Friday, September 30, 2011

Hi Homeschoolers,
This week my little students had a feast of baath (semolina coconut cake) yesterday, curds aka lassi today and tomorrow I will be teaching them how paneer is made.
Tomorrow also is the Big Day when we officially began decorating the homeschool room and installed the portrait of Blessed Mother Teresa. Am baking a date-n-walnut cake (Aha!Fermentation process again) with marzipan topping on which I shall place a bookmark of Mother and do some decoration.
Look out for the pics soon and also for the Question of the Week.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

10 Ways to Reuse Blank CD Holders

Ways to Reuse the Clear Lid:
The clear, bowl-like lid can be used in the following ways, depending on its size.
1. A Vase: If the CD holder is large (50 CDs), then the top can be reused as a vase for a large flower arrangement. Just turn it over, fill it with water, and arranges flowers for a beautiful, stylish centerpiece.
2. A Desk Jar: Similarly to the vase, a large lid can be reused to organize items on a desk including pens, pencils, scissors, and miscellaneous small items such as paper clips, binder clips, and staples. A ribbon or even stickers added to the outside add a decorative touch.
3. A Small Terrarium: The top can also be reused as a small greenhouse. Seeds planted in small pots or even in the top off of another case can then be covered with the clear plastic lid. When placed in a sunny window, the lid will act as a small greenhouse, heating the plants and intensifying the sunlight, increasing the potential for growth.
4. A Potpourri Holder: A small or large lid can be reused to hold potpourri in out -of -the-way places. Turn the lid over, place potpourri in the bowl, and enjoy! A ribbon or stickers can be added for decoration.
Ways to Reuse the Bottom (including the center pole):
5. A Ring Holder: The center pole acts as a great way to keep rings organized and out of the way. Rings can be placed around the pole, and the container set on a dresser. A ribbon glued and tied around the bottom adds a decorative touch.
6. A Paper Towel Holder: Don't want to pay for an expensive paper towel holder? The bottom of a large case (50 CDs or more) can be reused to hold that paper towel. To use, take the lid off, place on counter, and insert the paper towel roll over the center pole. Voila! It might be helpful to put a piece of two-sided tape or poster strip between the counter and the bottom of the base to hold it in place.
7. Ribbon Storage: The center pole makes an ideal place to keep ribbons. Just insert the spools over the center pole-and as an added bonus, pulling ribbon off is easier, as the pole will hold it in place while you spin off just what you need! The bottom and top together could also be used to store small craft objects like buttons, beads, or stickers. Be sure to use the base as a lid, though, rather than the clear plastic lid (turn it over!).
Ways to Reuse the Lid and Bottom Together:
8. A Condiment Holder: Tired of condiment packages from fast food places taking over your fridge? The whole case can be used to store those tiny packages. Since it's clear, it's easy to see what's inside. As an added bonus, when the family sits down to dinner, by grabbing the one case, all the condiments needed at the table are gathered at once!
9. A Cord Organizer: The center pole makes it simple to organize cords. Wrap the cords around the center pole, and place lid on top for easy storage. This trick can even be used to organize cords currently in use. Simply cut a whole in one side of the lid (carefully!), and wrap the cords around the center pole. Then, connect the lid and base, and use the hole in the lid as an entrance/exit for the cords.
10. A Bathroom Organizer: Clips and hair-ties can create quite a mess. Try using the center pole of the base as a place to loop hair-ties and clips, then use the lid (separately) to organize other potential problem areas like brushes, combs, and beauty products. Don't forget to add a ribbon or stickers for decoration!
These ideas are just a few ways old CD holders can be used. Get creative, and find a use for something that otherwise would be thrown away. The environment will thank you.

(Taken from the Net)

Monday, September 26, 2011

How To Make a Compost Bin from a Plastic Storage Container

If you don't have much space to compost, or just want to start composting on a small scale before committing to a full size bin, consider making a compost bin from a plastic storage container. This is an easy project that will give you finished compost in a short period of time.
1. Obtain a plastic storage bin.
Plastic storage bins are available just about everywhere, and most of us have at least one of them in our basement or garage. The bigger the storage bin is, the better. The bin you decide to use for composting should be no smaller than 18 gallons. The bin must have a lid. If you are able to obtain a second lid, this would be perfect to catch the liquid that leaches out of the bin. Otherwise, this nutrient-filled liquid will just be wasted.
2. Prepare the bin.
You need to have air circulating around your compost to help it decompose faster. To manage this in a plastic bin, you will have to drill holes in the bin. It really doesn't matter what size drill bit you use, as long as you drill plenty of holes. Space them one to two inches apart, on all sides, bottom, and lid. If you use a large spade or hole-cutting drill bit, you may want to line the interior of the bin with wire mesh or hardware cloth to keep rodents out.
3. Place your bin in a convenient spot.
Because this bin is so small, it will fit just about anywhere. If you are a yardless gardener, a patio, porch, or balcony will work just fine. If you have plenty of space, consider putting it outside the kitchen door so that you can compost kitchen scraps easily, or near your vegetable garden so that you can toss weeds or trimmings into it. It can also go inside a garage or storage shed if you'd rather not look at it.
4. Filling the bin.
Anything you would throw in a normal compost pile, you can throw into your storage container composter: leaves, weeds, fruit and vegetable peels, egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags, and grass clippings all work well. Anything you put into the storage bin composter should be chopped fairly small so it will break down quicker in the small space. Fruit and vegetable trimmings can be chopped small with a knife, or run through a blender or food processor to break them down. Chop leaves by running a lawn mower over them a few times. Crush eggshells finely so they will break down faster.
5. Maintain your bin.
Every day or so, as you think of it, you can aerate the bin by giving it a quick shake.
If the contents of the bin are staying very wet, or there is an unpleasant odor coming from the bin, you'll need to add some shredded fall leaves, shredded newspaper, or sawdust to the bin. These will dry it out and help restore the ratio of greens to browns that makes compost happen more quickly.
If the contents are very dry, use a spray bottle to moisten the contents, or add plenty of moisture-rich items such as fruits or veggies that are past their prime.
6. Harvesting and using your compost.
The easiest way to harvest the finished compost from your bin is to run it all through a simple compost sifter so that the large pieces are kept out of the finished compost. Anything that still needs to decompose can go back into the bin, and the dark, crumbly finished compost can either be stored in a bucket or bin for later use or immediately used in the garden. It is also wonderful to use in container plantings.
A plastic storage bin composter can be used year-round, and is a convenient solution for those of us who don't have space for a large pile.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hi Homeschoolers,
The Moviemaker on Germination of seed is completed. Anyone who needs it can send me a request on my FB account and leave me your email address. Size: 18 Mb.
Look out for the Question of the week.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Hi Homeschoolers,
The germination project is near completion and baby bean is on his way to living in the light on his own. Did a Moviemaker with digicam pics to chronicle his first days of new life. 'Will he continue to live or not' really depends on how my homeschoolers care for him.
Hope you too had a fun time doing the expt. See you next week with another Question and project.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dear Homeschoolers,
Did a class on recycling last week. The students taught me something new! I was listing the 3'R's- reduce, re-use, recycle when Aaron said, "Refuse" and for a moment I got ready to negate that when I realized that he was right! The first R should be refuse in order to reduce. If one cant reduce then re-use repeatedly until its fit for the recycling bin. So now we keep repeating this mantra daily and the kids keep finding new ways to use all that would have gone into the dustbin. Diapers still go though and I feel very guilty indeed! Any ideas how to use them?:(
This week we are deep Down Under doing the germination experiment. See pics alongside. Nathan has now gone and sown potato 'eyes' in one of the pots!
Will take them to the ZOA farm to see the compost pit and maybe the one at the yard down in the market.
Its a fun time at Goa Can Homeschool as usual!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hi homeschoolers,
Glad to announce that we have a new homeschooler who has become a child of God. John Paul Sequeira Vaz, son of Lewis and Zenita and their 5th child, received baptism today. We had a beautiful celebration at Nuvem, with most of the prolife and homeschool crowd present. Nadisha, our seniormost homeschooler, kept everyone entertained with her innovative games and spot prizes while Milagres and team kept the music flowing like wine accompanied by Anna with memorable songs of Marie Bellet. There is a picture of Little John PAul Sequeira Vaz on top and of the cake n centrepiece below and to the left.
May wee John Paul be a proud successor of his namesake, taking the prolife ministry to new heights.
From the heart,

Saturday, September 17, 2011


In our Bed training course, we were thought that education meant bringing out the best in the learner and this in turn meant that the teacher needed to be only a facilitator and not a dictator. The child had to discover his true potential by careful guidance and well-planned methods of teaching.
Alas! This never happened once our days of idealism ended with convocation and we were forced to toe the line of the prevalent school system enshrined for generations by ‘money-makes-the-world-go round’ teachers and ‘I couldn’t-care-less’ administrators.
What we have now in every school is the easy-come-easy-go method of “I write, you rote”, enshrined and embalmed for all eternity. In the rote method, the teacher writes out a standard never-changing answer to each and every question likely to be part of the periodic written evaluation paper and the students have to copy it diligently (and swiftly!) from the blackboard. This answer does not vary in content, meaning or the sequence of the words and the student has to reproduce it ad verbatim at the exam or his poor teacher will have to tax her brains to understand what he is trying to convey. And even if the school does not encourage rote learning, the student has numerable other sources to get his spoon-fed answers from - guides, tutors, coaching classes, to name some. Even parents would rather do spoon-feeding than spend precious time away from their favorite soaps/matches. In the bargain, the child ends up knowing much and understanding nothing. He is forced to use his RAM a week before the exams, only to have the data DELETED a week after it is over.
And Oh! The horrors, if the student or his parents should ever question this well-established system or even point out the mistakes made by the teacher in question. Then the student pays the penalty for ‘thinking’ and the parent suffers pangs of helplessness before the ‘authority’. Just a week ago, I was checking up my son’s class work and discovered that a ‘pony’ is a baby horse. Now I am not an English teacher but my gut sense told me this could not be. So I checked the dictionary only to discover that I was right. I wanted to bring this to the teacher’s notice but innate fear of being snubbed and my child being victimized loomed large in my mind and I let it go.
Is the dictionary ever used by the students and are varied synonyms for an unfamiliar word encouraged? I believe not. What about meanings in regional languages? Is the English meaning ever conveyed to the student or are they expected to find those out by themselves? When we studied Hindi or Marathi in school (I studied in a convent school in Mumbai in the 70-80s), the English translation was given to us by the teachers so that we could follow the text. Why is this method not being followed here in Goa? It makes the text easier to understand and does not hinder mastery of the regional language at all.
Learning should be fuelled by curiosity and a sense of adventure if the student has to thirst for more. Have the schools even realized this? Every student must enjoy the teaching-learning process and not be unduly apprehensive about the end product all the time.
Learning must also take place at the student’s level and not at a standardized level set for all students of a particular age. The aptitude of the student for a subject must be seen. What is the point of teaching a budding artist advanced Mathematics? Or a sportschamp-in-the-making the intricacies of a regional language? If school began at age 6 like it does in the US and ends by age 18, the student will be able to ascertain what he is proficient at and with a myriad of choices available to him, he can choose to further his education by going to University or learn a trade and begin working. Contrary to what parents may want their protégés to become, it is the best interests of the student that the school must strive to establish. Unfortunately, even schools are going the way of the ignorant or ambitious parents and boosting only excellence in academics. Extra- curricular activities are just that; add-ons to make the school feel good about going about the job of giving all-round education to the student. Otherwise why is more time not allotted to these important subjects that most students find most enjoyable?
I do hope the Right to Education Act with its inherent Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation mandate is implemented with stringency. Otherwise, instead of stress, the student will now move on in life with the kind of susegaad attitude that has made Goa prey to unsavory elements from within and without. And that is definitely what we do not want more of!
(This was sent for the Opinionated column in Herald in May but not published.)

Sunday, September 4, 2011



Teachers all over the world, I salute you. Like a soldier going out to battle, you hold great tomes in your hands, daring the system to make a change. Yet time and again, it disappoints you; you feel cheated, your ideals are trampled upon by callous administrators as they go about the ‘business’ of running a school. In the end, you get cynical of the system, silently joining the bandwagon of lukewarm colleagues, justifying your decision with the thought that this is, after all, your bread and butter, nothing more.
As a young graduate, fresh out of college with stars in my eyes and bells on my feet, I began teaching at a boys’ school. At that time, being unmarried, I was unfettered and carefree –no household chores, no babies, no workaholic husband. Life was just me and my ‘career’ and I was determined to be a phenomenal example to all erstwhile educators.
In just a matter of one year, however, all that idealism went underground as I found myself bogged down by tight deadlines, repeated book-and-paper corrections and endless criticism by the senior staff, who, hardened with the years, had grown soft and complacent. I joined the madding crowd in an attempt to win their approval, knowing I had to fight tooth and nail to survive. But my spirit would not let me. I felt like a coward; a traitor; a total failure. Teaching became hectic, stressful, uneventful and unfulfilling.
Our free periods (when we did not lecture) were usually spent in corrections of books or in training boys for extra-curricular events. Little wonder then that we chose those who were good in studies so they wouldn’t miss anything going on in class. One Principal put an end to that and we were forced to take practices after school instead. How we grumbled and cursed! The boys were not too happy either, for they too were inconvenienced. Some of them had tuitions to go to, so they would back out of the activities.
All teachers will agree with me when I say that the sheer numbers bogs us down; a teacher, who cannot get the names of her students right, has already lost the fight. In an academic year, one has to know around 6-7 classes of, on an average, 40 students per class. So that means that a teacher must be intimately involved with around 240 students in one academic year. If she has two subjects in a single class, it may reduce to 200 but I want to make the point that it is an impossible task for a single individual. Take an ‘office’ scenario in contrast. How many clients are you expected to be ‘intimately’ involved with in one financial year? Once, in a fit of rebellion, I had suggested to the administration, that each teacher be given just three classes to teach, two subjects per class to meet the ED requirements. I also suggested that we lighten the bag- burden of the students for we were undoubtedly creating clones of the Hunchback of Notre Dame! An average schoolbag sans books weighs around 2kgs, believe it or not. Then, with textbooks and notebooks, it increases to as high as 10kgs. Our students will most certainly qualify for jobs as coolies and, who knows, some may even aspire to the lightweight category at the next international sports meet. My suggestion: A simple lightweight canvas satchel and books not more than 100 pages, preferably paperbacked.
‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ These words, spoken by the greatest teacher of all times, Mahatma Gandhi. should be your motto, teachers, as you chart a different course with the implementation of the RTE Act. Live out your ideals, teachers, don’t give up. You can do it, one determined and dedicated educator at a time.

Thursday, September 1, 2011