Saturday, December 29, 2012

Marzano, Scales, and Meaning

One thing that I've struggled with since it was introduced about 10 years ago was posted objectives.  At the time it was introduced I was teaching 4th grade, and didn't have enough space on my board to reference each and every objective we would be hitting on throughout the course of our day.  I've never been that "package and teach" educator that asks students to turn to lesson one and do it and put it away.  I don't believe that students make meaning out of those lessons, and after having a child that is finishing elementary this year, I KNOW they don't.  But, being the rule follower that I am, I played along.  I've tried, I've seen the research, but I still don't think it makes any difference in my classroom.  I have always referenced a purpose and goal throughout the lesson, used anticipatory sets and closure (yes, I'm dating myself) so I'm not sure how this cements learning.

The "tool of the year" for this school year is using scales with students to help them with metacognition.  Scales are a "fist to five" or a "thumbs up/thumbs down" formative type of assessment with more options.  Students read descriptors for an objective to decide where they think their learning falls.  The problem?  I don't think kids put any meaning into it once it becomes routine.  I started making students keep a learning log.  I've made the scales objective specific.  I give the students their own personal copy. They have even had to reflect daily about their understanding, learning, and purpose.  I've so wanted this to have true meaning for kids.  Sometime throughout the week, whether with an exit slip or on a quiz, I ask students to use evidence to back up their scale score.  "I'm a 4," a student wrote on a Friday quiz "because I know everything you taught me."  I wrote back..."Think about your self assessment and how it compares to your score.  What does a 4 really mean to you?"  The student's honest response...nothing.

I'd love to know what types of "scale" activities others are using to help make this a meaningful and purposeful tool.  But just like the posted objectives, these scale assessments that I'm having students participate in don't give much bang for the buck.

Here are some things that I've tried...they are pretty generic so anyone could use it.  If you are in need of some science specific ones, email me and I'd be happy to share what I've made so far.

Friday, December 28, 2012

New Blogging Feature

For a while now I've wanted multiple pages set up so that I can put everything in one place.  Tonight I have made my first steps toward making my blog more than just a journal of my ramblings, I've made it a resource.  In the upper left column is a list of my resource pages.  Freebies is something that I've wanted to have for a while.  It's easy to return to the blog and find what it is that you are looking for.  The science blog sites is something that I put together for my last school as a resource and to encourage teachers that wanted to make science exciting.  The last, at least for now, is a reference for teachers on how to do different types of inquiry in their classrooms and the outline of the 5 E's often associated with quality science education.  In 2013, I want my blog to be a place that others can find the resources they need to be better science teachers.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Birdseed Mining

We were fortunate enough to have someone come out to do mining education with our 7th graders.  The activity was a great interactive way to teach kids about all aspects of mining, while making the process a game.  I recently ran across the basic directions here.  She obviously made it more difficult for my kiddos, but still made it fun and educational for them.  When she first brought in the bird seed I thought, "I'm going to need to leave some goodies for the janitors tonight because this is going to be a mess!!"  Part of the activity included clean up and 2nd period was so meticulous that they hardly dropped a single seed.  This is a great STEM activity if you are looking for a way to incorporate birdseed mining into your earth science unit!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

8th grade Math CCSS Big Idea Posters

I get emails every week asking about the 8th grade CCSS here's at least a start.  They are free through either of my sites.  Just click below to grab a copy.  The large file of the individual I can statements and vocab cards may still be a while...I won't lie, but you never know how the next two weeks will go. :)

NASA and JPL lessons

Prior to break, the 7th graders had the chance to play with an awesome Mars simulation that was put together by NASA and JPL.  This was a perfect end to first and second quarter since we studied both astronomy and geology.  This unit can be extended for multiple days depending on how much background information that you want to build.  Since we had already spent a great deal of time back in 1st quarter learning and analyzing the missions of the Mars rovers, my students just spent 2 days planning missions and executing them.  This is an excellent STEM activity since students must budget their money, calculate their load's mass, and play a balancing act between what is required and what is wanted.  My husband picked up their newest version when he went to JPL to see the curiosity launch.  An older and similar version is here.  I printed the mats and cards in color and laminated them so that they can be used multiple years.  This was such a perfect activity for my gifted kiddos since they love activities just like this!

Saturday, December 15, 2012


As the mother of a kindergartner myself, there are no words to express my anger and sadness over Sandy Hook. Tomorrow, I invite you to join the other teacher bloggers in posting this button, and only this button, in your blog post.  For more information, check out Farley's post.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Giveaways Galore!!

I woke up this morning to so many blog posts, Facebook posts, Tweets, and emails that are throwing give aways or having freebies that I thought I'd pass along the goodies that I've found...

Kim @ Finding JOY in 6th Grade has a crazy gift card giveaway...just follow the link below each section to visit

Michelle @Making It as a Middle School Teacher is running the 12 days of Christmas Blog Hop.  This features a new freebie each day...

If you scroll down to the bottom of the post, you will see each day's website that has added something new.  Today's is Juggling ELA...

Erin @Kleinspiration is offering a thank you gift, 21 graphic organizers, through the end of the year on Google Docs.

Mor @ A Teacher's Treasure has a Random Acts of Kindness download, perfect for this time of year!

Tips for Top Teacher's Giveaway has 27 different opportunities to enter!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

JASON Project...Changed, but still a great resource

If you've been following my ramblings for any length of time, chances are that you have read about how much I L-O-V-E the JASON project.  Then, how it lost funding and was a pay site. I was in search of fabulous resources today, I ran into some online activities that are still available and that tie directly into our current 7th grade study on rocks and minerals...YEAH!!!

The first place I found is called "Landform Detectives."  Students choose from several places from around the world and then the interactive simulation helps students learn about how that place was formed and how long it took.  I spent some time today looking at the Grand Canyon.

The second place I found was through Brain Pop called "Mastermines Lab".  Students can virtually experience testing and identifying unknown minerals.

Now, I'm not sure how long these links will be good for, since I tried to access them through JASON's main page and it requested that you register and pay.  But for the mean time...enjoy!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Real Learning...Surviving an Earthquake

Students just finished up learning about the ins and outs of to bring it all home, we designed structures that were built to withstand earthquake forces.  Much like the Design Squad activities, students were given a set number of supplies and were required to create a structure at least 50 cm in height.  Going through the engineering design process, students were allowed to build a prototype and then return to lab stations to tweak their work.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Teacher Sales!

Just wanted to pass along sales news, in case you don't frequent the teacher products websites.  Both Teachers Pay Teachers and Teachers Notebook are running big sales.  TN started yesterday and runs through Monday.  In addition to personal sales up to 50% off, the company also will tack on another 10% savings.  I just spent a whopping $13 and picked up some amazing clip art and other items.  TpT begins tomorrow and runs through Tuesday.  The items can be up to 28% off and they have a much larger selection of lessons for upper grades.  I too am running a sale in my site...Hope you check it out!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012


I am here...I do think about all the great topics that I can share, but I'm in the midst of being a first year teacher all over again.  I feel like I need 8 more hours in everyday and that there is so much to share that I'm learning this year, but that's the part that is actually keeping me from blogging!  Now midterm in 2nd quarter, I finally feel like I'm comfortable again with what I do.  I feel like I've got the groove down, the daily timing, the grading notebooks, but currently it leaves little time for me to blog like I want. So for now, tonight's post will have to do.  Someday soon I will have entries galore and will again post to my shops.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Total Package Tuesdays

Today's topic is total PACKAGE topic is...ironically...package engineering.  It's something that most don't spend much time thinking too much about, but there is an entire industry that relies on this specific profession.  Check out Packaging World or  Packaging Digest for everything you could ever what to know.  There are articles, videos, examples, even blogs!   On our recent trip to Disneyland, I spent a great deal of time at the store trying to find small, portable, kid friendly items to pack in my purse.  It started me thinking about all of the thought that goes into packaging new items.  Companies are trying to corner a market, provide less for more, and convince us all to buy their "new" products.  Take some of my recent favorites...


My daughter's favorite new treat.  Applesauce in a squeeze container.  There are no worries about having a spoon and they are everything free that you can think of.

This must have been made just for me.  Too lazy to pack your lunch before leaving the house?  Just bring it along and make it at work.  Genius!

There is also the king of packaging: IKEA. Packaging is such a big part of their company that they've designed an entire web page to it.  They even have a case study on how to more efficiently ship tea candles.

When looking at our class's recent package engineering assignment, the students used the 6 thinking hats to generate ideas without letting one person "bulldoze" the conversation.  If you've never used it, you can check out what it is about by clicking on the hats or here (from Mind Tools).  It can be used for any subject area; not just in science!

Engineering: Go for It! has multiple activities to introduce students to this unusual niche in the engineering field.
Try Engineering has 5 different lessons available on package engineering.
Teach Engineering -evaluate packaging

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Learning the Periodic Table

I went back to school this week after 2 glorious weeks off.  (Fall break is the reason that I suck it up and go back to school in July.)  I missed Total Package Tuesdays, but I will be back next week.  I was so burnt after an entire day of meetings, I just wanted to unwind when I got home...i.e. not do anything school related.

Today was my first day back with kids, and I did something I rarely do today...I gave an extra credit assignment.  The 8th graders are learning about chemistry this quarter, so I challenged them to learn the periodic table song.  For fun, for a challenge, and for a trick they can someday do at parties to impress their friends.  What they don't know is that it is more to get them to investigate the table than anything else.  There are so many examples out there that they have plenty of tunes and versions to pick from.  One of the students asked if they could write their own all means my overachieving gifted kiddos!  This version was especially motivating...


Although I wouldn't expect them to learn all of their names, I'm sure some will take me up on my challenge.  That's what it is really...a challenge.  I plan on making everyone memorize the most important of the elements and their symbols and am working on a new unit full of chemistry games.  Here is a I have, Who has? to practice some of those basics if you'd like a copy...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

More on the love of logic puzzles...

My 11 year old L-O-V-E-S logic puzzles.  She swears she will never be a teacher, and I hope for her that her calling is elsewhere, but this morning she wrote her own logic puzzle.  After a week of writing her own crosswords and word searches, she gave logic puzzles a go and did a great job for her first one.  I could tell by reading her clues that she had solved a fair share of puzzles on her own because writing them requires not only an understanding, but a higher level skill to create them.  She's given a copy to anyone who would take one, so I'm giving one to you too.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Chemistry Curriculum for Middle Schoolers

I haven't been quite this excited since I found the JASON Project curriculum!  ACS has a complete chemistry for middle school package for FREE on their website
It is a complete 9 week unit that provides inquiry lessons for everyday.  There is a reading "textbook" piece, assessments to use, and video clips.  It really is amazing and I'm so excited to be using it next quarter.  My other favorite resource for science is at Middle School Science.  Liz LaRosa offers so much of what she does in her classroom, and all for FREE as well.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Halloween Logic Fun!

My daughter LOVES logic puzzles, and unfortunately she has done all of the ones I have.  I made her a couple this past weekend and thought I'd share with you as well!

                                         You can get it here...

                          Or Here...

Total Package Tuesdays

To this day I still remember my favorite science class of all time: physics.  This was the only class in high school that really challenged me since I hadn't yet taken calculus.  During one quarter I even earned a D, much to my chagrin. It really should have been called engineering.  If it had been, I may have chosen that as a career.  We build toothpick bridges and dropped eggs strapped to parachutes from the top of the stadium.  We made a life-sized boat from cardboard and water soluble glue and had to paddle it across the pool and ran marbles down ramps to hit bulls eyes.  But nothing will ever be as fabulous as the lab activities that we did on our field trip to Magic Mountain. 20 years later I still remember my lab kit and calculating centrifugal force, rate of gravity, acceleration and velocity like it was yesterday.  To be honest, I don't remember more than a few moments of every other class I took in high school, but there was something about physics.

Being in California this past weekend brought back so many happy thoughts about physics class, and since our family just returned from Disneyland during our fall break, today's topic is Rollercoasters.

Build Your Own Coasters!
Discovery Kids
Amusement Park Physics
Coaster Dynamics
Roller Coaster Design -9 physics lessons

 Science Lessons/Contests
Teach Engineering Lesson Plan
Roller Coaster Mania!

Roller Coaster Statistics
Scale Drawing Lessons

Articles for Kids
Roller Coaster Thrills
     Questions/Cross Curricular Tie ins
News Detective: Emily rides a roller coaster
History of the Coaster
Physics of Roller Coasters

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Total Package Tuesdays

Today's topic is Urban Heat Islands!  This is an engineering topic that is relevant for the students I teach here in the suburbs of Phoenix.  At ASU, in Tempe, there is a relatively new college that focuses on sustainability.  They have so much available online from lessons to articles.  Since heat is the leading story on the news for at least three months out of the year, I find that this topic is something that all of my students have a creative mind to fix!  Piggy backing on our recent study of animal adaptations, the 8th graders began to look at how desert dwellers have dealt with the heat throughout history.
This topic lends itself to data collection and graphing in math.  There are countless sites that include tables of data from cities that students could graph and compare with other cities.  The Very, Very Simple Climate Model Activity is an interactive graphing program online that allows students to explore the role that CO2 plays in temperature change.

Total Packages!
Urban Heat Island Unit
SPARK UCAR Feeling the Heat lesson
EPA Links to multiple resources online
ASU Global Institute of Sustainability

National Geographic Education
e! Science News variety of articles
Heat Island Impacts
EPA Heat Island Reduction Activities
Tomorrow's Urban Heat Islands

EPA Where You Live
Green Education Foundation
Study Jams -Heat

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Total Package Tuesdays

This week's topic is BRIDGES.  Bridges naturally lend themselves to all things STEM.  From lessons on geometry to ancient architecture, this topic can be adapted to meet a variety of age levels by simply altering a few activities here or there.

This video from You Tube is set to classical music and highlights famous bridges around the world.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Bridge

Just was reading through The Bridge, a magazine for STEM education.  It has some great articles about how engineering for kids and the impact it's making for kids exposed in schools.  It is great no matter what grade you teach!  All of their issues are available online for download in PDF and are free.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Total Package Tuesdays

Today I'm introducing Total Package Tuesdays posts.  I wanted to have some of my posts reflect the need for more holistic lessons, like those that the Common Core Standards require.  Based off of the format I learned in a recent PD class, I will be presenting a topic with possible resources for rigorous reading, engineering, and math activities that can be tied together to create brief or more lengthy learning objectives.

This week's topic is biomimicry.  As I begin to plan for teaching adaptations, natural selection, and evolution, I've been researching how scientists are more and more often looking at animals as a solution to human problems.

Engineering/Math Problem Solving Component has a complete lesson that provides students the opportunity to not only to read about the topic, but to work together to design a structure for the moon using biomimicry.  And this link at Engineering, Go For It,  provides a different lesson, activity and web source.   An additional resource is also available at Teach Engineering.  The format isn't quite as teacher friendly, but is extensive, providing assessment ideas and differentiation.

Reading Component
Making biomimicry relate to kids is as simple as taking a look at a peer that has already used the idea to create a new product.  In this article, a 13 year old student creates a solar tree that is patterned after the fibonacci sequence (ahem...math and reading in one article.)  How about looking at military fatigues?  The current pixilated pattern (hmmm...math?) isn't cutting it.  Use this article, or others like it, as a springboard for a study on camoflague.

Click for 9 examples of biomimicry in action

Other current events articles include: Science News for Kids articleBiomimetics -National Geographic article, Bioinspiration at the San Diego Zoo, and Biomimicry News

Additional Resources and Background Information
Biomimicry Institute curriculum

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Looking for Adaptation Lab Ideas

Anyone?  Anyone?  I'm looking for something to do with students that involve adaptation with art.  I'm actually looking for a specific lab where students have a bird that they begin with and through rolling dice, certain attributes change.  The purpose is to show how quickly characteristics can change in populations.  I can't seem to find it anywhere and of course someone borrowed my 4th grade binder and never gave it back...grrrrrr!

I've found some fab games however, if anyone else is looking for activities on adaptation and natural selection.

Exploring Symbiosis
Rain Forest Birds: A Study in Adaptation
Sea Bird Survival
Project Wild Activities

And, the LIFE series narrated by Oprah Winfrey, has a breathtaking segment that addresses plant adaptations in the rainforest.  I swear it is the best video purchase, EVER!!!  No matter what life science concepts you cover, there is something that you can use.  There are shortened clips on YouTube if you want to try before you buy.

Friday, September 7, 2012

21st Century Learners

Topic of last night's Engineering and the Gifted Learner was how to create 21st Century Learning in the classroom while still balancing the other requirements of testing.  We had long discussions of the balancing act that we are faced with everyday.  We also watched this clip by Sir Ken Robinson.

The second portion of the class focused on using CCSS.  We looked at multiple sources of finding quality, rigorous reading that can act as both a spring board for new topics or provide wrap up for a unit.  Zite is a free app that recommends articles based on others that you choose to read...sort of a tivo type of device for articles.  I've also liked Science Alerts on Facebook that find multiple stories everyday to post.  There are so many more reading sources available than just a textbook.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Design Squad

This year I inherited a club for the gifted and talented students that is patterned after the PBS series "Design Squad."  I know that this is wildly popular among teachers of GATE students and as I've been taking my first class toward my gifted certification, I found out just how many people utilize this STEM concept in their classrooms.  At my class on Thursday night, others at my table were discussing how to incorporate Design Squad activities into units on desert survival.

The structure our club takes on is that one day students will brainstorm, plan, design, and begin construction and the second day they will build and share.  Piggybacking off the Curiosity landing of the third Mars Rover, students made a moving rover.  They must decide if they will go with the prototype provided, or branch out into something new.  You can find the plans through the picture link below.

During the next meeting, students will be asked to construct a pedistal to hold a "priceless" sculpture using only sentence strips (no need for those in junior high) and 1 meter of tape.  This was an activity I did the first Saturday class I took for the Engineering for gifted students class. (I love my district for providing such great PD!!)  These are the examples that we came up with...

This was our design.  Probably could have done just as well without the sides cut.



The strongest tower.  Each square had additional reinforcement inside.

Strong base

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

6th Grade Math CCSS Posters and Wall Words

It's finally done!  The download was nearly finished at the end of last year, but when I learned of my new position, I really needed to focus on new curriculum.  Today, as I was looking at the file, I decided it was time to finish it off.   The Big Idea Posters for 6th grade are still free, but I priced this 97 page download since it was something that took such a large chunk of time.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I know that I've been a little MIA lately, but I've said since I began this position that my classroom takes priority.  I needed to take a second in my way too busy life to tell you about a powerful lab that I did in the classroom that really brought understanding stars to life.  Project SPICA is a hand me down from my hubby who used it when he also was teaching.  I even remember helping him to set up this lab, thinking at the time what a pain it was. Now that I've had students do it, I see why he set it up year after year.  The impact this simple activity has is mind blowing.  Not just for me as a teacher, but for the students themselves.  I did a notebook check today, and read all the reflections that followed last Friday's lab.  Students wrote things like, "I never really thought about constellations being 3D since from my perspective they seem flat."  and "I'm starting to wrap my brain around the vastness of space after looking at the big dipper from multiple points in space."

Here is a pdf online that basically sets up this lab, but gives more detail.

Tomorrow morning students that were absent on Friday will be in to make up the lab.  Placing eye hooks in the ceiling, I hung the "stars" according to the directions in the download.  I will take a picture of my set up then.  I used Christmas ornaments and rigged lights that could be turned on and off.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Back to School at Teacher's Notebook

In the spring I "attended" the virtual intermediate online put out by Teacher's Notebook where several teachers offered up great teaching ideas. It begins August 25th, and well, they've really outdone themselves this time!



Same idea, more presenters and a giant goodie bag!!  For $10 you can "attend" the PD and idea central as you prepare to go back to school.  Why, oh, why was this not around when I was first in the classroom??  I've offered up my "S'more fractions card game" as part of the goodie bag.  Students can practice matching improper and mixed numbers in multiple formats.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Next week marks our first quarter midterm.  Junior highs have conferences, and I'm already learning that I like these much better than the 85 I had last year.  I was telling my new team about it, and the day from hell that pretty much sealed my fate in moving out of elementary.  This year...we meet with those we need to, the remainder of the students come in with their parents to the library, go through their reflections, goals and select pieces from the last several weeks.  Sounds nice, but we shall see!

I'm also coming to the end of our study on genetics, and like most first years I'm contemplating how it's been going and what I will change for next year.  My question for those of you who teach genetics/heredity is, "Do you have a preferred order in which you teach it all?" After a brief cell review, I began with inheritance, but I'm not so sure that's how I will do it again.  I'd love to hear any feedback!!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Back to School Sale begins tomorrow!

Beginning tomorrow, I'm running a sale in my TpT store through Monday.  20% off anything, plus Sun. and Monday TpT will throw in another 8%.  Check out my popular Classroom Labels download ($3) or pick up your 7th grade common core math posters, vocab word wall cards, and student "I can" statements (free)! Hope you will stop and support your fellow teachers as you prepare to head back to school!!  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The O'Smithsteinski-Akim-Garci-Chan Clan

The 8th graders are finishing up an activity that began on Monday.  This lab helps reinforce ideas of how family trees and formed and how traits are shown.  I came home looking to see if I could find a reflection for this lab, and found the entire lab online!  For my students, I changed the directions so that they didn't get bored with the repetition.

After introducing punnett squares, dominant and recessive traits, and genotypes, and phenotypes, we began this project about a kooky family and their bizarre traits.  More than a few times students asked if these were actually traits that humans can have.  "How many people do you know with 2 arms on the same side?  How about that are cyclops?"

I had students create the actual family tree.  If you are looking to really push those high kids, this is a great activity.  I think next year I will use butcher paper so that the kids have enough room, even though I can get the tree on a regular sheet of paper.  Once the students created the tree based on the family information sheets, I gave them one trait that the people in this family have. The traits are off the wall funny!  Students had to shade the traits and code them by genotype.  This reinforces finding genotypes by viewing family trees.

Once they were all done, I had them get my copied sheet of the tree and they filled in a tree for each of the 11 traits.  Tomorrow, students will be creating a family portrait for a small branch of this family.  I can't wait to see what they will look like!

(pictures to come)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What a feat for JPL, NASA, and Curiosity!

I've been so jealous that my husband, through Arizona State University, got to go to JPL in Pasadena this past weekend and join in the science festivities as they prepared for the landing of Curiosity.  The good news is that he brought me back all sorts of goodies, including labs.  You can get some of these on the ASU website.  They are well done and a wealth of information. I plan on using all of these goodies at the end of 1st quarter with my 7th graders.  It is a nice bridge between our unit on astronomy and 2nd quarter's unit on geology.

Today for the excite activity, I took and modified one of the PBS Design Squad activities.  Students were given a Play-do container and told that this was their rover.  They had to drop it from the top of the lab table and have it land without falling over.  They were also given 4 large index cards, 2 pencils, tape and 2 rubber bands.  With only 10 minutes to work, students diligently create, tried, refined, and tried again.  Once they were done, I listed some of the many other things that the scientists needed to take into account when designing the rover: weight, speed, timing, drag, dust, rockets, bungee cords, etc.  Next Monday, the gifted classes club on design begins with tasks just like this.  They have so much for teachers and students alike!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

I can finally breathe!

Two weeks down and I think I might actually know what I'm doing!!  Starting over, finding the right timing, getting into my's finally all beginning to fall into place.  I know all four classes first names, personalities, and I already know who turns in work and who's organized!

Last week in 7th grade, students covered "Why are there seasons?"  It is an objective for 7th grade...who knew?  When I began putting together the work, I found the "Private Universe" clip on YouTube.  This clip was from a study done on Harvard graduates.  They asked "Why do we have seasons?" and most of those surveyed missed it!  There are so many misconceptions surrounding this seemingly basic concept.  I used and followed the GEMs book on seasons, and it is FABULOUS!!  It has a self assessment that all the activities build around. By the end of the week, the students had squashed their misconceptions and completed daily labs in addition.

Bad Astronomy was a helpful website as I tried to help students learn about misconceptions.

In 8th grade, students began to look at the idea of heredity.  Students started with a game I call "Crack the Code."  It's something that my husband made back when he taught junior high science and I just updated it and loaded it on my TpT site.  Students receive the DNA of a bug and the picture of what it looks like.  They must then work together to figure out which colored bead in the code goes with which trait.  We have 70 minute periods, and they were engaged and on task for all 70!  We then moved into family trees, traits, and punnett squares.  This week students will be participating in an awesome activity where they incorporate all of these into a lab to find out what the family looks like!

If you are studying genetics, the Learn Genetics website at the University of Utah is amazing.  It has tons of free lessons, downloads, and interactive pages for all ages!

Monday, July 30, 2012

I better figure out the timing...

of this marathon I'm running!  7th grade's activity was too long, 8th grade's too short.  Luckily there are so many amazing sites out there to share.  Have you ever watched TED ED?  The ED makes it relevant to classrooms.  Today as we reviewed cell concepts that the 8th graders learned in 6th grade, I played the Wacky History of Cell Theory.  It's animated and interesting and an extra that I've planned every day just in case I need it!!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

First Week...DONE!!

I'm sure most of you are weeks away from starting.  I on the other hand have been back at school for 2 1/2 weeks.  This one was the first with kids, and I'm exhausted.  I know I've been quite lax in my blogging lately because I've been so busy preparing for this new position.  Now that I have my first week under my belt, I can finally breath (and prepare for next week.)  I have to say I felt as lost as some of the 7th graders this week since I didn't know where anything was either!  This big of a change makes me feel like a first year teacher all over again. Thank goodness I have 15 years of classroom management and technique in my toolbox.  I already love working with the gifted population.  They are engaged and competitive, and I love to see how far I can push them.  They, on the other hand, love to show off how much they know.  I thought I'd share a couple of management items I've created in order to make my life more organized.  I'm working on more extensive packages for TN and TpT, but for now the kids are my number one priority and I need to pour all of my attention into making this a great experience in science for them!!

Graphics by Scrappin' Doodles (Love Them!!)
Lab Station Labels
Lab Station Jobs Sheet
Materials Check List
~New Room~
~Fire Code proved to be a pain~
24" from ceiling, 6" from an outlet
~It's a HUGE space!~

Friday, June 22, 2012

Disappearing Spoon

So I've always been a math/science person, you probably already know that, but notice that the math is first in my description.  It's logical, sequential, and so me!  Science is application of math and it is fascinating and interesting and there is so much of it.  Trying to be an expert in genetics and astronomy and chemistry and geology and ecology and...I know there is more but some days my mind begins to go numb.

I've been reading a lot these last three weeks, and alright I did indulge by ready the 50 Shades trilogy, but the Disappearing Spoon book by Sam Kean is really a great read.  It takes science pieces and intertwines the historical perspective and little know facts behind the stories.  Although it seems to be a chemistry based book, there is a little bit of knowledge about just about every area of science I will be teaching.  It is the interesting background that I've been looking for and need as I begin to map out my new school year!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bye-bye JASON Project

If you haven't yet checked out the JASON Project's free online curriculum, you'd better hurry!  Beginning July 1st, the online science curriculum aimed at middle school students will no longer be available for free. I was so bummed this morning when getting online to look for quality activities for next year to find that it is no longer being funded.  These online textbooks provide the quality that I really would like all curriculum to provide.  The labs are linked to real life and require higher level thinking skills, the online interactive games and activities are absolutely amazing and integrate other areas.  I guess it looks like grant writing is in my future if I find that I can't live without it.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Flipped Classroom

Flipped Classroom
Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

For several years now I've used the Livescribe Pen to help students that have been absent.  When the Khan Academy came online, I was excited that kids were finally having access to learning in a way that I believed in, but had no idea that it would take off on such a global scale!  Now that I've read information about the flipped classroom, I'm excited to do a unit next year using this model.  I'm not sure which one, or when, but it is my goal to give this a full fledged effort next year.  Since I will be using PBLs with the students, I feel like this will be able to maximize our time for labs in the classroom.

Is anyone already doing flipped classrooms?  Any pointers for middle school kids?