Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pumpkin Genetics

My middle schoolers have been begging to do some Halloween-y things in the classroom.  It doesn't help that school picture day is on Halloween, so they can't dress up for school unless their parents are okay with that picture going in the yearbook.  Last week, I was planning to do a smiley face genetics activity- flip 2 coins for dominant and recessive alleles and determine the genotype and phenotype of several traits, then draw your results as a smiley face.

We got to the drawing part and the kids were loving it, but the first group asked if we were going to do anything for Halloween.  In a flash of inspiration, our activity became pumpkin genetics.  The kids thought it was SO cool, and it took me literally no extra effort.  Since most of them ask me to draw outlines anyway, instead of drawing face outlines, I outlined a pumpkin for them.  It turned out cute, and I hope to be able to use it again in the future. :)
PS- I'm pretty sure my pumpkins are almost identical to my apples.

And then we had a pep rally...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's that time of year...

...where things are starting to get really hectic.  I'm beginning to be a bag lady again, giving the appearance of moving into and out of school every day.  I finally figured out how to get my laptop hooked up to the internet at school, so I'm bringing that in most days now, and I'm bringing home more and more resources that I'm taking back to use for class.  All my advanced planning is gone, because my flash drive went through the washer and the dryer.  I'd gander that a little more than half of my things are saved elsewhere, but even just pulling them all together is time consuming.  I feel like I've got a few too many pots going right now.  I'm starting my last actual class of my masters program next week :D.  I keep thinking I'm going to write and tell you funny and wise things, but right now, my mind is full of riddles and lesson plans and science olympiad practice tomorrow and the sorority recruitment that I will be advising tomorrow evening through Sunday, plus all the things I need to do to be ready for next week.

Here's a riddle: What's round on the outside and hi in the middle?
Get it? I didn't either.... o HI o.  Ohio, where I hope my kiddos will get to compete in the 2013 National Competition for Science Olympiad. :)

Food: Still loving it, eating too much processed, but still managing to eat real food at least 2 meals a day.  My biggest weakness right now? Comfort food....sometimes, you just want an ice cream.  Luckily, a lot of candies taste gross to me now, and I don't have any desire to eat most of them. :)  Yay avoiding the Halloween candy!

Teaching: I'm already thinking about getting started on my "Your teacher is thankful for you because..." Thanksgiving notes to the kiddos.  With 140, it'll take me a good hunk of time.

Season: I'm loving this weather.  I just wish I had time to drive up to the mountains and take in the sights, smells, and sounds.   Maybe the weekend after Halloween, when I hope to have some time to relax.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Desk Bandit

Somebody snuck this into my desk on Friday after car riders were dismissed.  I found it this morning.  What a great surprise! :)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Science Olympiad

Alright, all you science teachers or science olympiad volunteers out there... this year I'm coaching 2 events: Experimental Design and Crimebusters.  I need ideas for how to help the kids practice and learn.  (I've never coached something like this before- it's not very athletic unless you count mashing the buzzer first.)  What kinds of things should I do with them? We've got 1-2 hours once a week for each event, and our first competition is in January.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wonderful Wednesday!

Today has been a truly wonderful day, even though it's been incredibly busy.  I should honestly be trying to add to my research paper, but right now, I just need a break.

The planets seemed to align for me today.  I had my first of 8 formal observations this morning.  We get observed all the time, but only 8 'count.'  I got to schedule this one since it was the first of the year, and I chose to do it during first period even though I prefer to have taught the lesson and worked through the kinks before I get observed.  It was a gamble, and it paid off.  If only my scores can stay this high all year. :)  I'm sure that they won't as observations never come on the best days, and this lesson went far better than I'd expected... the kids almost made it too easy for me.  Except for the ones who ignored the observer and acted just like they do every other day that they aren't in ISS....

We had such a cool day all day today.  My 7th grade science students did strawberry DNA extraction.  I've actually never done it with students before, and they handled it well.  Even my non-readers and non-English speakers were able to learn and make connections/ inferences today.

Kneading the strawberry.
You should have seen his face when I pulled the DNA out of his project cup.
Everything has DNA even a dead deer.
Glad he remembered the 'all plant and animal cells have DNA' chat
My 8th graders got to meet a man from the SC House of Representatives, Mike Pitts.  He was phenomenal with the kids.  Apparently, he makes day trips to schools all over the state as he's invited.  No campaigning, of course-- but he came to show the kids how a bill goes through the legislative process.  He did a different bill each class -- ours was a texting and driving bill -- it started with the sub-committees and worked its way up.  There were three teachers there, and my kids got to be members of the House and Senators.  They had a blast- and their questions were great.  Pitts gave one of my boys some sort of authentic coin- didn't get to check them out because we had to rush to their next class- and then took some of them away when one of my girls made a really great point about the need for taxes and gave them to her.

surplus of produce

I got to stop by the farm on my way home, which is one of the best things about Wednesday.  I love the farm! And my farmer! And cooking experiments.

And of course, I came home all happy and exhausted from a day full of labs and politicians to find my new futon mattress sitting on the back patio. :)  I don't think I mentioned it, but the man of the house, my Artie, had a kidney infection a couple of weeks ago and his 'comfort place' is apparently my futon. and my living room rug.  I couldn't get the smell out and after a few weeks of misery, decided to suck it up and buy a nice, new mattress.  Now, to slowly make covers for the throw pillows since they're currently the same color as the futon.

the present...safely protected from the man of the house
flowers from the farm
(and some roses from one of the school boys in Charleston)

Sorry this is so long, but I wanted to share my wonderful Wednesday with you!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Make a Face!

I've been working REALLY hard on finding more ways to keep the kids moving in my classroom this year.  Bless the teachers around me for not complaining when it isn't always successful and sometimes gets so loud!  The motivation for all this extra movement is that I have a ton of diagnosed ADD/ ADHD kiddos that aren't on medication.  I thought that I had a lot off ADD/ ADHD at the alternative school, but alternative school ain't got nothin' on this.  Maybe it's the lack of medication?  I don't know. Anyway, if we don't move around, we all go crazy and Ms. Green gets grouchy.  If Mama ain't happy ain't nobody happy applies in the classroom too some days.  I try to avoid getting grouchy at all costs, but too much chaos can almost always set it in motion.

We've been reviewing energy transformations (like in the photosynthesis and respiration feedback loop).  We were talking about mechanical energy and the kids were too wired to sit still but also too wired to successfully move around without shenanigans.  I knew I needed to do something, so we made faces to show movement.  It was great... we went around one at a time and shared at least one face.  Of course, I modeled a few first.  Every single kid participated...even the girl that refuses to speak out loud.  My angels were sweet to everybody else and the classroom was an open, accepting place.  It went so well that I added it into the official lesson plan for the rest of the day.  Another movement success without the kids ever having to leave their seats. :)

If anybody has any suggestions for more ways to bring a little bit of movement into the classroom, I'd love to hear them.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Acting it Out and Academic Team

I feel like I've been beating some of our concepts to death these days.  Between the undercurrent of energy running through  the room and the fact that I was starting to lose their attention, I had one of my morning classes show me how they would move if they were different types of protists -- euglena, paramecium, amoeba.  Of course, I modeled it for them first and made myself look quite foolish, but they loved it.... and they did it without complaining.... and they GET IT!!!!  They may have to make some weird motions to remember during their tests, but at least they know it. :)  As an added bonus, it was great fun to watch them move the different directions and distances I told them to go.  Some of them got really into it!  I laughed all day.

I also coach the academic team.  Right now, it's 6 boys and 1 girl.  2 more girls will be joining us after volleyball season ends.  Picture the six sweetest, smartest, goofiest, nerdiest boys you know... That's our boys!  We were practicing a variety of question types to get them prepared for in and out of state competitions (they're different types of questions based on where you compete).  One of the questions mentioned aphrodisiacs.  They tried to answer and failed.  We shared the correct answer.  Then, one of the sweet boys looks at us and says "What's an aphrodisiac? I want to make notes on it in my academic team notebook."  The other coach and I looked at each other and just laughed.  Eventually, we came up with a fumbling, "It's something that's supposed to help you get 'in the mood.' " We were both beet red and uncomfortably laughing.  The boys' faces as they realized what it meant were so funny.  They were all generally uncomfortable as well, and the one who'd asked quickly informed us that we were moving on to new topics.  I'm not sure who had the worse end in that scenario.  A note to the academic bowl question makers: Avoid such uncomfortable questions, please!!  Sincerely, SC