A Travellerspoint blog

Monteverde Reserve Trip

We took a field trip yesterday to the Monteverde reserve with the whole class, and it was absolutely beautiful! The guides were also very knowledgeable of what we saw. We went on about an hour and a half hike up one of the trails that led to an awesome waterfall.
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We also saw lots of animals, I only got pictures of a few. We saw a Side-Striped Palm Viper (I know the picture isn't clear, I was scared to get too close!)
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We also saw hummingbirds.
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And also a forest slug, I can't remember the name. One of the kids thought it was a snake.
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We had a great time, and I will tell you that field trips in the United States are different in some ways. In Costa Rica, we picked up parents on the way to the field trip on the bus! Much more informal, but it worked out just fine so I don't see any issues with it :]

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This picture is my favorite, it's totally natural the guide said. :p
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Finally, I want to add this picture because I love it. This is the view of the Gulf of Nicoya from the Cloud Forest School on a clear day. How beautiful is that?
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Posted by graceeppley 14:38 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (7)

The first week of school

FInished the first week of school unharmed, well mostly anyway. The class is great, the pacing is going to get some taking used to, but I really enjoy how the class is set up. We have a morning meeting every day when my Cooperating Teacher (CT) goes over the date, using base-ten blocks to show how many days we have been in school, which I think is a great way to introduce math first thing. My CT does a great job of applying concepts to her students' lives. For example, we just began multiplication, and she asked students to multiply 2 x 4, but instead of just writing the problem, she asked students how many eyes there were between the four students in their small groups. This was a fantastic way to introduce multiplication in a way students for students to be able to visualize the problem, and also to show how multiplication is just repeated addition. The class responded very well and most of the students got the correct answers. She used small white boards for each of the groups and asked them to show their work. Each group came up with a different strategy. Some used pictures, some made pictures grouping two eyes for each person, and some used repeated addition. One group is already able to just multiply in their heads without the aid of addition or graphics.

Since this is called the "Creative School" (Escuela Creativa) most of the activities are hands on. During science class, we went to the art room and students painted leaves they had identified outside in the cloud forest to create a mural of the rainforest. They began with the forest floor, and are adding appropriate plants at each level. I like the creative aspects of the school and I am learning strategies that I would love to incorporate into my future classroom. We also get to go outside once a week for an hour to either plant, garden in the greenhouse, or help to clean a hiking trail on the school grounds. I think this is a great idea because it gets the students outside and teaches them real environmental education, not just something from a textbook.

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Hope everyone at home is doing well! To all my ladies in student teaching, we're over halfway there! :]

Posted by graceeppley 07:10 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (2)

First Day of School

Today was the first day of school and it was more similar to a classroom in Kentucky than I had expected. The teacher uses objectives and learning targets on the board just like we do, and had the exact same learning chart that Ockerman Elementary uses! I couldn't believe it when she told a few students to "clip up" because they had been working together.
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The school itself is in the most beautiful location. You can see over the tops of the trees and see the mountains from certain spots. There is a greenhouse and a garden with nature trails that the students are responsible for cleaning up once a week during class time. Manual labor during school hours! I wonder how my students back home would feel about that? :]
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These next seven weeks will be an adventure, I'm sure of it. It will be difficult at times, but I think it will make me a more versatile and diverse teacher which will in turn impact my students in a positive way. I hope all my teacher friends are doing well in their student teaching back home and abroad!

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Posted by graceeppley 16:25 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (7)

Zipline and Beach Weekend

These past few days have been very busy! I start school this coming monday so I'm trying to do everything I can. I went Ziplining through the Santa Elena Reserve (I think) in Monteverde, which was super cool! It was really neat to see the forest from above. It was very peaceful as well. It was only two of us on the tour plus the guides, so it was very quiet and you could hear lots of birds. The longest zipline was 2,500 feet! I would suggest it to anyone who visits Costa Rica.
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Today, we went to four beaches on the Pacific coast. The water was surprisingly warm compared to, say, California beaches. They were very empty because it's the low season for tourists. It was a three hour car ride from Monteverde to Guanacaste but it isn't that many miles. We were even on the Pan-American highway for a while, which was neat to see.

The first beach we went to was La Playa Panama.
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The second beach was La Playa Hermosa, which, as the name states, was the most beautiful of all of the beaches we visited.
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The third beach was La Playa Coco, which was more of a walking beach than a swimming beach.
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Finally, the last beach was La Playa Orocal. This beach was my favorite! It had black sand, like I've heard of the beaches in Hawaii, and lots of volcanic type rock which was fun to walk around on. You couldn't really swim at this beach because the waves were enormous and could be dangerous. 8103943612_c4f3e7cc1a.jpg
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I am very anxious to get on a normal schedule again. I'm very excited to meet my new students and see the school as well! Here is the link to the rest of the pictures I didn't post. http://www.flickr.com/photos/88696713@N02/sets/72157631808613166

Posted by graceeppley 16:49 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (9)

Adjusting. . .

One week in Costa Rica

Hello everyone! I am missing home like crazy, but trying to embrace the new culture the best I can. I have never realized this before, but as Americans, we are constantly rushing around, trying to complete every task on our to-do list, without stopping for a moment, occasionally, even on weekends. Costa Rican culture is much slower-paced. Sometimes a thirty minute trip might take three hours because of socializing, eating, and other things. The main concern is the welfare of the person, not the tasks to be completed. This seems all well and good, but for me, it has been very trying. I am not used to sitting and talking for two hours on a Monday afternoon, this is abnormal to me. I am looking at it as a test of patience. If you know me, I am not very patient when I have things to do. I like to get things done as quickly as possible and if I can't, I get extremely frustrated. I am learning to sit, stop, think, and socialize, for no other reason than there is time to do so.
I do not think I will be able to adapt this mindset, but I do think it allows me to see another lifestyle. I see that family is more important than achievement and mental/emotional health is more important than physical health. I do not think I will every be willing to sacrifice my physical fitness for much of anything, but I understand why people here do. Paula's great-grandmother I met is 97 years old, so I guess they are doing something right! I do enjoy all of the cooking that the women spend time on. The mothers down here even wake up and cook breakfast! Even if it is just rice and eggs (which is actually delish), it is still important to cook for their families, which I think is an honorable trait. I am definitely eating well and learning lots of recipes to bring home! :]

Posted by graceeppley 06:57 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (4)

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