Full Report

New York, NY

January 31st to February 2nd
January 31st
Packer Collegiate Institute – Brooklyn, NY (http://www.packer.edu/)
        Meeting with Head of the Upper School Susan Feibelman
        Meeting with Dean of Students for Y9 and his team
        As a Head of Year in my school I found it very interesting to participate in this meeting. It was great to hear them discussing about student issues, how they followed up on them, and how the Dean dealt with the coordination of it all. It was my first glimpse of the idea that matured along the trip, that students, teachers and parents (and their issues) are the same here and there.

        Meeting with College Counselors
        College counseling is not very big in Argentina, we have a very small percentage of student pursuing careers in universities in the US, where the process has many more complications (just the number of universities is daunting). I was then very intrigued about this aspect of the job, and I learnt from them, also about the university system in the US.

        School tour by one student
        Packer is an amazing school, built throughout many years, so it is kind of
labyrinthine, yet functional. The student that showed me around was extremely helpful and well mannered, I could really get a good idea on the whole organization of the school. I also took the opportunity to talk with him about his school and life in it, he gave some good inside information.

        AP Physics class with Science Chair
        My first experience in a science class in a US school. Not too different from classes in Argentina. I happened to drop into a theoretical introduction to a topic, fluids. Though the teacher seemed proficient, it did not strike me as a particularly outstanding lesson.

Dinner with ESU Education Staff
A great dinner, with great conversation! This is one of the most valuable things I got from this trip, getting to know fantastic people I could talk to about interesting things: education, life abroad, trips. It was an excellent start!


February 1st
ESU Staff Carol Losos welcomed me in Hoboken and escorted me to my first meeting.

Hoboken Charter School (Hoboken, NJ): Public (~100 students) (http://www.hobokencs.org/)
Meeting with School Principal Ria Grosvenor
        ILS Class Senior
        A most interesting class on economics, part of a Forum program, where a topic was taught from the point of view of different disciplines on alternating classes. I was given the opportunity to participate in the class and discuss with the teacher and students on particular economic issues of my country which were related to the topic. Great discussions, and very good moderation from the teacher. The students were very motivated, and it clearly looked as if this way of teaching a topic really worked for them.

        Biology Class Y9 with Science Chair
        This was a revision of a test. The teacher was a natural, and handled the class very well, though in my opinion he lacked certain tools that could have made the activity more meaningful for students.
        This was a good opportunity to get to know a Charter school, and how it was organized.

Hudson School (Hoboken, NJ): Private School (~200 students) (http://www.thehudsonschool.org/)
Chemistry Class Y10 with Head of Science
        Meeting with Head of Science
        Physics Class Y9
        The head of science at this school, Ari Raisa, is, without a doubt, a fantastic science teacher. I got to talk to him a lot, and observe two of his classes. I got many ideas from him that I am using right now in my classes with positive results.

Staff meeting 
        I had the chance to participate in full school staff meeting. Being a small school, there were not many teachers. I was introduced and later asked to talk a bit about my school and my country, with a short Q&A after that. They were very welcoming, and we got to discuss many topics, including counselling and overall school organization.
        Certainly, visiting the Hudson School will stay in my memory. I liked a lot of things about it, the personalized attention, the small groups, the warmth of a small group of teachers that clearly knew each other very well and liked working there. It really seemed a great learning atmosphere.

Naples, FL

February 2nd to February 6th
February 2nd
Arrival in Naples – Welcome by Joy and Bill, short tour of Naples and dinner at their place.

February 3rd
Gulf Coast High School: Public School (~2000 students) (http://www.collier.k12.fl.us/gch/)

Meeting with Principal

We had a good conversation on educational systems and organization. It gave a good opportunity to compare and fill in some gaps I had on my knowledge of the US structure.


Biology Class Y9 – Beth

I could very briefly visit this class, as most of my time had been taken with the previous meeting, but I could see a teacher that handled the class very well, and used different methods to engage the kids, including music and jokes. It is fundamental that the teacher develops a good rapport with students, and this is what I saw.


Physics Class Y11

This was a fundamentally expository class, with no lab or even problem solving. I did not enjoy it too much, and the kids did not seem to enjoy it very much either.


Language Class Y11 - Joy

I had the pleasure to visit a class that Joy taught. This one was analyzing the film Edward Scissorhands. The discussions were very good, and Joy did an excellent job in moderating it. I learned a lot too!

Presentation to Students about Argentina in Media Center

I had prepared a presentation on Argentina for some classes in this school, at Joy's request. I had three classes coming in to the Media Centre where I talked for about 40 minutes, with questions in the middle. You can find the presentation below. I also showed them the trailer of the Argentinian film that got the foreign language Oscar in 2010, The Secret in their Eyes, and a videoclip from Jorge Drexler who represents the music from the river area of Buenos Aires and Uruguay (he is Uruguayan).


ILS Class Seniors

This class turned into a great Q&A on Argentina. I loved the discussions, and the students wre well informed, asking relevant and interesting questions.


Mathematics Class Y9

Meeting with Assistant Principal

Meeting with Counselor Nancy Giles

When I went to Ms. Giles office, she was in the middle of dealing with a bullying issue, talking to three girls. I did not want to interrupt, but she insisted that we took part in the conversation (after seeking the consent of the girls). I am glad we stepped in, and I hope that is ended up solving itself.


Short tour of Media Center and TV Studio

I was blown away by the Media Centre, and its potential uses. It seemed very well organized and functional. I was even more impressed with the TV Studio and the fact that students would write, shoot and edit a short 5 min news clip every morning that was shown to the school at 9am. Loved it.



February 4th
Barron Collier HS: Public High School (~2000 students)(http://www.collierschools.com/bch/Index/)
Meeting with Head Counselor Eric
        I was amazed to find that he would counsel around 400 kids. Clearly, he would not have the time to focus on all of them. Also, I was surprised with the separation of disciplinary issues from counselling, this I first noticed in GCHS. I understand the arguments for it, but I also think that the disciplinary sanctions would benefit from having a broader view of the kid. In our school, the two areas are one and the same, with ad hoc committees meeting to analyze particular cases.

        Meeting with Principal and Vice Principal.
        It was a great meeting where we discussed AP, IB and Cambridge exams, how they could benefit from a change, or at least adding more options to AP.

        Media Center Tour
        Physics Exam
        Lunch with English Department
        Drama class.
        I particularly enjoyed this class, where I got to talk individually to students who told me about their projects. I love theater and have myself written a couple of plays so I enjoyed talking to writers and actors, and how their processes worked. It was fun and enjoyable!

        Meeting with Science Teachers
        Chemistry Class
        During this meeting and the subsequent chemistry class I got to talk a lot to the Head of science. It was an entertaining conversation on science in general and the particulars of teaching it. He gave me some very good tips on IT use in the sciences.

        Jazz Band Rehearsal

ESU Board Meeting and dinner with Pam and a friend.
        The ESU Board members were really interested in meeting me, and attending that meeting was a great opportunity to see the work that they do. I have nothing but thanks to them!

February 5th
Visit to Goodland, lunch there.
    A fantastic place to get to know! I'd love to visit Goodland one more time, hopefully it'll happen soon.

Dinner with ESU Board Member and friends.


Nashville, TN


February 6th to February 9th – Nashville, TN
February 6th
Flight to Nashville – Welcome by Bill Schwartz, short tour of the city and dinner at Jim and Nick’s with Ann Calhoun and family.
    Besides meeting my great host Bill, and Ann, I had the opportunity during this dinner to meet Scott Merrick (Ann's son in law), and his son. We had a great conversation on IT uses in the classroom and how technology can be applied to virtual learning environments. He is an expert in the field, and he has great ideas he is currently putting into play. I also had a good chat with son, on music and arts, which gave me a good perspective on teenagers in the US.

    
February 7th
Hume-Fogg Academic HS: Public Magnet School (http://www.humefogghs.mnps.org/site12.aspx)
Interview with Principal Paul Fleming
Biology Class Y9
AP Physics Class with Science Chair Rita Davis
AP Chemistry Class
        The highlight from my visit to Hume-Fogg was the great interview I had with Principal Paul Fleming, a highly educated person with great ideas, proud of his school and pushing it ever forward. Overall the school presented a good learning environment, with appropriate resources. The staff I met seemed to know their subject, yet the classes were not particularly exceptional in any way, examples were weak or too far fetched. I must say that the learning predisposition of students was excellent, and the diversity in the school was remarkable.

University School Nashville (USN) : Private (http://www.usn.org/)
Physics class - Bill Rodriguez
Meeting with Counselor
        Tour of Media Centre
        The resources and quality of teaching I could see in this school were remarkable. Bill Rodriguez worked with people from Vanderbilt University, and had great insights into physics that he could take into the classroom. He used examples that were drawn and/or related to the student's experience, an instance I particularly observed in all science classes, since it is related to a research I'm doing for a course at Cambridge University's School of Education.
        I was amazed at the Media Centre (one of the best I've seen in my tour, on a par with the one from GCHS in Naples). Its design and functionality, with multipurpose rooms, access to computers and overall learning environment, was very when taking into account the limitations in size the school had. As our school is moving soon to a new campus we are designing, I found this area to be of particular importance.

Dinner with ESU members
        I am in debt to the ESU members for organizing this wonderful dinner. It was a great occasion to meet and talk with different people, on education, politics and life in Argentina.

February 8th
Martin Luther King HS: Magnet Public High School (http://www.mlkmagnet.mnps.org/site15.aspx)
Physics Y11 honors
Meeting with College Counselor Kendra Campbell
        This was a very short visit, where I got to see a physics class, with good examples and good problem solving techniques, using peer and self assessment to evaluate understanding of a topic. The meeting with the college counselor added more to my understanding of the college application process, and how competitive and difficult this process can be for students.

Ensworth High School: Private HS (~400 students) (http://www.ensworth.com/)
AP Chemistry - Crystal Miller
Lunch with Science Department
Environmental Science Class - Anna Tutle
        Ensworth is a fantastic school with a very inviting setting, with great resources and very capable teachers. I got to see my first lab class in action, superbly coordinated by Ms. Miller. I liked how the classrooms/labs were arranged, with oval tables that encouraged discussion and big spaces for the lab stations. The learning was hands on, also on the Environmental Science Class, when Ms. Tutle had students analyze the fuel emissions from their cars. Examples, and constant reference to their daily experience, getting science closer to their lifes, and great empathy with students, was the rule in all the interactions I saw.
        During the lunch we shared stories and found many points in common, in school life here and there, in students and in teaching. It was a very rewarding experience for me.

Reception with ESU members and talk by me
    After a brief reception, and individual talks with ESU members, I gave a short description of my trip so far, with a Q&A session afterwards. Everybody was very nice and respectful, I felt honored to be there.

Short tour of Vanderbilt University campus
    Bill showed me around the campus, it certainly looks like a great place to study!


St. Louis, MO


February 9th to February 12th
February 9th
Flight to St. Louis – Arrival and pickup by Nancy Stewart, dinner with them.

February 10th
Albers Elementary School  (http://www.albers.k12.il.us/)
Use of technology at different levels, from kinder to Y6
            This very small Elementary School gave me a taste of two things I had not experienced thus far: it was an elementary school, with the possibility of exploring uses of IT in very young students, and it was in a rural setting, which also changed the composition and diversity of the classroom. I saw some great teaching taking place in the lower years, both motivational and engaging, and using IT in the classroom in a very clever way.

O’Fallon HS: Public HS
Meeting with Science Chair

Y11 Physics Class

Robotics Class - Eric Curry

Media Center

The highlight from this visit was certainly Mr. Curry's robotic class. I think I'd never seen such a motivated class, with students (all 20 of them) engaged in independent parts of the project, with initiative and a powerful drive to be the best. This, I learned later, is, not surprisingly, a consequence of Mr. Curry's dedication and encouragement.

    The Media centre was very well organized, with people in charge that had clear ideas on how to move forward and make it work even better.


Reception at Lewington’s House with ESU members and talk by me.
    The Lewington's were very kind to host this meeting for the ESU, also giving me a chance to talk to everyone there, about Argentina, education, and then field questions of all kind. It was entertaining, and mostly a great exchange of ideas. I felt very comfortable, as in every other instance of me talking with ESU members.

February 11th
UMSL – University of Missouri St Louis.
    Meeting with Hal Harris and Carl Hoagland
        This meeting, accompanied by Nancy Stewart and Ruth Bryant, turned into a good discussion on education, ideas on incorporating technology, book recommendation and so many other things that made it a most interesting morning!
(http://jchemed.chem.wisc.edu/JCEWWW/Features/HalsPicks/index.php)
                
Lunch with Ruth Bryant, Paul Azarra, Barbara Lewington and Nancy Stewart
    I believe I've mentioned this already a thousand times, but it's worth repeating. The most interesting things I got from this trip had to with conversations over lunch, dinner, coffee, or whenever, with lots of interesting people. I had a lot of fun, and learned to the point of saturation, from these experiences on the sides of the formal arrangements. This was certainly one of those occasions, having excellent fried chicken!

Fundraising from Maryville University
Play at Black Cat Theater - Round and Round the Garden.
        A great entertainment, I had lots of fun, and also gave a good chance to talk to the director of the group, sharing experiences in acting and directing. She even invited me to become part of her ensemble, but I think I'll have hard time getting to rehearsals!

February 12th
Tour of St. Louis with Paul Azarra
        Paul was kind enough to show me around St. Louis, while we shared conversations on its history and on various other issues. I really enjoyed the morning with him, and I thank him deeply for having spared the time to do this! You can see some pictures of the town I took while on this mini tour on the right side of this page, but also on the full list of pictures.

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