Friday, September 29, 2017

Hurricane Maria Impacts Puerto Ricans Everywhere

My family is from Puerto Rico. I own a house there. Ever since the hurricane hit the island, I haven't been able to communicate with anyone on the island. I also don't know if my house there is still standing or if it sustained severe damage. 

Growing up in Puerto Rico means that I lived through many hurricanes. I remember a hurricane in 1998 while I was in high school that caused the island to not have power for a month. Yes, a month. It's a really hot and tropical climate. Having no power with 90 degrees Fahrenheit, high humidity, and no way to keep the mosquitoes at bay, is tough. Add to that water and phone lines are usually also gone during this process. 

I was pleased to see that Royal Caribbean has sent out a cruise ship to evacuate some of the victims. Link to article. It's sad to hear that the supplies needed on the island are sitting in crates at the dock because of the lack of diesel available to deliver the goods. Here's the link to the CNBC article

It's so frustrating to be so far away and worried for long periods of time with just the hope that everyone and everything will be okay.

Amazon is making it easy to contribute to those affected by the Mexican earthquake, Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Simply click on this link and pick one of the items the Red Cross is requesting for that area and purchase it. Amazon will then deliver it on your behalf. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Hip Hop Run San Jose 2017


The Hip Hop Run wasn't one of our scheduled runs, but we are training for the runDisney Thor 10K and thought it would be a good idea to do a full 10K and see how we did. 

Parking was at Happy Hollow, a long way from the start line. We had picked up our packet the day before at the Enso Nightclub in Downtown San Jose. First time going to a nightclub to pick up a runners packet. 

The trail wasn't very interesting. The 10K did the 5K route twice, which included running on the street, through a dirt field, and in part of a park. 

There were DJ's playing music and plenty of kids cheering us on and handing out water. There were only 2 porta-potties at the beginning of the race and 2 actual bathrooms at the park part of the race. 

Our bling. The fabric part of the medal looks like a think gold chain, like something Mr. T would wear. 

This was our first time doing a 10K. I was extremely proud of myself for sticking with it, even though I was exhausted. 

We were in the back of the pack of runners. In fact, there was one person behind us and she was the last one. However, I feel that our pace was good and now we have a time and pace to beat. We're trying to not get scooped up at the runDisney race in November, so we want to have a pace of less than 16. 

I noticed that some people were speed walking, not actually running and their walk speed was pretty fast. I'm going to try to walk faster when I'm not running and that should also help my pace. It's just hard to do that when my body wants to just take it slow and breath before running again. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Learning to Slow Down Lessons

I saw this image on Twitter recently, shared by @teachergoals. 
It's good that teachers are held accountable for the learning that takes place in the classroom and that's the point of standardized testing and curriculum, but in our day to day efforts to push forward, are we pushing beyond the speed of the student. 

It would be nice to end a unit at different points so that students that can move forward can and those that need more time can spend more time on it, but that's not realistic. Classrooms already have a 1-36 ratio in my state. 

I think this problem gets worse as the student moves up into high school. Advanced Placement courses have to teach all the content before the test which usually early May. This means less of the school year to actually teach the content. How is this fair to the students?

Some schools have blended classrooms with technology that allows them to tailor lessons to the particular speed and needs of the student. However, what do all the other schools do?

I love this image because it makes me reflect on my lessons and on teaching on a greater scale. We all have both hares and turtles in our classrooms. It doesn't mean that the hares are better. Sometimes they rush through the work and forget punctuation or key elements in their work. We also have hares that work at a slower pace, but with enough time and encouragement they can get to the finish line. 

Image credit:

If you have technology available to you, use it to help both the fast and the slow learners. Provide more than one opportunity for success. 

New Running Shoes: Brooks Glycerin 15

During the Teal Race last weekend my son won one of the raffle prizes, a $50 gift certificate to Running Revolution in Campbell. I decided to buy his gift certificate from him and use it as an excuse to get new running shoes. Hey, new running gear motivates me. Don't judge me. At this point, anything that keeps me moving is good.

I visited the store. It was a very small store in a strip mall. The people working there were very friendly. I told the employee I had a gift certificate and he made some suggestions on how I could spend it so that I would spend less out of pocket, but I already knew I wanted shoes, nothing else. 

I saw that they had one of those foot pressure machines and asked if I could try it out. Of course, they said yes. I hopped on and in a few seconds, it had my results on the screen. Sometimes CVS or Walgreens will have this type of machine, but this is the first time I was standing there with a person that could interpret what the results meant. 

The red in the image is where I put the post pressure on my feet. I also asked about my foot arch. I know that flat shoes are extremely painful for long periods of time, however, I wasn't sure if I was a medium or a high arch. The store associate said I was a medium arch and told me how it would look on the screen if I was a high arch. Based on these results we went over to the running shoe wall and he selected some shoes that he thought would meet my foot needs. 

He narrowed it down to two pairs that he thought would work. One was the Brooks Ghost 9 and the Brooks Glycerin 15. They didn't have the Ghost in my size, so I tried the Glycerin 15. First, I tried half a size up like a normally do for sneakers and they were way too small. Weird... The employee went to the back room and came back with a half sizer higher than that and they felt great! There was a lot of cushion and support. So, I bought them. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fitness Watch Review: Fitbit Blaze

I've been wearing my Fitbit Blaze for a couple of weeks now. I hesitated to buy a Fitbit, because I'm not a big fan of wearing a watch. However, more and more runners are using an activity watch, so I decided to give it a try. Fitbit Blaze Smart Fitness Watch, Plum, Silver, Large (US Version)
I'm actually enjoying having it. The Fitbit Blaze keeps track of my heart rate, which I hadn't monitored before. The stats include a breakdown of at what heart rate time is in what zone: peak, cardio, and fat burn. 

It keeps track of how many steps you have taken in a day and the calories you've burned. Once you set your daily goals, it will motivate you to be more active so that you can meet your goals. It also has a little fireworks celebration once you meet your daily goal. 

I was considering getting an Apple watch instead, but after comparing the prices and features, I decided to go with the Fitbit Blaze. 

I get text alerts on my phone and notices of incoming calls. This is handy when I'm driving. My car does have handsfree answering, but it doesn't have caller ID. I can quickly look at my wrist and see who's calling and press the answer button on my steering wheel. 

I was using a separate app on my phone to keep track of my weekly workouts, but the Fitbit comes with its own app that syncs with the watch. I do have to press the exercise and then the run option to tell the watch that I'm going to start running. That's a little bit of a pain because sometimes I forget to do it and then it doesn't track my workout correctly. 

Overall, I'm happy with my purchase. It was the right choice for my fitness needs at an affordable price. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Teal's Real Race 2017 a Success

Teal's Real Race was a success! It was my first year participating, but it was their 3rd year of doing it. 

As you may know, I lost my mom this year to Ovarian Cancer. Prepping for this race caused me a lot of anxiety. On the one hand, I was excited to be a part of the festivities, dress in teal, and help support the cause. On the other hand, I miss my mom greatly and I wish I could tell her all about it, but I couldn't. 

It was an emotional experience for me, but I'm glad I was there and I look forward to doing it again next year. 

The day started out with registrations and some breakfast snacks. Followed by speakers and a dance performance. One of the speakers was an 8 year Ovarian Cancer Survivor, Marianne. She encouraged others to be active and do whatever sport you enjoyed the most. She danced in the performance and it was truly moving. 

Next, was the 5K race. Not everyone at the race was able to run or walk, but they were there at the finish line to cheer us on. There were medals handed out to the top 3 men and women. The fastest man finished the race in 16:51. Kids also received medals for participating. There were many dogs doing the race with their families, and of course, they were wearing teal bandannas. 

At the conclusion of the race, there was a raffle. There several prizes including gift certificates for acupuncture, massages, dinner, and athletic gear. 

The charity has not yet met it's goal and has extended the time that we can take donations on the website. If you can, please consider donating. Here's the link

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Star Wars 3D Printing Projects

A friend invited me to visit the Tech Shop in San Jose. She had a membership and I was wanting to play with 3D printing. 

It's a makers paradise. They have many different types of machines you can use. They offer a variety of classes for both kids and adults. There are other Tech Shop locations across the U.S.  

You have to take a safety class before you can operate a particular machine. There's everything from woodworking, vacuum sealing, molding, laser cutters, large printers, etc. Your imagination is the limit. 

We brought our designs on a flash drive and it turns out the 3D printer reads SD cards only. The front desk had a card reader we could borrow. We had reserved a 4-hour window in advance to work on the printer. 

Using one of the computers available, we opened the STL file using a program called Cura. We then transferred it over to the SD card for the printer to read. There's a help desk at the Tech Shop. At one point we were stuck on how to set-up the printer and one of the guys there were very friendly and happy to help us out. 

We used the raw material from the Tech Shop since we didn't have our own. They weighed the roll before and after to determine how much we needed to pay at the end. 

We started by trying to print Jabba the Hut. Here's the link to the free downloadable file. Cura told us that it was going to take 7.5 hours to print the design with its original dimensions. We didn't have that amount of time, so we played with the dimensions and shrunk it to where it only took 7 minutes to print. 

The problem was that the design was so small that it lost a lot of the detail in the head and arms.

When you make anything, there's always trial and error. 

We moved on to trying to print Star Wars Rebel Cookie Cutters. Here's the link to the design. We did verify that we were using food grade material for the cookie cutters. 

There were two different cookie cutter designs for the same Rebel symbol. I haven't figured out why, but we printed them both out. 

Each cookie cutter took about 33 minutes to print. If you have longer projects that will take more than your allotted time to print, you can ask for the machine to be reserved. 

We increased the filament setting on the cookie cutter on the left and the design came out better. 

Now I'll need to put these cookie cutters to the test and make a batch of cookies. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Run 9/12/17 2.7 Miles

The temperatures here in Northern California have been unusually high, in the 100's. We live close to the water, so it's normally cooler here, but even with that, it's been pretty miserable. We usually run in the afternoon. Today we had to make an exception because of our schedules and run at noon. 

We passed this nice group of bikers out on their lunch workout.

There's only 60 days until the Thor 10K runDisney race. I'm still far from where I would like to be. We've running every day with one break day in the week. 

Progress is slow, but I have run for longer than I could a few months ago. I'm still slow, but I'm focusing on slow and steady, not fast. I'm still using the Couch to 10K app as my training program. 

I've been doing little things like wearing a Disney shirt to motivate me and remind me to keep the eye on the prize. I bought this particular shirt at Tee Digi. Here's the link.

What do you do to stay motivated for your next race?

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Learning to Code with Star Wars

October 3, 2017, is the release date of the Star Wars Coding Projects book in both Kindle and print. Available for pre-order now.

 Click link here to purchase.

This book uses Scratch to teach kids ages 8-12, grade level 3-7 how to code by creating their own characters, driving a spaceship through an asteroid belt or an adventure. Teaches essential coding skills. 

Projects are shareable and competitive as you can challenge kids to beat your top score. Steps for coding are easy to follow, numbered, and well illustrated. 

This book is bound to encourage kids to learn how to code by using the characters they know and love. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Zuchinni Noodles (Zunoodles) Asian Inspired Recipe

  • Zucchini Noodles
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Soy Sauce
  • Teriyaki Sauce
  • Minced Ginger
  • Olive Oil

1. Spiralize a few zucchinis using a spiralizer. 
You can also buy a package of zucchinis already spiralized at Whole Foods, but if you are going to continually spiralize vegetables, it's better to buy a spiralizer. Link to one here
2. Pour approximately 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan. Once warm, add the zucchini noodles.
3. Toss noodles until they are soft.
4. Add some minced ginger to taste. Continue to toss the noodles so that the flavor integrates evenly.
5. Add a little of both soy sauce and teriyaki sauce to the pan. 
6. Continue to toss until fully cooked. 

If your kids hate the taste of vegetables, this is a great way to hide the flavor. 

Serve the zucchini noodles by themselves or with a side of salmon or chicken. 

Introduction to Simple Machines for Kids

Teaching students to build simple machines is an important part of the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Math (STEAM) curriculum and the maker classroom. K'Nex provides students with the building blocks to let their imaginations soar. 

This kit includes an educational guide for teachers to get lesson ideas for their classes. Students investigate wheels, axles, and inclined planes. 

This set allows kids to work as a team, fostering collaboration among students. While this set provides instructions for 7 projects, the possibilities are only limited by the child's imagination. Encourage their own adaptation of the project or help them to use their project to connect with real world applications. 

Here's the link to the digital lesson plan that goes with this K'Nex kit. Click here for more details. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Disney Pixar Coco Film Focuses on Hispanic Traditions

Disney has an amazing ability to take traditional folkloric stories of various places around the world and transforming them into a family fun movie. 

When I was in Italy, I learned that Pinnochio was based on an Italian folkloric character. Visit Rome and you will not only find Holy Water and Rosaries as souvenirs, but also small wooden Pinnochio's. 

When I went to Ireland, I visited the Leprechaun Museum in Dublin, Ireland, yes, there's such a thing, and they told us that the story of leprechauns was told to children there for ages. I also remember the narrator saying that the leprechauns in their folkloric stories wore brown, not green clothes. 

This time Disney does it again with the upcoming film Coco. As a Spanish Teacher and fellow Hispanic, I can see so much culture integrated into the film that it's amazing. Finally, a film that explains Day of the Dead is not a scary day, but as something culturally beautiful and almost magic. 

Here's the trailer for the Disney/Pixar film Coco. 

In theaters, November 22, 2017.