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Monday, June 29, 2015

Congaree National Park


Congaree:  The largest old growth bottomland hardwood forest left in the United States.

I absolutely LOVE national parks.  In fact, one of the things that tops my bucket list is to visit all 58 national parks!  This past week end I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to mark another national park off my list:  Congaree National Park.

Located near Columbia, South Carolina, this floodplain forest lies along the Congaree and Wateree rivers.  The park protects over 26,000 acres of old growth bottomland hardwood forest.  This is a wetland system and the vitality of the area depends upon the flooding and receding of the rivers with seasonal rains. Until the late 1800s huge areas of South Carolina were covered by these floodplain forests, but in the 1880s the lumber industry began to harvest the trees.  In less than 50 years most of these forests had been cut.  The area now protected by this national park was spared cutting because logging was especially difficult in this area.

Congaree National Park is known for its unusual array of giant trees that hold the record for size of their species.  Species include loblolly pines, hickories, and bald cypress.  The combination of loblolly pines with hardwoods is an uncommon forest association in floodplains.
Bald cypress trees grow in abundance at Congaree.  The largest bald cypress in the park is over 27 feet in circumference.  The cypress trees thrive in this area despite their strict growth requirements.  Look for the characteristic wide trunk base and cypress knees.  This gives the tree stability during floods.  The bald cypress is different from most conifers in that they shed their needles each winter.  The "knees" are roots that have grown upward.  Their function is not completely understood, but may help anchor the tree in the soft soil.

Loblolly pine and two daughters
who eagerly share in all of my "mom" adventures.


My favorite is the loblolly pine.  Unlike most pines, the loblolly can thrive in this wet ecosystem.  The tallest in the park is over 170 feet and has a circumference of over 15 feet.

Congaree became a protected area in 1976 when a public campaign was launched to protect it from logging.  It obtained National Park status in 2003.

Hiking through this old growth forest was a snap. The boardwalks and trails are well maintained.  Signs and directional arrows are placed in such as way as to provide excellent information without being overly intrusive. There are many different trails to choose from, ranging in length from 1 to 12 miles.  The photo collages below will give you an idea of some of the highlights of our walk.


I especially loved the activities designed for the kids.  A science teacher living in this area would be remiss not to take advantage of this marvelous field trip opportunity.  The brochures for children are attractive, engaging and provide fun and informational activities.


While perhaps lacking the grandeur of Yellowstone, Grand Canyon or Yosemite National Parks, I enjoyed visiting Congaree National Park very much! My only regret is that the visitors center was closed on the Sunday that we visited.

Now to find that next national park to mark off my bucket list........

Friday, June 26, 2015

Respiratory System Warm Ups and Interactive Notebook Pages

These snazzy new warm ups, bellringers and interactive notebook pages on the respiratory system will take your breath away!!  

(Cue up the canned laughter....)  All corny jokes aside, I am very excited to share my newest set of interactive notebook pages with you.  I am slowly but surely working my way through the human body systems.  This set of 19 student pages covers the respiratory system.  The following pictures and images will give you the best idea of what is included in this newest product.

Click on any image below to view the product in my TpT store.





This product can be purchased individually, or as part of a growing bundle. This is the first time that I have tried out the idea of a "growing bundle."  I have many return customers who are eagerly awaiting the completion of all of the human body system warm ups.  In the past, I have bundled together many sets to offer at a discounted price.  Many people have requested that I give them the opportunity to buy the bundle from the very beginning.  So I have tried to honor that request by offering this growing bundle.

What is a growing bundle?  A “growing bundle” is a bundle of products that is being posted to my store before all of the individual products are complete. As the new individual products are developed, they will be added to the bundle.  With this “growing bundle” I am offering you the option of buying the bundle before the completion of the individual products.  

As of this writing, the bundle contains:
•  Introduction to the Human Body
•  The Skeleton System
•  The Muscular System
•  The Integumentary System
•  The Circulatory System
•  The Respiratory System

The rest of the of the human body systems will be added to the bundle as I get them completed.  Click the image below to view the growing bundle in my TpT store.


I hope that you are having a restful and relaxing summer.  Take time to recharge and regain your sanity because the new school year will be upon us soon!

Happy Teaching!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Science Calendars: Important Dates in Science History


Did You Know??

July 1, 1796:  First smallpox vaccination by Edward Jenner.

July 20, 1969: Neil Armstrong walks on the moon.

May 5, 1963: First human liver transplant.

May 26, 1676: Leeuwenhoek observed his "tiny animalcules."



Kids and adults alike love science fun facts!  These science calendars will provide a fun science fact for each day of the year, as well as provide a cool bulletin board or wall display.

Click images to view product.







My students really enjoy reading the science fact of the day, and it has sparked some great questions and conversations in my classroom.








You can print these calendars for your bulletin board, or post them in the hallway outside of your room for a cool wall display.  Or you can simply write the science fact of the day on the chalkboard.


However you decide to use them, they are interesting, students will learn some new things, and well.....they are just fun!!


The calendars run from July through the following June.  I update the calendars each year.  Once purchased, you simply download the new versions each year.

Start your class period with a couple of minutes of "science fact fun" to set the stage for a great class period.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Circulatory System Interactive Notebook Pages


Good news!  Thirty-three student pages on the human circulatory system are now available for your biology or anatomy / physiology interactive notebooks.

I believe I have included a great range of content starting with the basic concepts of the circulatory system and progressing through more and more complex information.  My goal was to write pages that could be used with my general science students all the way up through my AP Biology students.  There are enough pages included in this product that you can easily pick and choose the perfect mix for your science class.  As a result, these pages are suitable for general science students in the 8th grade, first year biology students in high school, honors biology students, anatomy and physiology students, and even advanced placement biology students.

Read on for a preview of the circulatory system warm ups and bell ringers, and be sure to download my free sampler pack to get free samples from all of my interactive notebook products.



Click the image above to download free sampler pack.

Looking for interactive notebook pages on other topics?  All of my interactive notebook products can be viewed by clicking this link.

Thanks for stopping by my blog, and have fun teaching!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Take an Amazing Virtual Field Trip With The Nature Conservancy



Link up and hang out with The Nature Conservancy for a super-fun classroom virtual field trip!

Field trips are a common occurrence in schools, especially near the end of the school year.  However, funds are often nonexistent, and with the crushing pressure of end of course testing, time may not be available to take the kids out of school for the day.


What is the solution?  Take an exciting virtual field trip with The Nature Conservancy!

Tell me more!  The NatureWorks Everywhere website (presented by The Nature Conservancy) offers a wide range of lessons, videos and virtual field trips for our science classrooms.  The videos are highly engaging, and the downloadable free lesson plans are perfectly designed to complement and enhance your teaching.


What about the virtual field trip?  The third virtual field trip is just around the corner!  It is entitled:  "The Coral Reefs of Palau: Nature's Amazing Underwater Cities."  The mission of this field trip is to design, plan and execute a live Google Hangout for grade 3 - 8 classrooms in order to learn about the diverse ecosystem of Palau's Coral Reefs.  Students will learn about the symbiotic relationships between the many organisms, the environmental dangers facing the coral reef, and how people can act to protect the reef. From the developers, "We hope the virtual field trip will build student's knowledge of and emotional connection to environmental issues that are at the heart of The Nature Conservancy's mission."


When is it?  The live Google Hangout will take place on Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 12:00 pm.

How do I sign up?  Click this link to sign your class up  for the coral reef virtual field trip.

What will my students learn on this virtual field trip?  "Join the Nature Conservancy on a Virtual Field Trip to the Coral Reefs of Palau: a remote network of islands deep in the Pacific Ocean. Here, sharks snatch up smaller prey; decorator crabs apply bits of shell, algae, and sponge to their own backs for camouflage; and massive 2,000-pound sea cows graze. Our journey to the Coral Reefs will open students’ eyes to an amazing, interconnected ecosystem built on symbiosis and mutualism, where diverse organisms are designed to protect, clean, nourish, and even camouflage one another. In this underwater city, the coral supports its many “workers” and they, in turn, keep the coral healthy. 

Called “the medicine chests of the sea,” Coral Reefs provide ingredients that are leading to new lifesaving medications. They are also an astonishingly rich source of food for many species, including humans, and provide a perfect buffer to protect shorelines from erosion. Join our expert scientist, Marine Biologist Stephanie Wear, as we take a deep dive to learn about one of the “seven underwater wonders of the world.” May 19, 2015 at 12:00 pm (ET). Length: 40 minutes."

Many of the key ecological concepts that we have been teaching all year long will be reviewed and reinforced:  Symbiosis, mutualism, interactions within communities, predation, competition, food chains and food webs.  

Who will be leading this virtual field trip?  Marine biologist Stephanie Wear will be leading us on this adventure.  Stephanie is Director of Coral Reef Conservation for The Nature Conservancy.  Stephanie is articulate, engaging and explains concepts in a clear and easy to understand manner.  You can take a look at one of her coral reef videos at this link:  Coral Reefs - Feeding and Protecting Us.


Are there resources I can use to get prepared before we take the virtual field trip?  YES!!  These links will provide you with many free resources to prepare you for teaching and your students for learning.
You mentioned above that this is the third virtual field trip presented by The Nature Conservancy.  Can I still view the first two fields trips?  Absolutely!  The first two virtual field trips can be viewed below:

Wild Biomes:  From America's Rainforests to America's Deserts



Deserts and Grasslands of Africa



This sounds great!  What do I do now?  Be sure to sign up for the live Google Hangout.  Then sit back and get ready for a fun classroom adventure!

Disclosure:  This post has been sponsored through a partnership with WeAreTeachers and NatureWorks Everywhere.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Human Body: The Skeletal, Muscular and Integumentary Systems

Interactive Notebook Pages for Your Human Body Unit

Here is the next set of pages for a biology or anatomy/physiology unit on the human body.  I am very pleased at how this set turned out!  It is a set of 33 students pages on the skeletal, muscular and integumentary systems. The pages can be used in so many different ways.  If you are into interactive note booking these pages will make excellent additions.  I most often use these for warm ups and homework assignments.  They can also be used for tutoring, review and reinforcement, and for your sub folders.

The following images will give you a good idea of what is included.

Click image to view product.



Many of the pages have great pictures and diagrams to enhance student learning and retention of concepts.  Other pages (without diagrams) have questions that require the student to use the skills of comparing, contrasting, analyzing, critical thinking, writing and explaining.



As stated above, this set includes only the skeletal, muscular and integumentary systems.  Specific titles can be seen in the images below.




Also on the topic of the human body is a set of 19 students pages called "Introduction to the Human Body."

You can view all of my interactive notebook products by clicking this link.

Have fun teaching!


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Human Body Interactive Notebook Pages: A Teaching Method That Works For Me!

The new trick in my teaching arsenal this year has been the use of a "warm-up" notebook. These pages go by many names:  Warm ups, bell ringers, interactive notebooks, do-nows, exit slips.  Use whatever name you want, but know this ... This technique is effective and student retention of the subject matter has soared!

I am now writing and developing a set of pages for "The Human Body."  Two sets are now ready:

For this blog post, I'll focus on the first set, Introduction to the Human Body. (For blog posts on my other sets of interactive notebook pages, simply type in "interactive notebooks" into the search box at the top of my blog.)  

This is the first year that I have introduced this technique into my classes, and I have been most pleasantly surprised by the response of my students.  There is no moaning and groaning in my classroom,,,, the students are actually enjoying this! We are calling this a "warm up" notebook in my class.  My students do these pages at the beginning of each class period, and often carry home additional pages to complete for homework.  Many of the students have taken great pride in their notebooks, going above and beyond to create amazing notebooks.  All of the students who at putting in at least some effort are commenting that studying has become an easier task and they are getting better grades as a result.  

As I stated above, I have just begun to development the pages for the human body.  The following images will provide you with some details of this set.



The student pages are half-page sizes.  Two warm ups are printed on one page to help you save paper.  There is no elaborate cutting, gluing, or folding required.  You simply print the pages and cut them in half.  A teacher answer key is provide for each and every student page.


This set includes 19 student pages.  The specific titles can be seen below.

I have written these warm ups to be used with my first year Biology classes, but the pages have a good range of "easy to difficult."  This makes them usable by both middle school and high school teachers.

Thanks for stopping by my blog.  I know that we are all getting excited that summer is just around the bend!