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Thursday, April 16, 2015

What Will You Do For Earth Day?

There's not much time left to plan!  Earth Day is quickly approaching on April 22!

Has Earth Day slipped up on you this year?  If you are like me, end of course testing is quickly approaching and there is hardly any time left to squeeze in anything extra.  But the nature lover in me just can't let Earth Day go by without a mention in my science classes.  Surely we can find 10-15 minutes on April 22 to celebrate Planet Earth.  Here are some fresh ideas for your science classroom that require little to no preparation time.

First, I have a FREE Earth Day PowerPoint in my TpT store.  It is about the history of Earth Day and what led to the creation of Earth Day over 40 years ago.  The PowerPoint is relatively short, and can be viewed in about 10 minutes.  All you have to do is download it and play it.  Easy-peasy!

Click this image to download my free PowerPoint.

Next, I have just been introduced to the most fabulous site.  It is called Nature Works Everywhere and is sponsored by The Nature Conservancy.  It is packed full with the most wonderful videos, each of which is accompanied by free downloadable lesson plans.

From the Nature Works Everywhere site:  "Nature Works Everywhere gives teachers, students and families everything they need to start exploring and understanding nature around the globe alongside Nature Conservancy scientists—interactive games, and interactive lesson plans that align to standards and can be customized for each classroom."

I love that the videos are relatively short.  They are extremely interesting and cover a variety of topics and concepts.  You can't go wrong by showing one of these in your class on Earth Day.

Click image to view these free lessons.

Finally, don't forget that there is an official Earth Day website.  You can check the site for events happening in your area.

This blog post is part of the Secondary Smorgasbord Blog hop event for secondary teachers.

Thanks to Darlene Anne Curran (The ELA Buffet) and Pamela Kranz (Desktop Learning Adventures) for hosting our monthly blog hop event!  

Curious to see What's Growin' in other secondary classrooms? Take a look at the great link ups below.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Interactive Notebook Pages for the Protista Kingdom

30 Student Pages on Algae and Protozoans!

Well, I have just put the polishing touches on my 9th set of interactive notebook pages for biology. This set covers the Protista Kingdom, a topic that I always love to teach!  It may not be fancy and use sophisticated technology, but a microscope and some pond water always makes for a fun time in the biology lab.

These pages  can be used in so many ways. Personally, I like to use them as warm ups each and every day.  I have my students keep a warm up notebook (aka interactive notebook) and I have seen a drastic improvement in the retention of content. These half-page sized mini-lessons are perfect for homework assignments, bell ringers, tutoring, and test prep.

I started this adventure at the beginning of this school year, and have been immensely pleased with the result.  My earlier blog posts on this "warm up / bell ringer" topic can give you more details.  All of the earlier posts can be viewed at these links:

A picture is worth a thousand words, so without further ado, here is a preview of this newest set:

In my TpT store, you will find a FREE Sampler Pack that includes samples from each of my 9
interactive notebook sets.  For the Kingdom Protista, I have included this page in the free sampler pack.

Click the image to the right or the link above to download the free sampler pack.

What is included in the Protista Kingdom set??

You can view all of my interactive notebook products by clicking the image below or this link.

Thanks for spending a few minutes at my blog. As always, I welcome your comments and questions.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Teachers Helping Teachers

What happens when hundreds of wonderful TpT sellers decide that a fellow teacher is in need? 

A MASSIVE fundraiser happens! That's what!
We call it Teachers Helping Teachers, and it came about after TpT teacher-authors heard the story of Diana Salmon, a New York teacher who lost a leg in a tragic hit and run accident.
Diana is an inspiration to all who know her, sending a message of strength and resilience by returning to the classroom just months after the accident.
Unfortunately, the extensive injuries Diana sustained require an expensive bionic knee for her to be at her dynamic best. This is where Teachers Helping Teachers comes in.
Diana's fundraising store, Bionic Teacher, is now the home of TEN limited edition resource bundles promising HUGE savings to all who purchase one. There is a bundle for everyone, and they all contain the most amazing products from top sellers! Best yet, 100% of the profits go to Diana's fund!
Visit Bionic Teacher, download the freebie for Diana's Story, and take a look at the bundles. You will be happy you did!
Click image to view Science Bundle

The bundle for secondary science teachers is awesome!!  Twelve products were donated to this incredible bundle.  The value of the bundle is over $80, but for this fundraiser for Diana it is being offered at only $25.

All of this is included in the bundle:
Common Core Reading Science & Technical Subjects Graphic Organizers for Grades 6-12 Tracee Orman
Ecology BINGO (7-12) Science Rocks
Editable Substitute Teacher Binder for Science (7-12) Utah Roots
Element Superhero Project- Periodic Table Research (5-9) ScienceisFun
Human Body Interactive Notebook Activity Pack for Life Science & Biology (5-10)Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy
Important American Scientists & Inventors Biography Centers Set (5-11) Michele Luck’s Social Studies
Life Science Task Card Bundle Think Tickets for Science Exploration (5-10) Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy
Matter Review Poster (5-6) Kate’s Classroom Cafe
Plate Tectonics Interactive Notebook Unit (Earth Science) (8-11) 4mulaFun
Root Words Word Wall (5-12) Biology Roots
Plate Tectonics/ Earthquakes/ Volcanoes ~ Graphic Organizer Bundle (8-12) Addie Williams
NO PREP Interactive Biology Notebook Pages or Warm Ups: Intro to Science Unit (7-11) Science Stuff

Help us help a fellow teacher in need!  Thanks for your support!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Pink Lake Hillier in Australia

Can this be real??

The answer to that is ... YES!!  This is the pink Lake Hillier that is found in Australia.  Recently, in my Biology 1 classes, we were studying the characteristics of algae and other protists.  Algae are classified according to their color, and we were discussing the fact that the algae produce pigments of various colors.  There are green algae, brown algae, red algae, yellow-green algae, etc.  Most of us are extremely familiar with the green "pond-scum" that we commonly see in our local lakes, streams and ponds, so I wanted to give my students some examples that would be less familiar to them.

As a result, I did a little googling to see what I could find to use in my classes. I immediately zeroed in on this pink lake.  It didn't take much research to quickly realize that there are quite a few of these pink lakes around the world, and the exact cause of the "pinkness" is not completely agreed upon.

Lake Hillier seems to be the most famous of these pink lakes.  In quick and easy reading format, here are the facts:

  • Lake Hillier is located on Middle Island.  This is one of the largest islands that make up the Recherche Archipelago in Western Australia.
  • The lake is about 600 meters (2,000 feet) long and about 250 meters (820 feet) wide.
  • The lake is surrounded by a rim of sand, with a narrow strip of vegetation separating it from the Southern Ocean.
  • When viewed up close the color of the water is not as vibrant as when viewed from the air, but the pink color is permanent and is not a trick of the light.  When a sample is taken into a container it retains the pink color.
  • Lake Hillier is a salt water lake.  As a result, only two forms of life have been discovered living in its waters.  One is the algae known as 
    Dunaliella salina , and the other is a halophilic (salt-loving) bacteria.  These organisms produce carotenoids, giving the water a bubble gum pink color.
  • The salt content of the lake is comparable to the Dead Sea at about 40%
  • Although very salty, it is perfectly safe to swim in Lake Hillier.  The only problem is that it is very hard to get there!  Travel to the lake by helicopter is the most common method of travel.
  • Other pink lakes are found in Senegal, Canada, Spain and Azerbaijan.
Thanks for stopping by, and have fun teaching!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Teaching Fungi? Interactive Notebook Pages and Warm Ups Will Help!

What have I learned about interactive notebooks, warm ups and bell ringers during my first year of using them?

  • Time management is so important!  If you are not careful, this can consume way too much of your class time.
  • Utilize to the best of your ability, the first 5-10 minutes of your class.  Don't get bogged down in classroom chores.  Get your students right to work every single day.  A short warm up or bell ringer each day will get students working, while you are taking care of "stuff."
  • Reviewing a small amount of information each day has increased retention of information for my students.
  • The best comment ever from a student?  "These have really helped me remember the information for the test."
I began this journey at the beginning of this school year, and I can honestly say that I wish I had started this years ago.  Each year our class time seems to get shorter, and we have more information we are required to cover.  It seems to me that each year brings more and more interruptions to my class time.  

My goal at the beginning of the school year?  I wanted to find a way to better utilize each valuable minute of instruction time.  These activities (interactive notebooks and bell ringers) have accomplished that for me.  And added bonuses include:  (1) My students actually seem to enjoy them!  (2) The pages make great homework assignments.  (3) I can leave them in my sub folder for emergencies.  (4) The completed warm up notebook provides a perfect way to review for my semester exam.

Note:  This is just the latest in a long line of blog posts on this topic.  Use the search bar at the top of my blog to search for the other posts about interactive notebooks.

OK, so I need to get the topic of this particular blog post.  I have just finished using this technique to cover my unit on the Fungi.

I developed a set of 16 bell ringer pages to use with my unit.  Some of the pages were used at the beginning of my class as bell ringers, while other pages were used for homework assignments.  But all pages went into the warm up notebook that I require each student to keep.  Here are the highlights:

I have uploaded this set of interactive notebook pages on the fungi into my TpT Store.  

All of my interactive notebook sets can be view by clicking this image.

What's next? We are studying the protists now in my class.  I am am building a set of bell ringers to cover the algae and the protozoans.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

It's February ... And That Means Daphnia Love is in the Air!

This is the PERFECT lab for a high school biology class on Valentine's Day!

I soooo look forward to this lab each and every year.  Measuring the heart rate in Daphnia is FUN, is fairly easy to do, allows our biology students to work with living organisms in the lab, and perhaps most importantly, it provides an outstanding situation for having our students design and implement their own experiment.

Are you nervous about "student-designed experiments"?  Don't be!  If properly trained and instructed on the front end, the students will surprise you with their creativity and passion for designing an experiment.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  Let me go back to the beginning....

Daphnia are tiny crustaceans, closely related to a shrimp. They are often called "water fleas." They are small, but not microscopic.  They can be seen with the naked eye, but you will need a dissecting microscope to view the beating heart. Since Daphnia are arthropods, they demonstrate the three major arthropod characteristics:  exoskeleton, jointed appendages, and segmented body. The exoskeleton is clear, allowing the student to easily view the heart. Daphnia are ectotherms and their body temperature changes with the surrounding environment.  This further means that there is a direct relationship between the internal body activities and the external temperature of the water in which it lives.

I love this short video made by Samantha Ward!   I came across this on instagram.  I am delighted to be one of Samantha's followers on instagram (@wardbiology).  Samantha teaches 7th grade life science in Northwestern LeHigh SD.   From Samantha's posts on instagram, I can tell that there are some very lucky 7th graders in SD! Her class looks amazing.  You can also follow her on twitter  @wardbiology.  Thanks so much, Samantha, for allowing me to use your video!

Daphnia can be purchased from any of the companies that sell lab supplies and equipment.

This sets the stage for the first part of our experiment.  I have my students carry out an experiment where they measure the change in heart rate when Daphnia are exposed to different temperatures.  I provide the procedure, and the student simply follows the instructions and carries out the lab.  The Daphnia are exposed to three different temperatures, and the student counts the number of heart beat per minute in each environmental condition.

Students carry out my procedure, graph their results, and answer my questions.  On Day 2, the fun begins!  It is time for the students to design their own experiment!  They are asked to design an experiment to test the effect of caffeine and alcohol on the heart rate of Daphnia.  The students must state a hypothesis, describe their experimental and control groups, carry out the experiment, collect their data, graph their data, and come to a conclusion based on their data. 

The student-designed experiment will take some time.  I require my students to write their experiment and submit it to me for approval before they begin. Once approved, they carry out their experiment and write a formal lab report. The best learning occurs as the student is carrying out their experiment.  They invariably realize that their procedure is flawed, and they must revise, revise, and revise until they get it right.

For my honors and AP students I require that they also complete a worksheet on how to calculate the Q10 temperature coefficient.

And this is what we do to celebrate Valentine's Day in my biology classroom.  Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

In my TpT Store: "Measuring the Heart Rate of Daphnia" contains handouts for all parts of this experiment, including the student designed experiment and the Q10 worksheet.  Teacher Guide included. 

I am pleased to take part in the "Holiday Blog Hop for Secondary Educators."  Be sure to check out all the other great blog articles in the linky below.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Latest eBook for Science (and Other) Teachers

These are the simple truths:  Teachers are busy, busy, busy! Teachers spend WAY too much of their own money for materials for their classroom.  Teachers are always on the look-out for something new and innovative for their kids.

Well, the teacher/authors of TpT are here to help.  This is the latest of the FREE eBooks that you can download.  These eBooks (there is one for each subject area) will provide middle and high school teachers with instant resources that can be used immediately in the classroom.  Simply print and teach!!  

The Science eBook has 30 contributors, so that is 30 FREE resources for your classroom.  Each science teacher submitted two pages:  The first page tells you a little about the teacher, and the second page is a resource that we hope you can use ... and use ... and use!

You'll find pages from all of these amazing science teachers!

There are four eBooks, one for each subject area.  You can download them all at the following links:

Thanks goes to these amazing ladies for their hard work in compiling these fantastic resources for our fellow teachers:  Brain Waves Instruction, Literary Sherri, Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy, and Lindsay Perro.

Remember, all of these eBooks are free downloads, and I have no doubt that you will find plenty that you can use in your classroom

Have fun teaching!