Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Goals and Sale

I have taken a bit of a hiatus from blogging - right before the holidays was just so busy at school and the holidays are always busy with family. Today while I am waiting for laundry I decided it was time to get back down to business. With vacation almost over I am starting to get back into school mode.

First off I want to share some goals for the upcoming year - I guess teaching goals wasn't the best title since two of my goals are business related...but you all get the idea.

  • Goal 1: UbD unit
    • As some of you might remember from an earlier post our school has taken on a huge Understanding by Design initiative this year. We have been reading and discussing since September. In January we are set to begin writing our units which we are supposed to pilot in the spring. I am both excited to learn these skills and intimidated by the amount of work these units will be taking.
  • Goal 2: Increase products on TpT
    • I currently have 23 products (paid and free) on my store. I am hoping to both edit and improve existing product and to nearly double this number over the next year.
  • Goal 3: Blogging and Marketing
    • I am hoping to blog at least once per week and to vary between sharing about products and blogging about my teaching experiences. I find that often it is easy for me to blog when I post a new product but I don't want my blog to just be advertisement for products. I also want to share my insight into the world of education.
  • Goal 4: Improve performance assessments and inquiry tasks
    • This is sort of tied with the UbD efforts but has always been a constant goal for my classes. I am trying to push all of my classes towards being more student driven and goal oriented. One of the things that I having been working on this year is developing better and more frequent assessments for students to demonstrate their understanding. 
 Finally, even though I said I want to expand my blog to not just be about promoting my store I am going to do a bit of shameless promoting....
To ring in the new year I am hosting a two day SALE on all products in my store. The sale runs today December 31, 2013 through tomorrow January 1, 2014. I know I am doing some shopping today as I prepare to return to school so I wanted to offer everyone an opportunity to do so with a bit of a discount. Click the banner below to follow it to my store and take advantage of this limited time sale.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Secondary Sunday linky

Ok so I just realized that I typed this and apparently only saved it as a draft and did not actually post. SO, I am a bit late getting this up but....

This week I was so excited to come across a Linky specifically for secondary teachers. So many of the things I participate it are geared toward elementary and middle school that I don't know how much it really helps me...but they are usually fun and a good way to connect with new people so I do them anyways. I am looking forward to getting to participate in this in the future and hope that I can connect with some awesome secondary teachers.

Anyways, click on the picture below to head over to the Secondary Sunday Linky where you will find some awesome ideas shared by secondary teachers in all different subjects.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

ISN success with genetics

This week has been very productive for using our interactive science notebooks.  I purchased a bunch of products during the TpT Cyber Monday and Tuesday sale and decided to make a change to my punnett square lesson after I had downloaded my new stuff. Using an accordion fold template from Mad Science Lessons,  (TpT store here) I turned my usual "Punnett Squares 101" lesson into a booklet that students would create and attach to their ISN. Students used 4 sheets of the large diamond shape accordion template to create enough pages for the booklets. The picture below shows the template page and the completed accordion.

First students cut out, assembled, and folded the booklets. Next I gave them a copy of the 7 steps to making a Punnett square, the cut the steps apart and glued one step to every other page.

The remaining pages the students filled in with an example as we followed the steps to solve a basic mono-hybrid cross. There finished products looked something like the one below - sorry you can't see much of the detail.

I think that this strategy worked really well. The students were more engaged in taking the notes because in their words "they didn't feel like notes"...but they got the same exact content and examples they would have if we had done my usual notes on this. The other benefit is that in this format they can flip step by step as they are working on a problem and just unfold the step they need to work on. For the students that have trouble focusing with a lot of information on the page this helps them isolate each step as they do them. After finishing the books students did a set of 4 practice problems that were very detailed and guided. They generally did well and most of the errors were just because those individuals didn't slow down and read the whole problem before they started working.
We are now working through my Martian Genetics Simulation (which is on TpT if you click on the picture below). This is a very time consuming activity but something the students always enjoy. It really drives home the difference between phenotype and genotype and heterozygous and homozygous. Plus is sets us up to talk about how traits are passed in families over time or with a simple extension activity we can branch off into natural selection. So far this week we have determined the genetics for our parent generation, drawn the parent martians, determined possible gametes from the parents and randomly selected partners for reproduction, and today we used those partners to determine the genotype and phenotype of our F1 generation. As I have been working through the activity this time I have come up with lots of ideas for improvements and expansions....I probably wont have time to do that until Christmas break but if I make big additions the price will go up some so if you are interested buy now and you will end up getting the updates for FREE!

Currently December


It is time for the December issue of Currently! As always I am a bit late linking up but not as late as usual. So here we go...

LISTENING: I can't function without music or noise in the background. I always have either the TV on or music playing on the computer when I am working, cleaning, cooking, even reading. So ever since I was cleaning the house up for Thanksgiving I have been listening to Christmas music. Some days this if from iTunes where I have the "Straight No Chaser" a Capella Christmas album and more than my fair share of Trans Siberian Orchestra. I also love my Pandora account and have at least 3 Christmas stations on there....yeah I'm kinda sorta a Christmas music fanatic. 

LOVING: Well, let's just stick to this Christmas theme. I put in and decorated my Christmas tree this weekend. It's a bit early but last year it was Christmas Eve before I had time to decorate and that was a real bummer. this year I am not taking any chances so I did it while I had the time. And as you may have guesses I listened to Christmas music while decorating!

THINKING: gah I am so behind on grading. I did so well the first part of the school year with keeping up. Right now I am a couple of days behind and grades close on Friday. This weekend is going to be grading palooza at my house. Maybe I should blog less and grade more....

WANTING: I have been very frustrated for basically the last two years about not being able to be back in school. I had everything in the works to start my Masters this summer but my financial aid fell through and I still have started. I want so badly to be starting this, my plan was always to teach for three years and then start my masters.

NEEDING: I think last night MAYBE was the end of this. The pie was gone within a day or two. The end of the turkey was finished off over the weekend. The salad is officially wilted and what is left will be bunny food tonight. I still have crackers and cheese, two cans of unopened cranberry sauce, and pickles galore!

FAVORITE CHRISTMAS TRADITION: My husband is the youngest of 5 kids. All of them are married and all except for us have 2 or more children. Most years at least 4 of the 5 siblings land at his parents house for Christmas and whenever possible all of them are there with their families. It gets very hectic with 12 + adults and 11 children, not to mention whoever for cousins that may pop in. I LOVE IT! We do a big secret Santa exchange where each child has a cousin to get a gift for and each sibling/spouse has another adult to buy for. We all gather in the living room and one by one open gifts and try to guess who was our Santa. It's so much fun and such great time spent with family!