Monday, July 22, 2013

I'm Back...

Ok, so I'M BACK! I know I know, I've been gone a while. Yes, a ridicilously long while in blogger world but life threw me a whammy for about a year and half and I needed to focus on those issues and my two beloveds. Anyway, things are looking much better and I am truly blessed.

On another front I am terribly saddened to report that I am no longer teaching 7/8 grade science only.  Long story short... I got surplussed and had to take another job in my school district. I'll be teaching 6/7 math and science, hence the blog name change. OMG! Now I have to start caring about the common core everyone has been talking my head off about. (You should hear a great big Charlie Brown ARGH!! in the background.) But I've accepted the challenge and have been reading like a mad scientist  in order to get myself up to speed.

I've been reading lots of cool blogs since summer break started and have become inspired to rekindle my blogging journey. But blogging can be a bit time consuming and tedious. (Looking out my side eye I can see my friend laughing out loud.) So I'm going to make a concerted effort this next school year to blog at least once a week. I think that's fair for me and you. In addition to reading the common core feverishly I also decided I really need to improve my classroom management skills, so I'm reading for the first time, drum roll please, Fred Jones - Tools for Teaching. I can't believe this was not apart of my classroom management course in college. I have got to figure out who I need to call to demand my money back for that class, what a ripoff. Yes, I do still have a not used enough copy of Harry Wong, which I will also be rereading before school starts, but I am impressed with Mr. Jones thus far. I'm only on chapter  2 which seems like chapter 192 on a kindle but I'm chugging along with every bit of free time I get.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

First Day Back

Today was surprisingly quiet.  No hiccups and very little disruption made for a great first day back. I attended a very helpful professional development yesterday and hope I can really use what I learned this school year. Although I do hate that the district put earth science first this year, physical science is always so much fun at the beginning of the year.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Back to School Already!

I can't believe it's time to go back to school already. Another year of teaching 7th and 8th grade science, Hip Hip Hooray!

Last school year when I first started teaching middle school science I put all of my lesson plans, worksheets, etc. for each unit into separate binders, which I am so happy I did. So I spent the summer working on updating and upgrading my unit binders, I have about 10 now. The task has been quite tedious, especially since I have two kids under 4 who require a great deal of attention. So out of the 10 binders I am still working on 4 and with school staring on the 22nd you can imagine how anxious I am feeling about not being fully prepared. But I'm sure I'll get done in time (fingers and toes crossed).

For this school year I've decided there are a few things I really want to focus on.
      The first being getting a better handle on my life science units. There are only about 5-7 standards and for me personally they seem a bit ambiguous and too broad. So I'm going to try to find some other teacher(s) to work with so I can do a better job on that this year.
      Secondly, I really want the students to do a lot more with their science notebooks. I started out really good last year, I promise I did, but fell off in the middle of September and got preoccupied with the other "company" crap. But this year we are going to be deep into our notebooks, lots of writing.
      Lastly I have diligently spent all summer working on updating my foldable collection. Last year the students really enjoyed the foldables we made for our Earth and Space science units. I've even gotten the Math teacher hooked and she's purchased a couple of Dinah Zike's books. This summer I purchased Dinah's Life Science Notebooking Foldables along with the two Physical Science books about Forces/Motion and Energy. They are inexpensive and worth the investment. I was so happy when they came in the mail. I also purchased the Plate Tectonics Geoblox book. It cost a bit more but it's made by a teacher in Texas, gotta support his entrepreneurial spirit. The book includes paper drawings that can be folded into 3-D models On the website you're even provided with sample pages so you can try some of the models before you buy.

Consider checking out these resources this year as you enhance your student's learning with hands-on activities that keep them engaged and help them retain information. I will be sure to post pictures of my foldables as the school year progresses.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I'm already thinking about what to do different, the same, and better for next year. I brought all of my binders home so I could reorganize, separate, and sort... all summer long.

I love watching the Big Bang Theory! I'm even gonna get a Sheldon poster I saw at Walmart and put it up next to my desk at school.

You may be wondering what did that previous statement have to do with thinking about next year, it seemed so random. Well, I was watching a rerun episode today on TBS and they showed some very bad use of science lab equipment and use of lab materials and equipment to play pranks. Including having drinks out in an area where other chemicals (quite dangerous I might add) were being used. Which got me to thinking, "Hmm... I bet I could use this episode to teach science safety next year." So I went on Youtube, good old youtube, and found the very 6 minutes and 22 seconds of the episode that I needed. Isn't the internet great! Thought I would attach for your enjoyment.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Side note: If you watch the Big Bang Theory, then you'll know I'm not using the title phrase in the correct context, but since this school year has kinda been a joke for me... I find it appropriate at this time.

Sorry I haven't written in a while. I have been way too busy and too tired to even think about blogging. I failed to mention in the beginning that in addition to my science courses, I was made to teach 7th grade language arts this school year after we lost a teacher at the beginning of the year. Mind you,  I am not certified to teach language arts. So anyone who has been in a similar situation knows how difficult it is to teach another subject you have no training for. And then still be expected to get 80% of your students to make at least one years worth of growth and score proficient or better on the state tests. (I'm able to write you now, because they students are finally taking their state tests) Keep in mind, however, that 50% of my class has IEPs with most reading on a 5th or 6th grade level.

I didn't mention this earlier because I didn't want this blog to be about me just venting about how upset I am about this scenario. But the real problem for me arose when trying to plan language arts was getting in the way of planning for and teaching science. So frankly I have been a mess all year.

And by the by, next year my district is eliminating some 200+ positions, thank God mine wasn't one of them, but this might mean that I'll have to teach 6/7/8th grade classes next year. With at least two out the four classes being split between two grades. So to say the least I'm a little stressed, this isn't exactly what I  I signed up.

In addition, my personal life has been an even bigger mess than my professional. By the end of the calendar year I will probably no longer by a mrs.

But on a lighter note, I love working with my team members. Together I've got at least 80+ years of experience to glean from on a regular basis and we get along quite well.

Science club is working on a community service project of planting flower gardens around the school campus. And I just ordered several books from Dinah Zike.  Can't wait use all of the cool foldables next year.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Nickel and Dime

Nothing much as been happening in my neck of the woods. Science club is keeping me on my toes. Last week the students attempted Steve Spangler's Borax Crystal Star. Some of them got a little too happy with the food coloring and the measurements of the Borax were off, but they came out OK.

Then the principal asked if I'd be interested in being an advisor for a team of students to participate in this years local Basal Wood Bridge Building contest. I am really excited. The architect talked to the students this week, which is a whole month late, but he said they could still get done before the April deadline. I am too excited to see what the students produce. Pictures will surely be forth coming.

Lastly, on the 8th grade Plate Tectonics test last week, I had the best laugh and I mean laugh out loud, gotta go tell 2 or 3 more teachers laugh.

Extended Response: Describe the different properties of the four layers of the Earth- specifically, inner/outer core, mantle, and crust.
DJ's response: The inner core and outer core and made of silicon, iron, nickel, and dime.

No credit given for silicon, but yes, I was wondering what he thought dimes were made out of.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Meep Meep!

Here's our Science Club mascot. Beeker was a wonderful and appropriate find that has added some interesting humor to my science class. Other students not even in science club have affectionately named him, Darwin. The students have grown attached to him and even call him their brother. They find ways to pose him in funny positions around the classroom. Aside from Beeker or Darwin, whatever you want to call him, science club has been a wonderful and fulfilling experience.  I have enjoyed not feeling the pressure of teaching. And since the students know being in the club has no earthly effect on their classroom grade they seem more OK with taking risks and making mistakes. The challenge sometimes is finding the materials and even the activities. Only one meeting in November and December bides me a little more time.
Looking for you own Darwin, check out