Ms. Goyena's Classroom

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Harkness in Spanish?

Spanish 10 Blog

Spanish 10 Blog 2

Yesterday’s activity for my Ab Initio class was markedly different from our usual sessions. The past few weeks have been spent learning verb conjugations, having impromptu dialogues and amassing words for our vocabulary bank. This session’s objective is to reflect on our learning process and how we are able to see patterns that aid in learning a new language.

Having studied both Spanish and French, I observed that most verb conjugations have a pattern which helps me retain the numerous possible conjugations that exist in most Romance languages. In the discussion, one student shared his “trick” in knowing how a verb is conjugated for the pronoun vosotros. I find these tricks fascinating, because it tells me how creative and engaged a student is in learning a new language.

I hope all of my students find creative means to learn the language and expose themselves to it outside the confines of the classroom.

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An introduction to International Relations in Social Studies 10

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The Grade 10 students showed much promise in understanding international relations theories in today’s session. Working in groups, they were tasked to come up with scenarios that may initially appear to subscribe to liberal ideals (such as world peace, respect for human rights etc.) and then give a realist twist to the idea.

Among the ideas they came up with were: allowing refugees in a country who will later turn out to be spies, negotiating a peace treaty where there are secret alliances, the UN being an instrument of the United States and the United States proposing disarmament out of national interest.

Admittedly, theoretical constructs and their concepts can be initially hard to understand. However, with the foundations already laid out for my class, it will be easier understanding the underpinnings of World War I through different perspectives. I hope the rest of the year continues to be as promising as our first week.

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Learning a new language

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The first week of my classes in beginner’s Spanish went by smoothly. So far, we have learned how to introduce ourselves and others, say our and other people’s nationality, say which city we live in and state our and another person’s occupation. All within five days!

I am fortunate to have diligent and gifted students in my classes. Verb conjugations in Spanish can be pretty intimidating at first but it seems like my students are doing very well.

I also have new students in my Spanish I class who I look forward to get to know. With more vocabulary and knowledge of verb conjugations, I hope we can play the taboo game very soon.

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Welcoming another school year


Photo credit to:

Photo credit to:

In a few days, I will get to welcome both familiar and new students at CISM. It has been a delight planning the school year with a dynamic and very enthusiastic set of colleagues and we have all been preparing to deliver interesting interactive lessons for both Middle and High School classes. I am fortunate to be part of two departments this year: Social Studies and Modern Languages.

The Social Studies Department welcomes two new faculty members this year. Matt (Matthew) Hankins will be teaching Social Studies for Grades 6, 7ES and 9 while Yom (Gerome) Vedeja will be handling the Social Studies class for Grade 8 and IB Economics. I am also pleased to let you know that we are offering core Electives classes for the first time at CISM, which includes Geography for Middle School (under Matt) and Economics for Upper School (under Yom). Our goal is to encourage interest and orient students on IB Group 3 subjects and hopefully expand our offerings to include IB Geography or IB History in the future.

As for me, I will be teaching Social Studies Grade 7MS, Grade 10 Social Studies, Spanish I (for Grades 9 and 10) and Spanish Ab Initio (for Grade 11). This is my first year to teach Spanish at CISM, though I have already taught Spanish Ab Initio at another school. Most Grade 9 and 10 students may have solely known me from Social Studies classes two years ago, so it may come as a surprise (and I hope it’s a pleasant one) to see me in their Spanish classes.

This year, I hope to encourage my students in Social Studies to evaluate, and if necessary, challenge conventional thinking. This can be done through a thorough analysis of different arguments and viewed through a multidisciplinary lens. The Grade 10 students will be introduced to the scope and limits of various political theories while the Grade 7 students will get to look deeper into historical events, going beyond the facts of an issue. In the same way, Spanish I and Spanish Ab Initio students will be challenged to express their ideas in a different language and understand how Spanish speakers see the world.

Our department is also in charge of UN Day, which will be held on October 19 this year. What makes UN Day interesting this year is that while we are celebrating the diversity of CISM’s population and commemorating the establishment of the United Nations, we are also celebrating Spanish National Day or Dia de Hispanidad (October 12) and Deepavali/Diwali (November 7). We have a set of activities lined up during that day for the whole community and parents are always welcome to attend. I look forward to meeting all of you during our events or at any time you wish to visit the school.

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Second Semester Output

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This semester, the Social Studies class from Grades 7-10 are honing their research skills. The Grades 7 are learning the use of footnotes while the Grade 8s are learning proper structure in the research paper. Meanwhile, the Grade 9s and 10s are able to identify the different components of a Social Studies paper. To date, they are working on the methodology section and learned that they can either use a qualitative or quantitative method as their research method.

The Grade 10 output look highly promising. Some of their topics include:

  1. - The use of subsidies in the US agricultural sector during the Great Depression
  2. - Frustration-aggression as a way of explaining the Russian Revolution and the 2014 Hong Kong protests
  3. Anarchist revolutions
  4. Mixed capitalist economies of Hong Kong and China
  5. The Prohibition
  6. The use of subsidies in the German car manufacturing sector