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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I'm Off to the U.P.!!

This is my paradise!!

This morning at 4 am I got in my car with the husband and two daughters and started driving north.  At 5 pm we stopped in Lansing, Michigan to spend the night.  I am writing to you from a hotel room, in anticipation of tomorrow, when I will arrive at my favorite place on earth ..... a small log cabin on the shores of Lake Huron in the upper peninsula of Michigan.  Some of you may recognize this bridge.  It is the Mackinac Bridge that leads to the U.P.  Before lunch tomorrow, I'll be crossing this bridge!

In 1903, my great-grandfather built a log cabin on the shores of Lake Huron.  It is to this same log cabin that I make my yearly summer visit.  Fortunately, it has remained in our family since 1903, and thankfully, it has been "modernized" to some small degree.  Let's give a big shout out for indoor plumbing!!  YAY!!

The only drawback???  We live just about 1000 miles from the cabin.  Whew! It was a long day in the car today!

It is a biology teacher's slice of heaven on earth.  Since I have been blogging only a few short months, I am excited about posting on my blog while at the cabin.  Well, actually I can't post from the cabin.  We have no phone, TV, or internet!  But each day I can go in to town (about 20 miles from the cabin) and visit the small library there.  That's where I'll upload my posts.

For those of you who have read my blog before, you know that I absolutely love nature.  I plan on posting a series of articles about all the biologically amazing things that I encounter this summer.  So stay tuned for .......
Liverwort day!    Pitcher plant day!   Wildflower day! Gymnosperm day!  Leech day!   Bird day!  Frog and tadpole day!  Rock day!  Butterfly day!    Okay, I confess that I will probably not get this many articles written.  I'll start taking pictures as soon as we unpack, and I will write about "whatever pictures" come out the best!

Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Here's a Freebie!!

I hope you can use this free material!

I am using my time this summer to completely update all of my older product listings on  I am also in the process of adding some more free items to my catalog.  Here is a freebie that I just added today.  It is a crossword puzzle on flatworms and roundworms.  It has 41 vocabulary words that are commonly used during a unit on the Phylum Platyhelminthes and the Phylum Nematoda.  I love having my students use crossword puzzles for review.  Not only does it help them to remember definitions, but the spelling practice they provide is priceless!

Look in the top left hand corner of my blog.  There are my freebies.  Please help yourself!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wish List Linky Party

What I am 
Wishing For!!

Really Roper is having a linky party.  I always enjoy participating in these.  I think it is really fun to see what other teachers have to say.  This linky party is all about what a teacher has on their classroom wish list.  Just in case my millionaire secret admirer happens to read my blog, I want to make sure that they know what I wish for in my classroom.

I sooo want a Promethean Smart Board!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Our 12 Mile Nature Bike-Hike

Near our home is a VERY nice nature trail.  It winds around in a low lying area and eventually leads to a small river.  This trail is about 5 miles from our home.  Well, today I had this great idea!  I convinced my daughter that we should ride our bikes to the trail.  We had a nice thunderstorm this morning which lowered the temperature to around 90 degrees.  In Tennessee, 90 degrees in the summer is as good as it gets.

We rode the bikes about 5 miles to reach the beginning of the trail.

It is amazing what can be seen in nature if you just take a few minutes to look and notice.  I am no photographer.  I just have a small "point and click" camera, but all of these photos were taken with my little camera.

Once you enter the nature trail, you immediately come to the swamp.  The cypress trees here are so beautiful!

This picture was taken at the edge of the cypress swamp.  This is where I collect pond water for my biology classes during the school year.  Drops of this water under a microscope yield incredible results.  We almost always find Euglena, Stentor, and my personal favorite, Vorticella.

 Teaching the concept of "invasive species" is super easy in our area.  When talking to my students about invasive species, I only have to say one word ..........   Kudzu!

Just pretty pictures........

........... and really big turtles.

My daughter spotted this beautiful lizard sunning on a fallen log.  This was a "2 for 1" sighting.  Not only was the lizard adorable, but the fallen log was covered in gorgeous bracket fungi.

The lichens we saw in the woods were so pretty.  As my daughter always says, "I'm likin' the lichens!"

And so now I sit exhausted in my chair, trying to stay awake as I make this post.  The bike ride to the nature trail was 5 miles.  The trail itself is a mile down to the river, and a mile back to where we left our bikes.  Then a 5 mile ride back to our house.  The grand total is a 12 mile excursion today.  I think that's pretty good for an old person like myself!

Monday, June 20, 2011

And the Winners Are:

Drumroll please...

Our first Teacher 2 Teacher MEGA CONTEST was a smashing success! We had thousands of entries in all categories, except the middle and high school science category  . Thanks to all of the TPT teacher-sellers who donated their products for this contest, and thanks to the teachers who spent oodles of time following teacher-seller's TPT stores, blogs, Facebook pages, and on twitter. All of the entries were entered into a list form at

And the winners are...

K-2 Winner: Crystal Radke
3-6 Winner: Connie Suntken

Middle School / High School Winners -

English: Mark Welch
Math: Monica Krzak
Social Studies: Kelly Eiseman
Fine Arts: Laurie Fronhofer

Unfortunately, we did not have any entries for the science category. Maybe next time...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Teacher 2 Teacher MEGA CONTEST!!

Hurry!  Contest Ends Tonight!!  

If you are a teacher in grades K - 12, this is one contest you do not want to miss.  
The prize?  A huge pack of teaching resources from the best teacher-authors on TpT.  
The materials are grouped according to age groups and subject areas, so if you win, they will be perfect for what you teach!

Here are the details of the contest:
Attention! Attention! You don't want to miss out on this awesome opportunity. THIRTY-THREE teacher-sellers at Teachers Pay Teachers donated top notch classroom products for our T2T MEGA CONTEST! There are 3 major contest categories: K-2, 3-6 (1 winner each), and Middle School / High School (5 winners -1 per subject area: English, math, science, social studies / history, and fine arts).

Contest Dates: Starts Thursday, 6/16/11. Ends Sunday, 6/19/11 at 12:00 p.m. Midnight / Central time.

For details on how to enter, please go to the Teacher 2 Teacher Blog.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Make Mother Nature Part of Your Summer Learning Plan

This is a marmot!

Discover what is outside your back door!  You'll be amazed!

I love teaching all topics in biology, but one of my favorite topics to teach is my unit on classification and taxonomy.  This topic is one of my favorites because the diversity of life on Earth is simply amazing. The organisms that are alive on Earth today are the ones that “made it”.  They changed and adapted to meet the pressures that our ever-changing environment placed on them.   The organisms alive today succeeded, and the evidence of their adaptation to our current environment astounds me.  

Take some time this summer to get to know and love nature.  If you are a person who already “knows” nature, then you will be shaking your head affirmatively as your read this article.  If you never take the time to notice nature, then you are really missing out on a fantastic journey.

A picnic along the shores
of Lake Huron
My childhood was spent growing up in hot and humid Mississippi, but spending several weeks each summer in the crisp and cool northern peninsula of Michigan on Lake Huron.  My mother was a biology teacher, and she introduced me to the beauty of the natural world at a very early age.  Whether it was catching fireflies and putting them in a jar or wading through a bog looking for bladderworts and pitcher plants, we were outside, observing and learning about nature, without even realizing that “schooling” was taking place.   When my own two daughters came along and started to grow, I passed along the same nature lessons that my mother had taught me.  However, as an adult, I now realize that the lessons go much deeper than just learning about science and nature.  The time I spent and spend outside with my daughters has forged a bond between us that cannot be broken.  As we tromped through woods, dug in the mud, and snorkeled at the beach, we made incredible memories that will forever make us smile.  They are teenagers now and still love to spend time outside with their “mommy”. 

Summer is just beginning.  Make the most of it.  Get outside and experience the beauty that surrounds you.  I have put together a list of possibilities that might help you make Mother Nature part of your summer learning plan.  Try some of these with your children, or by yourself.  I guarantee that the lessons learned with be carried with you all your life!

Really big tree!!
1.    Plant seeds and watch them grow.  I always make the planting and growing of seeds part of my biology curriculum because it is amazing how many of my students have never done this.   Have a child make a small flower garden or vegetable garden, but start from seeds.  It teaches curiosity and more importantly, patience.  

2.    Go outside at night and catch fireflies. 

3.    Watch a caterpillar grow into a butterfly.  Find a caterpillar and place it in a large jar containing the same leaves as where you found the caterpillar.  (Be sure to punch holes in the lid of the jar!)  Keep the inside of the jar moist by sprinkling a few drops of water in as needed.  Keep fresh leaves in the jar.  It is wonderful to watch the spinning of the cocoon and the emerging of the butterfly or moth.
Going fishing.

4.    Take a daily nature walk.  When my children were small, I gave them a brown paper lunch sack.  It was their “nature bag”.  Anything they found along the way that was interesting to them went into their nature bag.  We live in an urban area and still found plenty of leaves, insects, seeds, and flowers.

My mother read me the story
of the Indian Paintbrush when I
was a child.  This will always be
my favorite!
        5.  Get a field guide and learn to identify the organisms in it.  There are many possibilities here:  learn to identify wildflowers, birds, butterflies, or frogs.  My daughters and I love wildflowers.  We take our wildflower field guide with us wherever we go.  As we found a flower, we wrote the date and location in our field guide.  Many years later, we still see our notations and laugh about the adventures we recorded in this book.  On one particular page, my daughter recorded, “Mom fell in the pond!”

Hiking in Yellowstone
National Park... the most amazing
trip we ever made!

6.    Visit a national park.  There is a reason why these particular tracts of land were set aside.  They are amazing!
7.    Give your child a magnifying glass.  Have them make a list of the living organisms they see, and have them describe how they are adapted to the environment.  
8.    Set up several bird feeders.  Fill them with different types of food and see what comes to the feeder.  We have feeders filled with hummingbird nectar, thistle seeds, sunflower seeds, and plain bird seed.  All can be purchased from Wal Mart.  Have your child keep a log of which birds come to the feeder and what they eat.  Also, have them record the time of year the bird is seen.  It is fun to discover which are migratory when you see them at the feeder in early spring and again in late fall.
9.    Watch the bees around a flower garden.  Teach your children that bees are our friends and explain to them that the bee is doing more than just feeding on the nectar.
10.   Watch a spider spin a web.  It is incredible!
11.   Ant farms, ladybug houses, sea monkeys!!  As my children grew up, some type of creature was usually present at our kitchen table during meal time.  An ant farm is very interesting to watch during meal time!
12.   Sit on the side of a lake or pond, and count how many turtles stick their heads above water for air.  We just did this last night, and my daughters are 18 and 15!  My oldest is off to college next year and the time I spent watching turtles with her is simply priceless.
13.   Save a turtle.  Our car stops for turtles.  Help them across the road, please.
14.   Children love insects.  Have your child look for insects and then identify the adaptations they possess that make them well suited for their particular environment.
15.  Go on a picnic.  Drop a piece of food on the ground and see how long it takes the ants to find it.  Watch how the ants communicate with one another to send the message back to the ant hill that food is nearby.
Hiking to a waterfall
in Hawaii.
 As you can see, nature plays a huge role in our lives, both in my career as a biology teacher and in my role as a mother.  Nature is packed full of examples that we can share with our children and students.  I certainly hope that my students and daughters develop the same "awe" as I have when considering how natural selection has brought us to this point in Earth's history.  Every organism in our sight is adapted to this particular environment.  All we have to do is to look carefully at our surroundings and we will see a multitude of examples of adaptation.

Our children and our students will be responsible for making decisions about our planet in just a short number of years. We have to get them excited about nature.  We have to make sure they understand how their actions impact our planet. Our students are the future caretakers of this beautiful planet and there is not an "app" for that.  I hope that when they are adults we have taught them enough about science and nature that they can make informed decisions about how to take care of it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Where one contest ends, another begins!

Teacher 2 Teacher Mega Contest!

Attention! Attention! You don't want to miss out on this awesome opportunity. THIRTY-THREE teacher-sellers at Teachers Pay Teachers donated top notch classroom products for our T2T MEGA CONTEST! There are 3 major contest categories: K-2, 3-6 (1 winner each), and Middle School / High School (5 winners -1 per subject area: English, math, science, social studies / history, and fine arts).

Contest Dates: Starts Thursday, 6/16/11. Ends Sunday, 6/19/11 at 12:00 p.m. Midnight / Central time.

For details on how to enter, please go to the Teacher 2 Teacher Blog.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Contest Ending Soon! Hurry!

Ending Wednesday at 6:00 pm EST.  

You can't win if you don't enter!

Welcome to the 6-12 Secondary Teachers’ Contest where 17 outstanding teacher-authors have collaborated to bring you the biggest contest of the summer! You could win up to $100 of teaching materials by following our TeachersPayTeachers stores, becoming a fan of our Facebook pages, or by subscribing to our blogs.
Every ‘follow’ counts as one entry, which means you can enter this contest 44 times! To enter, click the links below and follow/like/subscribe the sites.  Then submit your entry by filling out this Contest Entry form. You can earn another entry if you post this contest on your own blog.
Two winners will be selected from the Contest Entry Forms. That’s up to $200 of teaching resources being given away!!
Winners will be randomly selected Wednesday, June 15th, at 6:00 pm ET so be sure to enter before then! Winners will be allowed to choose up to $20 worth of products from each of 5 different sellers participating in this contest.  Below are all the teacher/authors that are participating in the contest.  If you win, you will choose $20 worth of teaching materials from your choice of 5 teacher/authors on the list below.  Good luck!!!
Be sure to get in as many "follows" as possible for more chances to win!
English/Language Arts:
Tracee O.-
TpT Store:
Addie Williams:
TpT Store:
Michelle Luck’s Social Studies and English
Tpt Store:
Tools For Teachers by Laurah Jurca
Tpt: Store:
The Teaching Bank
Tpt Store:
Charlene Tess’ Grammar, Writing, and Creative Writing Store
Tpt Store:
Runde’s Room
Tpt Store:
Vintage Teacher
Tpt Store:
The Mr. G Show (Language Arts, Science)
TpT Store:
TpT Store:
Minds in Bloom
TpT Store:
Foreign Language
Tpt Store:
The Enlightened Elephant (Spanish and Math)
TpT Store:
MadameA (French)
TpT Store:

Science Stuff         
Tpt Store:
Addie Education (Language Arts, Earth Science, Social Studies)
Tpt Store:
Aussie Music Teacher
Tpt Store: