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!)