2014Science in the City: 2014

Dec 20, 2014

Saturday Nerd Libs Link up -- last one for 2014

Join me one more time for a "Dear Santa" teacher letter.....I know there are things we all want.  Here is my letter to Santa (well.......a version of it!).

Dec 14, 2014

12 Days of Nerd Libs

Once again I am linking up with Mel and Gerdy's 12 days of Nerd Libs.  They are so creative with these.  I filled it out in true nerd libs style, where I looked at the prompts first.  I hope you will be entertained and please visit some of the other blogs as well for even more!

Hope you enjoy, and have a great holiday!! 

Dec 7, 2014

Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy Link Up

Mel and Gerdy's Saturday Nerd Lib Link-UpI am taking part this week in the first Saturday nerd libs, by Mel and Gerdy.  It is a great chance to 'meet' other bloggers and get to know each other a little better.  They are so creative!  I am glad to be able to take part in their fun ideas!  Please click on the button to the left to head over to their blog and see some of the other bloggers.  

Here my my response.  I did it true mad libs style and had my kids fill out the terms (based on what was underneath).   I have two boys, ages 5 and 8, and they love to be involved in what I'm doing.  Now that they are both in school (my little guy started kindergarten this year), it has given me new perspective on teachers and school, although I have taught myself for about 10 years, now. 

 I wish I slept until 7!  I am actually at work at 7, or a little before.   Otherwise, I do love pasta (but not for breakfast).  I do usually go first to my desk and get to work.  

Nov 28, 2014

This is What It Looks Like When I Do Interactive Notebooks

I recently got an email from a teacher who used interactive notebooks, but wanted to get better at using them, and had some questions for me. I thought I would post some of the highlights from our discussion here, in case others are wondering the same thing.

How do you do vocabulary in them?
How do you organize a unit? 

I focus on vocabulary in INB's in two ways.  First, at the start of each unit my students make a cover page.  In traditional INB fashion, this cover page has a left and right hand page (input and output).

On the student output side, I have them divide the page into four.  In the center of the four squares I have them write the title of the unit.  Then in each of the four boxes I give them a key vocabulary word for the unit.

Then I have them use the textbook, look online, or based on their own knowledge, draw a picture that goes with each vocabulary term, and write a caption.  This gets them connecting to what they already know, and previewing the topics.

On the teacher input side I give them a sheet that has the learning objectives of that unit, and the key vocabulary for the unit.

This gives the students a reference point, as well a view of where they are going during this unit.

Then at the end of the unit I have them write a reflection that has to include main points they have learned in the unit, and a reflection on their work.  In their reflection, they have to use a certain number of the key vocabulary terms.  They also have to revisit their work and discuss, what pages did they do the best on?  What could they have improved upon?  Etc.

I find that these two experiences really help them to focus on the main concepts of the unit, and tie together what they are learning.

Image from http://mrsloving.weebly.com/interactive-notebook-information.html

Here is a sample of the objectives that I might use....
Cell Division Student Self-Assessment "Keeping Track of Learning"

Classroom freebies

Nov 27, 2014

Sale Time - If You Haven't Heard!!

If you haven't heard, there is a TpT sitewide sale Monday and Tuesday.  This means that my store will be 20% off, and the site is 10%, so you will get a total of 28% off the original prices.

This is the time to stock up and purchase items that you have been considering, but held off because of cost, or items that you know are versatile and will be used later in the year.

I know for me there are items that I look at, but wait to purchase....now is your chance.

Do your window shopping, and then get your cart ready so you can take advantage of the discounts on Monday and Tuesday.

If I were shopping my own store, some of the items that fit into those categories are:

Buy My Store Products -- a great deal, at an even bigger discount!

Buy my Store - Earth Science     Buy my Store - Biology
Exit Tickets -- useful all year, even if you aren't quite sure what you will need later on.

Pack of 50 Exit Tickets (Formative Assessment)

Nov 25, 2014

What happened when I was asked "How do you use information about your students?"

I recently was asked "how do you use information about student's families and communities" to inspire them in science.....

At first I thought this was a difficult question because of where I teach (high school in a very urban, free and reduced lunch, high poverty area) I don't always have good success with parent involvement in the more traditional sense.  I can't always get a hold of parents.  I set up a field trip last year and we had parent chaperones lined up.  Unfortunately a couple didn't show up.

I feel like there is a bit of a divide, or a culture shift between my culture and my students' communities.  I live five miles from the school, but it is a very different culture.  It is suburban. I grew up in a middle class suburb.  I have taught in my current district for 10 years, but I still feel like there are barriers or differences that I will probably never be able to cross.

Then, as I thought about this question, I took it a completely different way and realized that I do use information about families and communities.

  • Because my students home lives are often chaotic, and they often don't have school supplies, I make sure that I always have extra paper, pencils etc. available in the classroom.
  • Because my students may not have homework support at home, I always give homework that can be done independently (a menu of choices to practice vocabulary words, for example).  And I don't ever assign homework that is due the next day.  I always give some flexibility.
  • Because my students, in general, have a lot of other responsibilities outside of school, I don't give a lot of homework.
  • Because there are a lot of reasons that school is missed, or homework doesn't get done, I am flexible on accepting late work.
  • Because there is a huge range of abilities, I try to differentiate and provide multiple pathways to success and multiple reading levels.
  • Because they may not have background experiences, I try to start most units with common background experiences and build in some background knowledge and engagement, as well as feeling for success early on.
  • Because the way for them to change their situation is by passing these high stakes exams, earning high school credits, and graduating, I still hold them to a high academic standard. I do not dumb down the content, and I do not excuse them from assignments.
Many of these have become such a part of my practice that I don't even think about them anymore. But my teaching style does reflect where I teach...

How about you?  How does your teaching style reflect the families and communities where you teach?

Nov 22, 2014

Great deal!!

Just a quick update to let you know of a great deal you may want to take advantage of.

CAST  2014 is this week in Dallas, TX. 9 of us science teachers from Teachers Pay Teachers got together and created an awesome bundle of products for the event. Even if you are not at the conference you can take a look at the activities online and purchase. http://www.4mulafun.com/product/science-teachers-of-tpt-volume-1/ This is a limited run product and 80% off retail value. Enjoy.

This bundled CD includes a great selection of products at a huge discount!

Science Teachers of TPT

Nov 10, 2014

A Teacher's Unique and Unexpected Power

I would like to simply share a brief story that has caused me a lot of reflection lately.  My son is in kindergarten.  In gym class, his gym teacher told him he was a champ, or called him champ recently.  
He has literally talked for weeks about how his gym teacher thinks he's a champ.  He has taken this to mean that he is great at gym, and he thinks he has to work extra hard to not let the gym teacher down, since the gym teacher thinks he's a champ!

As a teacher we often are reminded about the power of our words, and the fact that we are working with impressionable young kids.  I think it is easy to lose track of this fact, in the day to day shuffle.   This has been a big reminder to me of the power of our words.

Remind your students that they are champs!  Don't be afraid to compliment them!  And be thoughtful about what you say, because you don't know the impression it will leave.  

Sep 30, 2014

A Useful Gift For You: Exit Tickets and Much More

I was lucky to be part of a cooperative effort spearheaded by Brain Waves Instruction, Literary Sherri, and Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy. Each page gives a chance to 'meet' a secondary seller, and a printable, ready to teach freebie.  My page includes 4 immediately usable exit tickets.  These are part of a larger e-book with TONS of resources, across subject areas (see below for details).

They have compiled 3 FREE Meet and Teach e-books profiling SECONDARY teacher-authors and sharing print-and-teach resources from 25 TpT stores in each e-book.  The e-books center around ELA, Math & Science, and Humanities (Social Studies, Art, Foreign Language, and more ELA).  In them you'll find a 'meet' page completed by each seller that includes responses to 5 prompts.  You'll get to learn a bit about each seller like their favorite book or things that make them happy.  Then, each seller provided you with a 1-page resource that you can use in your classroom.  These e-books are filled with awesome teachers, little insights into each sellers' life, and resources that are easy to implement in your classroom.  They're pretty amazing.  Of course, you don't have to take my word for it, you can find them here:




Download each free e-book and you'll get a chance to meet and teach resources from these teacher-authors: 
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Sep 14, 2014

Learning Reflection Sheet Exclusive Free Gift

In secondary education I feel that we don’t spend enough time building relationships, and 
nurturing our students’ curiosity because we are bound by curriculum and pacing.   This sheet is something that I often use at the end of the class period in my own classroom.  We are only two weeks into school and I  and have already found that students are looking for my response each day, and are thinking about what to write during class (reflecting upon what they learned, or jotting down questions). 

This tool has become a great tool for formative assessment, and especially for 
differentiation. It is open-ended enough that the lower level students can simply 
state what they learned, or ask a question about the lesson, where higher level 
students can ask more in-depth questions, and I have an easy way built in to 
respond to them. 

I think it is critically important for students to reflect on their own learning, and, if needed, I can give a more specific prompt for the day. However, sometimes it is better open-ended.  On Friday I had one student write "I learned today that I need to come to this class ready to work, not fool around" .....If he learned that, I'm happy as well :)
Classroom freebies

Sep 7, 2014

Sick and Tired of Making Seating Charts? Seating Chart Freebie

I created seating charts for my classes, as the year begins, and thought they might be useful for you as well.  As such, I am offering this seating chart freebie.

It is offered in PowerPoint, so the template is editable to type in names, or move the location of seats and

This is a sample of a larger product available at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

Classroom freebies

Aug 31, 2014

Social Action and Surprising Current Issues in the Classroom

I have spent a lot of time this summer reading and educating myself on food, and nutrition. I have been interested for several years, as my son has several food allergies, so I am forced to read labels, and, for the most part, cook from scratch. A few years ago I read The Unhealthy Truth, by Robyn O'Brien, but mostly with my kids in mind. In the meantime I have gotten busy, have two kids now to make school lunches for, and have gotten lazy (not about the allergies, which are life-threatening, but about health choices that are not immediately life threatening).

 I have also been very tired, and just low energy, getting sick (just with colds) more frequently. Bloodwork last year didn't turn up anything, and the doctor had a conversation with me about stress management, and eating healthy. That rung true, but not quite. I didn't feel like I was under anymore stress than I have been, maybe less as my kids are both old enough to sleep well, I'm a more experienced teacher, was at a better school last year than the two previous years.

 Near the end of school a colleague was excited about the "Whole30" and the energy boost, health benefits, etc. I read up on that, experimented a bit (decided it was WAY too restrictive for without a strict reason or problem to solve). But that experiment and reading led me to more reading on gluten, and on other health myths/topics. Then a friend's doctor recommended the book "Eat to Live." I was intrigued and also read some of that. I found this more well supported, and backed by research, as well it made more sense to me logically, but is basically a vegan diet, focusing on salad, maybe 2 meals a day. I don't see that as feasible for me right now. But I did try to make some changes. In all this reading and thinking (which I only have time for in the summer), I came across two things that really got my attention as far as the classroom.

 1) The blog 100daysofrealfood.com (and the associated recipes, facebook page, etc. This is also about healthier eating, but from a little different perspective. What really stuck out to me, however, is that unlike a lot of the other things I had been reading, the author here emphasizes taking small steps (mini-challenges), and that any improvement is better, and that this does not have to be a 100% change. I think that is also an important lesson for our students -- take small steps to make changes. Any improvement is better in the big picture.

 2) I also stumbled across this book: The Omnivore's Dilemma for Kids.  This is supposed to be written for teens.  A lot of it is about science -evaluating different studies, analyzing nutrients in our bodies and how our bodies break down and utilize various chemicals.  Now I really want to use this book with my students.  I'm trying to determine where in the curriculum it fits, and how best to do this.  Where I teach, I'm sure this is not a topic of why my students are very much aware, at all.  When I taught AP Environmental, several years ago, I did a similar unit and my students were completely blank slates before.  Such a far removed topic from their daily lives.  I would like to bring some awareness to ninth grade biology students, maybe through the use of this book.

I think I will start with writing a donorschoose.org grant for the book, but in the meantime I need to determine where in the curriculum it would go, and how I could use it.

Any ideas, send them my way :)

Worried About the First day of Class? Scavenger Hunt Exclusive Freebie

I have been getting my classroom ready for the upcoming school year, and part of that process for me is making up signs to mark areas with in the classroom that I want to be clear to students.  We get a lot of student schedule changes and transitions, and student attendance is not always great.  For those reasons, and because students have several classes to keep track of, I try to make procedures clear for them early in the year, and post reminders.

This is an exclusive freebie to my blog readers.  It is a set of signs and a classroom scavenger hunt that I use in my classroom. The files are in PowerPoint format, so that they are completely editable and customizable to your classroom needs as well.

Classroom freebies

Aug 23, 2014

Innovative Technology: Google Drive and Google Chromebooks

I have been meaning to blog more often this summer, and haven't done so. The last couple of weeks I have been deep into learning about Google Chromebooks and Google Drive (which I was familiar with) and how to use them in the classroom. My school is going to be a 1:1 Chromebook this year as part of a pilot program. I was asked to be on the technology committee, so I have been at many meetings planning logistics and rollout procedures, as well as staff professional development.

I have learned several things from this Chromebook experience, before school has even started, and I will definitely keep you posted as the year goes along.

1) Roll out and logistics procedures are critical for things to go smoothly.

We have spent a lot of time developing procedures for checking in and out the chromebooks, labelling them, determining what the procedures will be for late entry and early dismissal students, where they will be stored and how to access them, how to carry and store them, etc.  These clearly stated and communicated guidelines and procedures will (hopefully) eliminate a lot of problems later on. The same is true in the classroom!  It is so important to think through all of these details and what-ifs ahead of time, and to develop, organize, and communicate with your students.

2) Staff training, comfort level, and staff being on the same page is also critical.

The IT Department from the district came to do some training with us.  They began by stating that they expected people to be anxious and fearful, or opposed. Our staff was mostly not.  They were very excited.  We have a great staff.  However, I think a lot of the positive attitude was also due to keeping people informed ahead of time, providing resources and training so they are comfortable, and providing ongoing support and training so they  know they won't be lost.  I think people are much more likely to try something new when they are comfortable and feel successful in what they are doing, and know that they will have support.

Again, the same in true in the classroom!

3) I think this technology has the power to change the classroom, as we know it.

I used a smartboard, and powerpoint, but I don't use them extensively.  They are a great way to present graphics and diagrams, or do whole class instruction, but most of the best educational practices are not geared around whole class instruction with the teacher at the front of the room.  If you are using these technologies a lot, I fear that is what is happening.

Google drive, however, offers a way for teachers to spend less time copying and organizing work, and for students to keep their work organized.  It automatically saves, and teachers can provide templates or work to students to complete right in their Drive.  It also offers real time collaboration, commenting, and feedback, as well as research resources immediately in the hands of every student. It allows them to look up information, search for help, spell check, create documents, critique each other's documents, and watch videos or take notes, somewhat at their own pace.  They can go back and edit, go ahead, or re-watch something. I also see many opportunities for individualization and differentiation, from additional research questions to apps that allow text to be read, or making the screen size different or changing contrast.

I am really excited about this opportunity, and I hope my students are too!

Aug 15, 2014

Getting Ready for Back to School - Classroom Website Update

I am working this year on updating my classroom website. I have a very skeletal website from several years ago that has never gotten much traffic. This year, as we are moving towards more technology and 1:1 technology in my school, one of my goals is to update my classroom website and to make it useful and user-friendly. This led me to some tips.

5 Tips to Creating a Classroom Website....


Read the rest on our collaborative blog

Aug 4, 2014

Great Deal - Don't Miss It!

As you may know, TpT is having the annual Back To School Sale today and tomorrow.  My store is also on sale.  These discounts combine for a 28% discount.

I have taken advantage of this opportunity to create two new bundles in my store.  One is for all Biology items, and the other is for all the Earth Science items.  I have taken all of the related items, created one bundle, and am offering them to you at a discounted price.  As I add more items under each category, I will update the bundle, and the price will slowly go up. However, if you purchase the bundle, you will be able to continue to download the updated bundle (with any and all new products) for free. 

My biology items now value $45, the bundle is listed for $30.  However, during this sale, the bundle is $21.60.  That means today and tomorrow you can purchase any biology items that I create now or in the future for $21.60.

Similarly, my Earth Science items individually would retail for $65, but the package is listed for $40.  With the sale this package would be $28.80.  Any Earth Science items that I have created now or in the future (and I have some great ones in progress) for $28.80.

Immediately Useful Formative Assessment Freebie: Gift to You

Free Exit Tickets for Formative Assessment

As we approach the new school year, many of us think about what goals we want to set for the upcoming school year, or what we want to change in our classroom.   For many of us, we want to get a handle on what our students really understand.  We need to use assessment more thoughtfully It is too easy to get 'stuck' in the routine of teaching a lesson, assigning homework, but not taking the time to get feedback from students, on their understanding, or have students think about their own learning.  Here is a free and easy way to assess your student's understanding.

When and how to use them

One practice that I really believe in, and try to use consistently is formative assessment.  These may often be seen in the form of 'exit tickets,' but can also be integrated into the lesson as part of a transition, or closure to a topic.  It is really important to have students reflect on their own learning, and to get a 'pulse' of the class frequently, and long before a unit test. By then it is really too late.

In many cases administrators are looking for closure and student reflection when they observe your class.  Exit tickets or formative assessment are a great way to do that.

Download your freebie

Below is a four pack freebie of four exit tickets that I frequently use in my classroom.  They are downloadable as a pdf file, and print four to a page.  They are set to print four to a page.   Here is 
the link
. Enjoy!

free 4 pack of exit tickets to use in any class as assessment or bell ringer

an image of the four free exit tickets that you will get

These can be used to assess and determine if re-teaching is necessary for a small group, or for the larger group.  They can also be a critical time for students to reflect on their own learning, and to think about what they understand or don't understand.

Related resources

These are a sample of a larger pack of 50 (!) Exit tickets. The four in the sampler are general use (any subject) and could be widely used.

The complete pack of 50 Exit Tickets include these, and other general exit tickets, but also have an emphasis on science, so they include many general prompts (40 of the 50), but some prompts that are specific to science classes.

Free sample of exit tickets and more discussion of formative assessment and the use of exit tickets

Another free resource!! 

For a free guide to quick and easy assessment, as well as a set of free introductory science task cards/bell ringers, click here.

I hope this really helps you and your students know what they understand. 

Jul 23, 2014

Innovative New Resource: Observation, Hypothesis and Inference

Early on in the year in almost any science class, at various grade levels, students will learn, or reinforce, the difference between observations, inferences, and hypotheses.  These are critical science skills that students will use across other subjects, and throughout the year. Of course, these skills are ultimately leading them toward making inferences from data, setting up and successfully running experiments, and even making inferences in other areas of their lives.  When students make observations about the world around them, read a news article and infer from it, or make an inference about the interactions that they have with people around them, they are using these skills.  However, this is an area where many students need reinforcement and practice.

I created this set for practicing observation and inferences.

This set has two components, and can be used many different ways.

1) There are 10 pictures that are good for making both observations and inferences.  You can use these pictures for one or other other, or use them to have students practice doing both.  Here is a good example.

Students can observe a hyena, or a zebra head, grass, etc.  They can infer that the hyena killed the zebra, is eating it, is hunting, etc.  They may infer other information as well, such as where this photo was taken.

The second part of this pack is a set of cards.  There are 16 cards each with examples of observations, inferences, and hypotheses.  Students can use them in the following ways (and probably others that I haven't thought of yet): 

- card sort and separate observation, inference, and hypothesis
- get one card and identify which it is.
- match up/sequence -- for example, I observe that the person is very tall, I infer that he plays basketball, and I hypothesize that people who are tall play basketball better.

These cards and pictures can be used in a variety of ways, and with a wide range of student abilities to reinforce these critical science skills. 

I hope you enjoy, and please let me know any feedback that you have! 

Jul 19, 2014

How Can You Get Free Resources for Your Classroom?!

I just found out about a new free resource that I'm very excited about, for personal reasons as well as professional.  I can't wait to share it with you.

If you live in NY State, as a taxpayer, apparently you are entitled to a New York (City) Public Library card.  You ask....but I don't live near NYC, so what good does that do for me?!

Well, as we all know, libraries also have many electronic resources, and this gives you full access to all their electronic resources.    Here is a link to their New York Public Library Guide, showing an up to date guide to the NYPL.  This is a fantastic resource! 

In order to get a NYC library card, you have to fill out a form online.  The library card gets mailed to you.  Then you take a scan of your driver's license (or other forms of ID), and, email or fax it, along with the library card.  This validates your library card.  It is free and good for 3 years. 

Even if you don't live in NY, maybe there is something similar in your area.  It's worth checking out!

Some of the resources included are shown below, tumblebooks, digital images, ebooks, audiobooks, etc.

Jul 13, 2014

Freebie: Powerful But Simple Congratulations Banner

I think it is very important to congratulate and recognize your students achievements. Everyone likes to feel successful, and that positive praise goes a long way way toward continued success (much more than the negatives).

Here in NY State, students have to complete a certain number of labs with passing grades in order to sit for the state final exams in science (required for graduation).  In other words, that lab qualification is their first step toward what they need to graduate.

Also, students usually can't go to summer school unless they have completed their labs.  They can retake for course credit, and sit for the exam in the summer, but usually can't complete labs.

Whatever your pedagogical thoughts about required labs, and, coherency with the course, etc., getting 'lab qualified' is a big deal.

I always make a display or do a pizza, or do some kind of recognition.  This year, since I didn't have my own classroom, I did a display in the hallway.  I made a big banner (included as a freebie), got foam stars from Dollar Tree, and let kids write on their stars and hang them up when they had met the lab requirement.

It was a big deal because it was in the hallway.  Some students would stay after school to make up labs and then ask me right away for their star, or ask to wait and be recognized in class.

I'm sure there are many things that you could congratulate your students on.   If you don't want the banner to be HUGE, you can print two pages per page and make it a bit more manageable.
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Jun 29, 2014

Turn the Tables: Praxis and The Testing Environment

I went about 2 weeks ago to take the Praxis II in Earth and Space Sciences, as one of the requirements for the NYS Master Teacher program, to which I am applying.

The testing environment was highly secured, and, although I did well, I found it extremely stressful. I really gave me new consideration for the testing environment in which our students operate and how it impacts them.

For me, this test was not really so high stakes.  I want to score well, but it is to gain admission to a program, not to retain or earn my certification, or to graduate.

When I arrived (30 min early, as instructed), I had to have my ID checked, and complete a waiver as to my honesty and test integrity.  Not only did I have to sign, but I was instructed to copy the paragraph, in cursive, not printing, and then sign.  Then I was brought back into the testing area.  I was given a key to a locker and told to empty my pockets.  Nothing can go into the testing room.  Not even kleenex (I had a cold).  I was told if I needed kleenex or something else during the test, I was to raise my hand.  You cannot bring your own pencil into the test.  Literally, nothing, enters the testing room. I had to remove my watch and jewelry and place it in the locker. Anything you have goes into a locker.  Then you are wanded with a security wand and patted down.  Then your photo is taken for identification.  You sign off that you are the person you claim to be, and then you understand you will be recorded while testing.  There are video cameras in the testing room.  You also initial the time that you enter the room.

You are given pencil and scrap paper, with instructions to write down nothing during the directions or sample questions, only to write during the test.  Then you begin. A 100 question multiple choice test apparently determines my content knowledge.

I have to admit, I am an adult, a strong test-taker, and this was not a particularly high stakes exam.  However, I was unnerved.  By the time I was sitting and ready to take the test I had to take a few minutes and calm down, take some deep breaths.

I did well, and I understand (to some extent) the need for security.  However, I also have to pause and reflect on what this means for our students.  Many of them NEED to pass these tests, are not strong readers and test takers, and do not have good coping skills under stress.  It seems to me that we owe it to them, and to ourselves as we develop a future society for students to be assessed in a way that is meaningful, and allows them to demonstrate their knowledge to the best of their ability.   Students should not be under undue pressure, but would ideally be asked to do something meaningful, that allowed them to be comfortable and use their knowledge.

Why Do I Teach Science: My Perspective

I am considering apply for the New York State Master Teacher Program.   I just took the Praxis on Friday and did well.  I am waiting for my letters of recommendation, and my complete evaluation (depends upon test scores).  I also need to write an essay.  The topic of the essay is "Why do you teach (your subject)?"

I have been tossing it around in my brain over the past couple of days.  Summer vacation just started so I have spent a lot of time with my kids, cleaning the garage, washing my car, doing all the things that I don't have enough time for during the school year. But in between that question has been bouncing around in my head.

In no more than 2 pages, double spaced....why do you teach your subject?

I have a lot to say, but am still refining and focusing my ideas.  I have to say, however, that it has really put a positive start to my summer vacation to think about the great parts of my job.  There are so many!

So far....I teach science because

  • It's fun!  What other job do you get to builds things, break things, look through a microscope and see life processes happening, and even go outside on a regular basis! 
  • It builds on students natural curiosity (yes, even high school students).  For many students, by the time they get to high school, this natural curiosity may have been partially weakened, waned, beaten out of them, or put aside for social reasons, but its still in there.  People are born scientists.  Toddlers ask questions, test things, and want to find out how the world around them works.  This passion can often be re-ignited, or is not completely gone.  Science is a way to get student's attention, and get them thinking and asking questions!
  • Students need to know how their own bodies and the world around them works!  As they go on to become adults, they need to understand how to make healthy choices, for themselves and their environment.
  • As they go on to become voters, citizens, and business people, whichever specific line of work that they enter, students need a basic level of scientific literacy.  They need to be able to intelligently understand news articles on science topics, and make informed decision.  They need to be able to read and follow a set of instructions and diagrams, as well as create their own.
Its pretty amazing to think that I'm a part of making these things happen!! 

Why do you teach science?  (Or your subject)? 

Jun 15, 2014

Simple But Important Vocabulary Strategies

No matter your subject area, vocabulary is critical for speaking the ‘language’ of the subject, and for building up confidence and comfort with test questions.  In other words, as we approach testing season, it is very important that students are familiar with the vocabulary.
In my classroom, I use several strategies for students to build up comfort with the vocabulary.
quizletAt the start of the unit, I give students a list of terms and definitions for the unit.  I usually make these up by using the website http://www.quizlet.com Once you enter the words, you can choose from a list of previously entered definitions for that term.  I try to keep the list to a manageable, not overwhelming amount.   For homework, they have a week to do to options from their vocabulary ‘menu.’  They can do three for extra credit.  This menu includes options such as drawing pictures, using in a sentence, writing definitions, writing a story, etc.
Then within class.....
To read the rest of this post, please read here on our collaborative blog, where it was first posted....

May 28, 2014

This is What Happens When You Get Out of the Classroom

I had the opportunity to take my students on a field trip....It was a great experience, mostly because it is so foreign to them.  Every time I plan a field trip it is so much work that I question if I will do it again.  But I always do. It is worth it to see the kids so engaged, and to see kids that struggle in the classroom be so successful in a different setting.  One student had never been out of our county before.  Another, since I teach in a very urban district, had never seen a real chipmunk.  That was a big hit!!  The trip was to Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge.  It is a program with a local college, so our students got to interact with college students (who were their guides).  They took a guided walk, did a scavenger hunt, and played some games.  The kids were afraid of the bugs and mud, at first, but they settled in and had a great time!  

If you have the opportunity to take your students out of their element, and expose them to new things, do it!!  Testing does not capture all that we do as teachers, or all the growth that our students have, but this is an important part of our role!

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