Well, my first year in 4th grade is rolling right along. My team is great and I enjoy being both the science and technology "expert." If you really knew me, then you would know that this is really the blind leading the blind... but I do try to share the few things I do know. I am glad for my previous year in 8th grade science though. My students now ask many science questions which I would probably struggle with if I didn't have some of the background knowledge. I am also happy that I can pique their interest into this favorite subject of mine, as well as higher level scientific thinking.

It is taking some time to get used to and I have found that we spend much time teaching and learning life lessons versus academic lessons. Some of the more interesting ones that I can think of are:
- how to close a locker without slamming
- how to organize your desk cubby
- how to put paper into the brads in your folder
- how to title a paper, and where to write (holes on the left, start at the red line... this has been difficult for most)

One academic lesson that I was shocked about was the fact that my students did not realize there was land at the bottom of the ocean. I was trying to explain how a gulf worked... while talking about landforms and explained that they might remember it as the water from the ocean sorta flooding into a VERY low land area... which sparked comments such as "OHHHHH, so there's LAND at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico?!" And you should have seen my face.... I was like... DUH!... but I didn't say that. Instead I said, "Well, what did you think was at the bottom of the ocean?" And all I got in return was a room full of blank faces. It was hilarious... then someone said "Seaweed....?" When I led them to realize that yes, there was land at the bottom of the ocean it was like the lightbulb came on for the whole room at once. That was a great moment for me and them. I decided that even if they learned nothing else for the rest of the year, at least they knew that there was land at the bottom of the ocean.

My favorite lesson was during a writing lesson. Our weekly prompt was to write about a time you were sad. I always share my story to give them an idea and I decided the only one I really could remember was my September 11 story. The class was on the edge of their seats as I told them all about what I remembered while in college, living in a sorority house. I explained that I was not only sad, but scared and anxious for my family who was in Houston and how I had heard rumors about other bad things happening in big cities. My students who were only 2 when this event happened had a very hard time understanding how something that was happening in New York was affecting my life in Texas. We looked at a map to see the distances and we talked all about how the media makes it close to home. The most interesting part to me was that telling this story to these 4th graders actually choked me up a bit. This was something that hadn't happened before, but then again, I'd never really told anyone the whole thing before. It was so special that not only were these students listening to this story, but they were also asking questions and on the edge of their seats wanting to know more. Of course some of them really didn't know what September 11th was all about and I didn't know how to tell them on a 4th grade level. I decided to not answer certain questions and sent them home that night to ask their parents. I also encouraged them to ask their parents about their stories. We had library that day and since my students have to checkout both a fiction and non-fiction book, many of them came up and showed me they had picked one up about the 9/11 tragedy. It was probably my favorite moment so far. I felt so honored to share my story with these students and even more honored that I had inspired them to search out more about it on their own.

So all in all, my class is wonderful. We are quite a loud bunch, but we are working on that. I go home at the end of each day still loving my job and knowing that I am in the right place doing the right thing.


Not a THING... just an idea!

I found out today that my application was accepted for something called Materials Camp. If you are a science teacher or even just a teacher who wants to do some cool stuff with materials in their class you should check it out. Don't be scared if you are an EC-4 teacher because they seemed to really have fun with it as well.

The camp I will be attending is in Houston this summer. It is FREE to attend but of course you have to pay for housing and things like that during this time. I am lucky enough to have parents that live there and they now know that I might be bumming a few nights of their couch!

There is also an opportunity for incoming seniors and juniors to attend one of these camps as well. I don't know as much about that but if you have one of those nerdy kids that just loves to do hands-on learning or maybe just someone who could really benefit from something like this, you might want to pass the website on.

I found out about this opportunity from a science conference I attended back in January. I was able to attend a mini-session of the Polymer Ambassadors and watched them blow bubbles in a milk jug, make water dissapear and experiment with density among other things. If you find out that you love polymers so much that you should tie it into your career and look into applying to be a Polymer Ambassador.

I couldn't figure out how to get from this website to the place with the application for camp so I went a-googling and found the ASM International website that does have the Materials Camp application on it.

This is a FREE week long opportunity to have a really good time and to look at different materials that could really benefit your science classroom. I know I'm looking forward to it and I hope some of you will look into it as well.


Thing #5

Unfortunately I work in a district that has decided that the sharing of pictures (and videos for that matter) is strictly prohibited. Yes, I know there are bad things on the internet out there, but more importantly, under supervision, students could be set free to discover a world they didn't even know existed.

I will update this once I have access to an out of district network.


Thing #3

Setting up my blog was pretty easy. This will be the 3rd official blog for me to write in.

I had one during college. It helped me a lot... just to get through the rough times. It was how I let out all the anger and disappointment about what was happening in my life. But in reality none of it was such a huge deal.... just something that a girl going through college without a best friend needed to get off her chest.

The most recent one I have kept is a blog about my year in teaching. I have not connected it to this one for various reasons. I hope to stay somewhat anonymous on that one, where as this one I am ok with everyone knowing who I am, I suppose. Again, my other blog is mostly about my struggles of getting through the first year and dealing with all the politics, crazy parents, and just all the things that keep most first year teachers from going back.

Don't worry though... I truly think this is my calling and while I will not be making any plans to "move up" to a principal or counselor in the next few years... I would be willing to start a Young Teachers of Texas group that would provide support for teachers such as myself. It would give us a way to voice our concerns and provide for the future of education. Mostly I have this idea because I am just sick of seeing only master (or just older) teachers at conferences and trainings. There should be no more references to Xanadu and other pop culture that happened before my time while learning about NEW strategies for teaching. We young teachers need to have a voice and a place in this population because without us there literally is no future for education. I know I am coming up against a big crowd to voice these things but I guess that I have just come from that generation who has grown up in a culture of technological change. Everything has changed. One day there was no internet and then it seems like overnight our lives changed and there was. We used to play games on the computer that were pixilated and very squarish (or more importantly we played sports outside) and now we have controllers that throw, bat, punch, shoot (and I'm not talking about the Duck Hunt), or whatever the game calls for and then can change again in 5 minutes if you get bored or master the first game. I mean geez.... we used to keep diaries that were private and locked up and now we write in journals that the whole world can see and yet we still post like no one is reading or maybe even cares.

While I may not be able to tell my kids and grand kids about walking uphill in the snow both ways, I will be able to talk to them about looking up things in an encyclopedia (GASP!) that my parents had strategically purchased for our education, versus just Googling something.... which my students and I do daily. While it is not perfect it has helped answer many science questions that we all just have to know... and expect an easy answer to.

And that's my soap box or as Mr. (well someday) Incredible would say that's one of my soapboxes. Except for these days I think we would have to stand on a Mac box!

Anyhow, I think the point of this Thing is to talk about the difficulties of setting up this blog but I found it to be easy. There were a few things I wanted to be a little more flexible like the colors and layout as well as my superhero outfit. I chose a superhero cuz maybe that's what I have always thought would be so cool. Now, as a teacher, I almost feel like a superhero at times as I get to pass my powers of learning and knowledge on to someone else. I wish that I could have had a superhero costume that was less daily and more super, but this one will do for now. I would, however like to have my own personal superhero avatar someday but that will take some more investigating on my part.

Now I am off to look around some other blogs and find some new information that could bring me closer to the end of my search for the 23 Things.

Thing #2

First, I must begin by telling how happy I was to start this thing because of the intro about 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. As most of you might agree, Covey is a wonderful man with some great insight into how to be a more effective person. If you have never had the chance to go through the training, you should look into it. I was able to take it for free while in college because I was considered a "student leader." Basically I just got over involved in way too many things and it took me longer than necessary to graduate, but that is beside the point. My real tangent is that my life became a lot less complicated when I stopped worrying about things that I couldn't control or change. I don't remember the exact words, but I know it has something do with a person's "circle of influence." There has been many times that because of my 7 Habits training I was able to take a deep breath and walk away from a situation that I knew I could not do anything about. While I know I have not completely mastered this concept much less the rest of the Habits, thinking about my actual "circle of influence" has definitely helped me.

Now back to the actual assignment... After watching the 7 1/2 Habits of Lifelong Learners, I have decided a couple of things. First, maybe because of my background in psychology and sociology as well as my personal insecurities watching/reading or participating in cheesy self-help things makes my tummy churn. Second, this is my ultimate weakness because while I know they might be helpful, I basically have to seclude myself in a cave to have the confidence to watch something like this... and laugh out loud at the corny photos and silliness of the self-help propaganda. This goes for the training above as well. It was not a cake-walk to sit through 7 Habits either.

With that being said, I could only narrow down to 2 easy habits for me. The first one would be "Accept responsibility for your own learning." Anyone who knows me knows that while you may want me to learn one thing, if I don't find it interesting, I won't be able to learn it, but may go off on my own learning tangent. While I may not be accepting responsibility for things I should be learning, I definitely accept responsibility for learning things that the average person would never really give a second thought. Among my favorite tangents (in no particular order) are anything involved with people relations, penguins, Christianity and other religions, women and society (work, school, marriage, dating, the suffrage, politics, religion, etc.) dancing, theater and art history, and photography. I also really enjoy finding out how and why things are the way they are... and you may hear me giggle if I were walking through a mall or other public place because I have a funny habit of making up my own stories of how things came to be. The problem with my ability to do this is that if any of the above might be mentioned... I have probably refocused my learning receptors to the new topic.

The second habit is "Teach/Mentor others." Helllllloooooo... I am a teacher and it's not because I like summers off. I want my students to know and understand all the weird things I do because I'm hoping that something I say will pique their interest. I love that my students can talk to me about anything science as well as show off their art talents, invite me to a game or a play, let me in on the latest student news, or just tell me how excited they were to do a new trick on their BMX. They know that my interests are varied and it helps me build a relationship with each one. I love to use humor and let them know that I am a real person with a life just like them and that everyone has struggles and successes. The most exhilarating feeling comes over me when I see a lightbulb turn on so much so that I have been know to jump and cheer in class. Not as flamboyantly as Ron Clark, but perhaps one day...

Now, the one habit that is the hardest for me is "Begin with the end in mind." I noticed this was the easiest one for so many other people but for me it just isn't. I don't like making a goal because I feel it will change every few minutes or days and that I will spend so much time revising the goal that I won't ever accomplish anything. I do have a list of things I would like to do, but you could probably equate it to a "bucket list." Things that would be fun and good for me to learn or do but mostly will not be life altering. I just like to go with the flow. Right now as I work on my certification for teaching, I am of course planning on the end result being a certificate but not everything I am doing is just for that goal. I go to conferences, trainings and talk to my mentors so that I can be a great teacher for years to come, not just while I am trying to obtain my certificate. Where ever this journey chooses to take me, I will go with it. I would like to keep it that way and so while this habit is the hardest, maybe it is that way only because it is the one I don't foresee myself doing anytime soon.