Monday, May 24, 2010 - Indian town in Ecuador drops death penalty in murder, orders farm work for youthful defendant

Justice in the Amazon rain forest. A tribal court convicts a young man for murder. originally they declare the death penalty. Then they come up with a different punishment. Click below for the link. - Indian town in Ecuador drops death penalty in murder, orders farm work for youthful defendant

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Here are some more student election pictures

Student Council Elections in Ecuador

School may be winding down in American schools, but here in South America we are just getting started. We are dead in the middle of student council elections here at Colegio Americano.
For three days students scream themselves silly.

Monday, May 17, 2010

When Computer Gradekeeper Just - Sucks

Keeping a grade book is basic Teaching 101. You need to do it, there are a gazillian ways to do one, find a way that works for you. Last year I came across the program Gradekeeper. I liked what I saw and bought it, downloaded it and have been using it ever since. Despite the title to this blog, I really love the program. It is powerful enough and flexible enough to do what I want it to do, without a lot of zoomie gizmos that sound good but are actually unusable in a teacher's life.

I have copies of the program running on both my at home PC and my laptop I use for school and travel (my school is one of those international academies that have not coughed up the funds for computers in the classrooms).

With that as a background you should know today was a big day for my seniors. They have a graduation-required senior project they must do. Today they had to turn in their research proposals. While the proposals are fairly short, I try to grade them as quickly as I can because it is the end of the Quarter, and if some of them need to redo something, there are only a few days left for them to make adjustments before their grades finalize.

So I gave my senior classes some in-class work to do, then sat down and graded, in between questions and worried stares. I recorded several in my laptop's gradebook and turned the graded papers back to the students. Bell rings and I tell the rest I'll grade tonite and have the results to them in the morning.

In the evening I check my laptop - the grades are not there. When I shut down my laptop at school I somehow neglected to save the grades.


Now, tomorrow, I'll have to make up a story to my seniors as to why I need to see their proposals again. Try doing that with a paper grade book!

I still love my Gradekeeper, but sometimes it does show just how stupid I can be.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Little Bit of Texas Goes Everywhere

The local InterAmerican Academy held a fund raiser – Texas Days! There were Ecuadorian bands doing their best Country Rock, greased pig chases, petting zoos and a Texas Barbeque competition.

Normally, Saturday is a day for me – a time for writing, relaxing or whatever I want to let the stress of the week ease away. This Saturday was a different take – Texas Barbeque! Our school – Colegio Americano, cobbled a barbeque team together to compete. At the competition we gave out samples, and sold our homemade pulled pork and ribs along with hamburgers, all with a side of cole slaw. For competition we competed in one category of chicken and another for pork ribs. It made for a very long day. Aside from six weeks of meetings and several practice sessions, we sat up on Friday night, arrived at 7 a.m. to start Saturday morning and were working through 6 p.m. followed by cleanup. Tired puppies were we.

While we were cooking we thought we did well, and were especially confident in our chicken. We thought we had done a good job on the ribs, too, but we also knew there was going to be a lot of good competition in that category. Still, we thought another team would need to come up with some very good ribs to beat us.

In the end Miller’s Grillers (that’s us) took 1st Place in Chicken and 2nd Place in Ribs. We were delighted, but the one irksome fact was that the winners of the Rib competition were a team from the English Consulate. A squad of Limey’s won the Texas Barbeque Rib competition in Ecuador? Sacrilege on so many levels!

All had a good time, some important money was raised for InterAmerican Academy, and we managed to bring some trophies home. Of course, in typical Ecuadorian tradition, something had to be a fly in the ointment. Our 1st Place trophy said we won the award in the “Chiken” category.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Curruption in Education

One thing you deal with when teaching overseas is, well, it is overseas. You are working in other cultures, with different outlooks, and different legal systems.

You may have to deal with out-and-out corruption which damages the educational system.

Example: Last year I had a student who JUUUUUUUUUUUST squeaked by and passed my class, but he was not so lucky in three of his other classes, where he failed miserably. He's a nice enough kid, intelligent enough, but he didn't do much work. When he was given chances to make up some work with some supplementary exams - he failed those too. The decision was made that he would repeat the year. Or at least, if he was going to continue with our school, he could repeat his 5th course (equivalent to US 11th Grade).

The parents didn't like this, and din't want to try to take their son to another school, so they "appealed" his grades to the Ecuador Department of Education. The department therefore legally changed his grade to 100% in all classes and he has legally completed his year.

So now, we are being told that this young man, who has been in 5th course again (and not doing well) may be pulled from his current courses and dumped into 6to Curso (12th grade). Of course, he has missed 25% of the year, and is totally unprepared  for school at this new, higher level.

As my eldest son likes to quote: "This can only end in tears."