Archive for the ‘Practical Teacher Resources’ Category

First Week of School Science Activities

Since it takes awhile to get all of the administrative things out of the way in the first week of school, I am planning on focusing on mostly Nature of Science type activities. The following are some of the things I’m most excited about:

Science Is - Students brainstorm their own lists of things that Science Is and Science Is Not. Then a large list is generated and students sort words on a t-chart into what they believe science is and isn’t. We did this activity using construction paper and glue sticks to make colorful Science Is Charts!

Tower Building – Students work together to build the tallest tower of cups they can without speaking. The second time, students are allowed to talk. This encourages students to think about the importance of communication in science.

Which Is Better? – As a student guided scientific method activity, we split the students into two groups. One had to analyze which bouncey ball is better and the other which bubble wand is better. The students defined their own definition for “better” and their procedure. Afterward, they listed their steps and quickly realized they used the scientific method without realizing it!

Letter Writing – Students wrote themselves a letter setting goals for themselves for the school year. I will return their letters at the end of the semester or the end of the year.

Lab Safety – For lab safety day, we handed out the Flinn Safety Contract and students wrote short skits demonstrating 5 safe lab techniques and 5 safety violations.

Easy $ For Your Classroom

I have had fun discovering ways to fund extra materials and projects within my classroom. Here are the two that have come most highly recommended:

Adopt-A-Classroom: Kind of like the Adopt-a-Highway deal, but you can get your classroom adopted by several sponsors. From what another teach told me, you only get about $100 over the course of the year, but it was enough for her to get some classroom supplies and a class set of books.

To support my classroom, go to this link: Rebecca McCoy Adopt-A-Classroom Homepage

Donor’s Choose: This website allows you to apply for mini-grants (usually $500 and less) to fill your classroom with what it needs most. Some teachers apply for class set of books and others apply for one computer at a time until they have enough for each student. I will most certainly be using this throughout the school year.

Good luck with the school year!


Wiki-Teacher is a fabulous resource for all teachers, regardless of content area. It was actually started by my district, but has more users from outside of Nevada than not!

One of the great things about Wiki-Teacher is that it has lesson plans and ideas as well as videos to give you some ideas of how to implement certain strategies.

There’s not much else I can say since even just a little time exploring will get you hooked!

Websites for Science Teachers

I am loving Making Teachers Nerdy’s post on the Top 20 Websites No Teacher Should Start the 2010-2011 Year Without! Below I’ve written a little bit about which websites I’m excited to make use of in the coming weeks.

Picnik – I have no idea what role this might play in my classroom, but it’s so fun that I’m sure it will weasel its way in somehow!

Delicious – I had started using this awhile ago, but have neglected it lately since I was teaching with my personal laptop last year. Since I’ll be using one computer at home and a different one at school, this is going to be super handy.

Dropbox – For the same reasons as above, this is going to be a lifesaver! I can access lesson plans at home and school without worrying about them getting lost in email!

Edmodo – This is a new one for me…I’m exploring all my options for how to have a class blog or website that students can be super involved in as a classroom social media type thing. As an experiment, I started a group “Just Call Me Ms Frizzle” (pass key 9219vq) – feel free to stop by and leave a note, upload a favorite article or lesson plan, or give me feedback on what social media has worked in your classroom. If your school does not have any type of online assignment giving and grading, Edmodo has everything you’ll need – and it doesn’t require students to sign up with an email address, so it’s super easy for them!

Google For Educators – A great resource as to how to use the different Google Applications (calendar, docs, etc) to maximize technology and organization in your classroom.

Live Binders - Live Binders caught my attention when I saw you could make digital binders of websites, videos, files, etc. in order to have students do digital scavenger hunts. So cool!

Webspiration – Online tool for creating mind maps, graphic organizers, etc. Another great website that is very similar is XMind.

Prezi – I LOVE this! At the Channel 13 Celebration of Teaching & Learning, I saw a presentation given with Prezi. It’s Power Point on steroids; I am not a huge Power Point in the classroom fan since it is so predictable and not interactive, so I think this will be exactly what I use to give notes and lectures through my projector.

Troovi – This is another one that gets me really excited! Since I want to incorporate pictures all over the classroom of sciencey things my students and I experience, this would be a great way for them to send me pictures without having to pay to have them printed!

VoiceThread – This is a great option for teachers who want to have online conversations with students or an option for keeping home-bound students in the loop. The website has many different options for membership (free and paid) as well as an entire article based on how to maximize VoiceThread use in the classroom.

I hope these suggestions might inspire some new way to include technology in your classroom this year. For more great teaching websites, see the full article at Making Teachers Nerdy.

Help My School Get Cash from Kohls!

Kohls is giving away money to the schools who get the most votes, so head over to this link to vote for Sunrise Mountain High School!

Sunrise Mountain High School is entering into its 2nd school year. While it is in a new building, it serves a student body who are considered “under-privilaged” and come from families who are not involved in their children’s education. I am excited to join the Sunrise Mountain faculty this year buy teaching 4 Physics courses as well as supporting 12th grade students who have not passed the state science exam yet. I know that a grant like this will give students the opportunities they deserve to explore the world through the lens of science!

Check out the pictures of my classroom to help me with ideas for getting my first classroom set up and decorated!

BIG NEWS!! (x3)

1) Almost as exciting as getting a teaching job, is getting the keys to my classroom :)

All the keys I'll need to get me in and out of the classroom, building, and (most importantly) desk/filing cabinets!

Here are some views of my naked classroom:

View from student entrance - white boards on the left.

Students enter the class from a hallway that overlooks the strip and mountains!

The right side of the classroom (door behind view)

I have the privilege of moving all that furniture!

View of the student door and my desk from the teacher door.

Yup, that’s right a teacher and a student door: the teacher door leads to a secret hallway that connects all the science classrooms with the science teacher room, bathrooms, etc! And finally…

The white boards (2 on the right and 1 on the left), bulletin board, my desk, and the front lab bench.

I know I want to put up a wall that is dedicated to pictures and cut outs of science in the real world and I’ve got some posters of my favorite Broadway shows (I’m all about being well rounded!) that all need to be hung somewhere.

I also have the biggest craving to paint all the walls Kermit the Frog green! If any one is reading this (since it’s definitely still summer vacation!!) I am looking for some input into how to set up and decorate the room. Please send me your clever ideas!

2) In other news: remember way-back-when when I blogged about the Channel 13 Celebration of Teaching and Learning? Well, I’ve just written them a post recalling some of the highlights of the weekend.

3) Planning for my first year will begin soon, so stay tuned for the “My First Year” series that I’ll be starting in the next couple weeks along the same lines as last year’s student teaching reflections.

Online Engineering Resources for Kids

My dad – a Civil Engineer by trade – was participating in a middle school career fair the other day and wanted some input on his presentation. He did a great job of giving kids exposure to all the different types of engineering.

I was particularly impressed by the American Civil Engineers Society page for kids, parents, and teachers! There are fabulous resources and games for all ages about the opportunities associated with becoming an engineer.

Check it out!

Preparing for An Interview

Since I’m in interview mode, I figured I would share what I am doing to prepare.

Update the Portfolio

I’m updating my portfolio by adding my TAR Research and another lesson plan.

Make a Folder for the Principal

I printed out my resume, teaching philosophy, test scores, student teaching observations, reference list,  and final graduate school transcript.

Review Educational Philosophy

I’m taking the time to review my teaching philosophy by answering sample interview questions to myself:

  • Why did you decide to become a teacher?
  • Have you ever taken care of someone? Did you enjoy it?
  • Do you consider yourself a risk taker? (Give an example to back up your answer.)
  • Are you a positive and energetic person? (Give an example to back up your answer.)
  • If a student said she thought you were the worst teacher she ever had, what would you say?
  • If I were your principal and we were setting goals for next year, what would they be?
  • What is the last book you read?
  • Have you ever considered publishing a book?
  • Some people say you should demand respect. Do you agree or disagree?
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • How would you rank these in importance and why? Planning, discipline, methods, evaluation.
  • If a student came to you and said, “None of the other students like me,” what would you tell him/her?
  • Are you an empathetic person? Give an example.
  • How can you tell that a person is a good listener?
  • Are you an objective person? Give an example.
  • What do you want to do with your life?
  • How do you feel if a student does not meet a deadline?
  • It is the first day of class, you are writing something on the board and a paper wad hits you in the back, what would you do?  Later the same day, if all the students drop their pencils, what do you do?
  • What was the most frustrating thing that happened to you as a student teacher?
  • What was the best thing?
  • Do you believe you should build rapport with students?  If yes, how?
  • How do you give your students recognition?  Do you think a student can have too much recognition?
  • How do you encourage students to learn?  Can a student be forced to learn?
  • How do you handle a child who seems gifted, but is a discipline problem?
  • How do you feel about computers in the classroom?
  • How do you present a new word to a class?
  • What are your strengths?  What are your weaknesses?
  • What is the role of the principal?  Does a conflict exist between your perception of a principal’s role and his/her role as your evaluator?
  • Describe your student teaching experience.
  • During your student teaching, were you ever involved with a situation at school involving racial tension? If so, how did you handle it?
  • How do you establish authority/discipline?  What do you do when a discipline problem arises?
  • What subjects have you taught?
  • Are you patient?  Give an example.
  • Do you ever feel angry towards your students?
  • What will you be doing in five years?
  • What is your educational philosophy?
  • If you could create the ideal school, what would it be like?
  • Do you like to be challenged? (Give an example to back up your answer.)
  • What do you like most/dislike most about teaching?
  • How do you feel about noise in the classroom?  How do you handle noise in the classroom?
  • How would you handle making a difficult phone call to a parent?
  • Describe your college experiences.
  • Tell us about your experiences working with students at this age level.
  • In what ways do you encourage creativity in your classroom?
  • Tell us about a lesson in which you’ve used differentiated instruction.
  • How do you teach kids to utilize higher-order thinking skills in your classroom?
  • What do you do to prepare your students for state or standardized tests?
  • Do you make learning fun for students?  How?
  • If I walked into your classroom on a typical afternoon, what would I see going on?
  • How do you measure student performance in your classroom?
  • Describe a successful lesson.  Tell why it was successful.
  • What would you do if a student wasn’t handing her homework on a regular basis?
  • How much homework do you give?
  • Besides lecture, what methods of teaching do you use?
  • Tell us about your discipline philosophy.
  • What are your classroom rules?  How do you make students familiar with the rules?
  • What daily or weekly routines would be incorporated in your teaching?
  • One student hits another student.  What do you do?
  • A student throws a pencil across the room.  What do you do?
  • Explain what you would do if a student was swearing in your class?
  • What would you do if a student was complaining about an assignment you’ve given?
  • What would you do if a parent complained about an assignment?
  • Describe some methods of “positive reinforcement” that you might use in your classroom.
  • Would you describe yourself as a “tough” teacher or an “understanding” teacher?  Explain.
  • How would you create a behavior modification for a student with ongoing behavior problems?
  • What are some ways you can avoid behavior problems?
  • Without giving any names, describe the most challenging student you’ve ever taught.
  • What would you do to calm an angry parent?
  • Do you have an example of a parent newsletter that you can show us?
  • In what ways do you communicate with parents on a regular basis?
  • A parent calls you because they are worried about their child’s low grades.  What would you say to the parent?
  • A parent writes a note and tells you that their daughter could not complete their homework assignment because she had a dance recital the night before.  What do you do?
  • How do you keep parents informed of their childs’ progress?
  • How do you use technology to enrich your lessons?
  • How computer literate are you?
  • Do you think it is appropriate for children in school to be using the Internet?
  • Give an example of a time when you’ve worked on a team.
  • Describe one time when you’ve acted as a leader.
  • How do you feel about team-teaching?
  • What can you do for a student that is extremely gifted?
  • Describe a gifted student.
  • How would you recommend a child for special education services?
  • Most classes have students with a wide-range of reading abilities.  What can you do to meet the needs of students with high reading abilities and low reading abilities at the same time?
  • What is your least favorite age/grade/subject to teach?  Explain.
  • What is your favorite age/grade/subject to teach?  Explain.
  • What are some of the most important things you learned when student teaching?
  • What was the most satisfying moment throughout your student teaching?
  • What was the most frustrating thing about student teaching?
  • Describe one college course that taught you the most about being a good teacher.
  • Who influenced you to become a teacher?
  • Describe the biggest challenge you’ve ever had to face.
  • What books are you currently reading?
  • A student confides in you and tells you that his parent abuses him.  He asks you not to tell anyone.  What do you do?
  • What is your definition of a life-long learner?  How can you promote life-long learning in your classroom?
  • Would you be willing to help out with extra-curricular activities?  Which ones?
  • Have you ever been a substitute teacher in this school district?
  • What do you look for in a principal?
  • How do you communicate with administrators?
  • Would you like to be part of our new teacher mentor program?
  • What kinds of inservices would you be eager to attend?
  • What professional teaching organizations do you belong to?
  • Have you ever received an award for anything in your lifetime?  Describe.
  • Describe the differences between a good teacher and a great teacher?
  • What were you like as a student?
  • If you teach a lesson and your students don’t seem to be “getting it,” what do you do?
  • How do you provide support for students who are not performing as well as they should?
  • What can you do to meet the needs of students who do not speak English?
  • In what ways can you teach students to be accepting of one-another?
  • How would you teach conflict resolution to your students?
  • Name a book that you’d like to read to (or with) your students.  Describe the book and tell why you chose it.
  • How do you feel about working in an inclusion classroom?
  • How do you meet the needs of a student with an IEP?
  • How would you teach the writing process?
  • Describe a high-interest project that you might assign to your students.
  • What can you offer our school that other candidates cannot?
  • Do you think you are a flexible person?  Explain.
  • What do you like to do when you’re not teaching?
  • How do you incorporate writing into your curriculum?
  • Can you show us what your lesson plan book would look like?
  • How closely do you follow your lesson plans?
  • Where do you plan to be ten years from now?
  • What part of this job are you looking forward to?
  • What part of this job scares you?
  • In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges that teachers face today?
  • Why do you want to teach in this, particular district?
  • How can you make your teaching connect to students’ real-world experiences?
  • Tell me about your references.  Who are they and how do they know you?
  • If I were to call your references, what might they say about you?
  • How can teachers reach out to the community?
  • How do you make sure you are teaching to the state standards?
  • What kinds of materials and supplies would you need to do your job well?

Get Your Outfit in Order

Make sure everything is ironed and laid out the night before so there aren’t any wardrobe emergencies in the morning!

Take a Bubble Bath!

Since I’ve done all of the above, I’m going to do something relaxing – no need to over prepare!!

Photo Wall

One of the things I want to incorporate into my classroom is a photo wall of science. It will include pictures from myself, my students, and any other contributor of pictures of what science means to us. I have had quite a few opportunities to take some pictures for it over the last few weeks between driving across country and settling in Las Vegas, so I wanted to share some with you:

A GM Factory in the MidWest

Mesas in southern Utah

GPS technology brought us safely 2700 miles away from home and found us food and cheap gas!

Spring gardens at the Bellagio

With the generators at the Hoover Dam - my happy place!

The Michael O'Callahan-Pat Tillman Bridge (to be finished November 2010)

I think using a photo wall will be a great way to initiate conversations about the Nature of Science and perhaps some debates over what science is!

My Teaching Portfolio

Awhile ago I wrote about Teaching Portfolios and brainstormed what to include in my own. Well, it’s finished! Here’s the final product:

Index: I found super funky section dividers at Staples that I used to color code the sections of my portfolio. I used these to create a user-friendly index.

Personal Section: BLACK

  • Teaching Philosophy
  • Resume

  • Test Scores
  • Grad School Transcript (this and the test scores might be a bit much, but in the case that a principal wants a copy and I don’t have any with me, I can just pull them out!)
  • References

Someone recommended I mention the blog as often as possible, so I added a line at the bottom of my references sheet that reads, “For more information, visit my blog:”

High School Samples: DARK BLUE

These fantastic section dividers have tabs that you can move anywhere along the side, top, or bottom!

  • 2 samples of high school level lessons
  • Student work associated with the lessons

Middle School Samples: RED

  • 2 samples of middle school level lessons
  • Student work associated with the lessons

Evaluations: TEAL

  • Student Teaching Supervisor’s Observations
  • Cooperating Teachers’ Evaluations

Blog Entries/Teacher as Researcher: ORANGE

  • Sample blog entries – to show the amount of work I  have put into my teaching so far, as well as proof of my ability to use social media in an educational setting.
  • Teacher as Researcher: Parents & the Community project – I am always interested in learning new things and hope a sample of this project will assure a principal that I am always ready for some professional development through workshops and research!

If this post leaves you with questions, please don’t hesitate to email me!


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