Science in the City

Sep 29, 2018

Top 5 Takeaways From the Hive Conference

A brief summary of top takeaways from the Hive Summit, Summer 2018

What is Hive Summit?

If you’ve never heard of Hive Summit before, it’s described as a free 14-day virtual educational conference. You sign up online, and ‘attend’ by watching and listening to various speakers on innovative educational topics.

If you missed it this year, I would definitely recommend attending in the future. You can find out more, and sign up at

Who Presented?

The presenters were some of the biggest names in innovative education at this point, with a few notes:

  • Dave Burgess - Share your ideas with others, and incorporate others’ great ideas into your teaching! You have access to great resources online to share ideas.
  • Rick Wormelli - A teacher is bound to ensure that students learn, and we can change our grading systems to ensure that grades help encourage growth.
  • Sarah Thomas - Connection and Professional Learning Networks are a fantastic resource. These can be digital or face to face, and can change your path; there are others seeking what you have to offer.
  • Rabbi Michael Cohen - creativity is critical because everyone is a ‘designer’ for someone, and creativity has to be a recurring practice.
  • Matt Miller (Ditch that Textbook) - Use educational technology to fit the tasks, and change traditional tools to be used in ways that are relevant to collaboration. We, as teachers, need to take risks and use technology to develop empathy and connect with others.
  • Michael Matera - Gamification is a way for teachers to overlay a game on top of content and instruction to allow collaboration, challenge, and to help increase engagement.
  • Tara Martin - Be real and be a risk-taker. Encourage change as a means of growth, and be a leader. This makes the collective whole better.
  • Joe Sanfelippo - We are better together in education. Share out the good things that happen in your classroom, and place value on others trying things outside of their comfort zone. Make connections, and show that you care!
  • Carrie Baughcum - sketchnoting is a new form of note-taking; it focuses on getting your ideas down on paper and connecting your ideas, as well as reflecting.

Main Takeaways!!

I took part in all the sessions, and it is almost impossible to condense 9 presenters into the Top 5 Takeaways, but I’m going to try. As I listened to and read all of these sessions there were several themes that kept jumping out at me.
  1. Take Risks - So many of these presenters talked about taking risks and stepping out of your comfort zone. This is where the change happens! 
  2. Collaborate - We are (hopefully) all in this for the students, and we don’t do our best work alone. We all have good ideas and individual specialties, and it is only through sharing our ideas out, being proud of what we are doing and working together with others that we can integrate those ideas and see the biggest benefit for students. Whether this is within your school, your region, Twitter, Facebook groups, Listserv, or any other PLN, use it!!!
  3. Be Unique - Don’t be afraid to be yourself! Some people are artistic, some are great at communication, some are great at organization. Don’t be afraid of that. Kids are unique too, and we need to build on that and find ways for them to learn more individually.
  4. Be Creative! - Creativity doesn’t just mean artistic, but it means being able to explore/experiment, and design. These are critical skills, for both teachers, college students, and workers.
  5. Reflect - as we try new things and grow, it is so important to reflect, look at what went well, and look at where to improve.
And remember, good practices for teachers are ALSO good practices for students! We, as teachers, are in a position to teach our students many of these same skills which will serve them well in almost any career, after graduation, and prepare them to be successful as they go out into the world!

So often I think we get focused on students learning content, but learning these skills of collaboration, reflection, creativity, and risk-taking are so important as well. Our classrooms can be a place of real, authentic, engaging learning where students can practice these skills.

Further Resources

For further information go to and learn how to connect with each of the presenters and get more information!

***Bonus Starting Saturday September 29th through Sunday October 7th, the Hive Summit videos will again be available for a limited time. Sign up at (--->HERE<---), and don’t forget to tweet out what you’re excited to revisit using the #HiveSummit hashtag and/or by tagging @Hive_Summit.

Sep 23, 2018

Formative Assessment Top 5 Round Up

Formative assessment is critical and can be easy!

Formative Assessment is Critical and can be easy

Why is Formative Assesssment Critical?

We often deliver a lesson, class ends, students come in the next day, and we aren’t really sure what they remember, or what they understand.

They come into class the next day, and we are ready to start today’s lesson, but actually the students are not ready to move on.  They are still confused on information from yesterday.

As important as we all know formative assessment can be, it can be tedious to keep coming up with worthwhile questions, in addition to lesson planning and grading.

How can it be Easy?

I can solve that problem for you!

We all know that we have enough on our plates without creating daily assessment questions. However, having the right questions can be really important to get the information that we want.

I have created full year bundles of warm ups for Biology and Earth Science.  You can see the questions and preview them in more detail by clicking on the links. 

The Biology set comes in both Google Slides and Google Forms (also includes directions to use in PDF format, or in other Learning Management Systems. The Earth Science Set is only available in Google Slides (with directions for PDF or other LMS; no Google Forms at this time). 

Both include sets for each unit typically taught (13 units for Earth Science and 10 units for Biology), as well as a bonus set with some blank slides/forms, and general formative assessment questions that can be used anywhere you choose.  Each set includes 16-18 slides/forms with generally 2-3 questions each.  They are correlated with learning objectives (Biology and Earth Science), so that all objectives are covered.  Answer keys are included.  Many questions include diagrams, inferencing skills, etc.  There are a range of questions difficulties and styles of questions, allowing you to differentiate for your students. 

This is a topic that I have written about extensively, because I think it is so important.  I also written about other ways that I use these digital task cards, and how and when I use formative assessment.

My top 5 most popular posts on these topics are here:

I hope this answers most of your formative assessment questions.  If not, just comment an ask!!!I hope this answers most of your formative asses

Next time students are entering class you will be able to have a clear understanding of where they are and what they understand before you begin teaching.   I can make that extremely simple for you pull off!  Check out my full year bundles here.

Sep 9, 2018

How to Organize Bellringers or Tickets Out

How to Organize Bellringers or Tickets Out

How to Organize Bellringers or Tickets Out

What are some of the concerns? 

I have been asked about how I organize my bellwork and warm-ups, both in terms of how I organize the papers and the class time. Some of the complaints that I've heard are against doing warm-ups are: too much grading, too much time being spent in class time, wasted for students to settle down, too much shuffling papers and more.


I have already addressed the grading in a couple of other posts here, here, here, and here.


As far as the class time I'm really a stickler for using a timer and keeping my bell work very short. I know some people do bell work that's a bit longer, it depends on the length of your class, and how you want to run your class time.  I usually keep it to three to five minutes. My bell work is one two three questions. If it really seems that people are working and need an extra minute or two I make extend it.

I enforce that by using a timer that is visible on the Smartboard. Depending upon how you setup your bellwork there are stand-alone timers, internet timers, Smartboard timers, the 1-click timer Chrome extension and many others.

Paper Organization

As far as how to organize the papers I've done it a few ways. I like to keep all my bellwork questions for a one-unit together in either a Google slide presentation, PowerPoint, Smart Board file, etc. Then I have the students answer on a bellwork or warm up sheet link here.  They turn this in each day.  Before their class, I spread them out on either a back table, counter, or something like that.  On their way in the students can grab the paper with their name on it. It's a little extra incentive for them to get to class early or at least on time because the timer starts when the bell rings.

Electronic Organization

When I have done bellwork electronically I have most often used a Google form. I share the link through Google classroom.  They can quickly click on it answer, and all the answers come to me in one place.  I can also turn the form off when the time is up, so that they have to submit in a timely fashion.  I have also done a Google slide.  In this case, I have all my warm ups in that slide file. I copy just today's slide. share it with them through Google classroom or through a force copy.  They put their answers on it and then submit.  Google Classroom really facilitates this very easily.

Class Time

As far as during class time I can usually make a quick assessment if I want to discuss bellwork or go over it based on what I see when students are working.  If I use a Google form where I can get instant feedback then, I can pull the results up on the board and this can help me assess and decide if I want to have a class discussion. If I find out that I'm wrong it's perfectly okay to go back the next day.

What questions do you still have?  Ask them here and I will do my best to answer!

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