Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Week Off-Amazing Silo's of Owens Valley

AHHH. My 15 year old son Anthony is driving my truck. he did Great. All pictures from my cell phone camera.

It's nice to have a week off from school. I am visiting my hometown of Bishop California, located on the eastern Side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the Owens Valley about 300 miles North of the city of Los Angels.

The Owens Valley at Bishop is about 4,100 feet above sea level. The neighboring Sierra and White Mountain ranges soar to over 14,000 feet. This place is known as the DEEPEST VALLEY in the world (my mother makes me add). This even with 1000's of feet of alluvium (eroded Sierra and White mountain rock).

A friend(David Piercy) said take some pictures. So I decided to go on a quest. The old Silo's of long gone ranches. These structures have always captured my sense of wonder for their history and sheer physical mass. These farm silos are the only remnants of the many ranches that spotted the floor of the Owens Valley. (see a painting of "The Matlick Ranch" below painted by my father Ernest G. Kinney).

These were too difficult for the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power to tear down as they bought the water rights to the valley in the 1920's and 30's. My Dad said they tried to tear them down years before I was born and it was a near impossible task. So they stand as mostly lone sentinels of the valley sage covered prairie lands. So Here:

In my dad's painting notice the silo behind the barn. It's amazing to imagine a ranch like this near each of the silo's you are about to see.

Below Quad Silos. Must have been a big ranch. Usually the openings for the silo's faced east. The "windows" would be covered with wood to keep grain/produce in. These are near the river close to Warm Springs road just East of the Owens River (referred to now as the river). This are only 11 concrete rings high, but are the only ones we found set into the ground about 2 rings deep. For the locals you can see the Peaks of Mt. Tom and Humphrey's between the silo's on the 2nd pic.

Below Twin Silo's. We had to cross a creek on a 3 foot wide pipe to get to this one and go through a field of fresh cow-pie land mines. I like the plank at the top . I am leaning against the side for size reference. These are about 14 concrete rings high. It is easier to count them at the site than on the pictures.

In this you can see a small glimpse of Airport road north silo between me and the twin silos. The cows tolerated us and scared my son. In the distance we could hear the distant cry of a cow and I told him to's a Sleestak and they are deadly!
Below is Airport Road Silo middle. (if you exit the airport and cross line street onto the south going dirt road you will see 3 silo sites, one of which is the twin above.) My son Anthony is there for scale. You can barley see Mr Tom and all of Basin Mountain. This one is 11 1/2 concrete rings high.

I love the close up of Anthony (below left) inside the silo. Note the re bar that makes it rally strong. Most of these are full of old beer cans, burnt tires,and spray paint cans.
The Silo below right, the one I tried to be artsy with the sun in the "window" is Airport road north, closest to the airport. It is about 11 and a half rings high.

Below 2 pictures: Ahh, probably the most visited silos of the area by high school kids looking for a place to "PARTY" These are the twin silos near the 2nd artesian well (these wells are springs fed by the water level being higher in the surrounding mountains. There are several of these about the valley. These silos are a graceful 14 concrete rings high and one of only 3 that do not have their openings face east. These face west.

Below is the 1st artesian well just off line street on the west side of the river. The pipe use to be perfectly round but local young idiots (like me) tried to pull them out. I only succeeded in adding one dent to it but MANY to my dads ole white truck. The river is about a stone throw to the right of this photo.

Below is the Silo on Highway 6 just west of the "community" of Laws. You can see the chemical plant and the railroad museum in the background if you can zoom way in. The close-up below is pretty cool too. I think these things will out last the pyramids.

Below are the Twin silos on highway 6 just north of WYE road. People live on the property so I did not get too close.

The Picture below is the Dixon lane silo close to highway 6. I had a closer pic but it got deleted (i hate my cell phone). Up close it looks like the Laws silo but with gray paint covering graffiti. On Warm Springs Road about 3/4 mile east of highway 395 is a short single silo in a working ranch but I lost my photo of it too. This was fun to do today for both me and my son.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Week 13, Day 5: Start Astro and Thanksgiving!

EVEN Block periods: After transcribing the answers from my wrong test version post of 2 days ago we started Astronomy with an interesting INTRO TO ASTRONOMY web search of the ASTRONOMY PICTURE OF THE DAY website...THE BEST WEBSITE ON THE WEB.

I am thankful for being an 8th grade science teacher. I love working with these wonderful kids. They let me keep in touch with my inner child...which is pretty close to the surface.
Astronomy Picture of the Day
The Introduction to Astronomy assignment is an interesting web search from this NASA sponsored site. You can download a copy of the worksheet from my web site listed below on the calendar for today. Here is today's Picture.

Explanation: This bright meteor streaked through dark night skies over
Sutherland, South Africa on November 15. Potentially part of the annual Leonid meteor shower, its sudden, brilliant appearance, likened to a camera's flash, was captured by chance as it passed between two clouds. Of course, the two clouds are also visible to the eye in dark southern skies - the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds - satellite galaxies of our own Milky Way. This year's Leonid meteor shower peaked on November 17 as the Earth passed through the stream of dust from periodic comet Tempel-Tuttle.
Happy thanksgiving. Clear and Steady skies.
Hope this helps,
Love to Teach and Teach with Passion
Remember...It's not Magic, It's Science

Week 13, Day 4: My room is quiet now...and give your students MORE TIME

ODD Block period-Students taking Force and Motion Benchmark test.

Last week I po$ted that my air conditioner NEVER $TOP$. The next day two district energy tech's were in my room, one of them the district ENERGY CZAR himself (an old colleague and friend..$tu Ogren). The next day I had total control of the AC unit blower. I have never heard the class so quiet. Yippie. Money talk$.

When my students ask me why I have so many clocks in my room I tell them, "In the past, students would complain that they needed more time in class. So I gave it to them with the clocks with times from around the world. As a kid watching the Mary Tyler Moore show, I was fascinated with all the clocks on the wall of the newsroom. The Utahraptor on the bottom left says "Feeding time Jurassic Park". I have an "Atomic Clock" with elements 1-12 symbols instead of numbers. I turned a model of the Starship Enterprise into a clock. It's silly and it's fun. You need to do a bit silly and have fun with your middle school kids.

So there...take that!

Hope this helps,

Love to Teach and Teach with Passion

Remember...It's not Magic, It's Science

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Week 13, Day 3: wrong answer sheet

I found out after school today that I gave the old version of a test but used the new test version's answer sheet. I found this out after I scanned them into the district test data base. At least the two tests have the same questions, just in a different order. Agh. At least my horror of seeing the highest score of 12 out of 22 can now be replaced with relief that I'm the slow learner and not my students.

Hope this helps,

Love to Teach and Teach with Passion

Remember...It's not Magic, It's Science

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Week 13, Day 2-learn from your mistakes

I over reacted day before yesterday. A student was slow to turn forward during a quiz. Instead of quietly talking to him I did it in front of the class. This brought attention to him and gave him a chance to talk back. A rookie mistake on my part. I apologized to him today. It was the right thing to do. As experienced as we get through the years we can get frustrated do something best avoided.

The CSTA Newsletter had an article about this. Wish I read it last week.

Hope this helps,

Love to Teach and Teach with Passion

Remember...It's not Magic, It's Science

Monday, November 16, 2009

Week 13, Day 1: Review..for fun.

Today we took ch 1 Vocabulary quiz, review ch 1 practice test, and DID THE STEAM ENGINE LAB.

Today's Best Practice: Review games. I use SCIENCE BINGO and SCIENCE JEOPARDY. I review and work my students quiet a bit. These games make it fun. I also give out candy prizes, usually Jolly ranchers because they are pretty cheap. Jeopardy is on a power point slide show, you can download them(and bingo) on my CSTA teacher link on my school web page. I make a blank grid and students fill in the answers as we go.

Also shown is the grid for SCIENCE BINGO. I print this template off sometimes, but if I did not get to print it off or if the paper budget is tight I have students draw it on binder paper.

Thank you Mr. Thornburg, by middle school HISTORY OF THE SIERRA NEVADA teacher. He made a game called HOTSN (History Of The Sierra Nevada). It was bingo with words in place of numbers. He inspired my remake of his game.

WHEN I REVIEW with Science Bingo I have at least one round that is the definition round, I call only the definitions ( I do this about the 2nd or 3rd game). This is pretty fun. I give candy out at the end of the period, and students have to show me their grids after each win to verify.
If you have some fun review game ideas please share.

Hope this helps,

Love to Teach and Teach with Passion

Remember...It's not Magic, It's Science

Friday, November 13, 2009

Week 12, Day 4(short week): Steam Engine Lab

We took the Ch 2 vocab quiz and Did the STEAM ENGINE LAB.(3rd law lab).

Today's Best Practice: Ask kids to bring in supplies. The past two weeks I have been receiving aluminum cans. They will bring you almost anything you need, especially if their parents find out. I give a small amount of extra credit for the items they bring. I also make sure that the list is wide and easy to bring for those low social economic families. GO to the very bottom of my home page for a copy of my supply list.

We make an ACTION-REACTION steam engine out of an aluminum can, small Styrofoam cup, masking and duct tape, a sewing pin and a 1.5 cm square aluminum square cut out of a soda can and with a hole poked in the middle.


The kids love this lab. They are half afraid of the Bunsen Burners and TOTALLY AMAZED WITH THE LABORATORY FLINT'd think I was walking around with a real light saber.

The can gets spinning so fast (if made well) that you cannot read any writing on the can.

For the Lab work sheet you can go to my website, then TEACHERS , THEN FUN WITH FORCE AND MOTION AND THEN HERO'S ENGINE

Attention: the burner bust be set to about a 1.5 to 2 inch flame. IF you make the flame too big it will heat the can too quickly and either pop the top or melt the cup.

Hope this helps,

Love to Teach and Teach with Passion

Remember...It's not Magic, It's Science

Week 12, Day 3: Candy and HOW TO STUDY

We reviewed Ch 2 (forces) and Began Ch 1 review and got cauget up on reading passages-FALL OF GALILEO and NEWTON:APLLES, MOONS, QUESTIONS.

My kids will do almost any thing for a Jolly Rancher candy. If I need the floor picked up, or the tables wiped, or lab equipment put away or brought out, or if I want them to raise their hand and participate in class.

I suggest you have some on hand. My candy holder is DARTH TATER show at left. I have a Star Wars motif in my room. A light saber makes a nice presentation pointer.

We reviewed chapter 2. I gave the kids a copy of the review questions from the book. I think they gave it a good guess but did not find the answer. We often tell kids to STUDY FOR THE TEST but don't show them. Here is what I showed them to do.

--Turn off your cell phone and Internet chat programs--
1) Open your textbook to the chapter, look at pictures, data tables, bold words.
2) Open your notes to the material covered and reread and make a question/summary for each section.
3) Get out any Vocabulary definitions and re-read them and have handy for later.
4) Get any worksheets from that chapter/lesson
5) If you have a review sheet answer each question.
6) If you are unsure about a word or question LOOK IT UP IN THE MATERIALS ABOVE!
7) Ask a parent, older sibling, or your teacher for help.

Hope this helps,

Love to Teach and Teach with Passion

Remember...It's not Magic, It's Science

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Week 12, Day 2: Noi$y AC unit

My learning director dropped by yesterday for a quick observation of my lesson. She stayed a few minutes, and left an evaluation note on my desk, one comment was "with air blowing hard to hear". I have tried for 2 years to get the #2 blower to be under my control. IT NEVER $TOP$ blowing... 24:7:365.

I wrote a letter to my principal, my LD, our lead custodian, and our district "energy czar" Monday afternoon. Every S in the email was a $.

Two men showed up with walkie talkies and were trying to fix the problem this morning. The kids were more interested in staring at the men than focusing on the. Force review.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Week 12, Day 1:

Book reading passage and turn in the Friction Lab...Finally! Finishing this lab is like Saturday Night Live in the 7o's updating the health of Generalissimo Francisco Franco months after he passed away. In my Honors Science we started the compression lab.

Today's Best Practice: Have a camera handy and take pictures of your labs, student work, room, lessons, your students, your classes, steps in a procedure, even data (as in the simple end of the day survey of WHAT IS FRICTION at at right...this was my first use of formative assessment)

Reflection: This was one of those days that nothing went as planned. BUT IT WAS A GOOD DAY. I had morning duty all last week so I looked forward to having time before school to slip into to the day. Only didn't get in as early as I wanted then looked at my lesson plan book only to see that I was 6 minutes late for a meeting with my principal for a committee I volunteered for. My lab I planned for today had to wait for us to finish the previous lab...ahh. Then my prep period evaporated and I didn't get to get out for lunch and I blah blah blah. BUT IT WAS A GOOD DAY...just long.

I got some good feedback with my formative assessment survey. Now the 2nd part, how do I use it to form my next lesson and any reteaching. Do I say 1/2 the kids getting the concept is okay...move on? Here is a photo of the same survey but from my Honors science class.

Hope this helps,
Love to Teach and Teach with Passion
Remember...It's not Magic, It's Science

Friday, November 6, 2009

Week 11, Day 4: Good, bad, and Ashes!

Today: Force Vocabulary quiz, Book Reading Passage, Finish Friction lab...finally(see photo at right).

This is a good year. I've had about 4 GREAT YEARS* and about 5 BAD years. Most have been good years. One of the bad years I had some great kids, one of which gave me an end of the year gift shown below. I love that bowl. Sometimes I keep pistachio nuts in it, often it is used to hold the words for SCIENCE BINGO.

*My year teaching High School was a great year despite how miserable is was missing middle school kids and curriculum.

A friend of mine and former colleague, David Piercy, (perhaps I should call him a distant colleague) is helping me get into FORMATIVE ASSESSMENTS. He says it will change my teaching style. I need to get better feedback from my students. Getting it from lab write-ups is just to minimal. I need to get in the habit of giving the kids an assessment every day, even if just a simple "WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT __________". I've got about another 10 years of teaching in me. I don't want to become a dinosaur in my class. I'm getting slower and I hope I can keep my head above the silt and not get mineralized.

Hope this helps,

Love to Teach and Teach with Passion

Remember...It's not Magic, It's Science

Week 11, Day 3: taking too long on labs.

Today students took their Force vocabulary quiz , Finished the Friction lab and began to review for the unit test.

Today's Best Practice: Make a "Notes Wall" for students that missed class to use as a tool to get missing work. In the past I would print little notes for them (easy since my notes are on power point). Now I post them on the back wall. All my notes are on my webpage for them to copy as well but few do.

I have taken too long to get labs completed. In the past we did them in class, set up the graph and then they went home and finished (well about 1/3 would finish them). Now I'm taking 2 (or 3) class periods and not making them take them home. I like giving them more time, but I need to end it on the 2nd day. My problem stems from the differing rates that various classes can get stuff done. And I'm trying to do too much.

Hope this helps,

Love to Teach and Teach with Passion

Remember...It's not Magic, It's Science

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Week 11, Day 2: changing pace, altering direction

Today we reviewed the motion unit, reading passage about Issac Newton figuring out gravity, and finished the data collection for the Friction lab.

One result of our staff development day on Monday was seeing that Motion was the standard we scored lowest on last year. It's the first unit we do and I think the most difficult...lots of graph reading.

An action plan we decided upon: to review motion throughout the year.

I read a lot to my students. I'm going to try having them read the passage then I will go over the main points after. This will be a big change for me, one that does not come easy. But I need to try it, otherwise I'm a step closer to bring a dinosaur.

Week 11, Day 1: Lesson pacing and formative assessments

It feels like I am behind schedule. I'm near the end of the Force and Motion Unit. I'm thinking about two more weeks to finish. One of my colleagues has already finished it an is almost through with the astronomy unit.

A colleague of mine put it to me perfectly, "What's the point of moving on if students aren't getting it?"

That comment reminded me to take a look at my lesson pacing. To slow down and make sure I'm covering material at an appropriate pace. At the NSTA conference last year I attended a session on (in)formative assessment. Many of the teachers said, "I DO LOTS OF LABS BECAUSE THE KIDS LIKE THEM AND I HAVE FEWER BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS...BUT SOME KIDS ARE NOT UNDERSTANDING HOW OR WHY THE LAB FITS INTO WHAT I WANT THEM TO LEARN...THERE IS A DISCONNECT."

I was so happy to hear that comment made. I do that all the time. I hate testing, but formative assessments can be varied in nature and easy or fancy.

So, I am going to slow down today and rest of this week and make sure my students are understanding why we are doing all the labs and I am going to give some short assessments, most likely 2 questions answered on an index card.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Week 11, Day 0: Staff Development Day

We had a really good day. NO TALKING HEADS to have to listen to. You need to be Proactive in planning what you do.

Years ago our science department was trapped in an excellent session on reading and language strategies. I decided NEVER AGAIN will I allow my time to be wasted. I planned an all middle school staff day for our school district. We had a chance to share best practices and lessons and meet each other and begin to network. YOU CAN HELP MAKE YOUR NEXT STAFF DAY BE A SUCCESS.