From Mid-March, 2020 to date

I have been teaching remotely for almost a year now. As an educator in these challenging times, we do our best to come up with creative strategies to keep our classes interesting and our students engaged. At the same time, we continue to adapt to innovative methods of teaching, assessing students’ understanding and updating our curriculum. We are training future superheroes, after all – no pressure.

My last post on this blog was about our Middle School S.T.E.A.M. Festival. It was such a blast! I had the 6th graders team up to teach elementary and kindergarten students how to estimate the number of colors in a box of fruit loop cereal and create bar graphs to compare estimated count to the actual count while the 8th graders lead a learning by doing practical lab activity on building rubber band cars. It was a 3-day event that was made possible and extra special with the support of my colleagues and peers.

The distance learning set-up in middle school did not hinder our students from participating in the annual S.T.E.A.M. Fair this school year. This event is part of the long list of traditions at the Wesley School, where middle school students showcase the results of their weeks-long challenge-based projects to their peers.

The 6th graders completed their dream vacation projects, where they created a holiday itinerary trip overseas with a friend on a set budget. The students used Google My Maps to mark off important locations (i.e. hotels, restaurants, places to visit etc), Google Sheets to create their expenditure data table and create charts to show how much money they spent on their trips, and Google Slides to create their trip presentations.

The 7th graders created 3 dimensional models of a cell. The students used toothpicks, pieces of paper, pizza toppings, among others to demonstrate their understanding of the various organelles and structures which make up a plant or animal cell, together with their physiology.

The 8th graders completed their personal projects that included development of original works of art (i.e making paper stationery from recyclable paper, making tote bags out of newspapers, etc),  investigative studies (i.e. effects of gaming), scientific experiments, courses of study or learning engagements, computer programmes, and many other forms of work.  The students’ personal projects offered opportunities for differentiation of learning and expression according to students’ individual needs. 

In lieu of the STEAM Fair Exhibition at the Social Hall, you may view our students’ projects and video presentations at tinyurl.com/steamfair2021 .

Organizing a S.T.E.A.M. Festival

This week, our middle school students celebrated their first S.T.E.A.M. Festival – a 3-day event where students participated in cross-curricular collaborative activities, attended mini-workshops presented by guest experts, completed various design challenges and presented the results of their challenge-based projects through an exhibit.

The middle school students have been working collaboratively with their peers and their community to find ways to:

  • To implement a positive solution in the community by advancing, engineering, or creating a solution that addresses water or recyclable waste related problem
  • To design a self-sustaining house out of sustainable materials and producing as little waste as possible. 

Please go to our STEAM 2020 Project page to view our students’ projects.

To learn more about our S.T.E.A.M. program initiative at the Wesley School, please check out our event schedule and the photo albums below:

The objective of our S.T.E.A.M. Program is to equip our students with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive as global citizens, develop innovative mindsets and the ability to problem-solve using 21st century skills.

California Love

I have meant to write about my move here in Los Angeles, California but I could not seem to find the time to do so.

I loved D.C., still do – it is very walkable. You can walk everywhere. I could walk a few blocks and get to our local grocery – Harris Teeter (which I love and miss dearly) and if you’re on a brave mood, Safeway is just next door. We lived in Adams Morgan area and there was a lot of places to go.

I used to walk to my workplace everyday. My walk would involve me passing by Meridian Hill park. I would make sure to walk through the park so I can get a good view of the towering Washington Monument, directly south off the park. It was always a beautiful sight. It never got old.

A promising school in North Hollywood paved my way to move here in the summer of 2017.

So many things have happened since then – I managed to hike the Cucamonga Peak with my husband; had my family come all the way from the Philippines to the US to attend our renewal of wedding vows; moved to Koreatown; collaborated with great people; and the list goes on.

But one thing remains the same, my passion for facilitating classroom activities to support student learning is still on point. Check out our classroom to see what our middle school students have been up to this past school years. Our Science Fair this school year had a huge turn-out with guest judges from the community supporting our students’ investigative projects.

Let me leave you with some 3D pathogen clay models that my 8th graders made in one of our life science units.

Hopefully, this will not be my only post this year. Paalam for now, friends!

Making Marshmallow Babies

  • Lesson: Inheritance and Traits
  • Starter: Inventory of Traits
  • Class Practical: Making Reebops Babies
  • Breeding Reebops Babies Class Practical Photos
  • Inventory of Traits Activity Photos

Last week, the 6th graders explore how each organism has a distinguishing characteristic called a trait and how many traits are passed from one generation to the next during reproduction.

We started this lesson off by watching a Brainpop video on heredity. This video has an easy-to-follow description on why you’re taller than your parents, or why you have blue eyes when your parents have brown eyes.

From there, the students took an inventory of their own easily- observable genetic traits. Working in small groups, they observe how their trait inventories differ from those of others. Students record their observations in a data table and compared the most and least common traits within their group.

In the Science lab, the students were given instructions to breed a male and a female Reebop in order to make a baby Reebop, and find out what it might be like. Students work in pairs with guided student procedure sheets, envelopes of chromosomes, a decoder key and the materials to build their baby Reebops.

I prepared extra marshmallows as a reward when students successfully bred (a.k.a. completed) their baby Reebops. This was also one way to prevent them from eating off the marshmallows used in their practical work.


  1. Inventory of my traits
  2. Brainpop: Heredity
  3. Inventory Checklist Reference
  4. Making Reebops Resource Page

Fortune Favors the Brave

April 1, 2017
Washington, DC, USA

Back in June 20, 2016, I moved to Washington, DC with my husband. In June 22, I went for a job interview at a school in 15th St NW; the following day at another school in Hayes St. NE. I got back from the former and never heard from the other school.

The school at 15 St. and V NW is St. Augustine Catholic School, a pre-K through 8th grade Catholic school, sponsored by St. Augustine Catholic Church (the mother church of black Catholics in the District of Columbia, founded in 1858).

I officially joined the school (i.e. signed my teaching contract) in July 19, 2016.

Being a trooper, I did not waste time and started fixing my Science lab/classroom. The classroom/lab looked like a mess, period. All the clutter were piled up one after another inside the tall cabinets and opening the file cabinets was another story.
Most of the materials here are actually working and usable – I just needed 
to remove any unwanted sticky and gooey material formation

In my past schools, we had laboratory assistants and maintenance crews that will actually take care of the issues I was facing. In this school, it is good practice for you to step up and work on things as hard as you can to achieve your vision. The school has a very affordable tuition fee because the parish subsidizes about 60% of the actual cost of education per student.

My vision was to own this Science classroom. I was looking forward to a year of fun, active Science activities with every student who will come into my room. I was told that I will be the core Science teacher for grades 6-8 and will meet pre-K to 5th grade once a week for hands-on experiments.

My background is high school teaching. I started as a teacher in Philippine Science High School teaching Drafting Design, AutoCAD and Earth Science, moved on to teaching college engineering courses to teaching IGCSE Physics in international schools in Shanghai, China.

I have a passion for teaching middle school age-group students since it is very doable to introduce higher Science concepts into bitesize and understandable process through hands-on activities. The idea of being able to connect to pre-K to 5th graders for a 45-minute stand-alone experiments was very exciting to me. I used that as my driving force to organize my Science classroom.

Fortunately, the administrators in my school were very supportive of my vision. I told them that I understand the financial limitations of the school but there are Science lab characters that are non-negotiable: working microscopes (not toy microscopes), laboratory coats or aprons, basic chemical lab supplies, basic physical science lab supplies and cabinets for the glasswares and other necessities that needs to be securely stored.

I taped the floor with painters tape for boundary symbols for the lower grades (actually applies to 6th to 8th graders, as well). This was to make sure they do not touch lab materials in the cabinets and shelves.
The milk crates were very useful to store basic kitchen chemistry essentials.

I meet 6th to 8th graders five times a week. We have practical experiments twice a week,  work on virtual laboratory experiments once a week and the other two days are spent learning concepts and shorter activities.

For the lower school, I prepare the same activities but vary the degree of challenge according to their grade levels. I document all the class activities and post this to our bloomz page and my Science class page.

My students joined me for STEM Design Studio during after school. Our activities have included connecting paper circuits, building motorized cars and designing houses using Google Sketch Up.

I maintained a class page to keep parents posted on what’s going on in our classrooms and to show the community what our students are capable of working on.

The 3rd quarter for this academic year has just ended and the best is yet to come. We will be hosting our Science Fair Exhibit Display on 27th April, 2017 and our parish is promoting our STEM program.

*Update: See photos of our Science Fair Exhibit Display.

Beginning next school year, our school will be strengthening the integration of more active learning activities in every classroom, not just in my Science classroom. Students will have more exposure to hands-on and blended space learning. I already have lots of ideas in store for more hands-on Science activities and collaboration opportunities with other Science classroom enthusiasts.

Year J, Two Thousand Fourteen

*Everything that was 2014. Entries below were drafted  in Shanghai, China – where internet connection is restricted and can drain happiness off you even from merely trying to get online.
*Currently fluttering somewhere in the District of Columbia, Land of the Free

I just realized that I have not updated this blog for the last n months years. Here are special random highlights of the year that was.

Starting you off with some classy Bling Bling Holiday greetings from a mall next to Jing’An Temple.

2013 Bling Bling Holiday Greetings from Jing’An, Shanghai, China

(1) New Job
I moved to a new job to teach MYP/Pre-IGCSE Science somewhere in Minhang District, Shanghai.

View of the hallway from the Science and Math Block
My work corner when I started. I was transitioning into the Macbook life here.
Also, there’s more clutter on my desk when school is in progress.

(2) New Home
Michael and I moved to a new apartment in June 2014. Our landlady is an interior designer / architect and her place was one of her early projects. Photos taken below during our 1st tour of the house with our property agent.

Entry area reminds me of the ocean. 
Bamboo ladder was kept as part of the house interior.
Property agent’s pair of shoes not included.
Intricate detail on the dining table stand – lovingly hand-crafted 
by my landlady and her daughter.
Hallway to the guest bedroom and bathroom
Living room zen area – where we spent most of our times appreciating how awesome life is.

(3) New Adventure: Gourmet Home Cooking

We tried out xinwei to guide us in the kitchen. Proportioned ingredients for gourmet dishes with user-friendly instructions. Mackerel and Ratatouille and Mushroom Risotto were our favorites. Michael took charge of this at the kitchen. My OCD was put to good use during preparation stage.

Michael being a pro at the kitchen

The dishes did not make it to the pictures – they disappeared too quickly.

(4) Annual Homecoming Faves
Next to my family…..

the reasons I come home can be summarized below

Boiled Saba Banana in Bagoóng (Fermented Krill or Anchovies)
Singkamas with Suka’t Toyo with Sili (Turnip in Spicy vinegar sauce)
Paksiw na Isda (Fish cooked in vinegar and spices) and Kinilaw na Isda (Ceviche Filipino Style)

(5) Hosting our 1st Shanghai Thanksgiving Dinner November 2014
Michael and I hosted our first Shanghai Thanksgiving Dinner. Food was catered from Mr. Harry’s .
Captured moments from Michael’s time-lapsed video coverage here.

Table details courtesy of Michael and Pinay.

(6) 2014 Christmas Dinners Snippets

At PauPatri Boracay

At Argonauta Boracay Boutique Hotel’s dinner spread
At Argonauta Boracay Boutique Hotel’s dinner spread
At Mergrande Resort with Davao Family
At Shanghai Filipino Family Dinner
At Mr. Harry’s Shanghai for Bashers’ Christmas Dinner

Here’s to more posts for 2015. I know it’s already halfway across the year but I will work on catching up.

Mabuhay Homeland 2014

July – August 2014
Summer Holiday

Tagaytay; Davao City; Boracay Island, Philippines
Shanghai, China

One of the perks of working as a teacher is the summer vacation we get to have at the end of each school year, which is about two months of uninterrupted laziness, waking-up-late morning days, staying-up-late evenings, traveling, eating, movie marathons and all imaginable things worth doing.

To be honest though, on my fourth no-work-day back in June 2014, my body was already used to being in work mode that I got a bit anxious and bored. I was already itching to get back to work so I can do my normal routine –  but that did not last very long. Who was I kidding?

I wanted to go somewhere close, preferably travel time not to exceed 3-4 hours. I packed my bag and left Shanghai to visit my homeland, the Philippines.

Amazing view from People’s Park in the Sky, Tagaytay
Met up with my classmates (since primary school until high school) 
over coffee and loads of calorie-filled sweets
Shared a seafood fiesta dinner with one of our adorkable former Pisay student 
(dishes currently being prepared when this picture was taken)
Reconnected with former work colleagues
Re-lived childhood memories at the beach


Spent a weekend at the beach with the family
Embraced the cool ocean breeze
Celebrated my 4th year as Shanghai expats over brunch at Azur, Renaissance Hotel with Ronald  
Apparently, I was a diligent writer back in 2011 and as my life got crazier and busier, I wrote less. Well, I will try to write more this time, I think I can still fill 2014 up.

Late Entry: US Summer 2013 NYC

October 6, 2013
National Holiday Week
Shanghai, China

I have been intending to update this blog for the longest time but my procrastinating self always overpowers. It has been a long-standing battle but this is as much as I can do for now. I will try to recall as much memories as I can. 

June 28, 2013

Lower Manhattan, NYC
The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Battery Park; Staten Island

I remember Ronald and I going to Shake Shack near Time Square to get the much-hyped burger before we head off to the museum. There was a long queue that starts off from the outside of the shop. There were only a few tables inside, which were all occupied. We were smart enough to buy what we need in take-away bags. I learned from a TV documentary on NYC that shake shack started off by selling hot dogs and so I got myself a Shack-cago dog and a Shackburger. The hot dog did not leave a lasting impression on me but the Shackburger did. It is definitely a place worth going back to, ignoring the calories that goes everything in their menu.

 The Metropolitan Museum of Art  
Anyone can check the pictures of the exhibit displays at The MET online. However there is an indescribable feeling of being in the zone at the museum and observing the awesomeness of everything around you. I leave you to that experience when you end up at the MET at some point in your life.

We got there probably around 4sh pm. For Fridays of this Summer, after 4pm, I think there was an optional admission fee – in other words, you can actually get in for free. However Ronald opted to pay 20 USD for both of us. I thought it was decent enough, considering we get to have the last set of commemorative lapel pins.

Exhibit room near the main entry hall
Main Lobby

I can tell you though that one day is not enough to observe and absorb each story behind each exhibit display.

Battery Park
The Battery park was under renovation when we went there however we found this bus around the area.

Photographs: Ronald Igar

US Summer Trip 2013 NYC Day 1

June 27, 2013
Lower Manhattan, NYC
Day 1
Mission: Cross the Brooklyn Bridge
We had a very lovely weather the next day. We planned on taking a stroll towards Lower Manhattan, hit the Brooklyn Bridge and cross it.
Before we could do that, we stop by the neighborhood cafe for breakfast. This is a glimpse of the local neighborhood where we stayed at.
This was my Day 1 breakfast at Gramercy Cafe.
Ronald was a little disappointed that he couldn’t finish the stacks of pancakes on his plate and that there was only a small portion of bacon strips on top of it.
Our hotel was 2 blocks away from Union Square, which was a very convenient location. We could get into N, Q, R 7 trains. We found some wall artwork across the square and figured it was a good spot to take a selfie.
From Gramercy Cafe to the start off point of the Manhattan Bridge (Manhattan side), we walked a good 7-km or so, occasionally stopping to check out interesting architecture or shops.

When we got to the bridge. We each had to get our obligatory poses to prove a point that yes, touchdown Brooklyn Bridge.

When we got to the Brooklyn end of the bridge, it was approximately another 1km. It was a great day to be in NYC. The weather was awesome. We appreciate being used to walking a lot around Shanghai that we were very prepared for any long walks around NYC.  We walked back to our hotel, which makes it a good 20-km or so altogether hike for the day.
We got back to our hotel around 8sh pm. We were too exhausted from jet lag to leave the hotel room.
We were staying on the 7th floor of what looks like an old residential apartment building turned into a hotel. This is Ronald trying to check out the situation of the apartment next door. 

Earlier on our way back to the hotel, we discovered Ricky’s Cosmetic and Beauty Supply along Broadway Avenue. Ronald was looking into dyeing his hair ash blonde. I managed to convince him that I could dye his hair, but only just a few shades lighter.
It was probably around past 12mn at this point and we decided to put those hair products from Ricky’s to good use.
We took some precautionary measures by covering the carpet floor with newspapers before getting to work.
*I believe I look like I meant business here while Ronald looked scared as hell.
We failed to take before and after pictures but you can probably tell the difference if you get a closer look of our mane on the next blog entries.
Nonetheless, our first day in NYC was very productive. We accomplished our mission of the day, walked a lot and ended the night with hair treatments. 

Next: The MET visit, Central Park, Grand Central Terminal and more

US Summer Trip 2013 NYC

June 26, 2013
Midtown Manhattan, NYC
Ronald and I traveled to another time zone to celebrate our 10 years of friendship.
It was Ronald’s first trip to the US. He initially intended to just go to California, where he has relatives. I have not been to California. The farthest west of the US that I have been to is Colorado. Naturally, I want to for him to set foot first in the most diverse and shiny place that I have been to on my first trip to the US back in 2011.
1st stop, New York City, the concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do. And I can tell that Ronald agreed.
We entered the US through JFK airport, breezed our way through immigration then lined up for the yellow taxis to get to our hotel.

Obligatory selfies after checking in and leaving our bags in the hotel.

Our body clock was still on China time zone, where it would have been around 11am. In NYC, it was 11pm. Body clock be damned. We were itching to walk the streets of Manhattan, so off we go to Broadway Avenue to get to the heart of it, Times Square.

We only took our quota Instagram-qualified pictures for the usual NYC landmarks: Flatiron Building, Chrysler Building, Empire State Building to name a few.
We had to head back to our hotel to catch up with some zzzzs and save our energy for the rest of our stay in NYC.

*Photo credits: Ronald Igar