Finding My Voice and Starting Over

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 3 comments
In January, I made a decision to invest myself in my little business of helping fellow teacher-moms adjust to teaching+science+life.

I read all kinds of articles about blogging and reaching your audience.

I read articles about marketing products and blogs on Pinterest.

I read about social media schedulers and editorial content calendars.

I participated in writing and pinning challenges.

I wrote everyday for 21 days, and put out a blog post a week for 4 weeks straight.

But something was off. Not quite right.

I felt scattered. So I stopped.

I took some time to really focus on who I was trying to reach. Who is my reader?

What does she need? What can I give her that is valuable? That is worth taking up her oh-so-few free moments?

I have spent the last few weeks pondering those questions, and I have finally come up with an answer. I have found my perfect reader. I have found my voice.

My new blog posts might not appeal to everyone. My voice can be a little... rough around the edges. I can sometimes be a little too honest for some people's taste. But you know what? I am okay with that.

Because the people that stick around? The people that get it? They are my people. My "tribe" if you will.

And I am so ready to start!

I am so ready to help guide that first year science teacher-that girl, who is staring at a closet full of random, left behind science stuff. Who is excited and terrified, all at the same time. Who can't wait to have a science fair, but has no idea how to write a lesson plan, or even plan a lesson.

I am so ready to help that teacher-mom who wants to do fun stuff with her toddlers, but who is more of a "big kid" teacher. Who has no idea how to spend 8 hours alone with toddlers (and I am ready to support her with a big middle finger to those snow days we used to love!) I am ready to help her find fun activities to engage and bond with her little people.

I am so ready to give that frazzled teacher-mom, with 50 million things racing in her head, a quick and ready recipe for dinner tonight. For that special birthday coming up. Delicious, make ahead meals that can be cooked fresh in less than an hour, so she can feel more accomplished, that she can handle it all.

I am ready. Are you?

Our New Classroom Pet!

Saturday, February 11, 2017 4 comments
My first year teaching, I bought my own 10 gallon fish tank and set it up in the room. It actually was a wonderful thing- the students loved it and we had some really great conversations about fish, and life/death and caring for another thing. I took it down when I went on maternity leave and put it in my daughter's room. In the years since, I have not set up another fish tank in a classroom-mostly just too expensive, or I knew I wouldn't be staying too long.
This year, however, I was donated a large fish tank and decided to set up another fish tank!

My initial thought was that I would get a turtle frogs or lizards, but my classroom is a trailer outside of the main building, and they usually turn the heat off at night. Plus, I needed a class pet that could handle being left alone for several days at a time over long weekends/holidays. I finally settled on fish-tough enough, can be left alone for several days (or at least you can leave food for them) and nice to look at.

Here are the different steps to setting up the tank:
1- empty tank- cycling- only has water, filter, substrate- and heater
2- plants- they sat for about a week without  fish
3- fish! we got to vote on what would go into the tank, and final tally was gouramis, tetras and mollys. (I would like to add an algae eaters once the tank is a little more established)
4- final set up

Drawbacks- wrong size EVERYTHING! oops! I got the hood replaced, but the stand will just have to do! The decoration did not sink.. womp-womp!

I also set up Fish Central- where the students can look at the different levels of pH, ammonia, nitrates and nitrites and tell if we need to adjust. I am also going to create a log of what is going on in the tank-births, deaths, etc.

They have really loved getting into the project-especially voting for fish! The final verdict was mollies, tetras and gouramis.

Even though it has only been a week or so, having this fish tank has been really great as a way to communicate and connect with my students. It is always amazing what you find out about them- hobbies and interests and just their life in general. I find that, especially with my older students and short semesters, I tend to focus on them as students and forget that they have an outside life. In the few (school) days I have had it, I have had some very real conversations with them, and it has been really nice.

I have a second empty tank and have been trying to decide what to do with it- maybe hermit crabs?
Do you have classroom pets, or have you been considering one? Any good suggestions for a hardy pet? Tell me about it in the comments!

PBL Posts: What is project based learning?

Thursday, February 2, 2017 No comments
Hi everybody!

Today is a short post, but I am posting about something I have been wanting to do for a while- move to a PBL classroom!

What the heck is PBL? It stands for "project based learning" and is a great way to get students to become more creative and innovative thinkers! It is a method of teaching that encourages students to actively discover the information in the curriculum themselves, not to sit passively by while the teacher lectures. It is a big buzzword going around in education right now.

The general idea of PBL is to use the standards as a guide to structure a unit that will allow students to discover ideas, experiment, make mistakes and "productively struggle" to reach an understanding of the material. This is a huge undertaking! As I sit here, and think about my subject (chemistry!) I can think of units here and there that can easily fit into PBL, others not so much.

My biggest concern is that the students will not get the information they need, based upon the standard I am supposed to follow. I teach high school chemistry, and most of the information about PBL that I find is geared more toward middle school, or towards having the students choose a problem and find ways to solve it (while learning the material on the way). I have still not quite figured this part out.

A big challenge will also be that my students are not on level, as far as reading goes (so the textbook is out) and we do not have any real access to computers. I think I will still have to do a little presentation to introduce basic facts, or to move investigations along...

So, my goal for this semester is to start adding in a lesson to each unit where I will give a demonstration (or show a video) and have the students begin to study to figure it out. I am thinking that this will be sort of like a 2-4 day lab, with materials and information to guide them on their way.

I would love to hear from some other teachers, of any subject- do you use PBL or inquiry based learning? How have you implemented it? Do you have any tips for a newbie! Leave comments below, and help a teacher out!!!