Viridorari is an environmentally focused blog. The mission of Viridorari is to help you incorporate healthier, "greener" habits into your life, to benefit you, the people around you, and the environment.

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Guest Writer: Tell a Story...

Unfortunately, I was unable to find a Guest Writer for last week, and I thought I wasn't going to have one this week either. Just a couple of days ago, one my school's Spanish teachers, Diane Genovese, agreed to be this week's Guest Writer, churning out an awesome piece about her students the very same night I asked her and saving the day. I want to give Mrs. Genovese a special thanks for working with such a last minute deadline while maintaining her infamous enthusiasm.

I take French, so I've never had Mrs. Genovese as a teacher. However, I did meet her at an open house with my younger step sister, who has her for Spanish, and when I'm in the language hallway I often hear her singing Spanish songs with her students. I know that she is one of those people who loves what she does, and her students can only benefit from her wholehearted approach to teaching.

I asked Mrs. Genovese about guest writing after I saw a bunch of Spanish posters pop up around the school on Earth Day. Her students' posters included environmental terms in Spanish and colorful, splendid artwork of plants and animals. When I saw all of the creative, bright posters in the halls, I knew that she was behind them. To read Viridorari's Earth Day post, go here.

Here's a little information about our Guest Writer:

Diane Genovese, known to her students as "Profe", is a second career teacher. She originally was a producer and writer for radio and Television. She worked at WNBC in New York City in Standards and Practices rating commercials sent in by advertising agencies. After moving to Upstate NY she worked as a news director and reporter for Public Radio stations, WRVO, Oswego and WXXI, Rochester. She later moved to commercial radio and WPXY, Rochester, where she wrote news and advertising copy and sometimes hosted the morning show with Scott Spezzano.

She started substitute teaching while her children were in school and found she liked it, especially when she had a Spanish assignment. She double majored in Communications and Spanish in college. She's found a home at Pal-Mac High School and celebrates every Friday with her students by doing the "Baile de Viernes"(The Friday Dance) a Pal-Mac Spanish class tradition now.

Mrs. Genovese is an avid hiker and cyclist. This summer she will be hiking "El Camino" the 500 mile pilgrimage road from St. Jean de Port in France, over the Pyrenees Mountains and west to Santiago de Compostela. She plans to journal the trip via Her trail journal name is "ProfeG".  

It truly is an honor to invite a second Pal-Mac teacher onto Viridorari (read Mrs. DeSol's post here). I'm going to be graduating next month, and I cannot express the impact my teachers have had on my life. I firmly believe that my school is blessed with amazing, talented faculty who never leave a student behind. So, without further ado, I give you "Tell a Story..." by Profe Genovese.

Tell a Story...
Humans learn best when told a story. They remember it because it hits a nerve… somewhere. That’s how I approach my teaching. Hit a nerve and students will remember. 

This was most evident when my Spanish 3 classes started the environment chapter.  We started off by having each student bring in a picture of a type of pollution: water, air, noise, or visual. Once we had the pictures we discussed them (of course, in Spanish). Students had to tell why they were worried about la contaminación del aire, o la contaminación del agua. We all were appalled by some of the photographs, and it produced some interesting conversations.. ¡Qué asco!(Gross!) ¡Qué lástima!(What a shame!).

We then changed gears and talked about conservation and how to fix environmental problems with various suggestions. One practice exercise was: students had to come up with ideas of how to deal with tons of leaves without burning them or just raking them up and disposing of them. Ideas were creative, comical and clever. We had a clothing line, tents, houses, and gluten-free meals made with leaves!
We then read a letter from a student in Costa Rica named Julio who wanted to know how students in the United States deal with environmental issues. He in turn expressed concern for his country where factories are dumping waste into the ocean. He explained how Costa Rican teens are rallying to do something.

My students had to write about an environmental issue that hit close to home. They responded by writing about pollution in the Erie Canal and animals being displaced due to construction. 
Erie Canal in Palmyra, New York 
At the time we were also studying how to give formal commands in Spanish. I handed out bookmarks from the Syracuse Cultural Workers organization which said, “Como Fortalecer Su Comunidad” (how to strengthen your community). Of the 50+ ways mentioned on the bookmark, students recognized: Plant a Garden, Grow Flowers, Turn off the TV, Pick up Trash, even if others leave it.
By then, we were close to Earth Day. We read about the origins of the day and how it has been celebrated since the 1970’s. What better way to culminate the unit than by making Earth Day Posters? Students got into groups and brainstormed at least ten ways to help, save, protect, and enhance the earth. They chose different ideas and went to work on posters using sponge painting, stencils, markers and cut-outs, and the results were creative and catchy. We walked as a group and posted them around school, and we were all proud of our creations. 
My students were told a story. It hit a nerve. Now they can tell their stories and hopefully we can all remember to protect and revere Madre Tierra (Mother Earth).

P.S.  My students help me learn, too. I came upon the idea a little too late, but next year I plan to contact the Nature Conservancy and have classes raise money so we can save part of a rain forest or a coral reef near a Spanish speaking country.  This will be another part of the ongoing story.

If you have questions or comments for Profe Genovese, please leave her a comment below or email me at, and I will make sure she gets your message.

Important: I'm going to Lake Placid tomorrow after school and staying there over the weekend for the Rotary District Conference. I also have some studying to do for upcoming tests. So, unfortunately this weekend I will have to skip Activism Spotlight, Suggested Reading, and the Green Challenge. I strongly encourage you to read a past Activism Spotlight and Suggested Reading post, and it's never too late to try a Green Challenge from a previous week! Remember, Viridorari wants to hear about your Green Challenge experiences; let me know how you did in the comments section of a Viridorari Green Challenge post, or email me at If you are interested in becoming a Guest Writer, or you have ideas for the blog, that is also the place to contact me at.


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