Sunday, April 26, 2015

Weekly Sneak Peak and Secondary Sunday Linky


I'm a planner, when I fail to plan nothing gets done, I get discouraged, and things start to fall apart. Lists are my best friend during the school year, if I don't write it down it might as well not exist.

This past week was school vacation so getting back into the swing of things is always a challenge, especially the closer we get to summer.

MONDAY: I need to hit the ground running  with both of my high school classes. Physical science is making a smooth (hopefully) transition from focusing on velocity and acceleration to forces and more complex systems of motion. My forensic science class has moved rapidly and we are well into our biological evidence topics. This week we are going to be reviewing and wrapping up blood spatter patterns then moving on to DNA.

TUESDAY: We have bus evacuation drills in the morning, which is always so much fun! Hopefully all of the back from vacation kinks get worked out on Monday and Tuesday can be a fairly normal day. Afterschool I need to start working on my chemical inventory - one of the many joys of being the lab manager by default. It is a time consuming process but my storage area needs a clean-up so I will do that at the same time.

WEDNESDAY: In addition to everything else I am a Key Club advisor. This afternoon is our regular meeting and we have a lot to get done. The new Key Club year starts in April and my goal for this year is to be more proactive as an advisor and do better communicating with the officers of the club to make sure they are following through.

THURSDAY: I plan Thursdays to be grade-palooza. I try to grade things throughout the week and get them back to students as quick as possible. On Thursday I try to get caught up on anything that isn't done yet and get grades updated in our online gradebook. I slacked a little in the updating online last semester so I am going to try to do better for the last 7 weeks of school.

FRIDAY: Happy Birthday to me! My only day this week without something during study hall so I hope to get some cleaning and organizing done at the end of the day. It amazes me each week how much clutter I can accumulate in a week! I also try to make sure my plans for the next week are done before I leave school on Friday...this doesn't always happen but it makes the weekend easier when it does.

OK and now for the Linky part....I love Linkies and I haven't done one is ages. If you are looking for some great secondary TpT products or blogs to check out head over to Links and Lattes at the Language Arts Classroom.

Links and Lattes.

I decided to share a product from a favorite new series I have created "Say What?". I love using these short print and go writing prompts with my students. They are great for the start of class, to fill in time when students are done early, to have them do when I have a sum....basically anytime I need something meaningful to fill in 5 or 10 minutes. Plus with common core I am trying to do way more writing in my classroom and this helps me towards that goal. Head over to the linky to see this and tons of resources from other teacher authors/bloggers! Have a wonderful week everyone.

Say What? - Thinking and Writing Using Quotes, Nature of Science

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Elementary Students have "stuff" ...

Yep, "stuff" and they insist on touching me! Last week I watched as the most adorable kindergartener stuck two fingers into her mouth then reached out and grabbed hold on a matchbox car we were using for an activity on motion. I cringed and made a mental note to take the Lysol wipes to the cars before I put them away. In that moment I understood why the elementary teachers were laughing hysterically with a workshop presenter about the "stuff" elementary teachers dealt with.

As a high school teacher I don't often have to deal with this sort of "stuff". But for the last 9 weeks or so I have been traveling down to the elementary wing to teach a STEM special in our K-6 classroom. I have a newfound appreciation for elementary teachers and what they deal with every day. Before I get into details on some of my favorite lessons let's run through some of the unexpected lessons I have learned myself.

  1. Elementary students have "stuff" and they are going to share it. Pack the Lysol wipes and the paper towels and be prepared. They sneeze and drip and cough, I don't see how so much fluid could come out of a human that is so tiny. No amount of "wash your hands please" or "cover your mouth" is going to keep you safe from it all.
  2. If you aren't an elementary teacher but spend any time in their classrooms you are going to become an instant celebrity. I get waved at from the opposite end of the halls, high fives as I pass by, they grab my hand to try to hold it, and more than a few try to get their arms wrapped around me to give me a hug on the way by. I feel like I need a red carpet every time I walk down their hallway now (and some Lysol wipes to deal with #1.
  3. Time management skills mean nothing when it comes to planning for little ones. What I think will take 15 minutes ends up taking 45, and if I think it will take me the whole period to complete they are done in 10. I have learned a whole new meaning to flexibility and thinking on my feet!
  4. Elementary teachers could probably very easily transition into being zookeepers. Like the ones that work with the crazy little monkeys! Teaching one 45 minute class to 12 1st graders takes more energy out of me then the rest of my morning does with 9th and 10th graders.
  5. Teaching elementary is way more rewarding and fun then I could have ever imagined. They light up with each new activity and are so genuinely interested in what we are doing that it amazes me. I don't know that I could ever be cut out to be in an elementary class full time but my short snippets of time each week are pretty awesome....despite all the "stuff".

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Let's Give This Another Go

I've taken another long hiatus from blogging. I've been focusing on my classroom and my family and have set aside some others things for a while. One of my goals for 2015 was to blog at least twice per week so that is going to be my goal starting this week. Plus I have so much to share about the STEM class I have been taking and the elementary STEM special I have been teaching. I also want to branch out and start blogging about other issues related to teaching, gardening, science in general, or whatever strikes my fancy. So, here is the last few months in a nutshell and a sneak peek at some of the post ideas that I am planning.

  • STEM Class: I have been participating in a once a month STEM class hosted by a local education organization. There are around 40 teacher total who are completing the series of classes. The last one is coming up in May and I am going to be sad to be done. We have built helicopters, learned how to run 3-D printers, make stop motion animation movies and much more! A few of these ideas I have already tried out in my classroom and will follow with longer posts about them soon.

  • Elementary STEM "special": By a freak scheduling arrangement I ended up with my first block free this semester. I filled it with a once per week class with grades K-6. With K-3 I have focused on activities that we could complete in one class and were fun while focusing on a science skill or topic. With 4-6 I have done a few projects that spanned a couple of weeks and focused more on engineering design. These have included straw rockets and recycled racers. Based on these I have begun to add elementary products to my TpT store.
Paper helicopters - this was an engineering design project with my 9th graders and then I modified it to make models of plant seed movement (some seeds are "helicopters" and travel in the wind).
Density column activity with 2nd and 3rd grade.

  • UbD lessons: I did a ton of work on my physical science Understanding by Design lessons over the summer and have been teaching from them this year. This has meant a lot of editing and rearranging things as I have figured out what worked and what didn't.
  • Aquaculture: This has been a big research project as I am hoping to one day convert the old family farm into either a hydroponics or aquaponics facility. I have experience raising trout and salmon in my classroom which led me to thinking along those lines. There is so much information online so I am in the process of shuffling through resources and trying to determine what would work best for our area. In the meantime I am making due with my minigreen house set up in the living room. I have microgreens ready to be eaten, about a million tomato plants started, and the pepper plants just went in today. They are a bit late but I am hoping they will catch up.

  • Health: Back in October I started busting my behind with a Beachbody program and coach. It has been an up and down road but I am eating a lot better and being much more active. I've lost around 20 pounds and am planning to do a couple of 5K's in May. I am also looking into doing a charity 10K walk in July.
I'm glad to be back to my blog and excited to make some changes for the better. Stay tuned!