Archive for December, 2010

Will you be at NSTA 2011??

I sure will!!

Last year, several grad school colleagues and I presented research on parent-teacher-student communication via this blog and we were selected to present our findings at the National Conference in San Francisco.

Please feel free to come to our session on Saturday, March 13. More details to come and we will be collecting more data from our new schools…until then, feel free to read our data and conclusions from last year.

See you in March!

The Importance of Winter Break 2010

Phew! Four days into my first winter break as a teacher and I can finally relax enough to write a few updates!

The last week of school went much smoother than I had anticipated. I had a guest speaker on Tuesday and Thursday and Friday we watched videos: Physics saw October Sky and the freshmen watched the Life series. The faculty had a Secret Santa event going on all week long, so it was a huge encouragement to find little chocolates on my desk each morning :)

The end of the week was capped off with a door decorating contest. My 2nd period freshmen got very motivated and came up with a great end result. While we did not win, I am so proud of how hard they work, how creative they were, and how maturely they cooperated with each other; they just raised my expectations!! It was a great moment of camaraderie that we have not been able to experience until now.

Over winter break, I have the privilage of writing two more finals before heading back East to see family. I am so excited for a mental and emotional break from the kids. As one of my colleagues told his students, “Vacations are not for students, you would survive without them. Vacations are for teachers so we don’t kill you.”

With that, I leave you with a picture of 2nd period’s creation:

Merry Christmas from The Grinch, Max, & Room 1007!!

Guest Speaker: Accident Reconstruction

Today I had my first guest speaker (the cheaper alternative to a field trip!). Officer Michael Lemley of the Las Vegas Police Department came to speak to my physics students about accident reconstruction today. It was great for someone else to be in charge of the class and it was so fun to hear my students asking questions and thinking through this particular application of physics!

Officer Lemley was wonderful. He kept the kids laughing and made clear connections between the content and the real-world. One of my favorite parts of the day was Lemley’s insistence that he wishes he had paid more attention to his classes in high school because he had to relearn it all 20 years later. He told my students he never thought he would use his high school knowledge, but it always comes back.

He closed by talking about the cause of most fatal accidents he works on: distracted drivers. He illustrated several instances of people dying because they were texting or on the phone. He asked students why the United States is not willing to show gruesome commercials about drunk and distracted driving; the kids got into quite a debate over offending people v. being honest about consequences.

Since he was in the building for the whole day, he addressed my 9th grade general science classes for the last 20 minutes – I think it was the first time they had heard about applications of science in the “real world”. In my 5th period, I have a specific young gentleman who has the potential to be a lovely person, but has chosen bad friends and a worse attitude instead. When Officer Lemley began addressing the class, he asked the young man what career he would like to pursue. When my student answered the Army, Lemley told him that his attitude would not allow him to be successful. As the boy began to answer, “What attitude??!”, Lemley made him aware of the fact that he had been observing the class during our lecture time. The kid came up to me after class and whispered very softly, “Miss, I’ll never give you a hard time in class again!”. I then discovered that the kids thought Lemley was my personal friend and I had asked him to come in on account of their behavior – ha!

I am so glad I had Officer Lemley come to class – I am really looking forward to inviting more guest speakers soon!

So excited!!

I just received an extremely exciting piece of mail. Can’t wait to share all about it!

Fluids Unit

I started the fluids unit this week (I’m going shallow and wide with the curriculum so the kids can get exposed to as much as possible). For some reason, my kids love talking about and asking questions about buoyancy, Bernoulli, pressure, etc.

What is suprising me the most is that the kids who usually don’t pay attention or do their work are the ones most enthralled. And when I say enthralled, I mean interrupting class every 40 seconds to ask questions when they are usually talking with friends or resting their head on the desk. It’s baffling.

I have no clue what the reason is for the changes, but since it has been so successful, I figured I’d come up with something to share. Check back soon for a summary of the scaffolding I’ve provided them with over the last few days.. I hope it will help somebody!

Can You Speak the Language?

I realize that I’ve been avoiding blogging lately.

School is much better. My discouragement with 9th graders went away when I found out that my license endorsements will not allow me to teach the freshmen course again next year. There is an end in sight!

A funny thing happened this week – we started a fluids unit and several students who do not usually apply themselves have become incredibly studious! One has even said all this stuff (buoyancy force and density) are so fascinating! Haha, I can’t even understand it.

Tuesday was the most hilarious student conversation I’ve ever had. It went something like the following:

Student: (after seeing a picture of me and my husband in London) “Ms, you went to London?”

Me: “Yes, I lived in England for 7 months.”

Student: “So…you can speak the language?”

Me: (long, very long, pause) “You realize they speak English, right?!”

Student: (thinks about it) “Yea, so you could communicate with them?”

I could not believe my ears. And this was a bright student. I think this is going to be one of my favorite teaching stories. I need to figure out how to submit comments to Readers Digest :)

I’ll be working hard to get back to blogging soon…