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...