by Fabrice Serrière, lead math teacher
I have always loved maths: the conceptual learning, the problem-solving, the theories and principles that describe our world and reflect ongoing questions about the universe. I taught for three years at the University level in Paris, France while also giving private lessons to junior-high-school-to-university-age students. It's meaningful and exciting to teach in an international context at The Sierra School of Todos Santos. Our students are 11 to 18 years old. I cherish the kids and love their enthusiasm. I'm French, but I teach in English and Spanish (special thanks to Victor and Esli who are my assistants for Spanish translations). What a great way to learn the languages of math! My goal is to create a stimulating, nurturing learning environment in which students contribute to our understanding through their questions, classwork, participation in discussions and modelling of concepts. I really enjoy the seriousness, open-mindedness and hard work of our students. More recently, maths and ecology have been collaborating on project-oriented learning, by getting students out into our community and cleaning up our environment.
We follow a maths learning program that is challenging, relevant and global. Our learning resources follow the International Baccalaureate model . We learn from the same program used in international schools in Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas. Our math program teaches to a world standard.
Maths are central to our program. Maths classes are small, focused, engaging and follow a regular routine of homework review, developing our understanding of new concepts and sharing-applying our knowledge.
In our maths classes, we collaborate with ecology-science, inquiry-based learning to apply our skills, learn across the disciplines, develop our problem-solving abilities and develop school-local projects. Below is an example of a math-sciences study sheet used to better understand our transect data of trash found in the San Pedrito area. We intend to develop an ecology-community services project in cleaning this surf site.
The Waterfalls at Elias Calles, May 16-17, 2016
Aliya Flores, 6th grade
On the 16-17th of May, The Sierra School went on a camping trip to the waterfall at Elias Calles. I observed a bull, a dead sheep, live sheep and goats, dogs, a small school, waterfalls, trees, and flowers. I heard the waterfall by our camping area. I heard sounds of the wind blowing. I heard birds chirping, and the crickets at nightfall. I heard nature. I touched the water. I touched an amazing ancient tree.
... cascada (logramos llegar con tan solo 15 min retraso según el plan original); esto fue una pequeña muestra de lo que un equipo puede lograr cuando se lo propone.
El escenario de nuestra aventura, era más que sublime, durante nuestra caminata lo largo de la cañada, pudimos ver agua corriendo por pequeños riachuelos, frondosa vegetación adornando el paisaje, animales alimentándose y conviviendo armoniosamente.
En el día tuvimos un poco de viento y un poco de sol; Y por la noche disfrutamos de un deliciosa cena y del cobijo de nuestros arboles guardianes, también pudimos escuchar el arrullo de los sonidos de la cascada, saludando a las estrellas. Durante este campamento hemos logrado estar un poco más conectados con la naturaleza, pero aún hay muchos lugares mágicos por descubrir y muchas aventuras nuevas por vivir, cual será nuestro próximo destino?
There are many magical places to discover and new adventures to enjoy. What's the destination of our next Sierra School camping trip?
Thank you everyone
Víctor Manuel González Chávez.
We started planning our school camping trip one month before going. Some of us shared a lot of questions. Such as: where would we go? What would we do there? What would we eat on the trip? Since I knew we were going to be outside of wifi reception of Todos Santos, I wondered, how many emails would I receive when I returned from one and a half days of no internet communication. Of course, I knew I would survive the trip. This wasn’t going to be first time that I wouldn’t take a shower in my comfy bathroom.
I also knew that I had so much to prepare in order to get things ready for the challenge. I selected my clothes and organized my camping gear a week before the trip, just in case…I thought about listening to the sound of the birds, instead of my ''wake up now'' alarm at 6 in the morning. I often miss the sound of noisy birds in the leaves of the trees outside.
We hear that sound here in town, but not enough. This camping trip would be my time to hear that birdsong once again. The worry of not having enough food to eat was was I felt during the first day of the camping trip, I must have been very excited that planning my lunch was forgotten when I was packing.
After a long hike up to the Matancitas rancho and tiny public school, we built our campsite. Like Wallace Steven’s poem, it was “evening all afternoon.” We finally prepared dinner, mashed potatoes, bacon, and a delicious carne molida that Molly Lou made. At night we gathered together to share jokes and stories. It was very fun. Everyone was happy and tired. I slept OK; though I heard animals making noises at midnight. I thought they must have been cows, sheep, or donkey. Then I heard a man's voice yelling at them: our ecology teacher, Tom. He was sleeping under the stars without a tent. He must have scared them away from running over him or through our camp.
The morning of the second days was very calm. The students made breakfast. Huevos rancheros was on the menu. Once we finished breakfast, a shower in the waterfall felt very necessary and refreshing. Our second day passed quickly. I enjoyed a 2 hour nap to catch up on sleep. Some people were reading, others were playing football. I would love to return to the place where we camped, near the waterfalls, where there is fresh air to breathe under big trees, where the is water rushes down from the Sierra, where, with animals, we share our home in nature.
Tom Ekman, sciences and ecology teacher
Our intrepid band of scientist-ecologists – Esli, Sebastian, Victor, Diego, Gustavo, Sofia, Victoria and Aliya – trekked over hills of open desert to an oasis-like secret bay at the Old Port. Their mission: SCIENCE. Specifically, the students’ goal was to compare their survey of human impacts on the beach and shore zones at San Pedrito with the ecosystem at the Old Port. The group’s hypothesis was that the Old Port, by virtue of being less accessible, would have less trash and more plant and animal life.
The team found crabs, snails, sea fans, puffer fish, quartzite and conglomerate boulders. Students natural curiosity drove the investigation; All sorts of oddities had washed up on the beach and there was much discovery and sharing. The scientist-ecologists discovered that the Old Port was covered with flotsam trash and did not seem to have more marine life than San Pedrito. Data was collected for the students’ second environmental report for Ecology.
“While walking to get to our destination and back we stayed in a group. We also had a leader at the front, and a caboose. The teacher set the pace for the group and the caboose checked if the group was walking together or alone; if someone was walking alone, the caboose said so, so that we would be walking in a group. We all had a turn to be the leader or the caboose.” - Aliya
“One of the things that we saw along the way was hawks and other birds. There was a lot of plastic. That impressed me a lot.” – Diego
“We saw dead crabs, pelicans, sea grass, alive crabs, sea fans and snails. When we got to the end of the beach, we took a little break and had a rock-throwing contest. I won because I was the only player.” – Sebastian
Students and teachers edited this blog since January of 2018.