SUNDAY BEST

fun in the classroomI´m very excited about Sunday Best this week! Our Creative Teaching section is finally ready! It has tons of incredible links and ideas for teachers, parents, care givers, grandparents, aunts, uncles you name it! Please stop by, take a look and share if you wish! I had a great time styling the colorful photos you see in that section, and an even greater time putting together some of my favorite tricks and resources. I hope you like it! This is Creative Teaching.

It´s been raining for days in Madrid and while I was getting soaked walking to my car the other day (no umbrella… AGAIN!), I saw this amazing tall building hiding behind the rain in this tiny alley. I loved it and I couldn´t stop myself from getting even wetter and taking this photo for you.

Please let me know what you think about the new section! I hope it helps you with your lessons and your time with the young cuties  in your life.

raining in madrid

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CERTIFIED AND EXCITED!

creative teachingI know it seems like I suddenly disappeared from the blogosphere, but don’t worry, it was only temporary while I was getting my second teacher certification as a young learners ESL teacher! That’s right, I’m now officially certified for teaching adults and my favorite little friends. I’m so happy I did it, so excited that I’ve finished, and now I get to apply so many of the amazing and creative ideas and techniques I learned these past few weeks. I have to tell you I was not prepared for learning in such a creative environment but that’s what I kept walking into day in and day out. You can imagine my excitement! Not only that but I was so lucky to be in a classroom with such a diverse and interesting group of students (well, teachers really!), and our tutor was a force to be reckoned with. Incredibly creative with one little extra wonderful side to him, he was a technology “junkie” just like me! Suffice it to say I was hooked and happy to learn from someone with so much experience.

In one of my favorite lessons about using dvd and video in the classroom, he said something that really struck a chord. He said that he doesn’t agree with people that say that technology will someday replace teachers, but that teachers who don’t embrace technology will be replaced by teachers who do. I loved this! What a great way of reminding us we must always stay on our toes to continue to create magic in the classroom.

Today I just wanted to pop in to give you my happy news and to say I’m still here, I’m not going anywhere! I leave you with a photo of what my life is like these days. cutouts of cartoons, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, made up memory games to teach verb tenses, and so many other unusual ways to plan my lessons and keep my students engaged and learning. I’ll see you all tomorrow for our Sunday Best!

BACK TO SCHOOL

madrid buildingHi everyone, I´m just popping in to show you this incredible building I saw in Madrid today. I was walking with a friend trying to find a children’s bookstore, and after walking up and down the street a few times we finally realized it had sadly closed its doors. Before we realized it we were staring at this beauty neither of us had seen before. I’ve been in this neighborhood many times but this little gem had been hiding behind a street corner. The reason I was in that part of town to begin with was the fact that for the past few days and the next couple of weeks I’m back in school for my young learner teacher certification! This means that really soon I’ll have amazing ideas and projects to share with you here so that you can do them with your little ones. It feels great to go back to school and be the student for a while again. It’s a very unique kind of class, very creative and interactive, and after every class we leave with big smiles on our faces and ready to try out what we’ve learned.

Some of these great ideas are coming soon, but in the meantime I wanted to share a little piece of wisdom I read about today as I was planning a couple of lessons for my younger students. We all have a curriculum to adhere to, a course book to follow, and parents to please, but students, especially young learners are a lot less interested in the amount of topics we cover in one lesson as it is for them to feel cared after, understood and taken into account. This is not to say that we should throw our lesson plans out the window, it just means that if we take care of these other aspects of teaching as much as our grammar exercises, it’s definitely more likely that learning will occur. This was written by a teacher who is currently working in South Korea, and I definitely think this applies to children of any nationality. Take the time to get to know your students, to listen to them, to make them realize how special and smart they are, and the subject you’re teaching might become an exciting part of their day and be more memorable. They’re also more likely to continue coming back for more, wide eyes in tow. More to come soon so stay tuned!

SUNDAY BEST

Wedding carHi everyone. It´s been a super busy work week for me and I managed to round it off with the wedding of a very close friend of mine last night, where we also got to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary! All that celebrating came just in time before I prepare for a very intense week with my Young Learners teacher certification coming up! I´m very excited because you know how much I love teaching kids and this is where all my creativity comes out at top speed. I can’t wait to see my fellow teachers who have been away on holiday and get down to business working on creating amazing lessons for the kids. In the meantime, I still have today to share my Sunday Best with you. I hope you like my selection for this week!

I don’t know about you but I’m a serious packaging and gift wrapping addict! When I found Older and Wisor, I couldn’t have enough of candy canes on top of kraft paper, lollipops as hanging cherries, ribbons and cards, and I’m sure you will love this blog as much as I do.

Any knitters in the crowd? I love the great ideas and colors behind Purl Bee. If you’re looking for your next great project you might find it here.

Design fans and employees/design job hunters, here’s a post about creating eye popping design resumes with crazy creative photos and ideas at Ned Hardy. Ned Hardy is a website filled with amazing links to everything from Design, to food, to architecture, to photography, and anything else you can think of. Pinterest fans looking for the next big pin, this site is like a teeny tiny party in your computer screen. I love their movie posters re-imagined and and of course all of their design and packaging posts.

For anything (and everything) related to the fashion world, you have to take a look at Gossip Dress! We’re going to talk more about these fashion experts very soon because they have a very exciting new Social Network in the works, but until it’s launched to the public, you can read their beautiful colorful posts filled with incredible photography, and where you’ll read the latest news of what’s coming up in fashion before you read it anywhere else! I love their posts on new beauty products and on new designer collections. Truly inspiring with tons of great photos.

Finally, you know I wouldn’t leave you without some yummies! Here’s a treat to the eyes and tastebuds, with the mouthwatering creations of Stasty. I love their ricotta and tomato tarts and all their vegetarian dishes, simply delicious, especially their very creative salad combinations!

I’ll see you again soon, and in the meantime I leave you with the start of last night’s wedding, the bride arriving in this beautiful antique car. I just loved the contrast of the rising hill, the black car and the brick of the church. What about that afternoon light! Have a great Sunday everyone.

OH TEACHER, MY TEACHER

first day of schoolI’ve been reading a few articles on using creativity in teaching lately and if you’ve been reading the blog for a while you know that’s what I’m all about. The beauty of the internet is that one thing leads you to the next and it’s easy to get lost in an endless array of information. Recently, I stumbled upon an article that not only talked about getting more creative in your teaching but about actually developing creativity in students, especially children. The article came with a whopping 24 tips that would help any teacher start doing that immediately, and it just took reading the first one for me to have a serious ‘Eureka!’ moment. Robert Sternberg and Wendy Williams, authors of the article “Teaching for Creativity: Two Dozen Tips” mention modelling creativity as the first one on their list, saying that teachers shouldn’t focus so much on how to teach creativity, but that being creative themselves seems to be the key. Ah yes, the eternal search for a role model, we all have it, and it’s a good thing!

This is where I had my serious aha! moment, with an itty bitty memory from many years ago: the first time I read Animal Farm by George Orwell and The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. Yes these were written by literary geniuses, but that wasn’t it, I read these under the incredible teachings of someone I will never forget. The pages seemed to come alive more and more each day when the book was sent for homework while we talked about Stalin and Lenin and gave presentations about the Russian ballet and were expected to share some Russian cooking with our classmates during school hours. The world of the Chinese farmers was opened up to me by watching movies and looking at incredible pictures and stories about China and the Asian cultures. The images that came to my head while I was reading these books after having such crazy creative classes in school have never left my mind. My teacher, Lisette, was not the first of my incredibly talented teachers, but certainly the most memorable and a role model for creativity if there ever was one. My mother and the rest of my family always said I was incredibly creative and that it must have been in my blood after coming from a family of artists and writers, but I know that genes had little to do with it. At home and in the classroom, great creative things were expected of me, and when things are expected of you as a child, you simply rise to the occasion.

My first exercise when getting certified as an English teacher was to think about the teachers in my own life and what had inspired me. Regardless to say that images of Teresa and the day she totally shocked me with photos of Biosphere number 2 and explained what that was came rushing past me. Nora and her very unique way of teaching us Shakespeare made an appearance, Herminia and her humor and love of literature came to stay. Carlos G. and the way he taught me how to love the magic of creating something with your hands and laugh at yourself when things went wrong also knocked on my door. Eduardo and his incredible and mesmerizing lectures were there because they simply never left. Lisette was center stage and will always be (as she has been since then) an incredible role model for high standards, creativity and a passion for teaching. So yes, what is the first thing you should do to actually get creativity to show up in the classroom? As the experts say and as my experience taught me, you must lead by example.

I’m so glad that all the research I do to take my lessons to the next level creatively might teach more than just possessive adjectives and modal verbs! I’ll go through more of the tips with you soon, but if you can’t wait, here’s the article. 

What more can I say of these and so many other incredible teachers, other than thank you. What would happen to the world if all teachers were this passionate and creative? It would be pretty great wouldn’t it?!

My mother used to always have a surprise for me on the first day of school and that’s what you’re seeing in the top photo. Me and some beautiful blue balloons that to my amazement that day were filled with helium! My oh my!

SUNDAY BEST: LISTEN TO THE KIDS

sunday best blogThis week we have a very special edition of our Sunday Best series! The inspiration behind this edition is my amazing experience with young learners and all those  friendships I’ve made with the little ones I’ve met over the years. Anyone who has taught children can tell you how they are wise beyond their years and what an incredibly creative experience it is to work with them. I’ve always loved working with children and always stare at them in awe, wondering why we lose so many of those creative and courageous qualities as we get older. So in the spirit of these wonderful little learners and achievers, I give you our “Listen to the Kids” edition of Sunday Best.

For foodies, cooks and aspiring chefs, here’s the culinary 14 year old expert behind A High School Foodie, if you thought kids had a limited palette and only made a mess in the kitchen think again, and try his sweet potato fries with blue cheese dressing while you’re visiting!

It’s time for some TED! Don’t miss 12 year old Adora Svitak and her TED talk (yes! you heard me) titled “What adults can learn from kids”. Adora is a children’s author who tours the US giving talks advocating for literacy and giving us a wonderful glimpse into the minds of children. Astounding, brilliant and funny, you have to listen to the wise words of this little girl.

You know I couldn’t leave you without getting a little bit musical. Here’s a jaw dropping video of a 14 year old girl improvising on the piano and talking about my second favorite topic, her creative process and how she composes. Wait… is that Goldie Hawn in minute 17? Please don’t miss talented Jennifer Lin improvising on the piano at TED.

These are just three examples of where a child’s mind wanders and the great places listening to them can take us. Here’s an idea,why don’t we all listen to the wise words of Adora and really listen to our children? In my experience the answer to this question is a big WE HAVE TO START NOW! Don’t be surprised if in a matter of minutes you’re learning more from them than they are from you.

Do you have some beautiful words of wisdom your children or students might have shared with you? Could you share them with us in the comments below?

SUMMER AND FESTIVALS

Coldplay bandSummer is almost gone here in Spain and the warm weather left early this year. For me this summer was all about hanging out in the terrace, having some delicious outdoor barbecues, spending time with family and friends, working A LOT, and of course that magical time of year of music and festivals. I got to see some of the most amazing bands this summer and have tons of photos to share with you now that it’s coming to an end. Thank God for indoor theaters and stages or I would have to wait another year for one of my favorite ways to spend my free time.

Here’s the incredible Coldplay, ok, I’m cheating a bit here because it wasn’t summer quite yet, but I just had to share some photos of the crazy amazing stage and their beautiful ‘twinkle lights in the audience’ display.Coldplay MadridColdplay Madrid

The Smashing Pumpkins gave us an incredible show at a very small venue (don’t you just love when that little bit of magic happens?). The Smashing Pumpkins concert in Madrid 2012

Then we had a bit of Rock in Rio with Incubus and the amazing Red Hot Chilli Peppers. My favorite photo from that day was not of the bands on stage but of this little ‘cutie pie rocker in training’. Her dad was explaining and telling her stories about Incubus, and she listened carefully and then suddenly stood up and started dancing in pure rocker fashion. Incubus and Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Then came the absolute highlight of the summer, the BBK Live Festival in Bilbao, Spain which we have loved more and more each year, and that gave us the gift of being able to finally see Radiohead live. Probably one of the best concerts I’ll ever get to see, and one I hope I can see again some day. Pure genius is what that band is. As usual, almost all of their classic tunes were nowhere to be found and still I couldn’t have had a better time! On top of that one of my favorite bands Mumford & Sons opened up for them and it was incredible. Talk about a crazy creative and jaw dropping day for me! The Mexican band Zoe also rocked the stage that day.Mumford & Sons

Radiohead at the BBK in Spain The photos aren’t that great, I know. I’ve gotten into the habit of leaving my camera at home because if I don’t, I’m tempted to take every single shot possible and I end up missing the actual reason why I’m there in the first place! I had to iphone a couple just to share them with you.

Words to the wise, never fall asleep at the BBK or this might happen to you. BBK music festival in Spainat the Radiohead and Mumford & Sons concert at the BBK live festivalOn the plus side, a crazy girl came running up to him during his nap and kissed him right on the lips and ran off. I couldn’t get my camera out in time and he of course did not remember a thing. Ah! the mystery kisser at BBK Live.

Almost as soon as we came back from Bilbao we got a taste of some mean drumming with Travis Barker and Blink 182. I was not at all prepared for such a powerhouse of a show. Incredible!

Blink 182 show in Madrid 2012

Last but not least, you know what’s coming, the incredible genius that is Jack White and his superb band. How a concert can go from nutty elbow piano playing to totally synched crazy rock genius in less than a second is just beyond me. Jack White is one of my creative idols after seeing him talk about his creative process in the documentary “It Might Get Loud”, which I highly recommend if you’re a fan of his music.Jack White

That’s it for my very short summary of my jam in this summer’s music festivals and shows. Most of them were simply indescribable so you must buy tickets next time they’re in your hometown and experience what live music can do to you. As you know and have read many times before, music is another family member in my household, that’s simply the only way to put it. Next in the agenda…and I can’t believe it (the little miss sunshine-butterfly cutie pie you saw above is a clue), Blind Melon! Sure, we’re sadly one person short, but to hear those amazing tunes that crushed my heart as a teen.. boy oh boy! I’ll keep you posted!

SUNDAY BEST

Madrid buildingsYou´re probably waiting to hear all about last night’s concert, and I promise you will this week in our super anticipated post about summer and festivals. I would write it today but it’s time for our Sunday Best!

I’m so excited to have found the website I’m about to recommend. Usually it takes me a while to follow a blog and become a frequent reader, let alone subscribe via rss AND via email. Well, it only took a few minutes in this blog to make me realize that I had to join, follow and share. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nannies and of course fellow teachers, you simply cannot miss A Magical Childhood. From bathtub crayon recipes, to colored ice cubes in the kiddie pool, to camping in the living room, this website will have you browsing for hours and taking copious notes! I felt I was time travelling back to the 80s, remembering all that magic I had in my own childhood. You know this blog is all about injecting creativity in everything that we do, and A Magical Childhood was like a little early Christmas present for me! Don’t miss it, their photos are wonderful as well.

All of my students (including the grown up ones!) know that in our first lesson I grill them about their interests, hobbies and experiences. This is where the magic starts in lesson planning, since I design their lesson especially for them. I currently have a very enthusiastic astronomy buff and a hopeful painter to name a couple, so lessons might include news stories about NASA, and a virtual tour of a museum to explain directions and make descriptions. If you have students or kids that are very interested in science, inventions and experiments, you cannot miss Steve Spangler Science, with tons of free ideas and experiments like my favorite seven layer density column, and many products you can purchase to keep the little ones entertained for hours.

For interior and graphic design fans, not to mention the photographer in you, I love Stuff and Nonsense. With everything from beautiful photos of unique spaces to typography and design in advertising, the Mad Men wannabe in you will go nutty. Jewelry designers might love this one for a bit of brainstorming and sketching with lines and structure. It’s a little treat to the eyes.

I leave you with a photo of this beautiful building I saw in Madrid this week. It was the only lit up building in the block and it just popped out at me. Now it’s impossible for me not to notice it when I walk down that street. It’s beautiful isn’t it?

Once again, note that I’m not affiliated with these sites or blogs in any way. I’m simply a REALLY BIG FAN and want to share them with all of my readers. Enjoy and let me know what you think in the comments!

SATURDAY STUDIO SHOT

jewelry makingFinally I have a few  hours to sit down in the studio and get some work done for the new collections. Even though I’ve been busy busy planning lessons and getting creative in the classroom, ideas for designs have never left my mind, especially with fall approaching, my absolute favorite season when it comes to color and design. One auto-reminder, I need to get a new sketchbook to take with me wherever I go for those flashes of inspiration that seem to leave as fast as they arrive. Another auto-reminder, never be scared of what my hands will be ready to do after weeks of being away from my jeweler’s saw, the body has a memory of its own thank God!

I have big plans for the new collections but so little time! Still, I’m starting with what usually gets me working, simply getting my hands dirty and getting the ball rolling. Anticipation seems to be the biggest delay mechanism there is! Since I haven’t told you anything about the new designs, here are some clues: burgundy, mustard, gray, splat, borealis, earthy, bristles, triangles, crop circles, merging, ombre, opaque, pastels. Some are colors, some are collections, some are names for designs, some are textures, some are techniques. I hope I can wrap it up together nicely and have some new designs in the shop really soon. Ahhh… my life with two jobs.

Here’s a bit of crazy brainstorming in the wall and some borealis designs in the making (top photo).  It’s an exciting day for me because tonight we’ll be seeing Jack White in concert, and to me he is one of the most creative, talented artists out there. Completely dedicated to his craft and willing to take chances and live through his music. You will get to read all the ins and outs of what it was like of course. Have a great Saturday everyone! Hope you’re getting your creative groove on just as it should be!

studio wall