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.