Monday, July 22, 2019

Highlights of the 2018 - 2019 School Year!

It was a great year! Below are the Top 5 Spanish class highlights as well as 5 more great moments with the 2021 students. 

At the end of the year I give anonymous survey to students for feedback on what went well/what could to be improved. Below is a word cloud of what students enjoyed the most!

Have a great August break!

Friday, August 25, 2017

August Break 2017

I hope everyone had a great break! I really enjoy traveling over breaks. (In April I went to Colorado, December I went to Mexico, and last August I went to Canada and a bike trip with my mom) This break was spent mostly in Pittsburgh resting, going to Sandcastle and biking.

I did return to my hometown Jefferson City Missouri to experience the solar eclipse. We saw totality!
The path of totality going through Missouri. My hometown is also the state capitol.

A total solar eclipse! I took this with my phone and the glasses.

The "Bordner Point"

I'm looking forward to a new school year and sharing in learning with students!

Friday, August 4, 2017

2017 - 2018 Recap Class of 2019

Looking back on a great year and I'm just blown away by how much we accomplished and how much fun was had!

Final Hispanic Music Projects

First I want to start off highlighting some great final projects students created.
Ji and Julian's Comida Song

Jacob, John and Bryce's SER ESTAR song

Alexa's Tengo Tu Love video

Isaiah's El Cuerpo Animation

Taharka, Connor, Mark and Ryan's version of "La Gozadera"


Megan from Community Justice Project
Guillermo from Pittsburgh Labor Council for Latin American Advancement

Again we were lucky enough to have guests visit our classes this year! From Antonieta who spoke about her home country of Venezuela, to video-conferencing with Ben, a community organizer supporting agricultural workers in California.

Random Good Times

A typical morning greeting from Dayona and Ja

Bike Club getting to cruise the town!

Doing the "Soy Yo" Girl dance with students!

Having fun on field trips!

Laurel Caverns

SciTech Days

Looking back now that the year is over and I scroll through the videos and photos and projects of the year, I wish I had done a better job of telling the class of 2019 how impressed I was with their talent and creativity. It was truly a pleasure to work with them! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

2015 - 2016 Recap Class of 2018

I'd like to take a few moments to review all the neat things we've done this year with the class of 2018!

Six Guests

At different points in the year we had guests come in and share their experiences with Spanish 1 class 

  • Brenda is a human rights activist, a professor of Spanish at University of Pittsburgh, and she also works at the Community Justice Project. She shared with students what people face when they attempt to immigrate from Central America to the United States. 
  • University of Pittsburgh's Center for Latin American Studies had a student intern present about youth protesting for better education options in Chile. It was also a great opportunity for our students to pick the brain of a college student interested in World Languages!
  • Bozena visited us from Duolingo! Students got a chance to provide feedback on what they liked about Duolingo and ask questions about how it was structured. Bozena also talked about learning more than just two languages.
  • Ruth was with us for a week and she presented to one class about various adventures she's had, including a Fulbright Scholarship in Russia where they drove on a frozen river like it was a road!
  • Jasiri X shared stories of how he uses music & passion to speak truth about injustices. He shared a verse from his recent collaboration with Rhymefest #WarOnUs, which was informed by a trip to Colombia.

Trying new things

Students were open to trying new things in Spanish class

Students trying crickets

Salsa lessons!

Mate from Argentina

Fun in Clubs

Clubs this year were great! First trimester was Music Making Club and we borrowed Makey Makeys from the Remake Learning Digital Corps

Third trimester was photo/video club. The club partnered with 412Project, a Pittsburgh-area photo club. Students participated in a “mini-instameet”/ workshop with 412Project Photographers. The photographers mentored the students on some technical basics of photography as well as how to creatively see their everyday surroundings in a new perspective. The photographers and the club walked around downtown and focused on street life and architecture.  

Students then had 10 days to post photos under the hashtag #412project_cityhigh on instagram. 412Project photographers selected the best photos of the group and had them printed to be displayed at the school.

Great Final Projects

Throughout the second trimester of Spanish 1 students listened to music as part of their warm up activities. The final project in Spanish 1 class was to create something original that teaches about Spanish language or culture through music. All final projects can be viewed and voted for on The Showcase Website. Below are some great final projects

Overall the progress and creativity of the students of the class of 2018 was remarkable! 
Great job!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Lessons learned while traveling

Best of Asia 2015
Here are photos from my recent trip to China and Vietnam
As I get to learn a bit about a new group of students in their introductions to me, it was pretty exciting to see that so many of you mentioned that you want to be able to travel. You want to see other parts of the United States and the world.

And we all have to start somewhere. I had never traveled out of the country until I was 20. Traveling is not something my family did. But once I was in college and I had the opportunity to travel I took advantage of it! The first country I went to was Switzerland. (People in Switzerland speak French, German/Swiss-German, and some speak Italian).  I went to Switzerland because it is in the center of Europe and I could easily travel to Paris, London, and Rome for the weekend. It is amazing to get to sit in a plaza (similar to Market Square) and absorb a different culture and language. 

The biggest advice I have for students who want to travel is to seek out opportunities that will help you travel. Learning the language is great, but it is not necessary.

This past winter break I was able to travel to China and Vietnam. I was reminded of three big ideas during this trip

1. You don't have to know the language of the place you are going. China uses characters, not an alphabet, and the language is tonal (which means different ways of saying the same thing have different meanings). The most I could say is hello, thank you, count 1 to 5, and some food words. Even after being in Vietnam for two weeks, I was no where near able to have a conversation. Don't let not knowing the language keep you from going to a place you want to explore.

2. The more you learn (language/history/culture) the more you get out of the trip. Reading general info on a travel website about a place you are going is a good start. For this trip I read some articles about current and ancient Chinese culture and a brief book about the history of Vietnam. I also found some podcast of a professor of Chinese culture and listened to a few that I thought might be interesting topics. I watched famous movies that took place in the countries as well. All of this was obviously done in English. It is so neat to be able to see something in person that you have learned about. You can also seek out tour guides to get specific information, 

3. Being scared and/or uncomfortable is part of the adventure.Those are going to be the more meaningful experiences. There were many times I was tired, cold, and hungry. Food is going to mess up your stomach. You are going to have to walk! We walked about 10 miles a day in China & Vietnam but I didn't mind it because it was exciting, and we were walking around all these amazing places! If you know ahead of time you are going to be out of your comfort zone then when plans go awry you can just go with the flow and be open to a new adventure. Things will not go as planned. You will not get to see and do everything that you might have wanted, but that does not mean that what you do get to see and do is any less of an amazing experience.

To close, here are a few opportunities open to area youth to travel that are severely discounted/ free!
If you want any help or advice or just want to talk about travel dreams, I'd love to continue the conversation with you!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

That's Stupid vs. That's Different

It's the first couple of weeks of learning another language and students are really curious and asking some great questions like
  • Why are there upside question marks? 
  • Why are there accents on some words?
  • Why is the date in front of the month?
  • Why is the adjective in front of the noun in a sentence?
Some of the questions I know the answer to, some of them I don't. In the past I have "Google" many of those questions myself. Some of the answers make sense to me, some of them I just shrug my shoulders and say "OK." Some of the answers I can never truly understand.

It's great that students notice the differences between Spanish and English and want to understand! However I've also heard some students notice these differences or hear the explanation and just reject the logic by saying something like "that's stupid."

No. It's not. It's just different. You are learning something new. New information is not stupid. It's an awful habit to develop negative feelings for anything that doesn't immediately make sense to you. It will ruin every day of your life because you will probably learn new things about the world every day for a very long time! 

The world is full of different, complex languages and cultures that have completely different ways of thinking about the world than we might be used to. These diverse cultures and people are not stupid, they are different. 

You don't have to learn all the differences, or completely understand them. I don't! Be excited that there are so many different ways to think about things. It makes for a fascinating world to live in!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Introducción de Ms. Bordner


I am very excited to get to know the City High class of 2018 and have fun together in la clase de espanol! Since I'm asking you to introduce yourselves to me, I figured I'd tell you about me!

The biggest lesson I learned last year was that when I give my students more freedom to be creative and demonstrate what they are learning in their own way, students can produce very impressive work! This is best seen in the videos students made like Hymay Banks 005, El Restaurante de Pablo, and 

This is my 10th year teaching students Spanish. I did not grow up speaking Spanish, I learned it in high school just like you all will do with me! I grew up in a small town in Missouri and went to college in St. Louis, Missouri. In college I majored in Spanish and Media Communications, I really wanted to be a photojournalist traveling the world. I love photography, music, and making videos. (In college I had a radio show and I created, produced and acted in a TV show.) 

After college I moved to Chicago, Illinois where I taught students Spanish for six years. Then I moved to Pittsburgh and started working here at City High! As far as what I see for myself in the future, well I really enjoy teaching so I hope to continue to do that. I also hope to continue to travel to different places in the world! 

Hiking in Colombia
There are a few things that are really important in my life. The first is my family. Mike is my husband and we love to bike and travel together. Rich, my brother, along with his wife Ezichi and my nieces Amara and Zara live near Los Angeles California. Rich teaches high school English and Ezichi tutors math. My parents live in my hometown in Missouri but they visit Pittsburgh often!

Learning new things is also important to me. I love learning something new, and I find traveling to be a great way to learn about the world. I've traveled to close to 20 countries and this winter I hope to go to China and Vietnam.
Lucia and I biking in Spain
I ask my students to answer the question "What do you need from me to be successful?" so I'd like to share what I need from you in order for YOU to be successful. I need you to put forth your best positive effort on a daily basis. Learning a language is not easy, and mistakes and embarrassment can be common. Just know that's OK, it's part of the process, and to keep trying!

This August was really fun. I biked from Pittsburgh to Washington DC with some friends! It was 300 miles and took about 5 days. I also went to Chicago, Boston and Houston to visit friends.

Biking 300 miles from Pittsburgh to Washington DC