Way to start new year…

Never thought I would start the new year off on good footing. Meaning I at least started to fulfill one my goals. I am reading something different every month. Meaning I’m trying to read something other than teaching topics. So I decided to take some of the suggestions from other bloggers one of their suggestions was “Benjamin Franklin- An American Life” by Walter Isaacson. I enjoyed it tremendously. I think Franklin is now my favorite founding father. I did listen to it, rather than read it. But I did enjoy it. And so this began one of my goals for the new year. I wanted to read something different every few weeks.

I’ve also discovered this recent article by the verge on Science Fiction novels. Some of them look really good. I also found a blog post by AJ Juliani  on some the really good books and again not only about teaching but other subjects. I just finished the book Launch by AJ Juliani and John Spencer. Great book if you  interested in starting a Genius Hour project or another project. Each chapter is a resource to help you implement a creative project in class. A great tool for anyone just starting out with Genius Hour or some other project. I myself implement a modified Genius Hour in the 2nd semester.

So what’s my next book. Not sure but maybe I’ll start with The Myth of The Strong Leader by Archie Brown or The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein. Both sound very interesting. But right now I’m on my third book “Run your butt Off”, wanted to start jogging again. LOL.  But most of all this is my break from work.

Learning from the students

I’m starting my blog challenge by writing a few words about a learning moment I had in class. Yep, I learned something from my students and it was fantastic.

We had been talking about geological history and going over various topics in the chapter. Our discussion began with my sharing my experience I had with the Siemens Program. During my time there I had the opportunity to work at a dig site with mammoth bones. My training also included getting certified as a lab technician with radiation certification. We were working in a lab with radiation materials and working with the  XRF(X-ray Fluorescence) to identify the layer’s elements in the dig site. You can check out my blogs on my PD experience in an earlier blog entry.

Students began to talk about mammoths and elephants. Their size differences. I was honest and admitted I had no idea. I know I should have, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember. Especially because I was an Earth Science teacher I should have, but… So they decided they needed to look it up and show me. I decided to go with the flow, thinking “Let’s see where this takes us”. Yep, learning experience. By the way mammoths stand at about 5 m tall while elephants are about 3.5 m tall, I’m rounding here.

Point to this post is as a teacher to admit you might not know the answer can be an asset to your students. It seems after this we started to discuss various other topics that the students were interested in and wanted to understand that was related to the geological time line. By admitting I didn’t know something this sparked inquiry in my students and made the class one of exploration and inquiry. While having fun. And the students? I think they actually respected me more because I fully admitted to them I did not know all the answers.

Resolutions or Goals?

Its that time of the year when everyone makes their resolutions. To me they are Goals, what do I want accomplish this year. A challenge, because by April, I’m totally lacking the determination I was in January. And my teaching goals are a bit different from my personal goals. I’m not sure everyone agrees, but my personal goals are more geared to me, teaching goals more geared to students and others. I thought this infographic was interesting, these are the top responses for resolutions. More personal, but now look at the teacher resolutions.

Both have some great resolutions, but just a bit different right? So what’s my point? My point is I think why people give up on their “resolutions” or “goals” is because we overwhelm ourselves with too many.  Start simple and work your way through the year, add more when you think you are ready. As a teacher I really think that my goals in the classroom help my personal resolutions. Ms. Cabeen does a good job in summarizing some resolutions. But that doesn’t mean you can’t come up with your own.

So what are my Goals? Again I’m calling them goals. Honestly, I just want to take each day and try to do the best I can in being a positive influence on my students. There are many ways to do that and that is where some of my personal goals meet my teaching goals. Positive is the key word for this year. Bring out the best in myself and my students. And be optimistic, negativity never works. Too much energy spent on the negative thoughts. If teachers are going to be that positive influence on their students they need to show students there is always hope. Optimism and being positive can be that hope.

Geophysicists Access Earth’s Early History | Quanta Magazine

Geochemical signals from deep inside Earth are beginning to shed light on the planet’s first 50 million years, a formative period long viewed as inaccessible to science.

Source: Geophysicists Access Earth’s Early History | Quanta Magazine

I think this would be a great resource for Geological History. Could be a future assignment for class.

Daylight Hours Explorer

Source: Daylight Hours Explorer

Nice animation to teach seasons and daylight hours.

10 Simple Rules for Learning – A.J. JULIANI

1. Learning starts with attention. It’s almost impossible to learn if you aren’t paying attention. And whatever you are giving attention has the ability to turn into learning. 2. Attention happens for two reasons: Necessity and

Source: 10 Simple Rules for Learning – A.J. JULIANI

Some really good pointers on learning. I like #8.

Valuable tech tools any flipped classroom teacher should use · TeacherCast Educational Broadcasting NetworkbyDasha Sokolova

As flipped classroom has been gaining momentum over the last decade, many teachers have included new technology into their daily routine. There is a variety of tools that make flipped teaching easier. These usually fall into generic categories like video creation and hosting, interactions, learning management systems (LMS) and so forth. Apparently, a flipped video […]

Source: Valuable tech tools any flipped classroom teacher should use · TeacherCast Educational Broadcasting NetworkbyDasha Sokolova

Bridges and Towers Part II

In my previous post I talked about the Bridge/Tower project we did in class. In this post I’m going to go over “the Good, the Bad and The Ugly” as they say. Let’s start with the good, students seemed very engaged with the project. Groups were working together and coming up with some great ideas. At first it was a bit slow for some, they seemed to be having a hard time with an open-ended project. I allowed them to decide on their design process.This was a bit different for them at the beginning. But once they knew the criteria and what was expected of them they off to the races. The open-ended part of the project I really liked it because it gave students a chance to experience the problem-solving I was hoping to introduce with the project. I did have some students come after school and during lunch to finish their design.


The Bad, well only a few towers fell. And you might think it weird that I’m saying bad for this. But I think the criteria was good, but fewer materials should be used. Or a budget created for the project. This might restrict the structures and create a more realistic goal. Due to the amount of the materials allowed and no real restrictions there weren’t many buildings falling. For the Bridge part of the project I think we need to come up with a few more restrictions. None of the bridges failed. I actually added weight to some to see if they would fail. So bottom line is we need to adjust our material use to increase the challenge.


The Ugly, Glue! They went through more glue than I’ve ever seen. Once they attached the different parts they had to use blow dryers to dry their work.  I think the glue needs to be regulated also. A bit messy also. Make sure they have tables or desks covered. I have high school students and quite honestly I was glad I used plastic table cloths. Made a huge difference with cleanup. As for anything to do with the material. I would introduce Earthquake Waves before giving this project. We had thought having students research the background information, such as Earthquake waves, would be ideal for this project. But I feel like the students really didn’t get a better understanding of that information. Part of the lab activity had background information on Earthquake waves. It’s good information, but I think I need to access their knowledge after the project. We did more of a survey.  I think this goes along with all the other changes we have talked about doing next year. For the Tower, limit the material and create a budget. For the bridge, limit the weight, materials and create a budget.


A definite project for next year, I think the improvements we make on it will increase the student’s learning process.

The Best Books of 2016 for Teachers (and Learners) – A.J. JULIANI

Maybe you are a bibliophile like me and love reading a new book each week or month. Or maybe you are thinking about 2017 and want to read a book or two that is going

Source: The Best Books of 2016 for Teachers (and Learners) – A.J. JULIANI

Teaching Habits and Attitudes for 21st Century Learning (Book) ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning

Source: Teaching Habits and Attitudes for 21st Century Learning (Book) ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning

Books looks pretty interesting. Maybe a good read for break.