Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Alternative Education Center ‘invades’ Panama Canal

Alternative Education Center ‘invaded’ Panama Canal as it ventured last week an ambitious school-wide project-based learning (PBL) lesson titled, Panama Canal Roundtable. While PBL is becoming a culture of every classroom at AEC, this is the first time the institution attempted to implement a schoolwide PBL. The initiative provides the students with a great opportunity to experience how the standards they are learning from their various subjects are interrelated and applied to real life.

In English, the project was called Panama Canal: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. Students acted as investigative journalists of The New York Times, tasked to research and publish about the history and updates of the controversial Panama Canal and its current and future impacts on people and the world. The journalists investigated and gathered information about the Panama Canal from various sources (Social Studies -- history and social impacts of the Canal, Science -- water elements and buoyancy to figure out the boats allowed to pass through the canal, Math -- dimensions of the canal and goods volumes and costs, etc.). Before they were approved for publishing, the journalists were tasked to consult with their international partners as consultants and present their investigative reports to their co-staff journalists for feedback. The presentation of their investigative reports, integrating ideas from their international learning partners as consultants, was the project's finale.

To provide them with background knowledge of the canal's update, students, in their English class, read and analyzed a nonfiction story about the Panama Canal Expansion using SOAPSTone strategy integrating season-based arts. The class called the strategy as SOAPSTone Turkey. Students traced their hands on a colored paper as the turkey's wings and their feet as the body of the turkey. They wrote on the wings the title and author, the components of SOAPSTone (Subject, Occasion, Audience, Person, Speaker, and Tone), and three big facts from the nonfiction text. On the body, students wrote either a summary or a reflection.

After analyzing the nonfiction story, students responded to a Padlet activity about whether they favored the Panama Canal Expansion. International partners as consultants also participated in the Padlet activity. They researched how the Panama Canal impacted their own country before they responded to the Padlet activity. All students were expected to comment on others’ responses.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Alternative Education students connect to Spain

Alternative Education students of Odessa, TX recently offered friendship and international collaboration with high school students from Murcia, Spain. After sending friendly letters to their new international learning partners, Alternative Education students received replies from Spain on October 4, 2016. Alternative Education Center's partnership with a school in Spain is a great avenue for the students from both countries to learn their respective cultures and traditions. This partnership is particularly beneficial to some Alternative Education students who speak Spanish and whose ancestors hailed from Spain. It opens the door to in-depth understanding of their own history and appreciation of their rich heritage.

With IJWC, Odessa and Murcia students save at least $2,590 worth of learning partnership.