Snake alert!

I could have lumped this activity from las week with the rest of the highlights in my last update, but I felt selfish doing so. You all would have missed too much. So here it goes…

When I began facilitating learning experiences for Le’Laia last October we unexpectedly found a small Puerto Rican garden snake (arrhyton exiguum) in front of her house. We captured it and observed it for two weeks. Then it escaped the day after we arrived at our new location. It was gone, never to be found again. We were deflated by our sneaky snake’s escape

Luckily for us, ExAlt is surrounded by a small forest and, according to the gardener (Señor Luis), many many snakes. We determined to find a new one we could study and learn about over a longer period of time. An agreement was made with Sr. Luis: Next time he saw a snake he would call us immediately and snake protocol would be put in place.

When Snake Alert was received everyone had to proceed as follows: 1) Stop whatever we are doing, 2) Put on shoes as fast as possible (shoe on wrong foot is fine as long as laces are properly tied), 3) We all run outside to the snake sighting location ready to grab it.

Señor Luis came once per week to maintain the green areas. Every time he was around we would look out the window, secretly expecting his call, but after a month and a half and no news of snakes we had lost all hope of finding one.

Last week,  at the least expected moment, the Snake Alert came in. Señor Luis yelled, “¡Hay una serpiente en el primer piso, corran!” The excite-o-meter went from 0-100% in just 3 seconds and off we went shoes backwards, screaming Snake Alert, Snake Alert!!

To our surprise, it was another arrhyton exiguum of about the same size as last one. Le’Laia asked with wide eyes, “Is it the same one??” I said “YES, we found it!” But immediately after, I confessed there was no way to tell, and that the chances of finding the exact same snake were small given our surrounding.

That didn’t stop us from jumping into action. We found a secure provisional habitat. Went online to find some more information about it. We bought a terrarium. Went to the forest to find good dirt and plants, and we created a cozy habitat for it. Below you will find a few pictures of the process post-capture. This has been one of the most exciting and engaging spontaneous activities we have had. Sometimes the best experiences are not planned. Enjoy!

 

Immediately after capturing the snake. Diego discovered he isn't as fond of snakes as he thought.
Immediately after capturing the snake. Diego discovered he isn’t as fond of snakes as he thought.
In search for the best dirt in town. If we are going to keep a wild snake we must make sure to provide the most "homie" environment we can.
In search for the best dirt in town. If we are going to keep a wild snake we must make sure to provide the “homiest” environment we can.
The walk back with trays full of dirt, ferns and small logs.
The walk back with trays full of dirt, ferns and small logs.
Final touches to our snake habitat: Arrhyton exigumm prefers the forest floor, under rocks, leaf litter or dead logs and branches in lower sections of wet forests. It also may also dwell in urban and rural garden settings.
Final touches to our snake habitat: Arrhyton exigumm prefers the forest floor, under rocks, leaf litter or dead logs in lower sections of wet forests. It also may also dwell in urban garden settings (We knew that!).
At last!
At last!
A snake drawing, so that our friend doesn't feel lonely...
A snake drawing, so that our friend doesn’t feel lonely… “I think she likes our drawing.”
snake4
I suggested many (beastly) names… They decided to name it Twilight Sparkle.
Our first live feeding!  Arrhyton exiguum preys on anoles, frogs, and lizards.
Our first live feeding!
Arrhyton exiguum preys on anoles, frogs, and lizards. I had to prep kids for this. Seeing a snake swallow a lizard whole (“without chewing it!”) can be a chocking experience for younger kids.

 

Everyday at ExAlt is an adventure. You never know what surprises the day may bring. Stay tuned for more!

ExAlt Update

The first four weeks at ExAlt have gone by in a flash!  Despite my long-held passionate intention to update my blog regularly, I’ve succumbed under the pressure of mighty Chronos and Hypnos.  Standing up to the gods today, I decided to finally update.

We currently have four extraordinary learners savoring their intro to the agile world with me as their main and sole facilitator.  Le’Laia, Diego, Gabi and Alejandro. (We have had several learners joining us sporadically to enrich their experiences over the weeks. One of them is, Le’Laia’s younger brother, Leyson)

ExAlt

As a photographer, I believe pictures tell my story better than my words, so I’ll just summon a few of them to support my words while I get in the habit of writing  (in English) more often.

Here are some highlights of our days at ExAlt in the last couple of weeks:

Photo Jan 13, 10 01 26 AM
“How the heck do you play this thing?” Exploring a trumpet for the first time.
Brainstorming and designing the art for our very first screen printed t-shirts.
Brainstorming and designing the art for our very first screen printed t-shirts.
Photo Jan 13, 11 20 05 AM
Playing mancala might not be your typical math lesson, but you should see these kids strategizing and counting their brains out to beat their opponent.
Learning how to say and write number 1-10 in Mandarin with the help of a few great free apps.
Learning how to say and write numbers 1-10 in Mandarin with the help of a few great free apps.
Photo Jan 16, 10 35 39 AM
Hypnotized by Stellaluna during reading time with Alex.
Working on our first flipbook project.
Working on our first flipbook project.
We sometimes get wired to the physics section of Khan Academy.
We sometimes get wired to the physics section of Khan Academy.
Snack time and tree time often go hand in hand.
Snack time and tree time often go hand in hand.
Taking apart an air conditioning unit's motor in an attempt to create a generator. Much to learn still.
Taking apart an air conditioning unit’s motor in an attempt to create a generator. Much to learn still.
Monkey sees Khan Academy, monkey does Khan Academy. Interesting how kids influence each other to try math activities that suggested by an adult would be immediately rejected.
Monkey sees Khan Academy, monkey does Khan Academy. Interesting how kids influence each other to try math activities that otherwise suggested by an adult would be immediately rejected.
Distance and measurement lesson with self-made Micro X-bows and 1ft floor tiles. This design holds the record: 36ft.
Distance and measurement lesson with self-made Micro X-bows and 1ft floor tiles. This design holds the record: 36ft.
Micro crossbow design runners-up.
Micro crossbow design runners-up.
Discovering that the tiny white dots on one of our plants were actually aphids. Just amazing!
Discovering that the tiny white dots on one of our indoor plants were actually aphids. Just amazing!

Photo Feb 06, 10 54 04 AM

Photo Feb 11, 5 25 45 PM
Le’Laia arrived one day with a question: ¿Quién fué Cristobal Colón? We researched, drew, and explained who he was and what he did. Apparently you can’t get credit for discovering a place if other people already knew about it.
Photo Feb 11, 5 23 39 PM
We have grown fond of figuring out how to play tunes we like on the keyboard. Once we nail the right keys we mark them in the order they should be played. This one is the beginning of the Tetris theme song.
Starting our vegetable garden.
Starting our vegetable garden. By summer we’ll have tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, and lettuce.
Building our first vertical garden with recycled water bottles. Much work to be done still. Every step of the process of making something is a humbling learning experience.
Building our first vertical garden with recycled water bottles. Much work to be done still. Every step of the process of making something is a humbling learning experience.
Music of the World. An offering where we listen to  non-mainstream music from around the world often in languages we do not understand, and then we reflect and discuss. First round: Kenya, Japan, Brazil, Haiti.
Music of the World. An offering where we listen to non-mainstream music from around the world, often in languages we do not understand, and then reflect and discuss our impressions. First round: Kenya, Japan, Brazil, Haiti.
Our first hot glue gun experience: Making a popsicle stick heart.
Our first hot glue gun experience: Making a popsicle stick heart.
We needed to put our generator project on hold. We realized that learning how to use a voltmeter and understanding how electricity works was a necessary step to generating electricity.
We needed to put our generator project on hold. We realized that learning how to use a voltmeter and understanding how electricity works was a necessary step to generating electricity.
Freedom of expression column.
Freedom of expression column.
Independent reading might not be a top choice among the younger learners, but sometimes it is under a pile of pillows that you get into the groove and read.
Independent reading might not be a top choice among the younger learners, but sometimes it is under a pile of pillows that you get into the groove and read.
One day, Le'laia and Diego got the rest of us on board to their mission to Saturn inside a spaceship made of pillows and chairs. Quite a complex operation the one they had going on.
One day, Le’laia and Diego got the rest of us on board their mission to Saturn inside a spaceship made of pillows and chairs. Each of us had our own cabin and they had the journey’s details written on clipboards and all. Quite a complex operation the one they had going on.

 

Every day is an adventure at ExAlt. Sometimes it’s messy and ungraceful, but with every step we make, every conversation we have, every failed attempt, every small discovery, every stickie we move along our Kanban board… we open new windows into an infinite world of learning hidden inside each individual’s unique interests and talents, and inside the opportunities where they all spontaneously converge.

 

What we do at ExAlt

Hello ALC world!

I didn’t want to end the year without my first post. I’ve been so excited about all the opportunities and discoveries we have had at our ALC startup I could not help sharing.

For the past months I’ve been facilitating learning experiences for one extraordinary agile learner, Le’Laia, who recently started homeschooling. These “Best of 2014 Experiences” are just a small sample, but I’m sure they will give you a good idea about what is possible at our ALC.

ExAlt opens this January in San Juan, Puerto Rico for agile learners of all ages. Hats off to Le’Laia’s courageous mom and to all pioneer families joining our agile community in 2015.

 

So what do we do at ExAlt?

We explore. We play. We talk (a lot). We create things. We share our learning. We collaborate. We reflect. We make our own decisions. We take responsibility for our own learning. We solve problems. We solve conflict peacefully. We question. We find answers. We teach each other. We learn from each other. We connect with nature. We create community. We connect with the world. We strive to live sustainably. We know ourselves. We respect each other’s individuality. We live healthy lives. We laugh (a lot). We exalt each person and their unique potential.

We explore outdoors a lot.
We explore outdoors a lot.
photo
Exploration leads to rotting log with mushrooms and tons of insects coming out of it. Scientific observation ensues. Millipedes, ants, and a mysterious pupating insect are discovered.
photo-3
Free drawing. We created an original story board with mermaids and shapeshifting characters.
We strengthen our balance and concentration using slacklines. Yeah!!
We strengthen our balance and concentration using slacklines. Yeah!!
We learn about the animal groups.
We learn about animal groups.
Wepontaneous chalk mural. Mermaids are present.
We create spontaneous chalk murals. Mermaids are often present as well.
We sometimes have picnics in trees as well.
Sometimes we hang out and eat our snack up in the trees.
No better time to practice our Combinations of 10 cards than while hanging up a tree.
No better time to practice our Combinations of 10 cards.
A lot.
We place tape marks on the floor and we jump. A lot.
We find out which was the longest jump. The frog jump usually wins.
We find out which was the longest jump. The frog jump usually wins.
We climb trees. We observe them carefully.
We climb trees. We observe them carefully.
We also look for information online about the trees we love climbing most. We learn more about them, label them and make drawings.
We look for information online about the trees we love to climb. We learn more about them, label them and make drawings.
We recycle cardboard boxes and we slide downhill. Laughter, screaming and agitation are common.
We recycle cardboard boxes and slide downhill. Laughter, screaming and agitation are common.

We think about shapes. How many triangles can you make with 6 toothpicks?

We explore triangles and tetrahedrons while playing with toothpicks and playdough.
We learn about reptiles by capturing them and bringing them indoors for observation. (Not a poisonous one. Yey!)  We observe it feed on smaller reptiles and amphibians. We watch as it sheds its skin. We set it free.

We bring it indoors and learn about it. Not a poisonous one. Yey! We observe it feed and shed its skin.

 

We read about fire, its benefits and dangers, and how we can control/fuel it. Then we make a fire!
We play piano.
We play piano and make beats. Ode to Joy is a favorite.
We swing real high!
We swing real high!
We read our favorite books. Over and over.
We read our favorite books. Over and over.
We talk about them to understand them better.
We then review and talk about the  books to deepen our understanding of what we read.
We slide downhill some more.
We use different sliding mediums and compare sliding speeds. Some more screaming, laughter and agitation.
We use different sliding mediums and compare sliding speeds. Palm tree “yaguas” show the least friction  resistance, allowing for the speediest descent. Some more screaming, laughter and agitation.
We take computers apart to and test their components (like fans and LED lights) for use in later electronics inventions.
We take computers apart, test their components (like fans and LED lights) and use them in later inventions.
We make huge bubbles.
We make huge bubbles.
We build vegetable gardens.
We often get dirty. We build vegetable gardens.
As we explore we often find and collect various objects and organisms. We identify them and try to reconstruct them.
We find and collect organisms. Sometimes they are dead. We bring them in for observation and try to put the pieces back together.
We learn about electric circuits as we play with LittleBits.
We rock on drums!
We rock on drums!
We create our own animated stories using programming software developed by MIT Media Lab called Scratch.
We use Raspberry Pi computers to play and learn about computer programming. We create our own animated stories using programming software developed by MIT Media Lab (Scratch).
We draw.
We draw and share our creations.
We sort out material collected outdoors using magnets. Then we look for "micrometeorites" under the microscope.
We sort out material collected outdoors using magnets. Then we look for “micrometeorites” under the microscope.
We create with clay.
We make things with clay.
We capture more reptiles.
We capture more reptiles. (We make sure they are handled gently to avoid harming them)
We paint on "magical" water sensitive paper.
We paint on “magical” water sensitive paper.
We learn how to make shapes with balloons. Online tutorials are awesome!
We learn how to make shapes with balloons. Online tutorials are awesome!
We also capture amphibians and observe their metamorphosis.
We also capture amphibians and observe their metamorphosis.
Online tutorials are also great for learning how to Mr. Whiskers.
We practice new skills and reflect on our progress. Online tutorials are also great for learning how to draw Captain Whiskers.
We look at things from different perspectives.
We look at things from different perspectives.

 

As you can see, possibilities are endless…

…what will YOU do at ExAlt?