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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Time Lapse Video

I am a fan of some amazing time-lapse/stop-action videos on vine (you should check out Pinot, YellDesigns and Ian Padgham).  Well now with the new updates on the iPads I can make cool videos.  I should also give my sister-in-law major credit here.  She did a time lapse video of my 4-year old at breakfast - I loved it!  Back to school stuff ...

In forensics I teach my classes how to draw a room to scale as part of their crime scene sketch lessons.

This year I tried my first time-lapse with an example of a sketch of the room.  I also let the freshmen biology play with food coloring and capillary tubes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Just for laughs ...

Have you ever had a day like this?

I love Bored Shorts!  I love that he mouths the answer ... I have been known to ask a question and after a period of silence I say, "It starts with an M ..." another period of silence ... and it ends in "itosis."

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Argumentative Students

Do your students like to try to argue with you?

I went through an alternative certification program to become a teacher.  I had taught at colleges, and therefore was a little better armed than some of my cohorts.  As part of my alt. cert. program I had to take a course on classroom management.  I had the luck of having an instructor who had worked in some very tough school and went off-script from the ESC's  PowerPoint.  And thanks to that I walked away with some very valuable advice.

The most important and most point was not to argue with students.  I think the saying goes "Arguing with a teenager is like wrestling in the mud with a pig.  Sooner or later you figure out they are enjoying it."

The more you argue the more they know how to push your buttons .. and the more it becomes a game.  When you teach high school, it is easy to get drawn into an argument.  You can feel it happening.  You are the adult.  You are the authority figure.  You don't have to argue.  Stop it.  

I recently read a parenting blog where the mom said she used the phrase "asked and answered."  It seems to me that phrase could apply to my classroom almost as often as to my home.

What are your best strategies for students who want to argue with you?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Kahoot Review Game

Do you Kahoot?  I have no idea how I missed the memo on this one ... I love it.  My sister and sister-in-law told me about Kahoot this weekend.  Monday after school I made my first game.  My freshmen played today and I love it!


I made a quiz with 22 questions.  The first class made it through all the questions twice, but were just as into the second round as they were the first.  

I checked out an iPad cart for my class.  I think next time I will have them use their cell phones or change my seating arrangement because some of my lovelies were just watching what other people were choosing ... that's right ... cheating during a review game ... welcome to high school ... 

There are a lot of already made Kahoots, that may already be perfect for your class.You can check out my Kahoot over Biology since the beginning of the year. 

Try Kahoot out and let me know what you think.

Mitosis & Meiosis

My AP Biology and Biology Babes (freshmen) have been studying mitosis and meiosis.  I have hand motions, foldables, summary sheet, slide lab, pop bead models and micrographs.  What do you think is most interesting/lasting for your students?  Do you let them choose?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Forensics: Hulk Print

As part of the chapter on Fingerprints I have my students do a "Hulk Print."  They make fingerprints on balloons and then blow the balloon up and mark ridge characteristics, then deflate the balloon and keep the balloon in their notebook.

This year I found a big pack (72, 12 inch) of light colored balloons for $8. The big balloons allow students to make multiple prints on one balloon (in case of smudges).

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Getting Attention in a Noisy High School Classroom: Masking Tape

** Rethinking my title ... Using Masking Tape to Quiet a Noisy Classroom ... Would that be a better attention-getter?

Geez Louise!!!

I feel like I have the loudest classes I have ever had.  I know that every year is about the same, but in the depth of DEVOLSON (the Dark, Evil Vortex of LateSeptember, October and November), it is hard to keep a realistic perspective.  Thanks Love, Teach for naming this horrid time of year.

I saw an article 30 Techniques to Quiet a Noisy Class, and while I would love to say "the only easy day ..."  and my students respond "was yesterday."  But ... I don't see that happening with my SENIORS (sorry for yelling ... but not that sorry).  Here are some (possibly too truthful) reflections of what I have done in the past.

Masking Tape:

Back in the day I would wear a thick roll of masking tape on my wrist.  I would use it to record student interactions - good and bad.  I would write the date and period then I would write a student's initials with a + for good participation or make notes of anything bad.  They wanted "points" ... these points didn't mean anything.  They didn't earn points, they didn't get a prize, but I didn't remind them that the points were meaningless ... I'm not crazy ... my mother had me tested.

The tape was very effective. If the class was noisy I could pull and rip off a piece of tape.  If you do it right, it is loud.  But be careful ... I gave myself a tape-cut on more than one occasion.  At this point some of the students will be looking at you, look at the students who are still talking and start writing down names ... or make a grocery list ... but look mad when you do it ... and stare at them ...

The other good aspect of the masking tape is that I logged all of the information I gathered.  I constructed a spreadsheet and recorded the date, period, kid, +/- and description of what they did.  By recording the data in a spreadsheet you can quickly sort by kid when a parent wants a conference.  And this is spreadsheet saved my hiney a time or two ... it is a good way to shift focus to the kid when needed.  CYA.

The bad aspect of logging data from masking tape ... you have to log the data ... I would end up with pieces of masking tape stuck to my desk until I had time (to stay even later) to type it all in.

Class Dojo:

In the past three-ish years I have shifted from tape to Class Dojo.  There are a lot of possibilities here.  You mark positive and negative interactions by category and you can have parents set up account and get notifications right away.  I have only used this with my freshmen ... and I am not as consistent because I have to carry my ipad or phone around to use it.  I may try it with my seniors soon.

I am hoping to ass some more ideas in my next posts ... it's late and I have school ... but I will leave you this idea if you are losing perspective during this DEVOLSON.


My favorite tech director (i wonder if I have already told this story ... oh well, it's a good one) told me that someone told her when you are feeling frustrated at the beginning of the year you need to remember you don't have freshmen, you are training 8th graders to be freshmen by the end of the year.

**Disclaimer:  I am obsessed with Love, Teach.  I remember being obsessed with the same blog at some point last year.  Check it out.  It will brighten your day.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Organization & Time Management: The List

I would be a great procrastinator ... of I could ever get around to it.  I need to be grading papers.  Instead I have cooked a few meals for this week, done a load of dishes, started laundry, perused Facebook and Pinterest for entirely too long, and now I am writing a blog post (instead of baking cookies).

So let's focus on what I should be doing.  

To Do Lists

I make lists.  I try to limit my lists to yellow notepads ... so that I can find the list when my desk starts piling up.  Sometimes I don't take my own advice and my list scatters to my board, my hand, random post-it's (never to be seen again), but I accomplish a lot more when I take my own advice.  One of the books I read referred to this as a master list.  (It has been at least five years since I read it - way too long for me for me to remember the title.)

I prioritize my list by numbering the tasks or assigning them days.  I mark which items my student aide can do.  

I try to make my tasks very specific so I get the joy of marking things off.

I believe ADD is contagious.  I have caught it from my students.  It is rare that I get to start and finish almost any task without being interrupted.  So how does my list help? When I am working on one task and start thinking of other tasks I need to do, I add them to a list, sometimes I even have a "google it" box on my list.


As I said I have my student aide do some tasks.  I read recently that if someone else can you a task 80% as well as you can, delegate it.  (This also applied to having your hubby fold the clothes.)


I have long ago realized that I can't do it all.  I have a lot of things I want to do: developing more student-based projects, reorganizing and thinning out my computer files, clearing out the supply room ... the list goes on and on.  

I recently read an article of advice to first year teachers.  And the thing that stuck with me, is that teachers have to accept that they will have to accept that they can't finish everything they want.  You could work 36 hours per 24 hours and there would still be something that didn't get done.

Done is also better than perfect.  I know I always talk about this whe I all about flipped classrooms because I am never satisfied with my videos, but I talk to my kids about this too.  Any project can take any amount of time depending I the level of work you expect. Sometimes you just have to get it done. 

On that note I guess I should get to the task at hand ... adding to that to-do list!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Quiet Desks

A few weeks ago I saw this on pinterest, and followed the link to Art with Mr. E's blog.  My classroom has lots of color in every direction, so I was able to use leftover material without trying to match a theme.  I had left over felt from making Christmas stockings for my family and fabric letter for my son and niece.  So I got out my mom's rotary cutter (that I really should return) and cut out a lot of squares that were 4 inches x 4 inches.

Today when I got started, I began wondering about my sanity before I finished the first desk.   But as soon as I turned the desk over and slid it to it's new home I knew I had to keep going.  This is not a difficult task, but I had a hard time centering the fabric for my liking on the first desk.  The next picture is my room.  I used grey,hot pink, bright blue and Christmas green.

Thanks again to Mr. E!  What a great idea!

Update:  It has been several years, and I will be replacing the felt next year.  I am still very happy with this project.  And I will be on the look out for a good price on felt, and a coupon from Joann's ... and I will be using my teacher discount ... you know about teacher discounts at Joann's and Michael's and bookstores, right?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Enzyme Model

This is my adaptation of an activity I heard about, but didn't take notes for, and then tried to re-create. I used pool noodles as a model for active sites, competitive inhibition and non-competitive inhibition.

I use blue as the substrate, brown as a competitive inhibitor and orange as a non-competitive inhibitor.  We talk about active sites, allosteric sites and induced fit model.

We also talk about the limitations of this model.  It doesn't actually show a reaction taking place in the active site, you can manipulate the enzyme to let the blue and brown fit at the same time, or one of them fit while the orange piece is in the allosteric site ... it is not perfect, but most models are not perfect.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Visualization for learning

When I was tutoring in an AVID classroom (while still working on my thesis) I had the opportunity to sit in while a Navy recruiter (I think it was Navy...) was talking to the kids and the told this story, it was amazing and I just found it again.  Even  though I teach biology I may still use this story this year as an example of different ways to learn things.  Please disregard any grammatical errors, I are a scientist :)


You are standing across the street from a deli it has a large window (as big as this white board) with Deli written on it in large letters.  Can you picture it?  Then a 52-ft yellow #2 pencil comes out of the deli, it has #2 written on the side and a huge pink eraser.  Then you notice that standing on the pencil is a jersey cow which is purple and green.  On the right horn (your left) there is a juicy ripe peach, and on the left horn there is a can that is cut, not a cut can, say it with me, can that is cut.  Now, tied to the cows tail is a 50 ft steel mast (the large pole on a ship that the sails are tied to), at the top of the mast is a doctor, in a white coat, not just any doctor but a medical doctor, you know he is a medical doctor because it says “MD” after his name right on his white lab coat.  In his right arm, he is holding up a beautiful sunbather who is singing Christmas carols.  Under his left arm he is holding a huge juicy ham, with a price tag hanging off of it and a huge ham bone.  The juice from the ham is running out and turning into gin, very dry gin.  The gin is raining down onto the Empire State Building.  In front of the Empire State building stands a man in a trench coat who is shivering in the rain and singing Christmas carols, and in his right hand he is holding a road map. 

Now someone else come up and tell us the story to make sure we all have the same picture


Now tell the order that the original 13 colonies ratified the US constitution.

You are standing across the street from a deli it has a large window (as big as this white board) with Deli written on it in large letters.  Can you picture it?  Then a 52-ft yellow #2 pencil comes out of the deli, it has #2 written on the side and a huge pink eraser.  Then you notice that standing on the pencil is a jersey cow which is purple and green.  On the right horn (your left) there is a juicy ripe peach, and on the left horn there is a can that is cut, not a cut can, say it with me, can that is cut.  Now, tied to the cows tail is a 50 ft steel mast (the large pole on a ship that the sails are tied to), at the top of the mast is a doctor, in a white coat, not just any doctor but a medical doctor, you know he is a medical doctor because it says “MD” after his name right on his white lab coat.  In his right arm, he is holding up a beautiful sunbather who is singing Christmas carols.  Under his left arm he is holding a huge juicy ham, with a price tag hanging off of it and a huge ham bone.  The juice from the ham is running out and turning into gin, very dry gin.  The gin is raining down onto the Empire State Building.  In front of the Empire State building stands a man in a trench coat who is shivering in the rain and singing Christmas carols, and in his right hand he is holding a road map. 

1.       Delaware
2.       Pennsylvania
3.       New jersey
4.       Georgia
5.       Connecticut
6.       Massachusetts
7.       Maryland
8.       South Carolina
9.       New Hampshire
10.   Virginia
11.   New York
12.   South Carolina
13.   Rhode Island 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Organizing Student Supplies in a High School Classroom

This is another re-post from my old blog. 

I saw this cute idea on Sandy Toes & Popsicles, and immediately thought of my classroom.  

For years I have been storing scissors, colored pencils, markers and rulers in shoe boxes.  For some reason students love to mark and write all over the boxes, and on more than one occasion I have been known to rip the lids off because I was so annoyed by it.  So a new idea is welcome.  

My biggest expense was a can opener that wouldn't leave a sharp edge ($20 @ Target).  I used the spray paint I had, plus a few new cans.  As a base I used an old shelf from an entertainment center.  Three edges are unfinished and I thought I would put ribbon around the base to make the base look a little more finished (but apparently that hasn't made it to my to-do list).I used liquid nails to glue all the cans to the board and they have held tight for several years now.

If I were to make it again, my only improvement would me more cans, or possibly putting all the taller cans in the back and shorter cans in the front. The taller cans are great for colored pencils, the shorter ones are better for markers, big-kid scissors, and rulers. This is easily one of my favorite projects, it worked, it was cheap, it has lasted for years now and doesn't look any worse for the wear. It is practical, colorful and not too elementary for a high school classroom. And best of all I was able to re-use items I already had.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Making Cartoons

Back in the day was for more than just Facebook.  And I had my students make cartoons, including superhero cartoon strips where the students created superheroes out of cell organelles.

As usual I did an example (not something they could use though).

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Interactive Notebook Examples

I happened upon my old blogs today.  I am glad that I have documented what I have done.  And this week I am sharing my best of old blogs.  I found an animoto video of examples from A-sides that were worth sharing.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Presenting Your Work

I am gearing up for genius hour for my Forensics class.  The students will be using one day a week to research their passions ... with a couple of catches ... they have to get their topic approved and they have to present what they learn.  So I made a quick prezi to give them various ideas (but I am open to other ideas) of how to present material.

What did I leave out?  What would you include?

I love this color scheme ...

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Biome Books

I had my kids make Biome Books this year ... yes,  high school students.

This is the first time of the school year I have freshmen biology students work on reading comprehension and summarizing information.  This year I gave them three days, sometimes I give them four (my expectations are a little higher if I give them more days.

They started with 5 sheets of white paper, folded like a hamburger (term taught to me by students, I discovered Foldables later).  Then they used a hand-held hole punch to make two holes in their book.  Then we used a rubber band and a paperclip to bind the book. (I really like the rubber band better than staples).  

Our new book has 18 biomes or ecosystems in it (up from 12), so the students were expected to complete 6 biomes per day (50-55 minute classes).  This is really fast paced, but it kept them on track a little better than when I given them 4 days.  Each biome was one page in the booklet.  This left the back blank to glue the book into their notebook.  They had to have 3-5 bullets per page and a drawing per page.  And the bullets should be 5 words or less -- this is really tough for them.

The students were asked to focus on two things: how the biomes are unique (different from one another) and adaptations of organisms in those biomes.  I divided points as follows. 
·         4 pts per page (title and facts)=72 points
·         1 pt per page (drawing) = 18 points
·         Color on all pages = 5 points
·         Title page (Title, Your Name, effort)= 5 points

And I have one student example:

Do you have students make books?  What are they over, how are they different from my biome books?

Friday, September 26, 2014

One of those days ...

Have you ever had one of those days?

Today I was projecting the iPad on the interactive whiteboard and kept trying to use the whiteboard as a touch screen ... it did not respond to my finger no matter how many times I touched it  ... I did this multiple times ... in the same period.

Do you think I could have one of these implanted into my finger?  And maybe the projector's remote implanted on the back of my hand ...

I think my brain is broken.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Independent Research in Your Classroom?

Have you heard of Genius Hour?

I may be late to the game with this one, but I love this idea.  The site has great ideas about how to make time in your class to have genius hour and some points to approach the idea with your administration.  Some of the selling points for administrators via  no loss of class instruction, creating life-long learners, develop relationships with students, and teaching 21st century skills.

I would love to try this out with my forensics kids.  An hour a week in your room for students to research whatever they are passionate about.  As a group, they are the most diverse, and as a class it has the most wiggle room time wise.

Genius Hour

Do you think that high school students could benefit from Genius Hour?

Update:  I got permission to try this with my Forensics class!! I am planning on it for the 2nd 6 weeks, and re-evaluate at that point.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Test days

I have one PowerPoint slide that I project every day I give a test.  

Some days it looks different than others.  I use the slide to answer the questions that I get asked approximately 100 times on test days ... so today I only had to answer the questions about 30 times and other students answered (or I referred to the slide) the other 70 times.  Do you do this?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

AP Biology Resources

I expect my students to be utilizing all resources available to them in this amazing technological age.  Here are my top resources that I want my students to use this year, and in college.

Mastering Biology 

Mastering Biology is a textbook-linked site that allows teacher to assign online assignments.  All assignments are shown on a calendar, and depending on settings, students can rework the assignment for less points or the first time through is for a grade and they can retry for added practice and understanding.  I use mastering biology as some flipped assignments, review questions (from the test bank), and as bonus for completing the activities and tutorials.

I like to randomize assignments when possible, so that students are tempted to work together.  It doesn't take long to set up assignments, and no time to grade - just pull up the grade book.  I do also change point values for questions depending on the time it takes and the assignment.  If I am offering bonus, I usually assign a lot of questions or activities for 1/10 of a point each.  Some items are not phone-friendly which is problematic for my students so I try to assign these as early as possible.  My past students say that they use this in college also.


Quizlet it a site and app that would work for any subject matter.  Quizlet is a great way to work with vocabulary.  I use it for prefix quizzes, and I encourage students to make flashcards on it for all their classes.  It's free (unlike paper notecards) and  it has more for the students to do than just flip cards.

They can actually play games.  I like Scatter best.  Not all options are available on the phone, but this does work on computers, tablets and phones.  The  students can make their own cards, share them, or search for cards someone else made.  They can even join your class and get notifications when you upload new sets.

HHMI BioInteractive

There are amazing animations from HHMI BioInteractive.  And they often have two levels of detail.  You could use the less detailed version for a regular Biology class, and more detailed for an AP class.  Or you could use the less detailed as an intro then more detailed as a close to your lesson


I know.  They are already there ... watching things that are probably not very educational.  But there are a lot of educational videos out there.  I have several channels I recommend.

  • MrsJacobsAPBio 
    • My videos are far from perfect, but I think kids want to learn from you, so I try.  You will hear my kid in the background or my phone rings.  Sometimes the videos are too long, or I sound boring, or depressed or like I am hiding in my closet (maybe I am), and sometimes I mess up.  But my videos are done.   
  • My You Tube "Guest Speakers" include:
    • Bozeman Science
      • Mr. Anderson's videos are much more entertaining and professional than mine.  I know many teachers who flip their classrooms just using his videos.  I do like assigning a few to let the students know that they can use any resources they can find for other explanations for the material.
    • Crash Course
      • Crash course has fast paced, funny videos.  I think they are a nice change of pace, and I think everyone needs something a little difference.  And there is more than just science.
    • Khan Academy
      • Khan Academy has so many topics, it is a great place to start if you need a little more explanation for any subject at any time.  The videos are a little longer than I use for flipped classroom, but if you are trying to increase understanding or you miss class it is a great resource.
    • TED
      • I love TED Talks.  These videos can be found on YouTube or at the TED site or app.  And sometimes videos are available only in one of these two places.  If you know of a great appropriate talk for high school biology, AP biology, forensics, science (in general), or just to be a more aware 18 year old entering the world, send it to me!  These are my go to resource if there is 10 minutes at the end of that one class that works faster than every other class.
I am sure there are more and I may update this post as the year goes on.  What resources do you expect your students to use?

Vines as Summaries

Do you vine?   Admittedly, I was skeptical of a 7 second looping video ... and most of my vines are of my kid.  But I really like the idea of condensing a lab or a demo to a 7 second summary.  I like the idea of kids doing this even better.

I have a couple of examples.  As usual these are not perfect.

I use this to start a discussion of diffusion.

And this one for my osmosis and diffusion lab

This is a good reminder of what we did ... because sometimes teenagers forget ...

More osmosis & diffusion lab ... great for people absent .. or those who don't follow instructions.

I try to convert any type of social media to a learning outlet.  You can share vines on facebook and twitter, or share the link, or even embed them in your blog.

Do you have other ideas for how high school teachers could add this to their toolbox of tricks?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Interactive Notebooks & Review Booklets

I started Interactive Science Notebooks about 6 years ago, and I love them.  I don't necessarily follow the same formula for every class, but I am not the biggest fan of worksheets, but my kiddos still need to do something with the material in their notes.
This is a flipagram of some images of my AP student's A-sides from there notebooks, and some images of their review booklets.   The review booklet was something I created last year because the kids seemed to be slacking.  They had to take all the information from one chapter and decide what was most important and reorganize it onto one page.  This takes time and thought.

This year I started the review booklets from the beginning, and in a few weeks I will see how they are progressing.  Instead of one page per chapter - which turned out to be a bit crazy - I have assigned one page per section this year.

The review booklets will be a grade at the end of each six weeks.  I imagine these pages to look like the summary sheets found in several other posts on our blog, but we will see.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Time Fillers

How many times do you end up having a few extra minutes at the end of a class??? My classes baffle me. One class period may finish right on time or barely, then the other class has too much extra time. I try to have a few "time filler" activities on hand for those special occasions.

The first day of school or even throughout the first few weeks I will play some "get to know you" type games. Last summer I found some cheap beach balls at a dollar store. The regular stores wanted me to pay $5 or so for a beach ball. No way....I'm on a budget! And I know the dollar store has to have them for cheap!!! Sure enough they did and in several different colors. So I used a sharpie to write various questions that the kids would be willing to answer aloud. The rules are: I call out someone's name that I am going to throw the ball to. They catch the ball. They read the question closest to their right thumb and answer. Then they call out a classmate and throw the ball, etc. The kids love it! They will even toss the ball back to me to see my question and answer will be.

I have also made a review ball for my PreCalculus class. We are currently studying Trig Functions. They are supposed to be memorizing the Unit Circle. So if we have some spare time in the next couple of weeks, I am going to let them toss around this review ball to see what they know.

I still have a couple more beach balls, so I'm sure I'll come up with a few more educational options to fill my time.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Grouping Students & Problem Solving

Groups .... oh, groups ... In the past I imy kids pick their own groups, or I picked for them.   Then several years ago at a CAST workshop about Forensics the teacher suggested using different color rubber bracelets and make them draw.  I loved this idea, but could not find bracelets ... but I found small colored foam block in the elementary section of a teacher store.  I put them in a dark, cloth bag I had at home.

Now they kids don't love this.  But it definitely takes the pressure off those kids that are left to last.  So I do this almost all the time now.  And as much as they grumble, I think they all like it.  I do remind them that if anyone is caught switching colors I will assign groups and make sure they don't get to work together for a long time.  

Then last year another teacher was telling me about something one of her college professors had done to group them.  I didn't really understand, and may have turned it into something even more complex for the students.  They each drew a piece of paper.  On the paper was a word, and no one had the same word ... what?  I told them there should be five groups of four and they had to figure out how to put themselves into groups based on those words.  It was awesome!  If you want to see problem solving use this baby.  

I used color as my categories the first time.  So there were items of every color of the rainbow listed.  I made sure to have a few gemstones, a few fruit, etc to try to increase difficulty.  It was awesome to watch them try to figure it out.

Another teacher tried it and made the rule that they have to keep their paper in their hand, because they were putting the strips on the desk and then sorting.  I like this rule.  I like them having to talk to one another to solve the problem.    The picture shows an animals list that another teacher used.  Love this!!!

The possibilities are endless.  I want to do one with characters from crime shows for my forensics class.  You could even do words that start with the same letter, same parts of speech, sports teams (different sports), etc.  We are trying to gather lists and share as a staff.  

Do you think you would use this?  What categories would you use in your room?  What categories do you think we should use?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tri-Bond Review Game

Have you ever played TriBond?  It's a board game that gives you three clues and you have to figure out what they have in common.  Example from Tribond of the Day: snow, snap, chick ... easy, right?  Peas.

Last year my sister told me that she plays a game like this as a review game for her history classes.  So, of course, I tried it with my AP Biology kids.  It was tough for them, but it was a quick game to make.  I thought of this again today after watching a quick video on rigor in the classroom.

What review games do you play?

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Challenge for Students

I challenged my students the first week of school.  I introduced them to the concept of growth v. fixed mindsets, and I challenged them to attempt the way they think when faced with an obstacle.  This challenge can apply to one class or to an extracurricular activity.  And, as promised, I will be starting on the poster to remind them of this.  I have typed out a rough draft that I modeled after several sources on pinterest.

Stay tuned for the final product, and for student reflections at the end of the year.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Perfect Body - Measuring andGraphing

In the second week of school I have my students complete a Perfect Body Lab (that title really gets their attention).  The students accompllish two goals with this lab: measuring in metric and graphing on paper. 

First I show the students  Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man, and ask what information we are supposed to be able to get from the art.

Then the students work in pairs to measure their foot length (shoes on -too smelly otherwise), 

Arm span

and Height.

I put up a lot of paper for the students to measure and mark on.  It is important to have the students write their initial my their marks in case their numbers seem wonky.

Then the students input their measurements into an excel file.  Once all data has been entered, I print the page and the graphing begins.  I teach 50-55minute periods everyday.  This is best split between two days.  It always takes them longer to graph that it seems like it should.  It is possible to set up the graphs after measuring.  We compare height and arm length on one graph and height and foot length on another.  These two graphs are both on one sheet on paper that we fold in half and add to an A-side in our interactive notebook.  The B side is the data. Next week we use this data and the graphs to begin writing conclusions.

Saturday, September 6, 2014


Are you following us on pinterest?  We are starting to expand our pins and boards, so that we can organize all our goodies and all the other good resources we are finding everyday.  Follow us and benefit from me spending all my free time on pinterest!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Marshmallow Challenge 2014-2015

Today was the the day: Marshmallow Challenge Day!  (If you don't know what the Marshmallow Challenge is you can check out my previous post or go straight to the horse's mouth.)  It was really fun for the students and me.  There were several successful structures and several structures buckled under the weight of the marshmallow.  The students worked well together and no group gave up before time ran out, and got no input from me.

One senior group and one freshman group produced free standing structures that were 25 inches tall.  Two senior groups produced 24 inch structures, but one was not free standing.   I have included examples that were free standing at the end of the 18 minutes as well as one that definitely drooped and one that snapped.

When they were done we watched two videos.  I know, "Videos ... she must be a slacker teacher."  Maybe I am sometimes, but not today.  First, we watched the video on the Marshmallow Challenge website.  It is a TED talk that explains the purpose, typical results and what you can learn from the challenge.

Then we watched part of another video.  One of my frustrations as a teacher is when students say "I'm not good at ..." when they have this mindset they shut themselves off to new possibilities.  I especially see this in AP Biology.  These students are used to excelling, and most of them think they know how to study.  And they are often receiving lower test grades than they ever have before, and most just quit instead of rising to the challenge.

So after watching this video, I challenge my students.  I told them, I would put up a poster soon of things you say to yourself if you have a fixed mindset and things your say to yourself if you have a growth mindset.  And I challenged them to change their brain.  I challenged them to train themselves to have a growth mindset.  I challegend them to not let failure stop them from trying to succeed whether it was with their grades, athletics, arts, or any other area where they felt they were not going to succeed.  Hopefully, at the end of the year I am going to remember to ask my students to write me a letter about if they tried this and if they felt that it made a difference for them.  iif you want to learn more about mindsets, click here.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Marshmallow Challenge

I just happened upon the Marshmallow Challenge this afternoon while procrastinating online.  The Marshmallow Challenge is a design challenge to build the tallest free-standing structure possible out of spaghetti, tape, string and one marshmallow that has to be on top.  I think this is going to play into experimental design and group work.

I am definitely adding this to my fist week of school. Below is a TED video that explains what you can learn from the Marshmallow Challenge.  

Friday, August 22, 2014

A New Twist on Prezi: First Day Presentation

When I found Prezi I was so impressed. I have spent most of the day on prezi after not using it for quite a while. I am loving it! It took me a little while to remember/figure out/ask Chonte' (our school's versions of google) how to get the results I wanted, but I am so happy with the way things turned out.

 Why did I start up again? Did you know you can import your own image as a background? I didn't, but once I found out I was on board ... then I stayed up entirely too late drawing my background ... I know ... nerd!

If you want to check out my first day for forensics click here.  (Warning: it is not perfect ... yet.)

I took a picture of the drawing at 1:30am (poor lighting) and next time I will probably scan the drawing in to give me a flat square surface. After showing this to a co-worker and she told me now I can claim to be "working" while I doodle during meetings.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fingerprint Activity

I found this activity online somewhere.  I think it was actually an activity for an English class, but I figured it tied into Forensics nicely.  After the first round of fingerprinting, the students tried to recreate the basic pattern of their fingerprint, but instead of ridges they used words.  They could write about anything they wanted and many personalized their fingerprints.

  This took considerably longer than I had figured.  I figured a half a period to one day and I think it took two to three days for most of them to finish, and the rest had to finish at home (I normally don't give homework in Forensics).

What do you think?