicker Rock. This time the whole group went overboard to snorkel. Kicker Rock is an amazing formation. It is the remnants of an old volcano and juts strait out of the ocean. It is the remains of a volcanic cone, eroded by the sea across hundreds of years. It is the eroded cone of an extinct volcano. Above the water, the monolithic rock formation towers over 500 feet above the Pacific Ocean. Below the surface, the ocean is full of life! We saw many types of fish, sea turtles, and even a sea lion. After an hour in the water we returned to the boat for lunch. Then we took the boat to the other side of the rock to look for sharks. The water was very rough here and we had to cut it a bit short. We had expected to see sharks in this location, but there were none to be seen.
We woke at 6:15 for a 7 am departure for the airport as advised our car driver/front desk clerk/bellhop. (She’d said there were extra security measures for those trailing to the Galapagos Islands because it is a national park and protected area.) No pool time for us! We took a taxi and quickly arrived at the airport, breezed though security and had plenty of time for breakfast as we waited for our flight via Tamé Airlines.
We had an easy flight to San Cristobal, the capitol city of the Galapagos Islands. We had to get a special permit to come to the island and buy a pass for the national park. They are very careful to protect the environment here. They sprayed all of our luggage to make sure we were not bringing bacteria or other micro organisms onto the island. They also had us open all our bags and show what was inside.
We took a taxi to the hotel. All the taxis here are white pick up trucks and they comprise roughly 95 percent of all the four wheeled vehicles! We settled in and then walked into the village to find some lunch. On our way there we saw many sea lions on the beaches, sidewalks, and benches. They were not at all afraid of us. We spent the afternoon exploring the village and getting organized. We found a restaurant for dinner and realized it catered to tourists. We'll be on the look out for the local spots in the future. The weather was very pleasant, though the breeze off the Pacific Ocean was cooler than expected. It was a bit like a summer day on the coast of Maine.
We left Fort Myers Beach around noon to drive though Alligator Alley to Miami airport. We had an easy trip though security and an on-time departure for Cali, Columbia via Avanca Air. We were surrounded on all sides by BABIES for our first flight. Luckily, they were all well behaved! When we landed the airport seemed deserted. There was just one way we saw to go. Unfortunately, it led us right though customs and out of the airport!
We did not have long until our departing flight was scheduled to board, so we found new energy thanks to a nice little adrenaline rush! We were directed, in Spanish, by a taxi driver and then a police officer to the security area. When we got there we learned we were at the security area for domestic flights and we had to leave the country to go to Ecuador…which left from the international terminal. We rushed back outside and to the other terminal. I could almost keep up with Curtis until my hat blew off my head and covered my face! I regrouped and dashed inside the terminal where we had to go through emigration and security again. Thankfully the lines were all short and the processes quick!
Remarkably, we arrived at the gate before boarding had started! Our next flight was uneventful though we missed the baby entertainment. When we landed in Guayaquil, we passed though customs and immigration easily and found the driver from our hotel waiting. The hotel was a short dive from the hotel and we arrived just before midnight. The hotel was a series of rooms arranged around a central courtyard containing a pool with slide, hot tub, a ragtag collection of couches situated around a coffee table abundant in ashtrays. Behind one of the couches was a small assortment of exercise machines. I guess it is a convenient arrangement for the fitness conscious smoker?
Curtis and I are busy, busy, busy today! We're packing for our next field research adventure. We leave early tomorrow morning for the first leg of our journey.
Meet Beth and Curtis!
Presidential Award-Winning teacher and master hula hooper, Beth loves bringing real world science to kids! Beth is fascinated by engineering challenges, technology, and outdoor learning spaces. After 25 years teaching kindergarten, she’s excited to share her passion and experience on-line with classrooms from around the world!