Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Packing Up!

All good times must come to an end. This week I have begun to pack up my classroom. sad face. sad face. sad face.  At the end of the school year, I am leaving the school I am currently at. My husband and I both grew up in the same hometown, and both of our families still live in the area. When we first married four years ago, we moved away from our hometown for my husbands job. Three hours away makes it a nuisance to drive back for every birthday party, anniversary party, and family event. So, when my husband got a job offer in our hometown, we put our house on the market and packed our bags. But, now, I am on the dreaded job hunt.  I know its early. Its only April. I just highly dislike the job hunt. If I could, I would pick up my current school and move it to my hometown. I love my school. the students. the teachers. everything about it, but all good things must come to an end. What about you? Have you changed schools at all? What made the process easier?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day

With Earth Day being today, there was a lot of buzz about conserving our Earth! I am a huge advocate of being "green", and the more I learn about it, the more committed I am to the cause. Earth Day came with perfect timing this year because we just finished our Wind Turbines! I also think it is important to talk to the kiddos about the 3Rs. Our school is huge into recycling paper. Kids will remind each other to recycle paper instead of throw it away. We also talk about conserving energy. We are fortunate to have HUGE windows in our classrooms. So when the sun is shining, we let it shine on in! We turn off a couple lights, and you never realize that they were once on! There are also some things I have tried at home - cloth napkins, reusable cloth shopping bags, and composting. I am inspired by this family who only has one quart of trash a year! ONE QUART, PEOPLE! That's crazy! crazy awesome! Anyways, what do you do to reduce, reuse, recycle?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

STEM?

During the past year, I have been working on my masters. Kudos to anyone/everyone who has finished their masters. Geez, it's a lot of work! I am in the progress of getting my masters in Curriculum and Instruction from the American College of Education. With a few months left, I can say that I have really loved the program. I love the flexibility that an online degree offers, and I feel that I have truly become a better teacher because the assignments were super applicable to my classroom. The class that I am currently taking is centered around action research. In the next four weeks, I am going to study the effects that STEM projects have on my students' learning. Now- that may sound crazy obvious! The students are applying their newly-learning science concepts... true. The students are engaging in real-life problems... true. The students are learning engineering skills. true.true. and true. But what measurable effects does STEM have? How can you show that STEM education is amazing through hard data? I am a lover of all things STEM because I can see how awesome it is in the classroom with my own two eyes. Last week, a student was sad that he was going on vacation to the Caribbean because he didn't get to build wind turbines! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? lol! I can see that they love it and it is 1000% engaging. However, I need to be able to back up what I see with my eyes on paper with real data. Anyways, for the next few weeks, I will be posting about the advantages and disadvantages of STEM with hard data about student learning. What do you track when you do STEM projects? How do you track it?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Wind Turbine Showcase Part II

Happy Friday! Today is the official start of our spring break, AND the weather is awesome! Can you beat that? Today, the kiddos finished up their wind turbine, and they had some awesome, really unique designs! If you missed part I of this blog post, click here. Enjoy the pictures and video! You can find the complete student packet here to begin your own wind turbine project!

video








Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wind Turbine Showcase Part I

Wind Turbines? Im a big fan! Toooo punny! Okay, I'll stop. Anyways, wind turbine construction is taking longer than normal in the 7th grade this year. So, I only have a couple of pictures of completed turbines. I am amazed at all of the different designs that the students have come up! Normally, we watch a short PBS video about standard horizontal axis wind turbines, and the kids generally come up with the same idea. This year, I switched it up a bit, and the kiddos had to research horizontal and vertical axis turbines. I never told them anything other than explaining what a horizontal and vertical axis turbine was with my hands. But, anyways, here you go! I'm so proud of them!



It's a WIIIIINDY day in 7th grade!

I have been excited for this week for a loong time. Not only because it is the week before spring break (yahhhooo!), but also because it is.... (drum roll pleassse) wind turbine week! I have become a HUGE fan of clean energy. My husband and I are beginning to build our home this summer, and I would love to go off the grid if we had an unlimited budget. Anyways, since there will be no wind turbines and solar panels on our new home (yet), I wanted to spread my love to wind turbines to the class.. and I guess teach them a thing or two about energy conversions and engineering design. Yesterday, students spent all day researching two different types of wind turbines: horizontal axis and vertical axis. Today, they spent most of their time in planning and the little time they had left constructing their turbine. They only get X amount of dollars to spend on materials for their turbine. The goal of their turbine is to lift 10 pennies 30 cm off the ground. I will be back tomorrow with pictures of all of the crazy awesome designs that they come up. Because it is the week before my spring break and I'm feeling super awesome about it, I'm also going to put the entire packet for this project free on my website for a week! Have a great rest of the week!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Clap Along if You Feel Like a Room Without a Roof!

One of my favorite things to do is listen to music, play music, sing along to music. I have always loved music. I feel like it creates a very happy and fun vibe in the classroom. Obviously, I want the kids to listen to school appropriate, even motivating music! Here are some tunes that I have on my school playlist that I jam to in my classroom: Happy! by Pharrell Williams Stereo Hearts by Gym Class Heroes Good Feeling by Florida and some oldies... Best of My Love by The Emotions Can't Buy Me Love by The Beatles I Can't Help Myself by The Four Tops I Got You by James Brown Little Bitty Pretty One by Thurston Harris I am a lover of all music, but I honestly feel like the older music works best for a learning envrionment because the kids still get that "fun vibe" feeling, but they honestly are not as excited and dancing to the new music... like Good Feeling. I'm not trying to go all granny here, but I do feel like I will only add more very upbeat and older music to my playlist. With that said, I love listening to music in the classroom, especially right now as they are constructing their wind turbines... more on that tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Frog Dissection: 3 Days In

I am in love with frog dissections! Today, we dissected the internal structures of the frog, and I love how the kids are so engaged and intrigued by everything they see! They are so amazed and so excited to learn each system of the body. We dissected and learned about two systems today: digestive and circulatory. I feel like this is the most engaging way by far to teach the relationship between cells, tissues, systems, and the body, which is standard LS1-3 that states "Use argument supported by evidence for how the body is a system of interacting subsystems composed of groups of cells". Anyways, I have fallen in love with frogs! I totally recommend frog dissections to any life science middle school teachers who are leery about this activity!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Frog Dissection: It's a ribbeting day!

Who knew 10 years ago I would be standing in a formaldehyde-smelling room taking out frog tongues? SURPRISE! Yesterday and today, we dissected the external parts of the frog. On Monday, they made observations about the dorsal (new vocab word) and ventral (new vocab word) sides of the frog. Today, we dissected and learned about the anatomy of a frog's mouth. But, we are getting to the heart of the frog dissection tomorrow and the rest of the week. I recently stumbled across an AMAZING website that guides you through the internal systems of the frog. One reason that I love it so much is because it is very difficult for kids to see what I am talking about when I point to one tiny aspect on one tiny frog. We are using northern leopard frogs by the way. This website takes you step-by-step through the process of each system of the frog.  Anyways, I thought I would share my little bit of heaven website:
http://www.mhhe.com/biosci/genbio/virtual_labs/BL_16/BL_16.html

This website is wonderful! Do you dissect? If so, what do you dissect? I have heard that the bullfrogs are SO much better than the leopard frog to dissect, but I don't know if it is worth the $$.. What are your thoughts?