Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Team Teaching, Airplanes, and Eggs

Today, I team taught for what was probably my first time since I've been certified as a teacher.  Obviously, I team taught a good bit during my student teaching and I've quasi-team taught before, letting another teacher add in as they feel necessary, or doing the same in someone else's room.  This time, it was (I hope) more of an equal team.

I started the day off by getting a celebratory picture with some of the boys that play rec league basketball.  I go to as many of their games as I can because I (surprisingly) really enjoy it.  I didn't get a chance to snap a picture with all of them last night, but these fellas are in my first period class, so we snagged one as they left.

See how happy they were to take a picture with me? :p

Third and fourth period, the social studies teacher and I took all of the 7th graders (only two sections) and put them in one room.  We taught a collaborative lesson on the scientific revolution and the scientific method.  One brought about the other, so it all tied in perfectly.  Unfortunately, the kids were NOT cooperative.  For about half the time (45 mins) they were great, but the other 45 minutes or so, they were terrible.  Since they're middle schoolers, the first part went okay, then there was a rough patch, got it all smoothed out, great spot plummeting to a terrible spot, back up to normal, etc.  All in all, it could have gone worse, and I'm not sure yet what could have made it better because I haven't had enough time to over-analyze it yet. 

End results of team teaching:
1. exhaustion
2. the kids know the scientific method steps (or at least they remembered them at the end of class)
3. a foldable for each pair of kids with the steps of the scientific method and an "in your own words" definition and picture for each step.
4. Lots of fun making and flying paper airplanes (all of the experiments they designed were related to paper airplanes).
5. A little hit me with your best shot (cue song here) with the SS teacher, since one of the groups hypothesized that they'd be able to hit him with their airplanes.  (They failed.)
6. A really creative "lab report" of the entire 90 minute class that included all the steps of the scientific method.

Success? Meh.  Maybe next time.

Oh, and for the eggs: One of my kids that has chickens is going to start bringing me eggs when I need them.  Yum, yum, yum!

First dozen came today.  I had to wait about a week because it's been really rainy, and apparently chickens don't lay as many eggs in the rain.  Who knew?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Edible Elements!

This is one of my favorite lessons of all time.  I tried it last year and it was very successful, both with giving me a little behavior leverage and with student learning and comprehension.  After teaching about the periodic table and elements, compounds, and mixtures, I do this lesson.

This is a screen shot of the intro/ modeling I did at the beginning of class.  Then, the kids picked an element with atomic number 1-10 and replicated this on their own paper with their element.  I didn't say anything about NOT using Beryllium, and they were such good workers, none of them took the easy way out and used it. :)  Talk about a happy teacher.  This is a little difficult for them, especially in the construction phase and the rather abstract concepts.  They seemed to comprehend the material and the standard much better after the activity.  In fact, while they were in line at lunch, the math teacher on my team asked some of the kids about what they'd done, and they gave a very good, accurate explanation to him. 

Note: I purposefully don't tell them that the higher the atomic number of the element, the more candy they get to eat.  If they're clever enough to figure that out before the activity, great, but if not, too bad.  Nobody complained about not getting equal amounts of candy....well, probably because they were getting to eat candy FOR A GRADE.  I'll take you through the process. \

I also modeled and did a think aloud (TAP strategy) as I modeled the construction of a hydrogen atom that I kept available for them to look at or use as needed.

The supplies.  I only put a limited amount out to minimize sneaking.
I used: paper towels, toothpicks, marshmallows (nucleus), twizzlers, M&Ms, skittles, and gummy bears.  The candy is easy to change for different candies and is also available in off-brands to be less expensive.  I just used these candies because of twizzler preference and because the gummy bears are easy to stick with the toothpicks.  I tried using frosting as glue one class last year, and it was a gigantic disaster, not to mention the mess and the lack of sanitation involved.

What you need reminders in case you forgot.  I supervised this table today, which I think was helpful to the kids.

Getting supplies.  Only one or two at a time.  The first to finish their designs on paper were the first to get their supplies to cut down on wait time.

In process.

Construction phase.

During the construction.

Woohooo! I did it right!

Good job, guys.

One edible element.  I believe this is Lithium.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I call my students goobers.  At first, they generally thought it was an insult, but they've learned that when I call them goobers, it's a term of affection.  Sometimes, I call them goofy goobers.  I was completely unaware, since I obviously don't spend enough time watching Nickelodeon, that Spongebob and his Bikini Bottom Friends sing a goofy goober song.  This song has caught on in my school, starting with my 8th grade girls and now they all sing it when I call them goobers or goofy goobers.  They make me laugh. :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

My Sweet Children

Yes, my students.  The closest things I have to children are my dog, my cat, my students, and my little cousins. 

Back story: One of my kids was kidnapped by a non-custodial parent earlier this country and taken as far away as you can get and still be in the continental US.  He came back while I was out for grad classes at the end of last week.  I welcomed him back as he walked in the door this morning and he told me that he was "mad" at me because "I wasn't there to welcome him back when he came back to school."  Sweet kid.  During my class, he kept mentioning his time away.  At the end of class, I slipped him a note as I often do with the kids that seem to need to talk that said, "I'm glad you're back.  I'd like to hear about your time away if you want to share it with me some other time."  As he was leaving to get back on the bus, he asked me if he could write all about it for me and bring it to me in the morning.  What a sweet kid.

If you give a moose a muffin...

In my fourth period class, 7 out of twelve students were absent (5 suspended, two sick).  Needless to say, they were much easier to manage than they often are.  I gave them each an airhead as a reward and didn't even make a silly joke about them being airheads.  Apparently, they all like the orange airheads, which is awesome, because nobody else in the middle school does.  One of them, let's call him Johnny, rolled his airhead into a long, thin cylinder, which ended up hanging out of his mouth and looking like a carrot as he viciously bit into it.  He has earned the nickname "Bugs" as in bunny, and seems to really enjoy it.  He was the first in the class to get the airhead reward today, and wanted to make sure that everyone knew that "If you give Ms. G respect and do your work, she'll give you lots of rewards like candy and love you like her own kid."  Sweet, insightful boy.  I do go to bat for my kids, but I'm a lot more likely to do it if they treat me the way that I treat them.  I love that I have a few kids that I have nicknames for, and that they find them so special. :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012


* This post is from mid-last week, and was written in segments.  Sorry for any sudden thought jumps, etc.

I was thinking earlier this evening about writing one of those "Today is why I am a teacher" blogs.  When I got home, I

I just received word that one of my outstanding students from last year attempted to commit suicide.  Thankfully, she was not successful and is now getting help.  She has yet to return to school.  I am wishing, hoping, and praying that her parents withdraw her from that school where all of her issues were enhanced and made so much worse.  I hope that she gets to go into a better school environment than the one that I worked in last year and that she has attended for the last two years.  This really rattled me.  This girl was an ELL.  She moved to the US around Christmas of her 6th grade year, and by the time I got her as a student at the beginning of her seventh grade year, she was speaking very good English.  Our brilliant ELA teacher assigned her a 30 minute tv show in English every day, and by the end of the school year, this girl had a better command of the English language and much better grammar than many high school students in today's world.  She was testing at very high levels, and was happy, helpful, and had sweet friends.  I'm not sure what happened over the course of those few months.  I know that things were getting rough for her in a few areas outside of school, but I can't imagine from what I know that those issues alone would cause her to attempt suicide. Her mother read her diary, and it told of terrible horrors that this girl experienced at school this year.  Bullying is only the beginning.  Apparently, she started having sex at school.  She had multiple partners and the lack of teachers (since they keep quitting and the school is short a few teachers in most grade levels)/ lack of supervision in the school building led to a staff that was oblivious.  The thought of any of my students committing or attempting suicide is enough to make me physically sick.

Since I don't know what else to do, I want to give you guys some homework.  Review whatever you learned about suicide and indicators in your psychology classes.  Be an aware teacher.  Make sure that people are aware of resources such as the suicide prevention lifeline that can be called anytime at 1-800-273-TALK.  Lastly, check out the http://www.afsp.org/ (AFSP).  This website has data, information, fundraisers, etc.  This should never be something that a teen feels necessary.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Who has students that haven't seen Avatar or watched things that have avatars in them? Um, none of us, at least not in the middle school.  I posted awhile back about trying a new classroom management technique, classdojo.  If you haven't read my contemplation about implementing classdojo, you can read it here.  It's a silly name, but it works wonders.  Seriously.  Even for big, goofy, 16 year old 8th graders.  My kids love it, and heaven forbid I forget to use it.  They're trained now.  They know that if you ask for a point, you don't get one, and that you DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES comment on anyone else's points.  I found a way after a little while to reset the running total every day, which made the feedback more manageable because who really wants to be good when they start the day with -3 points and Joe across the room is starting with +4 points.  It's really neat, and I'd recommend it from early childhood all the way up through the middle school.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Invention Convention

It's almost that time of year in sixth grade--- the one with the infamous science invention projects.  Rather than doing a big, bulky, whine-inducing, frustrating science fair tri-fold board and pretending like we're going to trek down to the state capital to present, I'm doing something much more fabulous called the Invention Convention.  The Invention Convention is a huge deal in this area.  Pull any middle school student off the street, and they can probably tell you not only what the Bi-Lo Invention Convention is, but also what their project is/ was and what their favorite projects to see were.  My kids aren't making tri-fold boards, thank goodness! Or thank me, since that was my executive decision. :p  Instead, I'm borrowing an idea I got from my mentor teacher where each kid has a manila folder.  The front, back, and each side of the inner section are assigned a specific item or aspect of the invention.  After completing an Invention Journal and making sure their invention isn't already patented, the kids design this invention on paper, present it to the class (or I will present it for them if they aren't comfortable sharing in front of the class), and have the option to design it in real life, but NOT during class time.  I'm looking forward to showing you guys some of the final projects. :)  Today, all we did was the intro and everybody picked at least 3 ideas for a possible invention.  The research begins....

Clutter Free Life

I'm sure many of you know about the Clutter-Free Classroom project, but I am also attempting to make my life clutter free.  It's difficult, but I'm trying to eliminate things that bog me down and stress me out.  Well, aside from teaching and getting my masters :).

I've come up with some things to help me relax and reorganized at home.

Things that help me relax:
* taking time to do a little yoga first thing waking up and last thing before bed
* talking to my best friends
* game nights and dinners with the gang
* cleaning
* my Mama
* crafting

These are my best friend's living room colors
* a clean bathroom
* a neat kitchen
* my puppy and kitty
* back rubs
* accomplishing my daily goals

Reorganization at home:
* closet cleaning and reorganization
* roomie and I made a massive Goodwill pile (about 4 large boxes and six trash bags full)
* moving the second bookshelf so that I can fill them both
* taking the overflowing crate of grad school books and notes and sorting it
* my new cube thingy.
don't mind the lingering clutter- most is gifts/ outgoing mail

* reupholstering and repainting the chipped, dirty chair I've had since my early teens.

before. stained, dirty material and in desperate need of paint
* making "new" patio furniture from my Aunt and Uncle's old patio furniture- still in progress.
* making an earring holder since they never make it back into the jewelry box but somehow make it onto the hanger

 * a glass of wine, though this is rare

* making presents for my kids
Valentines ready and waiting

 *cooking a yummy meal-- especially when it's organic!

* new craft area, organized by subject matter
*** Note: I still have a ways to go, but I'm definitely making progress.

A day in my shoes

As a middle school teacher, I'm always looking for other middle school teachers to see how my life compares.  Am I doing the right things?  Does anybody have any great ideas I can modify for my classroom, or just use altogether? You get the picture... As a second year teacher and the only science teacher in our entire middle school, I sometimes feel like I'm stranded on a desert island with no way to evaluate myself.  Of course, this isn't true.  I teach at a TAP school, and I get evaluated all the time.  Unfortunately, there's no big way for me to see how my kids are doing compared with other kids in the area or state until the standardized test at the end of the year, and even that isn't the greatest data because only 1/2 of our kids take the science standardized test while the other 1/2 take social studies.  pfffft.  I started lobbying hard for a benchmark test that also correlates benchmark test performance with score predictions for the end of the year standardized tests.  I think this could really help me improve as a teacher and help my students improve their scores as a result.  In my blogging adventures, I found this linky party called a day in my shoes.  This is, though long, not really an atypical day in my shoes.

5:30- Wake up, snuggle in the warm bed for 5-10 minutes while the snooze button is working up to the big, nasty whomp whomp whomp noise it makes.
5:40- Get ready for school
6ish- take the puppy for a walk, clean the kitty litter, and make sure everybody has breakfast and water
6:15- breakfast for me, and grab my lunch
6:30- out the door
7:25- arrive at school, greet everybody in the halls and office on the way up to my room
7:30- turn on the Promethean board, write EQ, Standard, Obj. on the board, get my Get Started! for each grade set up in ActivInspire, and check my email
8:00- check in with teammates and master teacher to see if anything big's going on
8:06- go down to the gym, pick up uniform rack, coat rack, and phone bucket
8:08- set up racks for uniforms and coats, set up duty desk with phone bucket, put breakfast and lunch options on the whiteboard, get out lunch count sheet
8:11- first bus arrives- greet kids at the door to the school, usher in 5 at a time, search pockets and jackets, distribute uniforms
*this continues up to five students at a time until all students have arrived, around 8:45 or 8:50
8:47- make absentee list for the middle school based on remaining uniforms, clean up duty area, head to the gym
8:48- begin supervising morning PT, do breakfast count for my class, send count to cafeteria with a responsible student, make kids do PT right
8:55- take my class from gym to the room, individually hand out breakfasts so that no one steals/ fights over breakfast
(take a deep breath here)
9:00- begin instructional time- teach MoonGlow (phases of the moon) to 8th grade boys until 9:43
9:43-9:46- pack up, line up, and herd 8th grade boys into the hallway for their next class
9:46-10:35- 6th grade- Introduce Invention Convention, show model project, explain what the project will be, get them started on their ideas
10:35- bathroom break for the students, I walk two classes down and drop one of at the computer lab and one off at the gym, pick up the class from the gym, pick my 3rd period up from the computer lab, give these 2 classes an opportunity to get water, and walk back up to my classroom.
10:40-11:30- 3rd Period- trout anatomy and genetics (7th Grade)- at end of class, take students on mini field trip to the large trout tank and do observation/ class wind-up there, bring class back to line up for 4th period
11:30-12:20- 4th Period (7th Grade)- teach trout anatomy and genetics again, distribute stress balls for angry/ frustrated students, try to control whining and behavior before lunch

I did manage to snap some shots of the kids' work today and a few of the kids examining our trout, which are now mostly into the fry stage and out of the alevin stage.

12:20- walk down to lunch, supervise students as they stand silently and in single file line waiting to be served
*pray someone comes down at an opportune time so that I can snag a quick RR break
12:25-12:45- lunch, I attempt to shovel in some food while walking around the cafeteria and keeping students silent (silent lunch)
12:44- tell my 5th period to go dump their trays and line up at the door
12:45- take my 5th period (8th grade girls) out of the cafeteria first, go to the RR with a mirror.  Allow one girl into restroom at a time and try to hurry them while they wash their hands, adjust their uniforms, and try to fix their ponytails.
12:53- back in class for fifth period- pull teeth to get girls to do their bellwork, teach MoonGlow Activity and give notes
We ate airheads as a reward for good behavior.  APparently, I turned into Ms. Smurf, and the kids' mouths were all different colors, which made it very hard to take them seriously.
1:35- get girls cleaned up, line up, walk the girls to group counseling
1:38- send boys into locker room to use the restroom, try to get them to hurry to class, calm them down after a competitive class period of playing basketball, teach another class of 8th grade boys- but no moon glow game, only notes because of bad behavior.
1:45- back in 6th period with another class of 8th grade boys2:22- walk class down to the gym, supervise as everyone changes
2:25- start sorting bags by shirt number and school, then start hanging bags.  Get students to help :)
2:45- all school buses gone, put uniform rack away and detour laundry to the laundry room.
2:47- write the beautiful referrals that are owed to some of the poorer behaved students of my last class
3:00- head to the centrally located middle school in the district for a district-wide 6th grade science teachers' meeting
3:20- fill out special ed eval form (ONLY 125ish questions!!!) while waiting for the meeting to start
3:30- start meeting
5:00- leave meeting to drive HOME :)
5:50- pull into the neighborhood and find two sweet friends on the doorstep.  Turns out, they're helping my roommate pull our new-used tv stand out of her car and up the stairs to our living room.  Bring tv stand in, greet animals, check on dog, and head to impromptu dinner
6:48- head back home, log into the internet for an adobe connect internet class in experimental statistics
7:00- class starts
8:30- class ends :)
8:57 PM- Get an email that snapfish is doing 99 prints for $0.99 and jump on it, plus my 20 free prints that I've saved up.  Bulletin Board of student pictures and my personal collage frame - get ready to be updated!
*After class, write a short paper for experimental stat, read some youth development journals, and tidy up.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I have a big head and little arms

Some of my boys look like t-rexes, especially during PT.  Somebody posted this picture on pinterest, and I had to share, mostly for my own reflection later when I need a laugh.

Facing Giants

** Warning: This post is going to be cheesy, so if that makes you gag, stop reading now.  Otherwise, you get what you get and don't complain.

My kids have started their rec league basketball season.  We don't offer sports at our school, so we have three teams of kids between the middle and high school that are playing in the rec leagues.  They qualify for the 14 & U and the 17 & U age groups depending on the team.  It's a lot of fun to watch, and as usual, I get really into the games because I so want my kids to be successful.

The first game I went to this year was last Tuesday, which was when I started this post.  My eighth graders and some of the high schoolers were playing.  Now, my 8th grade boys aren't small.  Most of them are behind one grade or more, so they're generally the same size as high school boys.  The kids they were playing against made them look so tiny, though.  At one point, two of my boys were getting frustrated and came over to where I was sitting to talk to the Mom of one of the boys and get a drink.  Their quote, "Did you see Michael Jordan and Waka Flocka on the other team????"  Of course we did.  Michael Jordan was the kid that was so fast he could dribble the ball all the way up the court in a matter of seconds, push in, and dunk.  There was a point in time where he did it 3 times in less than thirty seconds, and I felt so bad for my kids.  They were up against kids that are much bigger than them, more trained in the skills of basketball than they are, and just all around more privileged than my average student.  Hence, Facing Giants.

My boys made my heart burst with pride though, because they played a clean game despite the other team's propensity for rough fouls and borderline calls throughout the game.  They were such good sports, didn't use inappropriate language, and even got a long email complimenting them from the ref the day after. :)  So proud!

As I was starting to write this post, I realized that basketball isn't the only way my kids have to face giants, and that made me sad.  Most of my students are fighting an uphill battle every day, and we expect them to become successful, contributing members of society despite all the struggles they face outside of school.  I have students whose family has never owned a car, who have homes that are literally falling down around them, who don't have heat, who don't have parents, who are homeless, etc.  Of course, not all of my students are from these backgrounds, but by and large, they are struggling to face these giant obstacles.  It's a heartbreaker, but I'm so thankful to be able to watch them grow and learn.

And, here are some bball pictures. :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Trout in the Classroom: UPDATED

Confession: I initially wrote this post before Christmas Break sometime, and I thought it was quite good.  It was also very long.  One of the perks to living in mountainous regions is that we have trout in our waters.  There's this super cool nationwide program called Trout in the Classroom that my high school science teaching counterpart did last year and is doing again.  Yes, my school is so small that there is only one science teacher for the entire middle school and one science teacher for the entire high school.  Right before the break, they got the eggs.  We're keeping them in the generally empty aquarium in the lobby of the wschool's office.  I'm not sure how much we'll really get to do with the trout, since I'm certainly not a trout expert.  So far, the kids have pre-tested, we've been through the egg stages, and we've done some research and a few activities as a class introducing the trout to our life.  It's great because my room is decorated in a beach theme, so even though trout are freshwater fish, they fit in pretty well.  It's also great because many of my country boys love to fish and some of them actually have a good working knowledge of fish trivia.  These lessons are designed on a seventh grade curriculum, but they're not in a typical lesson plan format.  They all line up with state standards, but I haven't gotten organized enough to show that yet.

For those of you that haven't read Trout in the Classroom, it's an overview of this fantastic nationwide program.  I'm lucky enough to teach in areas where trout are abundant, and my kids LOVE fishing, especially my boys.  Many of them are very knowledgeable about fish, and one actually makes a hobby of "trouting" as he calls it.  I'm gonna try one last time to get you my overview, and as we go, I'll make notations of how it works in my room.

 Trout in the Classroom 7th Grade

Trout Time:
Once a week (approximately) we will spend our class studying the trout.

Trout Tank Update:
Each morning two students come in on a rotation basis to check pH, ammonia, temperature,and look for dead eggs or fish. They record all data in a notebook and update the information on a bulletin board that was decorated for Trout in the Classroom. They also post the survival numbers on a sign called Trout Count. This bulletin board is where the students get their information for their journal updates.
*In our case, the high school students do most of the monitoring, but my kids are still curious about the progress the trout are making in their life cycle.

Each student keeps a trout journal where we diagram or illustrate, keep data and write journal entries.

Lesson One – Tank Set – Up
1. Journal Set Up
2. Draw tank set up and label parts.
3. Draw an egg.
a. Place an egg in a Petri dish at each student group. Allow the students to observe
and sketch the egg. Do not leave the egg out long because the temperature will
4. Discuss how the tank mimic’s a trout’s natural environment.
a. Aerator – high oxygen content
b. Chiller – cold mountain water
c. Filter – clean water
d. Pump – moving water
e. Gravel – camouflage for eggs and fish
5. Discuss Tank Tests
a. pH – Allow students to do a pH test of the water at their groups.
b. Ammonia – Teacher models how to do the ammonia test.
c. Looking for Dead Eggs or Fish – Discuss fungus and why the eggs should be
removed before the fungus spreads.
d. Explain student checks – Train two students to check the pH, Ammonia,
Temperature, and look for dead eggs or fish. The students track this in a
notebook for tank tests and trout mortality. These tests must be done each day.
Students are in charge of training each other. One student rotates off while
another rotates on to learn each day.
6. Update Trout Data in Journal
7. Journal Entry: How does our tank mimic a trout’s natural environment?

Set up some type of notebook as the student’s trout journal. This is where the student will journal,collect data and illustrate.
Weekly Update
pH: Range:
Trout Count:
This is whereyou sketch,diagram, or graph

Lesson Two: Trout Life Cycle
1. Draw Life Cycle in journal – See page 5.
2. Compare Trout life cycle to the human life cycle
a. Eggs = Fetus
b. Alevin = Infant
c. Fry = Toddler
d. Fingerling = Child/Teen
e. Adult = Teen/Adult
3. Life Cycle Game – See page 6
4. Discuss survival rate of trout.
a. If 2000 eggs are deposited in the wild, then roughly 200 eggs will make it to adult
b. Discuss why the eggs will not live. (predators, pathogens, not fertilized, etc.)
5. Update Trout Data in Journal
6. Journal Entry: How will our survival rate in the tank compare to the survival rate in the
Write birth announcements and or obituaries.

Trout Life Cycle

Life Cycle Game
Life Cycle Game
a. Each student chooses a number 1-6.
1. It just rained and you died when the pesticides that the farmer sprayed on his crops
near your home washed into your stream.
2. Congratulations! You hatched!
3. Congratulations! You hatched!
4. The weather has been extremely warm recently, heating the water to 65 degrees.
That is too warm for trout eggs.
5. You weren’t even fertilized.
6. Congratulations! You hatched!
b. Hatched eggs remain standing.
c. Those students choose a number 1-6
1. Congratulations! You have completely absorbed your yolk sac!
2. Your yolk sac burst when something hit it.
3. Heavy rain washed a bunch of sediment into the stream and covered you up.
4. A dragonfly larva ate you.
5. Congratulations! You have completely absorbed your yolk sac!
6. You were born with a genetic mutation that causes you to die.
d. Fry/Fingerlings remain standing.
e. Those students choose a number 1-6
Fry, Fingerling:
1. A larger fish gobbled you up.
2. An algal bloom used up all the oxygen in your stream.
3. Acid rain caused the pH of the stream to drop below 6.5.
4. You ended up as Hunter Garrett’s dinner.
5. Bad news! There aren’t enough resources to support the whole population of trout.
The carrying capacity has decreased, and you died of starvation.
6. Congratulations! You have reached maturity and are able to reproduce. Go forth
and multiply!

Lesson Three: Trout Anatomy
1. Start off drawing the body of a trout on the board and let the kids finish it as a class.
It usually comes out looking something like this…
2. Misconceptions or things they forget/don’t know to include…
Dorsal fin-used for protection and to
keep vertical balance in water
Operculum-there is only ONE, and it isn’t
the same as the gills. Gills are internal,
operculum is external. Sharks do have
multiple gill flaps, but regular fish do not.
Nare-used for smelling
(not breathing)
Scales-point to the back of the fish. If they pointed
forward, they would cause friction/drag as the fish
swam. Scales are also the reason why fish show
colors and countershading (light on bottom, dark on
Pelvic fins (2) and anal fin
(1)-used for protection and to
keep vertical balance in
Lateral Line-the 6th sense of a fish.
Allows the fish to sense vibrations in the
water. This is why it’s soooo hard to
catch a fish with your hand or a net. It’s
also the reason why fish can keep a tight
formation while they school.

3. Anatomy Song (sung to the tune of Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes)
Dorsal, Pectoral, Pelvic, Caudal, Pelvic, Caudal
Dorsal, Pectoral, Pelvic, Caudal, Pelvic, Caudal
There’s the lateral line
Operculum and gills
Dorsal, Pectoral, Pelvic, Caudal, Pelvic, Caudal
***And don’t forget the anal fin!***
Dorsal (hands together held at back of head)
Pectoral (flap like a chicken)
Pelvic (hands waving on either hip)
Caudal (point to toes/legs)
Lateral line (hands run down either side of body)
Operculum (hands on cheeks and flap back and forth)
Gills (hands on cheeks with fingers wiggling)
Anal Fin (turn around, bend over, and wiggle hands on bottom)
4. Based on the trout anatomy, what is its feeding niche?
• Bottom feeder? top feeder? right-in-front-of-it feeder?
• Ambush predator or predator that chases its food?
Bottom feeders have mouths that point downward. (ex: catfish)
Top feeders have mouths that point up. This does not mean they feed only on
the surface of the water…just that they feed on what is above them. (ex:
Middle feeders (right-in-front-of-it feeder) have mouths
that point forward. (ex: bass)
Ambush predators usually have a large, flat caudal fin.
Predators that chase their food usually have more of a
forked caudal fin. (ex: tuna, sharks)
Trout feeding niche: They tend to be ambush predators that feed on insects
and other fish that are right in front of them. This does not mean they cannot
feed off of insect on the surface of the water, because they certainly do. It only
means that they have to angle their body towards the surface so that they won’t
miss their prey.
5. Internal Anatomy
Major differences from human anatomy:
• 1 intestinal tube versus small/large intestines
• Gills versus lungs
• 2 chambered heart versus 4 chambered heart
• Brain is most developed for senses rather than thinking/decision making
• Presence of swim bladder
6. Update Trout Data in journal
7. Journal Entry: Write about the changes that you have observed in our fish so far.

Lesson Four: Trout Genetics
1. Review Genetic Terms
a. Heterozygous/Homozygous
b. Allele
c. Trait
d. Gene
e. Phenotype/Genotype
2. Genetic Activity – See page 11.
3. Draw a Punnett Square for the back shape trait in Journals.
4. Update Trout Data in Journal
5. Journal Entry: How does your class percentages for body shape compare to what youwould find in the wild (Punnett Square)?

Trout Genetics
Student work in partners
• Copy of chromosomes –
One male copy of dominant and one male copy of recessive (blue paper).
One female copy of dominant and one female copy of recessive (pink paper).
• Envelope to hold the chromosomes
• Copies of trout bodies and traits (printed on tan and gray paper)
• Pink and blue construction paper
• Glue Sticks
• Scissors
• Copies of traits, offspring traits, and classroom total tables
1. Imagine two of your classroom’s trout surviving and maturing over the next three years.
These two parents will spawn and produce a number of offspring.
2. Discuss that each parent is heterozygous for each trait.
3. Review the eight traits that our spawning trout carry. Also go over the sex
4. Each student gets an envelope with the chromosomes.
5. Students arrange both the male and the female chromosomes face down in pairs
according to trait (and length). The letter symbol for each trait should not be visible.
Keep the male and female chromosomes separate at this step.
6. Each student must randomly pick one chromosome from each of the nine groups.
7. Students fill out the offspring’s genotypes in the table. Students refer to the trout traits
table to find the resulting phenotype the fry has for each genotype.
8. Students then make their fish based on the offspring’s traits. To identify the offspring’s
sex, glue the fish to either pink or blue construction paper.
9. Students name their fish and place it in the “school” of other fish. (Bulletin Board)

Name ___________________________
Student Worksheet

Chromosome Master (Dominant)

Chromosome Master (Recessive)

Sex Chromosome Master (Female)

Sex Chromosome Master (Male)

Rounded Back

Smooth Back

Parr Marks

Parent Trout

Lesson Five: Trout Web
1. Draw an example of a trout food web.
snake eagle Bear

salamanders crayfish mosquitoes
fish snail worms (decomposer)
2. Bear, Trout, Mosquito – See page 23
3. Update Trout Data in Journal
4. Journal Entry: “When you try to change a single thing, you find it hitched to everything
else in the universe.” – John Muir
What does this quote mean in relation to our trout?

Bear, Trout, Mosquito Game
This active game is a fun way to reinforce the food-chain relationships of trout to their
predators and prey. It is best played outdoors or in a large, open space. It is a combination of
tag and the well-known game, Rock, Paper, Scissors. Instead of using only hands to create the
symbols, the players use their entire bodies.
Place boundary lines (such as jump ropes) on the field about 60 feet apart. Place a third
midline in the center of the two boundary lines.
Divide the group in half. Have the two groups face each other with the one group on each side
of the midline.
Decide on three distinct motions (and sounds) to represent a bear, trout and mosquito. For
example: bears roar and flash their claws, trout put their arms over their head and squiggle,
and mosquitoes buzz and flap their arms. Discuss the dietary relationships of these predators
and prey (bear eat trout, trout eat mosquitoes, and mosquitoes eat bear).
Each group huddles and decides on an animal to “be”. The entire group must be the same
animal. The groups then line up along the center line again, this time with their backs towards
the other team. On the count of three, the groups all yell “Bear, Trout, Mosquito!” then turn
around and make the motion for their chosen animal. The predatory group must then chase
the prey group. The prey must turn around and run to their habitat (boundary line behind
them). If anyone is tagged before reaching his/her habitat, the participant must join the team.

Lesson Six: Trout Data
1. Update Trout Data in Journal
2. Create data table of trout survival over the last six weeks, then use that data to graph
Graph trout survival for the last six weeks
a. Use a line graph
b. Make sure to include title, labels, scale
Survival Rate of (Students') Trout
Trout Survival

3. Let’s say we allowed Ms. Green to fish in our fish tank. Add weeks seven and eight to
your graph with the human population and the new estimated trout population.
4. Journal Entry: Describe the changes you have seen in the fish from day one. Make sureto include the following:
a. Survival Rate – compared to what you thought it would be in the beginning.
b. Where are our trout in their life cycle now?
c. Would we still have this many fish if they were in the wild?
Graph Trout Data using Box and Whisker Plots

Lesson Seven: Hatchery Trip
1. Field Trip to a Fish Hatchery (we go to Walhalla Fish Hatchery).
2. Possible Activities
a. Hatchery Tour
b. Trout Dissection
c. Owl Pellet Dissection
d. Macroinvertebrate Investigation
e. Fishing
3. Update Trout Data in Journal
4. Journal Entry: Describe what you saw and learned at the fish hatchery.

Lesson Eight: Release
1. Possible release field trip or video of the release.
2. Update Trout Data in Journal
3. Journal Entry: Pretend you are one of our trout; write an essay describing your life from
egg at the hatchery to being released by DNR.
Research topic on trout and create a commercial
about trout and the economy.
How do trout affect South Carolina economic
Discuss effects of “New Deal” (Walhalla Fish
Hatchery was built)
Discuss economics of trout being stocked in SC.

Daily Trout Inspection
Week of:

Daily Trout Inspection
Week of:

Trout Mortality
Dead Eggs
Total # Live

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Trout Guide
Trout Unlimited: Trout in the Classroom
Idaho Trout in the Classroom
Bare Books

** As a side note, the kids literally ask AT LEAST once a day if they can check on the trout.  It's pretty cool that they're so interested.  

Lesson 1: Intro.  I did a modified version of this while I was out for a PD day and then did follow-up the at the beginning of the next class.  Captured their interest and was great.

Lesson 2: Trout Life Cycle-  My kids tried SO HARD to make everything perfect, and found it quite enjoyable.  We used the Promethean board to outline the life cycle together, but all the drawings and the paper representations were theirs for interpreting and creating the details.

Lesson 3: Trout Anatomy--- The singing wasn't a big hit, but I also teach in an alternative school.  Some of the kids attempted to create a little rap, and that was pretty successful, but all in all, the lesson worked and they enhanced what they already know about fish.