Sunday, December 1, 2013

Yamie Chess Review

You know that I'm always on the look out for the next great product.  There hasn't really been anything lately that has caught my eye, until now.  I was approached recently to review a new product coming out that really pushes the envelope for students.  Critical thinking is something that I always want to promote for my students, but like anything in teaching, presenting material in a way that makes students work for the answer is an art of teaching.   Yamie Chess has written and supplement to coincide with the classical chess game, and it goes deep.  The rigor and depth that their comic provides is outstanding.  They've left no stone unturned and have consulted experts in the field.  If you are looking for something for a chess club or for your own child, you must check out this product! I plan on purchasing a set for my own 7 year old.

Yamie Chess:

My review:

Disclaimer:  Although I was compensated for my formal review, the opinions in the review are my own.  No compensation was made for my blog post.

New Bundles for HUGE savings~ CYBER Monday Sale

Just in time for cyber Monday, I've bundled some of my most popular items to give you even more savings!  In addition to the bundled savings, you will also receive 28% off your orders!!

To make this special, bundles will only be available Monday and Tuesday, December 2nd and 3rd!  Happy savings. :)

Science Inquiry Bundle $14

This bundle includes the mini unit, Fun with Flight, my popular Science Fair Logbook and Board Headings, along with Lab in a Bag and the 100 Licks Lab.  

$20 when purchased separately.  Final price for Cyber Monday with CYBER code...$10.08!

Geometry Bundle $25

$38 when purchased separately.  Final price for Cyber Monday with CYBER code...$18!

Number Sense (6th) Bundle $9

This bundle includes 4 sets of task cards that help support 6th grade CCSS for number sense.  Computing with Decimals, Real World Integers, Understanding Rational Numbers, and Ordering with Absolute Value and Integers

$13 when purchased separately.  Final price for Cyber Monday with CYBER code...$6.48!

1 Step Inequalities and Equations Bundle $6

This bundle includes task card sets, Working with Inequalities and Solving 1 step Inequalities and Equations, and cootie catcher activity, Math Fun with Solving Equations.

$8.50 when purchased separately.  Final price for Cyber Monday with CYBER code...$4.32!

Background Papers Bundle $5

$8 when purchased separately.  Final price for Cyber Monday with CYBER code...$3.60!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Got Ideas? A Chance to Help Newbies!

This year I am mentoring a brand new teacher.  It is the first official mentoring capacity I've had, and I'm pleasantly surprised at how well our district supports brand new teachers.  I wish that I had started in my current district because I could have benefitted from the support they provide!

During December we are having a fair for ALL the new teachers in our district.  The mentors get together to provide resources to the newbie.  There are raffles and lots of ideas on display.  Our table is all about "STRESS MANAGEMENT."  I need your help!!!!

I'm looking for ideas to add to our table!  If you have anything that you'd like to contribute, I'm looking for items that I can display on a trifold display or to hand out to the mentees.  We have chair massages coming and will be giving away CDs of relaxation music and stress ball relievers.  I was also thinking of having ideas of management that might help relieve some of the stress as well.

If you might be interested, please email me at  I will also be encouraging online communities as a way to build community and find resources.


I have been away for a while focusing on family and career.  I've always been grateful, however, for this outlet to be creative and share ideas.  When I began this blog, I felt stuck in my career.  Doing the same things year after year is not my idea of a good time.  And since I chose this career because I knew that it would provide years of different situations and kids, and a creative outlet, and fun...well I needed that again.  Now in my 2nd year of teaching gifted junior highers, things in the classroom are exciting and there are colleagues that provide that creative support.  So...I've sorta...kinda...put online activities on the back burner.  I'm beyond blessed in my life and for my little blog in the desert that allows me to reach out, to share with whomever might listen, and to be creative!  Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

It's in the genes!

It has been a long and bumpy road for the 8th graders in room 910 this quarter.  They have learned that gone are the days of earth science, and hello to the world of high school topics.  First up is genetics.   It's been a learning curve for them as they try to piece together bits of information about something unseen.  We've covered all things DNA: cells and organelles, DNA and its history, protein synthesis, inheritance and its history, mitosis, meiosis, and genetic disorders.  We finished our second unit with a test on Tuesday.  Here was the review I used.  The students found it helpful as they tried to determine which topics to spend their study time working on.

The final piece of this unit asks students to look at genetics from a different point of view.  They have a  final project on genetic disorders and how technologies are helping or might help in the future.  They have found that the topics we covered are essential to understanding how mutations and inheritance impact real people.  I've been astounded by their level of maturity and compassion as they slowly internalize genetic disabilities.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


I know it's time.  Kids need to be using tools that they will be using in jobs and they need to teach me, but when is a good time to get them out.  Personal technology: iPads, readers, it touches, even phones.  This year our district has made it policy to let students bring their own devices, when it is appropriate.  I'm so excited and worried at the same time.  Today in class, students asked if they could use their phones to take pictures of their group whiteboard notes...yesterday, we were discussing incomplete dominance and a student asked if they could look up picture week as we begin our first quarter research project, nearly every student will have a device to use.  We are pushing forward using technology in endless ways to modernize learning, notes, and group work.  I couldn't be more excited for them and for me to learn from their ideas.

Then yesterday it happened. What I feared most when it comes to this BYOT policy: texting. Our school provides 20 minutes daily for SSR.  Some, even in my highly motivated room, don't like to read.   So, they were sending messages.  Rather innocently during another period, they confessed.  I'm not sure they realized it was a confession, but what to do?  I had to nip it in the bud.  Today I shamed them.   I told them how trust works with adults and how broken trust is difficult to repair.  I told them that this behavior jeopardizes everyone's chances of having technology at school.  I told them how disappointed and ashamed and heartbroken I was.  But I know with 8th graders, this will only buy me some time.

Anyone have this policy in place?  If so, what are the consequences of not abiding by the rules?  Shaming them worked this time, but if they do it again, I'll need to be as creative with the consequences as they are with the educational uses.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Graduated Cylinders Skill Building

Skill building in science is just as important as it is in math.  Building a common language amongst young scientists helps them understand how the real world scientific community works.  I finally have posted my skill building cards for graduated cylinders, if you want to take a look at what I use in my classroom.  While building the understanding of how to read a graduated cylinder, I'm also teaching other skills like interval, scale, unknown numbers and metric.
As for my genetics download...I'm still working on perfecting it.  All in good time!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

It's coming...

Now that the TN sale is drawing to a close, the TpT sale will begin tomorrow.  I've been stock piling great files for this very sale!  I'm also going to unveil some of my daily science products as well.  Check back laters for a freebie file that will give you some samples of the science task cards.  They've now been through a 2 year trial in my classroom and have undergone tweaking and adjustments!  Whether in my store, or in others, I hope you'll stop by and pick up some great deals tomorrow and Monday!!

Thanks to Zip a Dee Doo Dah for the super cute button!!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Working with Cycles in Science

The way our science curriculum is currently written, students learn about cycles in every grade level.  This week, my 7th graders were working on the rock cycle.  I've always struggled with earth science  finding exciting and interesting activities.  In fact, I think many teachers do.  Many of my 7th graders didn't do the earth science component in 6th grade.  That is difficult for me since 1) I taught 6th and know how important those earth science ideas are when we build upon them in 7th grade and 2) that students' overall science knowledge in this area is general and weak.

One fun, interactive and meaningful lab I do is "Around the Rock Cycle."  I helps students to understand through interaction how rocks can be part of all types of rocks over time.  I adapted my lab from this online resource.

I don't care for the paper cubes that are used in the directions.  They get smashed and sometimes end up in the wrong station. Instead, I write the directions down for everyone at the station to read and use regular dice instead.  Easy, peasy!

If you are interested in the Water Cycle lab, it is very similar.  There are more locations for water to travel, so I think it is more fun than the Rock Cycle lab.  Here are some pictures from when I used it in 6th grade.  You notice that I had a similar set up.  No special dice, just directions with regular dice.

Students need to keep track of their journey in some way.  I use the beads because they are a great visual.  Then when students return to their seats to complete the reflection questions, they know where they have been in an instant.  The download for the rock cycle just has students record in writing.
Here is a link for the water cycle game.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Students learn about the hidden DNA code

8th graders begin the year learning about genetics.  It ended up being a nice transition after the forensics kick off.  In trying to teach students how complex DNA actually is, students begin with a lab titled "Crack the Code."

In this lab simulation, students receive a visual picture of a bug and a "DNA segment" that matches.  Every student gets a different bug and different bracelet containing the coded information.  Students must then work together to "Crack the Code."  I gave my students no information and required that they figure out which color bead stood for which bug trait.  It is one of my favorite lab activities since gifted students love puzzles.

If you'd like a copy of the bugs and complete lab instructions, visit my TN store.  Beginning tomorrow and running through next week, all products are 20% in my store.  Crack the Code

TN is also beginning their big Back to School Event.  Check out the bundled products, give aways, video tips, and store sales.

The Murder Mystery in Room 910

I have quite a few posts that have been sitting in my own queue that I will be getting to shortly.  I have now finished my 3rd week of school.  It's like an old glove now, and as much as I enjoy the anticipation of a new school year, I'm glad we are finally in the swing of things.

During the 1st week, both my 7th and 8th grade classes learned about the scientific process through a murder mystery.  Can I hear an "Oooooh!"  I would highly recommend it for anyone that is looking for beginning the year with a bang.  The kids loved it!  And although we didn't do much in the way of setting up procedures, we did a lot of cooperative work and getting to know you types of fun.

I used the GEMS book, "Mystery Festival."  It does take some time to set it up, but well worth it.  In the end, students had to present their case to our school's resource officer that took time to speak to students about how the technology in forensics has changed in the past several years.


Sunday, June 30, 2013


Link up with Farley here!

I wish I did this every month, but I just don't have the time...and as Farley said, "Don't let the blog take over your life."  If you've been reading for a while you know that I clearly haven't.  I enjoy sharing, but I miss out on linky parties and giveaways all the time because I have to make time for my mommy taxi service. That, by the way, has shifted in high gear now that I have a junior high girl.  I do, or at least I try to do, a pretty good job prioritizing family and the other things in my life.  They can definitely get a little overwhelming, in part because I simply cannot say, "no."


I have listened to the air conditioner run all day ...I live in Arizona so I don't really care what the cost...but as I've stalked and banked and caught up on the news, it has yet to turn off.   Which brings me to what I love.  Tomorrow I'm leaving for the mountains of Idaho.  Going somewhere that doesn't offer air conditioning in the cabins because it is never necessary makes my heart smile.  My kids get to spend the 4th sitting on a grassy hillside watching fireworks, not from the upstairs window of the loft because it's just too dang hot to be outside.  I guess it's one of those things that you don't appreciate unless you no longer have it. Since I grew up in Nebraska where 4th of July block parties were the norm, and everyone brought down their own stash of fire works, AZ 4ths are disappointing to say the least.  No fireworks are allowed...we'd burn down the whole state.

Since we can't go outside, Arizona schools go back EARLY.  There's nothing else to do.  So I report back on July joke.

We built our house without a pool.  We had small kids at the time and with the number of drownings each year, I didn't want to even have to worry.  The problem is that now they are older, they are tired of being inside all day, and they are DRIVING ME CRAZY.  So the want becomes my need too.  I need it for my sanity!  I guess I know what my product money is going toward now!

Tips...I love the resources that blogging and the other communities provide.  It is initially why I began blogging.  I was looking for ideas for older kids.  At the time middle school blogs were few and far between.  I'm so happy that others have started blogs...there is just so much out there to find!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Forensics, anyone?

Working with gifted students can be challenging.  It challenges me to think outside the box, to step out of my own comfort zone, and to let go.  That letting go part is tough for me since I always worry that there is something they won't get...I'm sort of a control freak in that way.  But as this past year began to wind down, I felt more and more comfortable with letting them go.  My kiddos learn better that way, and since I teach to help kids learn, I've got to work in a way that they are successful.

Having said that, I at least want structure for what I've planned.  I won't interrupt...I will let them fail...I will let them lead their own learning, but I want to at least have a plan and outline so that they will head in the general direction I need them to.   And I plan big!  This year I want to incorporate forensics into the curriculum.  I think it is so engaging and new and real classes will love it!

So on to the planning...

Currently I'm looking for resources that will help me plan a forensics activity.  Do you know of any good ones?  I'd really like a small kick off event for the first couple of days, but something a little deeper for 8th grade chemistry.  So far, here's what I've found.  If you've got great resources, I'd love to hear about them.

I inherited a GEMS book entitled, Mystery Festival.  It has a 5 day activity for both 3-5 and 6-8.  I love it!  It's detailed, but requires extensive set up and volunteers to run it smoothly.  Hmmm...really would like to make this one work!

I found a classroom webpage, My Science 8, that has another unit that I believe incorporates different teachers as the suspects...clever!

Indiana University also has put together 3 lessons.

TruTV has an entire section devoted to using forensics in the classroom.  They have plans for even higher level students as well.

NSTA also has some publications on forensics and Forensics in Chemistry is my next purchase!

If you are looking for some career information, you can find a great deal of information at

And...God Bless The Science Spot for sharing so much about everything... Here is a 9 week unit!

Another teacher's website with more links than I had time to look through in one afternoon!

And, Livebinder has some great resources as well.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Blog Lovin'

So I joined Blog Lovin', but didn't bother to claim my own blog...silly me.  For those that missed it in the post a couple of days ago, come July 1st, your list of blogs you are following will disappear.  If you have a blog, make sure to sign up...if you stalk blogs, make sure you click on the links of your favorites.  My button to follow is to your right, but if you need more help, check out Tori's Teacher Tips for a blog hop to Bloglovin'.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

So much to share!

I've never been so busy in my entire career!  As school wrapped up at the end of May I began to reflect, as all of us do, on what I accomplished this year...

Learned and implemented 7th grade science curriculum.
Learned and implemented 8th grade science curriculum.
Took 2 classes on teaching gifted students and 1 class on science modeling.
Implemented 2 different strategies in the classroom based off the classes taken.
Learned a new email system.
Learned a new teacher evaluation system.
Learned how to implement CCSS ELA standards into science. (It's still weird that I use ELA instead of  math!!)
Wrote science benchmarks for elementary grades for our district.
Evaluated science benchmarks written by others for junior high grades for our district.
Judged science fairs.
Participated in book study.
Sat on the Data Wise committee.

And what do I do when I'm finished with it all???  I start on next year's improvements...WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? It's like I'm an addict!

Yesterday I finished a rubric for my kiddos' science reports.  This one is specifically for science fair.  I also finished a timeline, guidelines, and grade breakdown for both 7th and 8th grade.  I wish I had someone's to look at last year, so I'm posting mine to Drive and hopefully it will help someone else in my shoes!

Research Paper Rubric
Timeline, guidelines, grade breakdown

Since my last real post, I've found so much to share...

1.  Use it or Lose it!!
Heard of Bloglovin?  It's something that you will need come July 1st or you will lose all the blogs you follow.  Apparently the powers that be are getting rid of Google friends connect.  I moved over this morning so that I didn't lose ANYTHING!  Not only do I follow teaching blogs, but also craft blogs and food blogs.  You can visit, I Teach. What's Your Super Power to find out how to switch over.  It's pretty easy.  Now I need to go find a new button.

2. Science Blogs, anyone?
Mrs. Harris Teaches Science is hosting a blog hop for science blogs! I wish that there were more around to get some great ideas, but maybe by spreading the word, more will sign up!

3.  Bamboo by Wacom
My mother's day gift!  It was from my husband who doesn't think he should have to get me anything because he isn't my mother.  That's when I brought on the guilt trip.  Now I need to learn how to make stuff on it...I can't wait.

It's the new catch phrase, but I want it to be known that I loved it before it was a fad.  My love of science came from my high school physics class that took a STEM approach and that was...well...that was a long time ago!  We built bridges and parachutes and a boat that we had to ride in across the pool. We took a trip to Magic Mountain to perform our "lab."  It was awesome!  If all my science classes had been that cool, I might have ended up an engineer.  I try to make sure that my students experience that joy of learning science!  Here are some AWESOME new resources I found and will be using this year.

Paper Roller Coasters
Marble Run -Build it online
STEM Works
Junk Box Wars

5. Pinterest
Not new, per se, but full of magnificent video clips, books for the ever changing field of eduction, lesson ideas.  If you haven't been on, you should, if you are check out my education boards full of inspiration!!  This is a link to my science board, but I've got something for everybody!!

6. BIE
Using Project Based Learning fits so snuggly with all aspects of the Common Core.  I predict that it will explode across the US in the next few years because it does allow teachers to kill several birds with one stone.  This week I found that there is a bank of projects on the BIE site for all grade levels.

7. Free Brain Pop Games
I love Brain Pop, but don't like the price.  These interactive games in compass multiple subject areas and engage students in higher level thinking skills!  My kids loved the Master Mines, Coaster Creator, and Landform Detectives...probably because those were made by the JASON Project (I miss them!)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Someday society will realize how important teachers are...

I've always believed that this profession is not for the faint of heart.  It's not for those that can't, nor for those who think it's extra time off.  It's a calling.  It requires compassion, dedication, and courage.

In the news yesterday there were stories of teachers shielding children with their own bodies while reassuring them that it would be ok. Today there was a story of child care workers and classroom teachers that held cars up off of the children entrusted to their care and it brought me to tears.  

During my last post I mentioned that the teacher sites were organizing fundraisers for those in Oklahoma.  I just checked in with TN and they've raised over $53,000.  I bought the file that I also contributed to and it may take weeks to go through all the files that I got in my download. You can donate one of 4 amounts.  How amazing!  I also checked in on the bundles at TpT.  There are 4 available...2 for k-2 and 2 for 3-6.  I'm blown away by the way so many teachers have come together to support this region that has lost so much.  

Bundle I ~3-6
There are 3 other bundles that you can also purchase.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Moore, OK Relief Efforts

I hope you will join in the efforts taking place through TpT and TN to raise money for the relief effort in Oklahoma.  For both efforts I have donated different items.  I hope that teachers around the country will consider extending their impact by donating products to, or purchasing packages for this worthy cause.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Monday's Freebie is Up!

Head on over to my facebook page to pick up "Looking for Landforms."  Grab it before Tuesday when a new one will take its place!

Caught in the Middle on Facebook

The End is Near...

We are now in the final stretch of our school year, and I couldn't be more excited!  I've learned so much this year, but it has definitely kept me away from my blog. :(  Currently, I'm writing benchmarks for my school district and the deadline is quickly approaching!!  I've taken more classes, volunteered for more weekend adventures, and been recruited to do more this year than in the past 3 years combined.  I will walk away with so much knowledge that I'm hoping to use it next year to make my new position even better.  I'm wishing all of you a much deserved Teacher Appreciation Week!  Here are some events to take part in this week...

I've already got my shopping cart ready for check out!!  Such an awesome time to get great products for less!  I will be joining so many others to give you 28% off.

Another great place to get great deals...On Tuesday, I am offering 50% off of everything in my shop.  Then Teacher's Notebook will take ANOTHER 10% off.  They are also giving away daily gift cards!!

Get there early...there's always a line!!

Chick-fli-A and McDonalds are offering free meals, as are the Famous Dave's in Arizona.  Teaching ID required.  Famous Dave's would like to see your certificate.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

New Flight download is ready...

If you have my Fun with Flight unit, the new download is ready!  I have more than doubled the content and I still have another activity to add.  This includes a new inquiry lab, new posters, b/w poster sets, answer key, and a reading and writing activity.  Head on over to the store to download your new version!!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Check out the science linky party at...

2 Peas and a Dog is having a science freebie linky party.  Stop on by and check out what everyone is posting.  I like it since it is for grades 4-8!  And...she's featured my science fair board titles.  I read the blog post on phases of the moon.  This is a definite must for next school year.  I'm almost thinking that this cool contraption that I, too, have pinned is even better than the styrofoam balls on a stick!

If you haven't stopped by my new Facebook page, like me to get new, quick info that I'm only posting there.  I've done some freebies and tagged some of my favorite new links.  Hope to see you soon!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Another Freebie Flash on Facebook!

You've got an the page since I will stop advertising here soon!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Facebook and a Freebie on Flight

Well that was easy...

The new Facebook page is set up and some of the new pages that I'm adding to my Fun with Flight packet will be available for FREE until 8:00 PST. tonight.  For those that picked up the freebie last year when I first posted, this is your chance to pick up the newest section.  If you'd like to have the entire download, head over to either one of my stores and get it now because the price will go up once I add the addition 12 pages sometime this week!  It is such an engaging unit, and perfect for the end of the school year!

I'm Jumping in...

I'm almost ready to launch my Facebook page!

Updates and Flash Freebie to celebrate coming soon!  

Like my Facebook Page to get updates and download the Flash Freebies that will only be available through links on my new page!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

TBA is turning 2!

On Friday, April 5th, TBA will be celebrating their 2nd birthday with tons and tons of freebies!

They will be categorized by grade level so that you can click and print without needing to sort through which activities are grade appropriate and which aren't.  While you are there, bring some of your own freebies to link's not required, but a great way to gain some exposure.

See you there!

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Home Stretch

So I've been absent a while...again...I know.

Here is what I've been up to since I posted last...

1) Learning how to do Science's not just's inquiry.  It's amazing, but absolutely taxing.  The class is every Thursday with weekly reflections and assignments.  Here's an entire unit I found on using modeling when teaching the human body.  I need to implement a modeling lesson this last quarter when I'm teaching health.  It's an entire unit!

2) Learning how to run a PBL...Through the Project Wet, I've been to 4 of a 6 day workshop to teach me how to plan and implement Project Based Learning in my classroom.  I learned a lot, received a ton of materials including this book...
and 5 others from Project Wet.

3) Science Fair...27 of my students' projects needed to prepare for our district science fair and 14 for the upcoming state fair.

4) Oh yeah...there was the state SciTech festival that I both volunteered at and attended.  This was from a night at ASU.

5) Assessment Writing...What on Earth was I thinking??  I'm helping out our district as they update the science benchmarks so that they fall in line with CCSS.  All must be DOK levels 2 or 3 and I have another check in this week.  I only have 20 more to write before Wednesday.

There is more, but I've procrastinated enough...back to writing!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Great Finds (that make my life easier...or at least more interesting!)

So I've been on yet another hunt searching the web for great teacher resources.  I tend to get off track in my searches...I start looking for activities for ecology and end by finding great recipes for 4th of July weekend.  But in my latest search of the net, I found these gems that I hope that everyone know about, but just in case here's what I've found.

This is a GOLDMINE!  There is so much to see here that you should plan on spending the good part of a day.  I don't even know where to begin.  This teacher has something for everyone K-6 and adaptable stuff for kids that are a little older.  There are resources galore on anything and everything, but her focus is on technology.  So check it out and have fun!!

How has it taken me this long to find this and utilize it?  Edmodo is set up to look like a facebook page, but it is all education related.  I recently added it for a class that I am starting next weekend.  As I began poking around on it, I found a link to my next find...

Prezi isn't new to me, but I had no idea that you could save and share your Prezis with others.  Much like a Google Drive, the educational Prezis are offered to others...SCORE!  Here is one I found yesterday on the tides and eclipses.  I'm putting it in my pile for things to use next year.

Right now I'm in search of great ways to present physics.  Labs that are inquiry based are my favorite, but finding ones to fit my age group is sometimes hard.  Much of what I've found is either elementary 4/5th grade or AP, neither is going to work for me.  However I ran across this site full of links yesterday and I'm still going through them.  The first download is a 200 page manual chocked full of labs!

Physics Central
APS ~K-8, HS, and college
Crayon Physics ~Make things move by drawing in ramps, balls, and other objects.
PhET ~Simulations for all ages...LOVE IT!!
The Physics Classroom

Super Duper Weekend!

I have quite a number of posts that I've been sitting on this week.  This weekend, I'm going to try to gather them all up and get them all posted.  It will include fabulous education links I've found, (always a Godsend!) some freebie forms and handouts I created, and some reflections about modeling in the classroom.

In the meantime, there will be teacher sales running both on TN and TpT.  My TN site is running 30% off all weekend and the TpT site will run 20% today and Monday, and 28% tomorrow with the store coupon SUPER!  I hope you stop by and check it out!  As I was crafting an email to send out to followers this morning, I realized that I had upload 12 new products since winter break.  All of my files that are sitting dormant for math have gotten a facelift and being put to work even though I won't get to use them for a while.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Science Modeling

Sorry I've been absent.  It's been science fair season, new university class time, PD, and I heard there may be some assessment writing I got myself into.  I have now broken my new year's resolution...learn to say no once in a while.

One of my newest additions to my overbooked life is my latest class in science modeling.  Ever heard of it?  Does anyone use it?  I find it fascinating, but would like to find some resources that are available online.  The lessons I've found are geared toward high school and are just a tad high for my level.  Modeling is the essence of inquiry in classrooms.  It takes a concept, leads students to the learning through a demonstration, and then they take over.  They produce questions that then turn into experiments, and then students white board their work to present to the class.  Students then have the opportunity to drill the presenters about their data.  I've done 2 lessons this way and love it!  It seems like it is the way teaching should be...lead the horses to water.

Here is their website if you want to take a look:  American Modeling Teachers Association

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Math Teachers at Play...

I was excited to get an email today telling me that I'm featured in this month's Math Teachers at Play blog carnival.  I had entered a previous blog entry about geometry.  I never knew how many ideas are featured in the post.  If you have time, check it's got so many wonderful math ideas that cover nearly all grades.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Design Squad Ideas?

I'm in need of a few more engineering ideas for my design squad club.  I work with my students for 2 years, so I can't do last year's topics and I only have 2 more ideas for the 4 spots I need to fill for the second half of the year.

So far this year we've done...


Last year, the teacher whose place I took did all of the easy suggestions from the website.  I have one project I designed in a class to use and then this month students are designing marble runs.  Students need to have a structure that will stand at least 2' tall, have a 180ยบ turn, a way to stop the marble.  The rest is up to them!

Monday, January 7, 2013

More PD anyone?

Today I presented classifying terms as a strategy for teaching academic vocabulary.  I wrote briefly about this technique in my post on the Core Six.  The more I work with this concept, the more I love it. Teachers are capable of making this as rigorous as they want, it's easy to differentiate, and it can be used cross curricular (Common Core.)

Here's the brief overview and activity that I presented to the science department this morning.  I purposely chose words that we had focused on during 1st semester and provided vague, general categories so that even the teachers would be forced to have conversations about them.  It's worth a look!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Ready or Not...

I just got an email from someone on my campus that said 43 more days until spring break.  I don't need to know that!  I have so much to do and so much to cover that although I'd like to extend my break...deep breath...I need to get back to work!  Today, in a marathon of procrastination, I uploaded and changed some of the math items that I had started working on at the end of last school year.  I'm the worst with unfinished projects, but now that they are done I can focus my attention once again on science.  Up this quarter...ecology for 7th and physics for 8th...oh and science fair.  Science fair has given me a few gray hairs this year already, but live and learn.  Here is a little sneak download from the 3 items I uploaded today.

This is one of the items, but I'm too lazy right now to make another image for the sampler!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Valentine's Day Keepsake

Not typically my kind of post since I left my years of primary grades teaching far in the past, but I created this for my kids to use this year, so I made it pretty and am sharing with you!!  It's a free item up at my store right now, but will always be in my freebie section of the webpage!!

Giveaway at TN!!

Enter once each day for a chance to win your choice!!

Friday, January 4, 2013


The items that I create to share will remain free here on my blog (Just one more reason to follow my blog), but after reading Paul's letter (TpT) this morning, there are some free items that I took down and some that I priced in my store.  I truly believe that TpT has been a positive for both teachers looking for inspiration and for those that are creating.  It lifts both up to do quality work in their classrooms, but the bottom line is that it's a business.    It does seem that there will be some changes to how they run freebies, so I figure I'd stay ahead of the game.  I, just like many in the forum, was part of the problem, and I don't want to bite the proverbial hand!

Having said is a sample freebie from my newest creation.  I'll be using these once we get back from break for some Tribes activities.  

Thursday, January 3, 2013

From On-Task to Engaged

Working with gifted students has required for me to make an adjustment in the way I teach...go figure.  I was giving a lot of thought the other day to all that I learned during this 1st half of the year.  Any time I change the population of students I work with, I learn at least as much as they do throughout the first couple of years.  I guess that's why I like the change.  I get to learn and be engaged in a new grade, new topic, or new challenges...I love that!  By moving, I've given myself the opportunity to once again be engaged in what I do.  Don't we want to give our students that same opportunity?

A couple of years ago, this idea of compliance vs. engagement came in to play from an educational leadership standpoint.  The implementation of a program for our staff was, in my eyes, compliance.  Teachers would say, "Just tell me what you want me to do and I'll do it."  Almost sounds like a kid.  The teachers weren't looking to really delve in and read the research, or how it has been successful, they merely wanted to do what was being asked.  Compliance.

When I came across this article by Brian Harris, I just had to pass it on.  It's about providing environments for student engagement.  Giving students the chance to be excited about their learning will make it more meaningful.

This link will take you to Bryan's website with other great ideas about student engagement.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Core Six

This year has been about one day at a time.  My priority over break, however was to finish a book for an upcoming book day at a time, or should I say one project at a time this year...I'm hoping that I can use some of what I learned in the presentation I'm giving to the science department.

The book, The Core Six, focuses on 6 strategies to use with students as we look to increase rigor to fall in line with common core.  The more I read about the ins and outs, the more I realize that rigor is one concept that is difficult to define.  This quick and informational read gives classroom strategies to increase the rigor and depth of knowledge that is at the forefront of educational reform.  For each of the 6 strategies, the authors give examples of it being implemented in classrooms.  It was the perfect tool for me since I'm a "show me" kind of girl.

One of the strategies that I used before break is called Inductive Learning. Students are given sets of words or "bits of information" and asked to sort them into meaningful groups.  (For those of you that use thinking maps, this and the other core strategies mesh really nicely and provide the opportunity to layer maps for deeper understanding.)  After time working with the words (and I allowed students to look up unknown words), students label their groups and then generate predictions or hypotheses about the learning topic based on the groups they've made.  Students keep a copy of their statements throughout the unit of study, but return to it when they have evidence to either support or refute their statements.  Students are asked to give examples next to the statement to provide their proof.

EASY strategy, nothing new, no materials needed, just a new tool for my toolbox.

The Core Six is available through ASCD (ebook, members price cheaper than Amazon) and Amazon(They have a preview).

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Looking for more inspiration?  Check out Farley's Linky Party for Currently, January!

AND A Sneak Peek of...the new unit I put together.

   A 10 page FREEBIE!!  I've had it for a while, but it needed some dressing up...