Five Ethical Considerations For Using Virtual Reality with Children and Adolescents | MindShift | KQED News

As virtual reality headsets become more mainstream, researchers initiated “A Code of Ethical Conduct” because little is known about long term VR use, especially in children.

Source: Five Ethical Considerations For Using Virtual Reality with Children and Adolescents | MindShift | KQED News

I was thinking about using VR in one my afterschool and trying to create some lessons with VR. This is really a good article and how you have to precede with caution when using this. Similar to 3D when it was being developed, there were no guidelines. Now different safety guidelines are being developed.  VR still has to develop but it does need to be used with caution in the classroom if you are using it.

I just read an idea worth sharing from David Guerin @DavidGeurin on @Bamradionetwork – QuotED #edchat #quote

If learning is a top priority, then making learning exciting must be a top priority too.

Source: I just read an idea worth sharing from David Guerin @DavidGeurin on @Bamradionetwork – QuotED #edchat #quote

Students using standing desks to learn –

Source: Students using standing desks to learn –

Here is another article about standing desks. The article talks about some the recent research showing that standing is boosts engagement. My mission this year is to get this going in my class.

Planning the Best Curriculum Unit Ever | Edutopia

The good curriculum is in the details, so focus your teacher super powers on the granular aspects of planning ahead for the new school year.

Source: Planning the Best Curriculum Unit Ever | Edutopia

I do like the point this article makes about instruction being an “unnatural skill”.  Everything needs to have a plan behind it.  In all the years I have been teaching you can’t go into class without some form of a plan. The lesson outcomes will depend on how good that plan is. The article does a good job summarizing unit planning. The “Unit Plan” Document has some good pointers. Some you might do already but others might help enhance your units. As they say “try it you might like it”.

Project Atmosphere-Severe Weather Days

The Monday back we had another guest speaker- Bill Bunting Operations Branch Chief (Chief of Forecast Operations
Branch Storm Prediction Center)of the NOAA/NWS Storm Prediction Center. Mr. Bunting discussed his role at the Storm Predication Center and the center’s role in weather prediction. The Storm Prediction Center has about 700 people working in the center and typically four forecasters on shift all the time.  He went over the history of the weather service; it was established in 1870 by Congress with Army Signal Corps. An interesting fact, the word Tornado couldn’t be used for the first 30 years in the service. Amazing huh! After going over the history of Weather Service Mr. Bunting went over Tornadoes and the prediction center’s job. The three main challenges in Severe Weather Predication is accurate assessment of current state of the atmosphere, accurately reflecting atmospheric processes in numerical models and conveying forecast (and uncertainty) accurately. Pretty impressive challenges, but something they are trying to improve on. Mr. Bunting ended with going over different radar maps and tornado predictions. An interesting talk and great information.


After lunch Bob went over the Atmosphere and it’s basic structure. Once we finished that we had our “Best Practice” presentations. Everyone was to show one practice that worked for them in class. Some really good ideas were shared. Some were digital and others were activities used in class. For instance, one teacher shared an activity in which she had students name movies and songs with weather in their names. It was a fun activity and a great warmup to the topic. Other teachers showed off their digital resources such as Nearpod,  Plickers, and Showbie ( ipad app). This was an excellent way to collaborate and talk about what we do in class that works. I think this was one of the highlights of a workshop

Next day we continued with extreme weather, the Director of the National Hurricane Service Dr. Rick Knabb spoke to us about the Hurricane Center. He worked first for the Weather Channel and then became Director of the Center. The purpose of the center is to Advance Hurricane Forecasts, Warnings, and Resilience. His explanation and description of various components of Hurricanes and their forecasts were great. Every storm has its own characteristics and threats. But the one thing that was common in all Hurricanes was the storms surge which is deadly hazardous. “Storm surges are responsible for 49 % of deaths and rain (inland flooding) is responsible for 27% deaths. Not surprising Storm Surge doesn’t occur as frequently, flooding occurs more and is more deadly.” Amazing Statistics. He continued to talk about Hurricane Preparedness and the Hurricane Awareness Tour. The tour sounds really good for students and its suppose to be coming to Raleigh next may. Something I would love to take my students to. Part of this effort is the new hashtag they are using to promote preparedness for hurricanes


The whole effort is part of the National Weather Services Weather- Ready Nation. A great question asked by one of the participants was about “How do we change Hurricanes?” Dr. Knabb’s answer was “the reality is we can’t do it” or rather it would cost billions of dollars. Plus he believes most have too many environmental consequences or could make it worse. He believes we should improve practical reasons such as making better evacuation plans and better forecasts. Totally agree with him from what I have read about this topic. Great morning with him and tons of information. You can follow him on twitter @NHCDirector.

After lunch we had our usual weather briefing and then listened to Robert Rutledge, Head, Services Branch of the Space Weather Prediction Center. Why is space weather important? I think most who read this know why, infrastructure, grid, and satellites. Mr. Rutledge talked about how the Sun at any time could send out a Solar Flare or CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) that would affect the electric infrastructure and other items. The Space Weather Prediction Center hosts a ton of information about the various Sun events. Another website I have used in class for our Sun unit is the SOHO website.

After finishing the day we worked on our group projects that we would present the next day. The day ended on a quiet note. The next day we would start the last leg of the workshop.



Teaching Our Kids to Scratch Their Itch – A.J. JULIANI

“Let me ask you a question,” she said. “Ok,” I offered back, not too sure where this was headed. “This whole Genius Hour and 20% project thing…isn’t that how we should be teaching kids all the time? I mean, isn’t that what learning should look like in our classrooms 100% of the time, not just …

Source: Teaching Our Kids to Scratch Their Itch – A.J. JULIANI


Project Atmosphere Continues

One really important note I forgot to add to my last post was on the 3rd day Wednesday we meet the director of the National Weather Service Dr. Louis W. Uccellini. Definitely an opportunity I really enjoyed. He gave a great talk on the future of the Weather Service. He emphasized how important it was to get the weather information out to the community and how water forecasts were becoming an important part of the weather service job. After his talk we got to take our picture with him. I did get a picture with him. Highlight of my day.

By the 4th day we had done a number of module lessons and were heading into some heavy-duty weather concepts. Chad Kauffman was leading the way on this day. He went over how to read a 500 mb pressure map and he gave out some awesome resources. One of them was the National Weather Service Enhanced Display, a great tool to see weather plotted on a map in real-time. His other resource included MetED COMET program. Here you can find some really great online courses that can help you understand weather. Chad went over the CAPE (Convective Available Potential Energy) that can be seen on a stuve graph. We also went over radiosondes data. After Chad finished his talk we had another briefing with Jerry Griffin about the current weather. We did another module that went over radiosondes data and stuve graphs.  Bob then talked about our upcoming trip to the Topeka Weather Center. There we watched them launch a weather balloon to get some radiosondes data. When we arrived various people helped us understand the warning system and how it worked. This center pushed forecast warnings out for the Topeka, Kansas area. It was quite interesting to see how the warnings were created. We then were introduced to the people working in the office. Our visit ended with the balloon launch.

signweb    topekaweb

balloonweb      balloonweb2

Day 5 of the workshop we reviewed the radiosondes data that we obtained from the weather balloon launch. After going over that Chad introduced us to Severe Weather. The best site for information about Severe Weather is the Storm Prediction Center through NOAA. From there you can access the Violent Tornado Webpage, this I think would be a great page to have students use for a project on tornadoes. I’m beginning to have some ideas for this project at the end of the weather unit.

After lunch we had our weather briefing and then had another guest speaker.  Andy Bailey- Warning Coordination Meteorologist spoke on the Doppler Radar. His presentation was great. His topics included – Basic Radar Imagery, Interpretation Basics, Radar Limitations, Radar Display Systems, Storm “Signatures” and New Technologies. One of the most interesting things I thought was that radar’s lowest scan is ½ degree above horizon, reason is they don’t want the microwaves scanning through people etc. Never knew that. You can really read about radar at the NOAA site and accuweather. After explaining radar Mr. Bailey then showed us different storm systems and explained their radar map. It was a great discussion on radar, I learned more radar in this one session then ever before. He also recommended some apps to try radarscope , there are other apps out there too. One thing he did talk about was jobs. His recommendation to anyone who wants a job in the Weather Service, is to go through the military. They give preference to veterans who are qualified. Pretty cool!

The last thing to happen that day was we listened to presentations from two of the participants. One was on the weather at Mogollon Rim in Arizona and the other was on the education system in Canada. Both really interesting. Amazing the knowledge and experience different teachers will bring to workshop.

The weekend was ours, meaning we were off. So a lot of exploring is going to take place. We still have a ton of things to do the next week.



Project Atmosphere Begins A Summer PD

So my summer began on quiet note this year. I didn’t have any PD’s (Professional Development) at the beginning. Something of an oddity for me. But then I applied to the Project Atmosphere experience.  Supported by NOAA and NSF, the American Meteorological Society hosted a 12 day workshop that was all about weather. Something I teach in class and felt I needed a better background in. I took the DataExtreme Weather course through AMS. The course was very informative and gave me a good background in meteorology. So I took a chance and applied to the summer experience. Well that’s where I am now. I did get accepted.

The next few entries will be about the experience and some of the resources I’m obtaining from the course. One thing to remember about this experience it is for 12 days and that means almost two weeks away from home. It also is at the end of July, for me that is near the end of my summer vacation something I had to get use to and plan around. But well worth it!

The experience started on July 17th, Sunday. We all had to arrive in Kansas City Missouri before 4pm. The hotel was pretty decent and the first night was a get to know you night. There are 24 participants in the workshop. Everyone comes from various grade levels and across the country. The next day really started the experience. We would be meeting every day at the Kansas City National Weather Service Training Center. The day would start at 8 am and end at 4:30 pm. Our first day was filled with guest speakers and welcomes.  Our four leaders during the workshop were Jim Brey, Bob Weinbeck, Chad Kauffman and Abby Stimach all a part of AMS. We were welcomed by John Ogren who is the director of the center. Then Mr. Brey would introduced us to the AMS education and what the future would look like with the program. Part of our day throughout the workshop would be our daily briefing on weather by Jerry Griffin. Using various maps from the NWS, Mr. Griffin discussed how to read a water vapor map, surface weather stations and convective maps. Most of these can be found at the National Weather Service Website.


During the day they introduced us to Modules that the AMS developed for teachers. Some of these lessons and resources they presented you can get from the AMS website. The first module was about Highs/Lows. The lab used the hand model to help students understand the flow of air in pressure systems.  There are videos on YouTube that show you how to use the model. Once we finished our module we took a tour of ASOS (Automated Surface Observing Site). This ended our first day. Already racking up a ton of information and resources for the future.

“Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) units are automated sensor suites that are designed to serve meteorological and aviation observing needs. There are currently more than 900 ASOS sites in the United States. These systems generally report at hourly intervals, but also report special observations if weather conditions change rapidly and cross aviation operation thresholds.” (, NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information)


ASOS equipment


ASOS training site


ASOS Map of all sites


Satellite Imagery

The second day included a talk by Chad Kauffman, a professor at California University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Kauffman presented a ton of information on Skywarn and Pennsylvania State University e-Wall The Electronic Map Wall. Two great resources for teachers to use, but a warning, the second resource can be difficult to understand. It does have a great map resources. He did a great job explaining basic weather concepts. If you want to follow him on twitter here is his handle @TripleVortex. After his talk Adam Stout came in talked about Satellite imagery and took us on a tour through the Satellite office. The one exciting point he made in his presentation was about GOES-R Satellite. A game changer for climate and weather.

The third day included a full day of guest speakers on various topics. The day started with research on Climate, Weather, and Laura Ingalls Wilder: Connecting Science to Narrative by Barb Mayes Boustead, Ph.D. A very different view of Laura Ingalls novels and the weather she wrote about in her novels, Dr. Boustead focused on the “The Long Winter” Wilder Book- 1880-1881, you can follow on twitter by the way @windbarb. Dr. Boustead talked about various parts of Ingalls novels that mentioned different weather events and using various research to collaborate the events.  Her discussion included the El Nino, La Nino and their effects on various parts of the United States. During the discussion she mentioned an event that took place 1888, called the Children’s Blizzard. A tragic event that caused many deaths among immigrant children during an unexpected blizzard. I would never had thought of associating Laura Ingalls novels with weather, but it works and Dr. Boustead did a great job explaining this whole topic.

After Dr. Boustead, we had our weather briefing by Jerry Griffin again. Of course nothing changed because of the High that was sitting over the center of the country. The day ended with a lesson on the electromagnetic spectrum. By the end of the day I had more information then I knew what to do with. And as for the other participants, there are a great bunch of educators here and they have some really good ideas. So far the workshop has not disappointed me.


Summer Thoughts

So I’m probably near the end of my summer. We ended our school year the weekend of memorial day and go back early August. So… I’m almost at the end. Ask me what I did this summer and I’m not sure. It went by so quick. I did try to take  time for myself and do things I enjoy. I actually caught up on some reading that had been put on hold. But I’m still at a loss what I did.

I do have an idea for the upcoming school year that I already posted about and I’m trying to iron out in my mind. I’ve been reading a good deal about allowing students to stand to in class. I know, there are are a lot of variables you need to take into account. But as I continue to think about this,  I think I’m going to create some standing stations at our counters. This might help those students who can’t sit still and can use a little help focusing and it could create a better atmosphere for them. Now I know this could create some problems, but its worth a try. See my earlier post about the article I read.  I’m leaning towards trying this year.

Another new “tool” (I’ll call it that for now) available to me this year is a new 3D printer from Dremel.  We recently purchased the new Dremel 3D40edu.  I was given permission to order two printers one for the IT department and the other for Science. Well lets just say both have been in constant use.


It was also used in our Academic camp this year for 3D modeling. Both work like a charm and came with some lesson plans. I’m definitely looking into doing something this year with students. But I have to figure out what. I want them to create the model, not just download something from the internet.  Something I will have to really think about.

The last item I have been thinking about is having students read a book for the first semester project. I would split the year, 1st semester book project and 2nd semester “Genius Hour”. This is something I definitely would like to implement this year. I thought I would assign the book to make sure students are working on the same page. Not sure yet, pros and cons to this. What I also might do is assign a couple of choices and let them choose. It would be a good way to get them to read. The other option was to assign a weekly reading assignment and have them discuss in class on Fridays. This could be a kind of current events assignment.  II really have a lot of choices here. One of the books I was thinking of assigning was Rocket Boys by Homer H. Hickman Jr. My reasoning is our history teacher shows October Sky in class and this might be something we could collaborate on.

Yep a couple of items I really do have to think about. But they are already coming together. Meanwhile I started my professional development this summer and will post about in the next entry.

Cybraryman Internet Catalogue

Source: Cybraryman Internet Catalogue

Great resource for summer reading. Already a month into vacation and I still haven’t caught up with my reading.  You can also look at AJ Juliani’s Blog for some interesting suggestions.  Enjoy!


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