Break The Barriers For Learning With Francisco Cajaraville-Bonilla
"When you do things the ”the right way” it is because somebody found one way to do it and told you “this is the best way”. I don´t believe in that."
Title/School: Computer Science Bilingual Teacher at Fair Haven School in New Haven
Years of Experience: 20 years
Primary LEGO Education Solution used: WeDo and MINDSTORMS
Social media accounts/blogs/websites: YouTube: cashara4 and csfairhaven
What would you say is your philosophy as an educator?
In the 20th Century education was flowing in one direction, from Teacher to Student. In the 21st Century, and with full tech access, knowledge flows in every direction. Teachers must be prepared to accept that we can learn a lot from our students.
What is the greatest benefit of a hands on approach to learning?
Mistakes are a valuable part of the learning process. Hands on projects let you try and search for what you are looking for, and then try over and over again until you are satisfied with your creation or product. To work with a partner is what I miss most.
What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?
I love when students break the barrier between learning because they have to and they start enjoying learning and want to go deeper and deeper. If you are able to get this from your students, you get a lot of satisfaction in your job.
What is one of your proudest moments in the classroom?
Innovation. When you give them a model and they follow the instructions, they are doing a good job. but when you give them the tools and the problem, and give them freedom to solve the problem their own way, that is rock! You see them working in small groups, trying to be the best, to find the best solution. That is something to be proud of.
What advice would you give teachers about implementing a hybrid learning strategy?
Work by projects. Forget the long magistral class. Just give them very short explanations about what is the target and some videos for reference (you can make those videos also) and let them find their way! This way you can spend also more time on the students that really need your help and attend more effectively the diversity.
Failure is often a key aspect of the learning process. What's the most important lesson you've learned through failing?
When you do things the ”the right way” is because somebody found one way to do it and told “this is the best way”. I don´t believe in that.
I was teaching a 4th grade girl to code a car to run a circuit. At the last stage the car has to turn 180º and reach the goal. This was “the right way” I thought it has to be. In the last stage she ran the car backwards and she avoided the turn so she saved 2 lines of code. She did better than “the right way”. I was surprised and I cheered her up on her way of thinking.
What are some of your favorite activities/hobbies to do at home?
I love to do puzzles with my family, create LEGO robots like the Walker and the Hand Sanitizer you see throughout this blogpost, travel and cook outside.
I love adventure and history books. Movies related to history, adventures and nature. And anything related to recycling materials, nature and zero emissions.
First musical album you ever owned?
Supertramp, Pink Floyd, ACDC and Rolling Stones.
Were you a LEGO Fan as a kid? What’s your LEGO Story?
Well, I always loved construction games and toys, and creativity games like Meccano. Any toy that goes beyond that just plays with them. Unfortunately I didn't have LEGO. My first Lego approach was buying LEGO for my children. When I became a Computer Science Teacher I started to be interested in LEGO Robotic products.