Archive for the ‘Professional Development’ Category

NSTA 2011 Here and Gone Again

As promised, I will be writing up some of the sessions I attended this past weekend…since this was my first conference as a presenter, I spent less time in sessions as usual, but I did learn quite a few new tricks!

This weekend was also exciting since the conference was held in San Francisco – thousands of science teachers in a city with a tsunami warning; I can bet lots of lesson plans were changed (including my own) to focus on the current events in Japan.

So be on the lookout for:

  • Parent-teacher communication and involvement ideas
  • How to host a physics-themed haunted house
  • Ways to make the most of the Holt Introductory Physics textbook
  • Accessing understanding of ELL students
  • Skills to help ELL students understand science
  • Exhibit hall highlights

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!


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!

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!


Last weekend I went to the annual SCONYC conference for New York City Science Teachers. Here’s a summary of the day:

Forensic Microscopy Workshop – My fellow TC-ers and I headed up a a workshop on forensic microscopy. It was a bit disappointing because it didn’t end up being as hands on as we had hoped, but I got a few good pictures out of it:

playing with a lens and camera

a classmate’s split ends – it was amazing that we could use the digital camera to capture what we saw in the microscope!

Operation Shellshock – Key Address by Lt. Richard Thomas of the New York State Police

There were a myriad technical difficulties, so we couldn’t hear most of his talk, but Lt. Thomas handled them well! He spoke about his experience working under cover to help stop the black market trade of indigenous New York amphibian and reptiles.

Active Physics – This was a fantastic workshop given by John Roeder of The Calhoun School in Manhattan. In my methods classes, we have worked a lot with different Active Physics activities, but I had never grasped how the curriculum as a whole worked. As John walked us through the curriculum, I was quickly convinced that I would definitely use this curriculum if given the opportunity! I’m heading over to his school in two weeks to observe him in action.

The conference was held at the incredible Stuyvesant High School in Battery Park City.

The school has escalators that travel two floors at a time. It also has these fantastic tiles I forgot to take a picture of: they are glass boxes with some sort of memorabilia from each year since the school was started. So cool! We even got to eat in a cafeteria that overlooked the Hudson River.

NY Center for Space Education – Katherine Brown, of the NYC Challenger Center, gave a talk and materials based on several different NASA-designed science curriculum. We even got free UV beads :)

If you have a Challenger Center near you, go check it out! They are amazing places and fantastic resources for professional development and field trips.

Joy of Chemistry – all I can say about this workshop is that I want to grow up to be as crazy as the two women who presented it! They spent the hour demonstrating awe-inspiring chemistry experiments and describing how they can be effective in the classroom. Their effort to remind us that science is fun was easily rewarded as the room was packed and we were all on the edge of our seats! They recommended reading the book “The Flying Circus of Physics with Answers” for us physics people and gave us the procedure for each of their demonstrations:

  • Floating Golf Ball (my favorite!)
  • Fortune Fish
  • Switch Pitch Ball
  • Magic Sand
  • Secret Message with Window Cleaner
  • Flash Paper
  • Naked Eggs
  • Blue & Orange/Gold Reaction
  • Collapsing Soda Bottle
  • Magic Birthday Candles
  • Soda Geyser (I learned you can use seltzer instead of diet coke – much easier cleanup!)

In addition to the workshops, we had a great walk through the exhibit hall. I’m hoping a few of the booths I left my name with will be sending some sample text books!

First Day of School Activities

From a lecture by Jessica Riccio.

As I’m going to be a first year teacher in the fall, I’m starting to think about how to organize my classroom and curriculum. We had a helpful discussion in class the other day and generated the following list of first day of school activities:

  • Have students build the tallest plastic cup tower – without talking! This will lead to a great conversation about why communication is so important in science.
  • Word Search with vocabulary from the entire curriculum.
  • Time Capsule with individual student goals and misconceptions. I really want to do this with my classes to give the students an opportunity to see their own growth throughout the year.
  • Wear a normal teaching outfit with one mismatched accessory (sneakers with a dress). Have students make observations about why you might have chosen to wear such a wacky combination.
  • Have student make collages of themselves and tape them together to form a class quilt.
  • Perform a “purse dump” (backpacks work well too) by dumping out your purse contents onto the table and having student draw conclusions about you. A great way to introduce yourself to students.
  • Have 2-4 students be the scientists and send them into the hallway. The remainder of the class learns 3 new rules for behavior: ex. only yes or no answers, only speak to people with similar symbols on the name tag, and only answer yes to questions asked with a smile. The scientists much determine what the rules are by asking questions.

Seating Chart for the First Day

After stumbling upon the Classroom Management Protocols; Designing an Environment for Success, I couldn’t help but dream about how to set up a seating chart for the first day.

I’m not too keen on alphabetical seating charts – especially by last name since those kids get grouped together on a regular basis. The first day of school would be a great way to mix things up and provide students with a Nature of Science (NOS) activity.

If you arrange the seats alphabetically by middle name or by first name in a spiral pattern, you can give kids the opportunity to figure out how the room is arranged. Since I am hoping to get a Physics teaching job, my students will be 11th and 12th graders and will know each other enough to begin to figure out the pattern. It’s a great way to point out to them that they already possess the skills necessary to “do science”: they naturally observe, predict, and question in order to find an answer.

Which methods of seating students have you found most successful?