Category Archives: Teacher Strategies

Quinn Rollins: Play Like a Pirate: Celebrate Wonder Woman Day!

Source: Quinn Rollins: Play Like a Pirate: Celebrate Wonder Woman Day!

I came home after watching this movie with a sense of wonderment (no pun intended). I think, and I’m not expert, this was a great movie. Mr. Rollins has some really neat ideas to use this movie and other superhero movies for the classroom. Check out some of his ideas about Wonder Woman.

Empowered Students vs Engaged Students (What’s the difference?) – A.J. JULIANI

When I was in high school I spent most of my time playing sports (football and basketball) and worrying about my so-called social life. In school, I rarely was allowed to explore my interests, and

Source: Empowered Students vs Engaged Students (What’s the difference?) – A.J. JULIANI 

Never really thought about the difference between the two. Now I’m curious about the whole process. I look forward to reading the book “EMPOWER”. I’ve already read their first book “LAUNCH” and recommend it to anyone interested in trying to get the Genius Hour project off the ground in their class.

Genius Hour! We started our projects again….

Well, my 30-day blog challenge went out the window a while ago. However, I’m not discouraged and I’m starting over.

Genius Hour! We started our projects again and I’m really impressed by my students. Some had a bit of an issue with the brainstorming process. This doesn’t surprise me. Every year I get some students who can’t or don’t allow themselves a chance to think outside the box. I don’t blame them for this, I blame us; teachers and adults. For so long we have insisted on telling them projects should be 10-page research papers, not that sometimes research papers are good, but allowing them a chance to do something else upsets the cart. However, in the end, they all succeeded in doing something that related to themselves and they could enjoy.

I modified the Genius Hour project to suit our class a bit. Similar to last year. I wanted to modify the project to include the LAUNCH cycle. Nevertheless, this just did not work out this year. I did decide to use the Look, Listen and Learn process. This did help the students who were having a difficult time with the brainstorming activity. I do like the LAUNCH cycle and the book was great, but I really want to make sure I have everything in place before having my students do it. I am hoping to work with the Physics teacher to use the LAUNCH cycle for next Mars Rover project. For those of you have not read LAUNCH: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Every Student, I would advise you read it. It is a great way to start your Genius Hour project. The authors John Spencer and  AJ Juliani have written a very creative way of empowering students to utilize design thinking when completing their projects.

A Plus this year was I changed one of the components of my Genius Hour Project, I added the “A”, Art. Instead of STEM, I now used STEAM. This has been a great idea, I have a couple of students working with Music and Drawing. I have one student investigating sound with different enclosures. Another student creating a new Alien and Alien world.

My motto for this year’s project is to allow my students to be creative and enjoy their what they are learning about

What is virtual reality? – A simple introduction

An easy-to-understand introduction to virtual reality, the equipment it requires, and the things we can use it for.

Source: What is virtual reality? – A simple introduction

Article simplifies the VR topic. Introducing you to the basic background information about VR.

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.

Scaling Flipped Learning: Part 2 – Flipped Learning Simplified

Individual teachers across the world who are flipping their classes, are often working in isolation and small pockets. However, as the movement has grown, there is an increasing need to think syste…

Source: Scaling Flipped Learning: Part 2 – Flipped Learning Simplified

I’m enjoying this series. Even though the series addresses school wide implementation I like the little bits of helpful hints on Best practices.

Update on Modified “Genius Hour”

Just a short up date on how my version of Genius Hour is going. I changed things around this year by allowing students a bit more freedom with topics. Again another change made because of last years results or rather outcomes from the project. Which, by the way I think are improvements on the implementation of the project.

We have passed the halfway mark on our projects and I think this year they are going much better than past years. Or should I say they seem more organized and students seem to be on track with everything. I had put Fridays aside for students to work on project, but there have been changes along the way. Of course, when does anything stay on schedule? Flexibility is the word of the day when coming to this project. Which really doesn’t bother me. If you are going to do this project you can schedule those work days, but a little advice be flexible if you can.

I posted the introduction to the project in a previous post 5-ways to launch your genius hour projects. After Brainstorming students started a journal to track their progress with the project. I made it on line so I could grade their progress and comment on it. I used Google Documents to make it simple. I handed out an outline on how I wanted the entries to look, but gave them a good deal of latitude about their information.  Some of the requirements I obtained from ROBOTC Curriculum for TETRIX and LEGO MINDSTORMS “Engineering Design Notebook”. So far their journals are looking good. Some of the students needed a bit more guidance when working on their journals, but overall they are getting the hang of it.

Entries should include the following:
• Daily logs and notes
• All sketches, photographs, videos, plans, and drawings
• Notes from design
• Calculations relevant to your project
• Documentation of the changes of your project
• Research information, such as computer print-outs and newspaper articles
• Notes for presentations, reports, proposals, etc..
• Any resources being used in the project

Some information taken from ROBOTC Curriculum for TETRIX and LEGO MINDSTORMS “Engineering Design Notebook”

(resource:  and

I have some interesting projects this year, one set of students are using music and bacteria. They want to see if bacteria will react to sound. Another set of students are working on the Star Trek Replicator Challenge , being a Star Trek fan I was excited they decided to do this.  A great engineering challenge and hosted by the Future Engineers Website.  Another project has students creating a tutorial on how to use Tinkercad and a 3D Printer. This is part of a 3D Printer collaboration effort with another teacher. Also it’s a great way to introduce 3D modeling to my Forensics classes for their end of the year project. There are a ton of other projects that are interesting to say the least.

Students are deciding on how they present the information. I’m getting a variety of formats. Websites are bit more popular with this years group. I do have the normal Google slides and PowerPoint but they are becoming a bit more creative with adding video etc. As we get closer to the final projects I’ll make another post to summarize the whole process.

American Meteorological DataStreme Course

Its been a while since I last posted and I need to apologize for that. I’ve been trying to keep up the blog by posting various small articles. Hopefully some of these have been helpful to my readers.  Why I’ve been a bit behind is because school has been very busy and I took a course this semester. I decided last spring I would take the DataStreme course from AMS.

The course is offered by the AMS (American Meteorological Society),  and given in both the fall and spring. I decided to take the fall since I teach a meteorological unit in the spring. There are two other course offered, one on oceans and the other on climate. The DataStreme covers all meteorological topics. Something I believed I needed a better background in so I could teach it next spring.

The course, DataStreme Atmosphere – focuses on the study of the atmospheric environment; DataStreme Ocean – explores the ocean in the Earth system;  and  DataStreme Earth’s Climate System (ECS) –  incorporates inquiry-based instructional strategies and a holistic concept of Earth from oceanic, atmospheric and terrestrial climate and problem-focused perspectives.


It was a pretty intense course but well worth the effort and time I put into it. I feel very confident now teaching some of the topics of our meteorological unit.  As I said before I decided to take the course because I teach a 4 – 5 week unit on meteorology in the spring. The resources alone were a great help. Many of the maps and data we used can be found on the National Weather Service and NOAA websites. We used the AMS textbook “Weather Studies”. The newer edition is digital but you can still get an older edition at Amazon.  This was a great resource! I would recommend it to anyone who needs a resource for this topic. It does go into some weather concepts in depth. And this might be a bit too in depth, but it gives you a good foundation for the topics. Definitely a great tool for teaching.

Part of the course was the ability to visit different organizations and their offices. We had to meet 3 times in person. It was worth the effort and travel. Our first meeting was at  WRAL and we meet with Mike Moss. We went through the studio and Mr. Moss talked to us about his daily requirements when working a shift at the Weather Desk. He was very informative and great to talk to. Our next meeting was at the beach, Moorehead City/Newport NWS Forecast office. Here we spoke with NWS meteorologists and helped launch a weather balloon. Another great time and very informative.

WRAL        NWS

Our last meeting was held at the NC State Climate Office. Our guest speaker talked about the weather network the office had set up throughout NC.  Part of the which can be accessed at this link . Our conversation included the importance of these stations and Farmers.  Working on minimum  funds they were doing a pretty good job. One thing about all our visits, the people who spoke offered to come to our schools to speak with our students. Something that can be very helpful when teaching the topic.

Overall the experience in this class was good. One thing I would remind people is that it does take a lot of independent work on your part when completing the course material. I’m actually thinking about joining the oceans courses next semester. We’ll see. Check out the course webpage for more information if you are interested.

Planning for Engagement: 6 Strategies for the Year | Edutopia

Planning for Engagement: 6 Strategies for the Year | Edutopia. This is part of the Student Engagement series. I really like some of the tips. The “Authentic Learning” is a really good one, I think this one is easy in Science. I do want to improve on “Presentation and Performance”.  I do a good deal of whiteboarding so this might fit. Now to improve on it.

I’m Fantastic! How are you?

I’m Fantastic! How are you?. This sounds really great, and I think its correct. Sometimes we forget that by saying something all day long we can actually believe it! So I’m Fantastic and ready for the new school year. (Thanks to Flipping with Kirch for sharing this)