domingo, 3 de septiembre de 2023

Erasmus+ Program

A rewarding crazy adventure

In November 2020 my retired colleague and friend, Carmina Aguado, signed the agreement

of an Erasmus project with other 3 schools. Then Covid19 visited us and stayed for quite

long, so my colleague retired and I inherited the responsibility of the program at her request.

For two years, I wrote quite a few emails to the coordinator school and the other participant

schools, an Italian and a Bulgarian one. The response by the coordinating person was scarce;

he just ignored my proposals to start the project online and wait for the possibility of a real

mobility. No way¡

In November 2022, after a couple of emails with the Bulgarian school representative, who

told me she was closing the program by returning their budget, and knowing that the Italian

school had retired because the person in charge had also retired, I wrote to the Spanish

agency to quit the program. Surprisingly, in December, I received an email from the

coordinator school's new teacher in charge of the program, establishing the mobility dates and

the opening ceremony just a month later.  

As you can imagine, I was amazed, but, at the same time I wanted to do it. The next month,

especially, and the rest of the course was really crazy for me. In first week of January

- Christmas holidays -, we organised a WhatsApp group, held three online meetings, received

the documents and started to learn what we were supposed to do and, to make things more

complicated, the Bulgarian school had to quit. However, the most discouraging moment came

when the Italian school left too, after participating in the opening ceremony  we had held

online January 17, because they found it difficult to fit all the mobilities. Therefore, we had

double work and one third of the time.

After a conversation with our school head teacher, I was allowed to decide whether to do it or

not. The coordinator also asked me if I would do it and my answer was clear: “I have been

fighting to start this for two years, now it has become a dream come true”. I knew I had the

right kind of students to carry out the task and they proved me right.

Then came the meetings with parents, the selection of students, the effort to take more than

the 21 in the agreement… For me, the most tiring thing was bureaucracy: reading the

agreement, the annexes, watching the videos on how to do the project and the final report….,

and trying to get to the authorities to obtain their authorisation under the new conditions.

At the same time, in the classrooms, I had the compensation. This is a project for the students,

and all my students, even those who could not participate in the mobilities, read and watched

videos about the topics: Gender equality and Digital creation and Media literacy and Critical

Thinking. I thought they were very suitable and up-to-date topics and, working with them

helped me understand what the project was about. And it worked well. Second of bacharelato

and 3rd of ESO students made some great presentations and compositions and 4th of ESO and

1st of bacharelato, the ones who were participating in the program, started to study the topics

more profoundly and prepare possible creations on them.

In the meantime, we selected the participants, asked for the parental permits and passports,

booked the flights and tried to get accommodation in London; a really hard job as everything

is shockingly expensive. The cheapest thing the travel agents found was a hostel with bunk

beds for 90€ a night. Eventually, with the help of the British colleague, 28€ with breakfast,

in 9 – bunk bed rooms and next to the British Museum. Great¡¡ It was an obstacle race,

especially trying to avoid important tests. There is much more, but I would need a novel and

time which I do not have, because I have to finish the final report and start a new course with

quite a lot of bureaucracy.

 Nevertheless, I will not finish without stating a couple of things:

1-Our English department has been working, at least partially, creating projects and different

kinds of practical works, which have improved the students’ level of English, as we could test

during the mobilities. None of the 21 participants had any problem to communicate

with the British students and teachers. I must say that the bilingual sections, in separate groups,

played a key role in this achievement.

2-This methodology was the tool which allowed us to fulfil the Erasmus project efficiently, as

the students did not have to do anything very different from what they had already been doing

for years. Here I have to say that the ITC teachers are also doing a great job, because the

students’ command of the tools to create the outputs is their merit.

**I will include a link to a Google sites web where you can see some of the things I have just

talked about and, hopefully, increasingly better productions my students have created during

the last few years, which should reflect the improvement in their ability to express their

ideas by using ITC, as technology offers them new possibilities to show their views of

different topics.

Links to previous years' projects.

1-The Victorian Era and Industrial revolution, as a background work to read Oliver Twist.

3rd of ESO students of Valores Éticos bilingual section

2-4th of ESO 2021-22 the person behind the name of a street in Pontevedra

What I mean with these examples is the change of methodology and especially outputs, as the ITC tools develop. The idea is basically the same: establish a topic and possible outputs, help students find suitable websites, supervise their written and oral texts so they are adapted to their level, by sharing a word file from a cloud store and see and listen to the final creations.

lunes, 5 de junio de 2023

A special year

  Last summer I received quite disappointing news: after 7 years of great experiences with the bilingual sections, proper bilingual groups in which you could speak English from the very first moment and nearly all the time, you could forget about the textbook most of the time and devote your time to develop projects about science, technology, literature, history or any cross-curricular topics - for example by reading a book and creating a project with its historical and social background and, finally watching the film whenever it existed-.

The question was that, due to restrictions in the number of teachers, the bilingual sections still exist, but they are mixed with the rest of the students. As a result, you have 25-29 students in a class, 15 of which are mostly brilliant and 6-7 have serious problems to follow a normal lesson.

Someone will say, "that is what attention to diversity is about ''. Yes, please, could you come and show me how to do it? Everybody knows the theory, created by pedagogues who seem to have never taught a normal group. You will either make the good ones bored by going slowly and making sure most people understand texts, grammar and vocabulary exercises or follow the rhythm of the majority and leave behind those with a lower level. "You should give them revision exercises''. I do, and the only ones who do them are those who could have spared them, because they have a good command of the level. Students who need revision hardly ever do anything by themselves, because they have arrived here, to the level they are in now by being passed by their teachers, not by the knowledge they have acquired. We are all being very cynical in education, or should I say, we are all forced to be very cynical.

However, I find it difficult to adapt to unfair situations, so what is the most plausible solution? In my opinion, and it is written in our department programs since years ago, presentations and projects are the most powerful tool of attention to diversity, because students can do the works at their own level,  There is no limit to make a powerful job and students with more difficulties and less motivation can do something very simple: grade 5.

That is what I did. It is not the same, and it is unfair especially for good students, but they had the opportunity to reach their best and most of them have done it. I am really satisfied and want to share their creations.

martes, 21 de febrero de 2023

Media literacy and critical thinking

How to avoid being stolen our time for the media to make money and manipulate us.

The social dilemma


Social networks were created as a product to help people solve problems and make many daily jobs more quickly and efficiently: to communicate better, to perform scientific research and calculations much faster and access lots of information immediately. Nevertheless, the development of social networks and their widespread use, which include nearly everybody worldwide, has changed their goals and this is causing lots of serious issues.


The reason is that the objective of social media has switched to making money and, for this purpose, they need vast amounts of users to be connected for the longest time possible every day.


As a consequence of this new objective, a lot of undesired social problems are arising: addiction, mental health conditions, child depression, dysmorphia due to the use of filters and photos shopping which has created a completely unreal body stereotype; news manipulation which risks peaceful social coexistence, namely, democracy; and many others.


As I said before, Silicon Valley started selling products, but now they sell people, types of people to engage as targets of their products. We have got used to finding anything on the Internet for free, but when something is free, you are the product, you are the price.


The media compete for your attention, for getting as much as your time as possible, and the result is changing your habits, your thoughts, who you are.


They offer the companies the certainty that their product will be seen, and, for that purpose, they need great amounts of data about people, about users. Therefore, they trade in human future and they have plenty of money to achieve that.


How do they accomplish their plan? They monitor everything you do, say, see, how long you spend on the Internet, you personality, mood – if you are happy or depressed -, your health…. As a result, the systems knows a lot about us and makes better predictions. They create models which predict our actions, and the one with the best model wins. 


Nowadays, media are no longer a tool, they have goals. We can’t avoid using the phone; we have to use the phone to communicate with our friends, because they communicate with it; and when we use the phone, we find notifications and we click on them, and they lead us to other appealing headlines on which we click and we see adverts and we close pop-up adverts, which will follow us, because when we click on the “x” to close it, we give the net information that will allow them to follow us.


The result: we were going to send a message to our friend and ended up spending half an hour doing things we had not thought of doing. Furthermore, as he spend more time in the nets we forget about previous interests, our previous normal life, like having a driving license, or going on dates, meeting friends face-to-face, reading, doing sport … we have become addicted to the nets.

When we used tv there used to be rules to protect children when watching it, even cartoons; today technology takes advantage of human weaknesses and we suffer manipulation and polarization.


Computers learn quickly what they should offer to us, so we spend more time in front of the screen, and has turned us into a product. Algorithms learn how to improve adaptation to our desires. On the other hand, we do not control algorithms, they learn by themselves.


Google offers you the results you want, based on the knowledge of your thoughts and needs.  Facebook offers different people different news, adapted to your interests and likings. They create your information, the information of your group – that means, the people who share similar thoughts to you -. And then you look at others and think: “why don’t see the same?” And they do not see the same because they are offered the news which best suit their personal profile – the one the algorithm made by following you and learning from you -. This way they make into groups, tribes, and they generate polarization, confrontation between groups of people who perceive reality differently because they are being given different views of reality, not true reality. In addition, conspiracy theories grab people’s attention much more than reality and truth.


For profitability, the system biases towards false information because it makes companies earn more money. Truth is boring, whereas sensationalism attracts people. Fake news on COVID, conspiracy theories, rumours of virus spread by China, the influence of 5G, or the idea of the vaccine implanting a microchip in our body to control us – by the director of a Spanish university -, became the most followed and shared news and the most influential.


Youtubers, most of whom do not have an education or experience of life, brainwash our minds by telling us they want to inform, protect and save us, when their basic goal is getting more likes and followers to monetize their sites. Promoting racism, anti-immigration and hatred is really profitable; as profitable as dangerous for democratic coexistence.


For Facebook it is very easy to find 1000 people who share the kind of thoughts someone needs to promote a certain idea or political bias and reaction, and spread it quickly. Russians used Facebook to manipulate people before the USA elections.

If we do not agree what is true and false, we cannot solve the problem. They use us as part of a system with a goal.


THE PROBLEM IS THAT THE NEW GENERATIONS, WHO HAVE ONLY LIVED IN THIS SYSTEM WON’T BE ABLE TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM, because they have not known a different world, they cannot compare.


It is normal that a company makes money, but there must be regulations, because self-regulation doesn’t work, since the only goal is money, as much money as they can make. They do not care about social or environmental disasters.


A healthy society needs to change things.

 Some rules to prevent manipulation and addiction:

-Disable notifications and recommended videos: choose.

-No devices in the bedroom. There is life outside the net: life is outside the net.

-No social networks until 16, when children are able to decide.

-Time budget: how much time we will devote to social media

Arturo Neira

domingo, 8 de mayo de 2022

Our City's Hidden Women

This project is the prideful and exciting outcome of a vague idea that has not left my mind

for the last two years. Ever since I finished my course in Tourism, while working as

a teacher as well. I knew I wanted to use my newly acquired knowledge about the impressive history of Pontevedra and “spread the word”, so to speak, to younger generations in an educational and interesting way. The podcast ended up being the perfect format to do it. Little did I know that the school happened to have a superb radio equipment available for the teens to feel like  professional reporters.

As for the feminist side of it, March was the ideal month to work on raising awareness about the urgent need to provide our students with female icons to have as example of what women can accomplish against all odds. Mixing those two topics, Pontevedra and feminism, resulted in the astounding project that 3rd ESO put together.

Working with each and every one of the students and getting to know them has been a real pleasure and I cannot put into words how much I have learnt from them and how much I have enjoyed the time we spent together.

They are the perfect example of team work makes the dream work. Their effort has paid off and the result, as you can see, is FAN-TAS-TIC. They're such talented people and I cannot help but admire them.

Once again, thank you, Arturo and Álex, Aroa P., Aroa T., Belén, Carmen, Estela, Leire, Lorenzo, Manuel, Marcos, Mariana, Olimpia, Pablo, Rubia and Taida, for sharing my journey and bringing out the best in me, both as a teacher and as a person.

Tatiana Lores.

Link to project outcome:


I enjoy having trainee teachers from Máster do Profesorado, because it is usually the refreshing moment of every year, as I observe their surprise while they realize that teaching is not always that hard; it can also become a rewarding task if you have the right concept, attitude and realism. 

In fact, realism could be this year's word. One day Tatiana, my trainee, asked me: "What do you do in order not to get unmotivated or upset?"  The answer came fast and easy: " being realistic". The question, obviously, came up after a rather discouraging class, in which some students had not turned up and the attitude of most of the attendants was passive, uncooperative. There is an English proverb which says: "you can bring a horse to the water, but you can't make it drink". 

If a student does not want to study or thinks that what you are teaching them is useless - and there are quite a few, who also state that grades are the only thing that matters and, therefore, learning is not their goal-, he will not do anything except talk and disturb. In those cases, the only thing you can do is try to convince, to involve them in the class routine, be a good role model of steady work and never lose good manners or your temper. And then, when their behavior does not allow a decent lesson, take the measures the school rules allow you to keep the group under control, so the ones who DO want to learn can work comfortably. It is that easy or that difficult depending on your sense of authority and personal skill to cope with these situations, which everybody can learn.

However, the main reason for my interest is that driven teachers-to -be usually come up with some new ideas and projects that inspire you to open new paths to practical and motivating teaching.

Here is the result of this year’s experience. I find it brilliant; congratulations to both the teacher and the students.

Arturo Neira

Tatiana and students

martes, 6 de julio de 2021

Sección bilingüe 3ºB & Trainee Vanesa Juncal

This year we enjoyed the company and work of a new trainee teacher.  Vanesa spent about 3 months with us and she had the opportunity to observe everything teachers and pupils have to do at school.  

It seemed her previous idea was quite different from what she found, especially because she was lucky to experience how a bilingual sections works.  She met  two groups of driven students with a very good level and doing different things at a different speed.

Of course, she chose one of those groups to carry out her teaching plan.  She had doubts about the possibility of doing everything she had planned in her ideal unit, with lots of innovative activities and a final project, where she wanted the students to create their own film reviews in the form of blog entries.

Finally, most common activities went really fast, faster than she had imagined, and they had time to do everything.  The last activity was learning how to subtitle film scenes.  Vanesa gave us a very interesting lecture on how to do it and the challenge of finding the correct translation for phrases or jokes.  We did not have enough time to do a complete work on this field, but anyone who wants to try it has the necessary tools to start.

I want to congratulate both Vanesa for her work and interest, for her enthusiasm, and the students for their great work this year.  The only bad thing is that they probably will not have bilingual section in 4th year, as there is not a teacher who wants to do the job.  By the way, congratulations to Bibiana, the biology teacher, who did a great job although it was her first year as a teacher and the difficulty of a bilingual group was challenging.  The result was great.

Finally, here is the link to the bog Vanesa created and where the students entered their reviews.

Only it is a pity I do not have their presentations, which were awesome.  

Good holiday to everyone.  I hope next year we can do nice projects, even without the bilingual section.

Links to reviews:

Vanesa's example: Peaky Blinders

Teacher's trial: Agatha Christie and the truth of murder

Students' works:


Vampire diaries

Avengers: End game

Stranger Things


Arturo Neira - 

1º D and E projects 2021

English is a tool that helps us to communicate with the world. In the third term the students of 1st BAC D and E used it to create amazing projects about different issues of their choice.

Dr. Mutka Panda

One example is what Antonio and Claudia from 1 st D did. They recorded a short video with the title The New Smile about the pandemic and the way it changed our lives. The video shows people with and without masks. They wanted to focus on how a mask distorts our perception of others and how different a smile is with or without a mask. As a soundtrack they read a beautiful poem about the ‘New Normal’ by Mukta Panda.

 Magazine frontpage.

1st E devoted their project to an online magazine. This format allowed everybody to talk about the topic they liked best with a sense of unity. We can find articles about Travels, Beauty, Sports, Spiderman, Books, Music, Arts, Television, Photography, Fashion, Psychology and Dance. I am sure you will find at least one you would like to read. They also put in practice their digital competence with some videos and video tutorials.
These two are just a representation of the hard work they did in these last three months. They also show that the best way to learn a language is using it, and better if you use it to express things you like. 

Well done!!!
The New Smile

A New Normal

Spring of 2020
Lives changed forever
The world truly as one humanity
Humbled to its knees
Yet united around one common goal
Pray, be present, protect, and preserve
Other priorities, other divides unimportant
Anxiety, fear, anger, frustration, sadness, grief
A myriad of emotions resonate
A humbling jarring reminder
Of who we are and what really matters
Our impermanence, our fragility
Our interdependence
All affected
No race, religion, gender, color or class
No discrimination
Only community
Only community
Committed to a CommonUnity
A new normal
A renewed respect for Mother Earth
A new respect for each other
A new hope
Of love, equality, care, gratitude and kindness
One united prayer
A better world
A new normal

~Mukta Panda

Marta Cuba ( Teacher )

miércoles, 19 de agosto de 2020

Graduation ceremony in Covid times with poem

Last 30 July, the students of Xunqueira 1 High School celebrated their graduation ceremony.  It was completely organised by the students, as the school and teachers decided not to participate, since the current situation would mean unacceptable responsibility in case of virus spread among participants. 


Actually, there were only 37 students.  Nevertheless, the ceremony was emotive.  First, student Lara Durán gave a really mature speech expressing her respect for all the fellow students and teachers who had not come to the ceremony, because everybody has their own problems, fears and views and we must be thoughtful towards them.  The speech ended with a touching “I got it”, dedicated to her father, who passed away last year. 

Then the representatives of the other groups spoke about their experiences at school, which expressed mostly their good memories and their love for the school, the teachers in general and staff – especial memory to Mar-, talking about their class fellows and recalling anecdotes.  Their words that conveyed gratitude and love for the school, the experience and teachers. 


I gave the last speech – as a teacher -, in which, apart from talking about the privilege of teaching the first bilingual section, I highlighted the fact that they had showed great stamina and maturity by successfully going through the difficult situation of the quarantine and such a long year till the ABAU test in July. I also recalled some memories from 3º ESO, when I met most of the students at the graduation, with whom I lived a really rewarding experience, and the trip to Dublin with some of them, which revealed the respect, affection and the feeling that they make things easy for us. 


As a father with three children in the working world for some years, I recommended them to make the most of the cultural and social opportunities the university life offers to improve their culture and social skills, as having a wonderful study report is not the only thing companies are looking for: being able to make decisions and a good team worker are qualities that are greatly valued.


The final part of my speech had a dreadful title:  An ode to failure, an awful title for a graduation, but I hope that, on the whole, it means just the opposite of what it could suggest.


Then there were the typical videos with music and photos.


Finally, I would like to comment on the Covid protocols.  It was perfectly organised outdoors for the ceremony, but I was really shocked when I saw the dinning tables, organised just as before the Covid.  Is it so difficult to have a bigger separation, especially when there is plenty of space? 


However, I must say that the attitude of the students and families was correct all through the ceremony and I had written my congratulations for that in advance, because I knew for sure they were going to behave that way.






An ode to failure


It’s failure, for a start, such an awful word

That in our country has an appalling fame,

It is like a stigma which you shouldn’t communicate,

For fear nobody will offer you work.


But just think it’s only my friends

The idea I often repeat in my lessons:

Learning usually happens after making plenty of mistakes,

As erring and solving your errors

Is the safest path not to make them again.


And in case you think it is easier said than done,

I’ll tell you that in my life outstanding failures I had some:

From failing a whole course at university

To being fired from my first job.


From the first I learned that calm and patience

Are fundamental and practical virtues.

That the strain to succeed is so exhausting

That can lead you to frustration.


From the second I discovered that some failures

Are a real blessing:

I got rid of a dreadful job

and studied to join public teaching,

which, after 38 years, allowed me to reach with illusion

This pleasant and cherished position.


We can think it is only good fortune,

And good luck is always necessary,

But when you go through several schools

And you enjoy being in all of them,

When you get on with your colleagues and mates,

If you are pleased with the students,

If you have no parents’ complaints

If you go to school with pleasure

And your work you are able to enjoy,

You will have to conclude

That from failure to failure

You have learned to fail,

Or maybe you now accept failure

As a natural part of your trail.


Oda o fracaso


É o fracaso, de entrada, palabra que soa terrible

E que neste país ten moi mala fama.

É case un estigma que non compre comunicar,

Non vaia ser que ninguén nos queira contratar.


Pero pensade, amigos, que non deixa de ser

O que na clase moitas veces repetín:

Nada se aprende sen meter a pata/ veces mil.

Xa que errando e solucionando os erros

É o xeito de non volvelos cometer.


E por se pensades que falar é máis fácil que facer

Direivos que na miña vida tiven sonoros fracasos:

Dende suspender un curso enteiro na universidade

Ata que me botaran do primeiro traballo.


Do primeiro aprendín que a calma e paciencia

Son virtudes prácticas e fundamentais.

Que o esforzo de non fracasar esgota moito,

E pódete levar ó fracaso.


Do segundo aprendín que hai fracasos

Que son unha bendición:

Libreime dun mal traballo, preparei unha oposición

O que tras 38 anos me permitiu chegar con ilusión

 Á situación na que estou.


Podemos pensar que é sorte, e algo disto sempre hai

Pero cando pasas por moitos sitios

E en todos ben che vai,

Se te levas ben cos compañeiros

Se cos alumnos te levas ben

Se non tes problemas cos pais

Se o instituto a gusto vas

E consegues do traballo desfrutar

Terás por fin que concluír

Que de fracaso en fracaso

Aprendiches a non fracasar

Ou máis ben a integrar o fracaso

Coma parte da vida normal.


Arturo Neira