Sunday, February 28, 2010

Week 24, Day 5: Reading, Reading, Outlining, and Jury Duty.

EVEN BLOCK SCHEDULE: Go over the INTRO TO THE ATOM homework, Reading a passage to my students: A MEASURE OF HIS SUCCESS, Show students how to outline a textbook chapter.

I often read a science story to my students and have them ACTIVELY LISTEN by recording key words and definitions, facts and reactions to the story. Today's story is about Lavoisier figuring out the law of conservation of matter.

See my school website--California Teachers--Reading passages for my power point and a copy of the story.

This is a nice way to introduce that theory and to introduce balancing equations.

I have rarely have kids read their science textbooks.  They often have to to the chapter vocabulary but rarely read it.  I have decided to have them read and outline certain chapter sections. Students really went to work on it in class.  I was amazed actually.

My colleague Sean Marzolf has Jury duty.  For the next 3 weeks.  Once a week we will plan to have his substitute teacher and me switch rooms so his kids can do a lab.

I hope this helps,

Love to Teach, and Teach with Passion!

It's not Magic, It's Science!

Week 24, Day 4: Olympiating with Sceince Olympiad

ODD BLOCK SCHEDULE: Same lesson as yesterday. Did both kinetic lmand pressure balloon labs in honors science today.

This week I took a really good look at the rules for the Science Olympiad event that I am running for our regional event. The rules say that the propellers for the wind turbine cannot be comercially made.
I had the kids use radio control airplane props. We caught it in time and they made some from thin ply wood. They got to use my scroll saw to cut the wood.

A few weeks ago another student learned how to solder wires to make a solubility tester. She had so much fun...especially when WE accidently burned my finger.
We took our team picture today for Science Olympiad.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Week 24, Day 3: Atom Mystery Box

ODD BLOCK SCHEDULE: Atom Mystery Box, Bill Nye Physical Science, Begin Intro to the Atom H.W.

Here is the contents of the Atom Mystery Box. This is a fun little activity showing how you can figure out some information about an object.

As they shake and listen I put a magnet up to it and they see if their atom is magnetic.  Then I show a couple of "x-ray slides" showing fuzzy images of stuff inside.

When the students finally open it up they really get a kick out of seeing whats in it. I suggect you put some rubber insects or lizzards inside.

This activity is to demonstrate how indirect evidence can allow us to make inferences about what we cannot see. My website has the power point lesson you can download and use.

I hope this helps,

Love to Teach and Teach with Passion

It's not Magic, It's Science

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Week 24, Day 2: School District Tightening the Belt

EVEN BLOCK SCHEDULE: Same lesson as yesterday.  Honors science take Density unit test.

Our district has still to cut several  million dollars from the budget. Were are moving into almost panic mode. We will have 3 training days furloughed, and take a 2% pay cut.  Ouch.

The lab is a total blast. So glad I am a middle school science teacher. See previous entry for more details on the balloon pressure lab.

I hope this helps.

Love to Teach, and Teach with Passion!

It’s not Magic, It’s Science!

Week 24, Day 1: PRESSURE....or.....The Balloon Lab!

ODD BLOCK PERIOD:  Finish States of Matter notes and do the Balloon Pressure Lab.

For notes today I had students draw the Phase change diagram into their notes.  They seemed pleased to find out why dry ice is called "dry"

The lab today was to show how heating air expnads, increases air pressure, and can push a balloon up and off a flask.  Then, when the air cools, it shrinks, creates a suction and pulls the balloon into the flask. This lab is on my website.

Oops, the very first picture in the should actually be last. Sorry about that.

I hope this helps,

Love to Teach and Teach with Passion!

It's not Magic, It's Science!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Week 23, Day 4: Kinetic Lab...Fire and Water!

EVEN BLOCK: Begin Chemistry.  Kinetic Theory notes and first of 2 labs  Honors Science finishing the buoyancy lab.

I start the Chemistry unit with phases of matter.  Things we can see.  My text book starts with parts of the atom and how they were discovered. I prefer to start with what we can see, then go into the theory and the discoveries.

States of matter. SOLID, LIQUID, GAS.  Phase change: Melting, Boiling, Freezing, Sublimation and Deposition. Expansion of heated objects.  It can be a lot of fun.Here is how.

After notes on the kinetic theory (all matter made of tiny moving particles) students go to the lab stations and literally play work with fire.

BIMETALLIC STRIP bends with heat as one metal expands faster, then shrinks and straightens the metal when cooled.  Fun! Big bang for the buck. (that means kids love it and it is easy to set up..YES IT IS STANDARDS BASED BUT I'D DO IT IF IT WASN'T!).This shows heating expands matter and cooling will shrink matter, also shows that some metals absorb heat faster than others.

BALL AND RING (or rod and slot) Ball (rod) barely fits in the hole (slot) when cool.  When heated the ball (rod) expands and no longer fits in the hole (slot). This shows heating expands matter and cooling will shrink matter
ALUMINUM CAN IMPLOSION.  Heat the soda can (make sure it is rinsed of all soda and has a touch of water inside) for about 20 seconds, just enough to heat and boil off the water, steam comes out, you hear sizzling, and QUICK IMMERSE IT UPSIDE DOWN IN THE BUCKET OF WATER AND PHLOOM ...IT IMPLODES.
I tell the kids that this demo sucks.  It does. The can and air inside cool so quickly that water does not have enough time to be sucked in so it sucks the walls in instead.  This shows cooling will shrink matter.

FIVE METAL WAND OF HEAT CONDUCTION.  This shows how Aluminum, Copper, Brass, Nickel and Steel (Iron) conduct heat at different rates.  Each rod end is dipped in melted wax ,from a candle, and then the wand is placed over the bunsen burner and you time how long it takes for the wax at the tip to melt. Copper goes first at about 25 seconds and Nickel takes almost 3 minutes. This shows heating expands matter and  that some metals absorb and transfer heat faster than others.

In the last photo you can see that Copper (near left) has already melted and that Aluminum (near right) is in the process of just starting to melt the wax.
I hope this helps.

Love to Teach and Teach with Passion.
It's not Magic, It's Science.

Week 23, Day 3 : Don't let your textbook plan your lessons

ODD BLOCK SCHEDULE: Begin Chemistry: Kinetic Theory notes and lab. (Except period 1, I gave them the wrong test so we are a day behind.

A textbook can be a great aid. Some have more chapters than you need. Some are organized from small to large while others are large to small.  We have 12 chapters in our textbook. No frilly extra chapters.  It is taylored for California Science Standards. Ours(Glencoe Focous on Physical Science) starts with Motion & Force then Density then Chemistry then Astonomy.  It goes from small to large.

Here is the order of chapters I teach: 1,2,11,12,3,6,4,7,5,8,9,10.  I do not plan my lesson by the chapter design order of some editor that may not have even taught middles school.  Plus we all have a different style. I prefer to begin with Motion and Force because the labs reinforce the steps of the scientific method and I can use that as a reference when kids decide to do a science fair project.

I have a class set of texts in my room so my students do not have to lug them around in their backpacks. I usually have students use them for  Vocabulary, Test review Questions, a topical reading passage, and then review for test.  I should make them read it.  Some chapters I do have them read portions as a class opener.  I do not do that enough.  I will do that more...I just need to decide what do I cut out of my lessons.  Perhaps I'll do a demo in place of the lab.

For years I taught without a textbook. We had one in the mid 90's that was so bad that they did not have a periodic table in it.  I mean c'mon.  We had to develop all materials our selves.  It became a lab based class.

The teacher is the biggest indicator of student performance in a class. Use the book to help you.  If you are new you may rely on it more. But please dont make your class a "Today in science we are reading and doing the worksheet on textbook pages blah blah blah to blah blah blah. you 'spose the kids are going to dislike science if this is how they get it?

For new teachers of science FIND A SCIENCE TEACHER THAT IS PASIONATE ABOUT THEIR SUBJECT  and use them as a mentor.

I hope this helps,

Love to Teach and Teach with Passion!

It's not Magic, It's Science!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Week 23, Day 2: Thinking of Dad.

EVEN BLOCK SCHEDULE: Same lesson as yesterday. Honors Science Turned in their Sabotage forensic lab unit and all but finished the Buoyance unit.

I spend so much of my time in my room at luncha nd after school working on sceince olympiad that it can drive me nuts. It was fun in class today a lunch is the Sceince olympiad kids, but my frustration level is increasing.  only 2 more weeks until it is done.

About 2 years ago my father lost his eldest son, my brother Ernie age 63. About 1 year ago my Dad passed away at age 90. I spent this weekend in my home town of Bishop California visiting my Mom and siblings. I have been thinking a lot about my Dad this week.  He lived a long and interesting life. A character with character. We all had a lot of time to prepare for his passing. Me most of all.  Being the youngest of 6 kids I am between 10 to 20 years younger than my siblings. Dad was in his 60"s when I went to college, a time when many of his friends were passing away.  Every time my dorm telphone would ring I would wonder if "THIS WAS THE CALL"?.  I had to wait 30 years for that call.  I think I may have been the best prepared for his passing due to years of mental preparation.

The photo is 3 generations of family, Dad (grand marshall of MULE DAYS), Ernie, and my son Anthony.  That was a fun day.

Dad thank you for your work ethic, it has helped to make me a great teacher and a good citizen.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Week 23, Day 1: Student knowledge, Looking back, Looking forward

ODD BLOCK SCHEDULE: Taking unit Density test and completing the 1st semester science standards pre-post survey

The first week of school I give my students a survey of the 1st semester sceince standards. They check off how well they know the standard.  Most students mark None(1) or A Little bit(2), etc. The scale goes up to Got It All (5).

Today I gave them that same survey sheet and they answered it again using different post semester check off symbols from the pre-survey.

After students complete the post survey check off they add up the pre and post survey points.  This data is used to fill in a 5 axis graph, called a RADARGRAM.

The students pre semester knowledge becomes a small pentagon with the post semester data becoming a larger outer concentric pentagon.  The area between represents the amout of knowledge they have gained.

Students are usually amazed at, "How much I learned".  It is really neat to see their surprise and see their self appraisal graph.

If time permits I allow them to color the radargram.  It looks nicer and 8th graders are just big kindergarteners and love to color.

The top 2 photos show the chart of an honors student. The bottom photo is a bit more typical of the look of the radargrams. 

These charts were shown to me years ago when our school district went through a lot of BALDRIDGE TRAINING. It was a method of "getting all our arrows pointing the same direction". I took our state science standards and turned it into this tool.  Students also get to give me feedback about favorite activities and what they would like me to change.

I hope this helps.

Love to teach and Teach with Passion

It's not Magic, It's Science!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Week 22, Day 4 :Ho-Hum and Qualities Great teachers.

EVEN BLOCK SCHEDULE: Same lesson as yesterday.

Today was just an okay day. I prefer days to be really fun or busy or crazy. It was neat seeing all the students in here for sci oly at lunch.
In Honors Science the Sabotage unit lab time over. Now we need to get caught up to my other classes.

A friend sent me an article about great teacher qualities.
Here are 10 qualities of a great teacher according to the article:
(1) has a sense of humor;
(2) is intuitive;
(3) knows the subject matter;
(4) listens well;
(5) is articulate;
(6) has an obsessive/compulsive side;
(7) can be subversive; *
(8) is arrogant enough to be fearless;
(9) has a performer’s instincts;
(10) is a real taskmaster.
*I think this should be"team player" or ENJOYS KIDS or Loves their subject and teaches it with passion or helps colleagues orimprooves 10% per year)
Here is the source:
Qualities of Great Teachers.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Week 22, Day 3: Making review a bit more fun with BINGO!

ODD BLOCK PERIOD: Review day (yecch) but bingo saved me...and new seating chart.

I was going to close the Buoyancy unit today with the Benchmark test but I didn’t think they were ready for it so I substituted a vocabulary quiz and pushed the test to next week.

We played science bingo today. It’s fun. A nice way to review vocabulary and for a few pieces of hard candy (I prefer Jolly Ranchers, kids love them and they are not chocolate which has a real short lifespan around me.)

I spent my whole prep period making a power point key for last nights homework. I thought I had one already made. I love power point. I had other plans for my prep period...but making a power point is a good 2nd choice.

My honors class needs to finish the Sabotage unit lab stations tomorrow afternoon, Some students will be out for a choir festival and will miss class. So I let them come in during my lunch day-off and work on the project today at lunch. Fun. We will need to play catch-up next week before we start Chemistry.

I hope this helps,
Love to Teach and Teach with Passion!
It's not Magic, It's Science

Week 22, Day 2: Nerds, Dorks,Honors Students, and Role Models.

EVEN BLOCK SCHEDULE: Buoyancy Boat Lab. Honors Science Field trip to the California State University, Fresno Downing Planetarium.

I took my honors science class to see a show at the Planetarium. I love these kids. Honors Kids are different. I like the NERD in them and I mean that with love and respect. I am a Nerd too. I don’t totally relate to them, I was never a type A over achiever in school (at least not until I was in Navy A school and wanted to get home as fast as possible in their self pace program). In middle school I was so totally clueless. I was a nice kid in class, loved movies and how things work, but I was clueless about strange things like homework, studying, finishing an assignment…turning in one.

Anyway, I loved hanging out with students in the bus and at the show. A former student of mine, form my Honors Science class 5 years ago, one of the winners of the Smittcamp Scholarship, to came and talk to my students. She did a great job and it was so cool to see her and to see what a great role model she is. Thank you Lainie.(Photo:she is on the top row 4th from the right)

I don’t just love my Honors Kids. My dorky or distracted students I totally get. I am was one. This is the reason I want to teach regular classes. My honors students will do fine with almost anyone as their teacher. I want to make sure that regular students have a great teacher. If they are really like me they may be a late bloomer too, and one day they decide to be Nerdy Science teacher too.

We had Monday off. No more field trips on a short week.

I hope this helps,

Love to Teach and Teach with Passion!
It's not Magic, It's Science

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Week 22, Day 1: Floating Archemides

ODD BLOCK PERIOD: Buoyancy Boat Lab.
Archimedes principal is pretty easy…if stated easy. Try this: IF YOU WEIGH 120 POUNDS, THEN THE WATER YOU DISPLACE WHEN FLOATING WILL ALSO WEIGH 120 POUNDS.

In this lab students take a 4 ounce plastic cup, place between 5 to 40 pennies in the cup, weigh it, float it, capture the overflow, measure the overflow, then make a graph and see show close together your data points plot out.
When you have students do a group lab they each need to have a job. This lab has the "masser", the volume person, the graduated cylinder person and if a 4th person a calculator.

Week 21, Day 5:Paper towel dispenser. You won’t believe this

EVEN BLOCK SCHEDULE: Begin Buoyancy with notes and Bill Nye Buoyancy video.

Today’s big plan is to move the towel dispenser from under the front podium in a cabinet to someplace that it can actually be used. It can be used best in the back of the room between two sinks.
At a team meeting last week we found out the reason the dowel dispenser was placed in this local. Are you ready?

Here you go.
When the school first opened the sinks in the podiums tended to leak a little. So, the logical thing to do is…put a towel dispenser to clean up the leak. I mean why check the seals and tighten up the pipe joints when you could just…constantly wipe up a drippy mess.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Week 21, Day 4: The Best Bill Nye VIdeo, Dumpster Diving and Burning my finger!

ODD BLOCK PERIOD: Begin Buoyancy with the Bill Nye Buoyancy Video, Give and fill-in notes.

The BEST BILL NYE VIDEO is the Buoyancy Video.  It is perfect for 8th graders, 8th grade curriculum, and it has HIGH DENSITY info on Buoyancy. Our next lab, The Buoyancy Boat lab, is a simple version of the water displacing boat demo he does near the beginning to illustrate Archimedes principal.

After school today I worked with my Sceince "Olympiaders".  Erin learned how to solder wires for use in a conductivity tester, she was so happy with her new skill and she may be better than me at it.  She burned my finger with the iron as I reach for it and she was trying to be helpful and hand it to me. Everybody laughed at the light color burned area on my right index finger...even I laughed-it was minor and totally an accident.

The boys were excited because they got to go dumpster diving again looking for cardboard to make a custom box for JUNKYARD CHALLENGE.

A very fun afternoon.  One that makes teaching a joy.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Week 21, Day 3 - Fast and Fun

EVEN BLOCK SCHEDULE: To the library for an online density lab then turn in the hands-on Density lab.
A great day. Busy and fast. My lesson was a perfect mix of review/homework, lab, and complete the previous lab.

My prep period and lunch was spent setting up the Sabotage Lab unit. I was so worried that I'd not have enough stations. Turns out I had 7 more stations than I needed. I got so wrapped up in getting this big lab unit together that I accidently worked toward making 1 station per student in place of 1 STATION PER 3 STUDENTS. 

I had a lot of fun with my Science Olympiad students after school today.

Super Bowl pool started. Fun.

I hope this helps,

Love to Teach and Teach with Passion!

It's not Magic, It's Science

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Week 21, Day 2: Everything changes the same.

Virtual density labs were a lot of fun. I think next year I will do them before the actual hands-on lab. The virtual lab may let them get use to dividing correctly (why is it middle school kids want to divide backwards that is Volume/mass!?).
You even have to show them the order to enter the numbers in the calculator.

A colleague mentioned how kids now are rarely outside playing and that kids today are really missing out on hands on old fashioned fun and getting lazier and lazier. My dad was saying the same thing about my generation and my grandfather felt the same about kids having cars to drive around and not knowing how to properly take care of a horse or a mule. Everything changes and Everything stays the same.

I am getting ready for a department meeting tomorrow. No students stayed after school today for science Olympiad. I went to a Science Olympiad coaches meeting and look at these models of planets I found in a teachers room.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Week 21, Day 1: Focal Point but not Shatterpoint!

EVEN BLOCK SCHEDULE: Finish Density lab, turn in Vocabulary words. Honors class begins the Sabotage on the ISS forensic lab unit.
I worked on school quite a bit this weekend. Too much. Honors Science had me totally consumed: The Sabotage unit we started today, the field trip parent letter for Honors, the virtual lab sheet for Tu/Wed, the Science Olympiad work calendar, letter of recommendation for a colleague...and my wife's honeydo list.

Thank goodness for my student assistants, they got the work done for me. Thank myself for having this unit well planned...a gift you give to your self.

The honors class has a lot of dossier reading to do for the Sabotage unit . I hope they get it done.
Today was a focal point of activity for me but it was not a Shatterpoint* due to planning ahead.

*Shatterpoint was a concept in a Star Wars novel of the same title by Matthew Stover. Anakin Skywalker was pushed to his shatter point by a deceitful lies from a Sith lord and his own fears of loved one's leaving via death. I like that Idea. You need to know where your shatterpoint is and work around it.

I hope this helps,

Love to Teach and Teach with Passion!

It's not Magic, It's Science