It’s a Saturday night, and like usual I have lots of work to do so I naturally would be at Joel’s working on our Unit work. We decided to take a break and try out making bouncy balls because I wanted to do it for the Chemistry station on Monday. It has turned into a full blown science experiment and we have been having a blast!! So my last blog post I wanted to end it with a big BOUNCE!!! (or in Joel’s case a big DUD!)
I found a recipe for making bouncy balls. I am sure many of you have heard about mixing glue and borax together to make a slime. Well with the addition of cornstarch you get a more solid polymer formation that bounces, or should bounce!
Mini science lesson: Polymer is derived from the greek words of poly meaning “many” and meros meaning “part”. So a polymer is a chemical compound that consists of many parts, or many small molecule bonded together to make a larger compound. These large compounds can be joined together to make even larger polymers and this is often what we see and use in our lives, like rubbers and plastics. Glue is made up of a large compound called Polyvinal acetate (PVA), see image below, and the borax allows for these large compounds to crosslink, or join together, to make much larger compounds which forms this rubber ball with a characteristic property of being bouncy!
Simple monomer (one segment) of PVA
OK, now back to the fun… so we made our first batch with the main difference being the type of glue. I used the translucent version of Elmers glue with 4 drops of blue food coloring, and Joel used the opaque version of Elmers glue with one drop of blue food coloring. Then we added cornstarch though in the end I think we used difference amount. As a result we got two kinda different results. My ball was more firm and bouncy, yet still soft and foamy feeling. Joel’s was softer in consistency and texture, and was more stretchy and not really bouncy at all. So after this we decided to play around some more!!
Second time around I decided to mix the corn starch and borax solution before adding the glue. This time around it came out a lot like my previous attemtpt but much more solid and brittle and therefore easily ripped apart. Joel’s second attempt he mixed the cornstarch and glue together first and then added the borax solution. His turned out much like his first attempt as well. So we started to think it was the type of glue we were using (difference between the translucent and opaque).
The third trial I still kept with the translucent glue, but added the cornstarch to it first. This one was really fun in that it made a really veiny looking substance. So fun!
The fourth trial for me, I decided to do double the amount of opaque glue and it was definitely messy! But after a touch more corn starch I got a result that was soft and foamy, but not very bouncy. It is really flexible and was able to be stretched into a very thin film!! So cool!!
Joel then tried it where he mixed some of the translucent glue with some warm water. He then added the borax solution and he got a really cool translucent slime!! It was really goopy and much different, but he wasn’t able to make it into a ball without being a huge mess.
After-wards, we sat around and talked about the different aspects going on for each type and played around with the different polymers we made. Doing work is so much more easier when you can have some fun with it!!
I really don’t have much to talk about this week. Now that student teaching is over, it’s all about working on course work, but it’s been great having more time to do the things I enjoy outside of school, cooking (grilling!!), baking, swimming, spending time with my family, etc. I’m still trying to get used to the concept of having more free time and I am just kinda just going with the flow.
After completing an extra week at my placement, I am finally done with student teaching!! As nice as that is because of the amount of work and other things coming up, it was still sad to say goodbye to my students who were begging me to get a job there (and trust me if there was one I would be all over it!). Everything was going great this week, working on wrapping things up with my unit and transitioning out, and then BAM! The end of my week turned upside down and I had to go through a learning experience that I did not think I would have to deal with, well at least not right now and not where I was. At the end of the day Thursday one of my students left class early during his test to go to a doctors appointment. He left all of his school and sports things in my room for when he returned for practice. One of his good buddies was staying after school with me to finish a project and when he was done he began texting the student who went to the dentist appointment. So I asked him to find out when he would be back for his belonging since it was approaching the 3pm time where all students are supposed to leave the building. The student who was behind working with me began to get silly and disrespectful, and from an outsiders perspective this student was “walking all over me” (Joel has observed on numerous occasions how these, and other boys, have treated me during class). Then his buddy returned and the two of them fed off each others “silliness” to the point where it was becoming harassing towards me. Then one of my students asked for my cell number and I politely said he could not have it. My cell had been sitting next to my computer on the desk where I was working and grading. The student grabbed my cell phone, texted himself with my phone, and then continued to text his buddy with my number. At this point I was getting upset and flustered and repeatedly told the boys to delete my number from their contacts. Joel had been in the other room and herd the commotion and walked in noticing that I was upset and overwhelmed by the presence of the boys. The boys them complied to my request of deleting the number and Joel helped to get them out of the room and on their way. I was so overcome with emotions at that point and very flustered to the point where it was like “what the ____ just happened!!” After having a conversation with Joel and one of the other Chem 7 teachers (my CT was out for the day) and then calling my CT to explain the situation, I went down to the Vice Principal office to report the incident and fill out referrals for the two boys. I don’t know why, but that was the hardest thing I have done teaching so far. I was upset, and nervous about who could have my number, and thinking about so many “What if…” type situations all on top of not wanting to have this turn around negative on me and potentially damage my career before it even started. My mind was running a mile a minute for the rest of the night and I was sadly almost dreading my last day knowing I would have to deal with this situation and see the students again.
In the morning I was called down to meet with the students and vice principal to discuss the situation with the students. They knew and admitted what they did was wrong, they apologized, and they were given an assignment over the weekend to work on which was to be turned in Monday at which point the consequence would be decided for these students. The whole time in sitting in there wanting to apologize to the boys for getting them into trouble but had to stand my ground. It was so much harder then I ever would have imagined. It was even harder when one boy began to cry a bit after speaking with his parent on the phone.
The day went on and I hung out with my students, Joel’s classes, and took care of some odds and ends with my responsibilities there and it turned out to be an OK day. At the end of the day the one student who took my phone had to come see me to finish his test and he was much more quiet and not himself. I was hard to see him acting that way since he is normally more upbeat and outgoing but I interacted with him like it was any other normal day. He sat around and finished his test and he ended up with a perfect score. I went to him and said “This is a great finish to the unit and to the day” and smiled. He smiled back and left.
The hard part for me is that the boy who took my phone is smart child and can be a really good person, but when he is around the other boy, the one who received the text with my number, he starts to show off in front of his friend and ends up doing stupid acts. It is hard to watch someone go through the consequences when you know that that student is capable of so much better. In then end everyone told me it was the right thing to do, but it was difficult for me to feel like it was. It’s not that I really care whether the students like me or not after reporting them, but more the concept of I hate to “look” and “feel” like the mean person. Especially when you know that with 11 and 12 year olds they will talk about it with their friends and it will be all over school by the end of the day. I know this because within an hour or so I ran into students in the hall stating they heard about it (and I was not the one asking if they knew!)
So it was a bittersweet ending, and an experience I will even more so now to never forget. I wouldn’t have traded that placement for anything else because the positives aspects and learning experiences were so beneficial and incredible that they far out way the rough points. In the end I wouldn’t have asked for a more amazing experience and I know that I am a far better teacher and person because of it.
This week I had a class that was structured really poorly…. though it looked good on paper. The class was originally structured where my students were going to review for their Nomenclature quiz, take the Nomenclature quiz, review the quiz,review the Bonding quiz, and then begin working on their collage project. Boring, I know, but I tired out some management/structures to see how they would work out. The warm-up for the day was the review for the quiz. I had the students work on 4 questions to help them review for the quiz and then had students write the answers on the board and we went over them. With this method it was more difficult to see how each student was feeling about the questions before they took the quiz and students can easy stray their attention to other things. After the students took their quiz, I had them switch with their lab partner and we went over the quiz as a class and they graded each others paper. In the end I really didn’t like this structure. Their were a lot of questions for how to grade something by the students, and in the end it felt like going over it wasn’t as beneficial content wise. The students were more concerned of how many they got wrong and their score versus trying to understand why they got the questions wrong. Also this structure was pretty time consuming. Also going over the Bonding quiz as a class was boring and really not that good for reviewing. Some students wanted to understand why they got questions wrong, but others didn’t care about anything but their grade. Finally I gave the students time to work on their collage project and it turned into a free for all time for the students and it was very difficult to get them focused and working. Not to mention my CT was out for the day and the students didn’t know the sub, so they were a little more unfocused then normal.
This was the structure for the first two sections I taught. Typically after I teach these two section I sit down with Joel and we talk about the lesson went for each of our sections. He teaches roughly the same lesson at the same time I do that day so we always compare notes. I was very discourages with my lessons and talked with Joel and like how he structured his class doing the same general aspects to the class but structured differently. So after this discussion I made the following changes:
I structured the class as a independent work day. The structure of what they students should do and in what order was posted on the smart board. As they came in they picked up a half a sheet of paper that had practice nomenclature problems on it. Many more examples compared to the 4 I had written on the bored the previous day. They were to work on those problems and then check the answers to the key. If they got questions wrong they could see what they did wrong , ask me any questions, and then once they were prepared they could get the quiz and start it. Once they were done with the nomenclature quiz they turned it in and got back their bonding quiz. They had an option to do corrections by telling me what they did wrong, and what the correct answer is. When they were done with that, or if they did not want to make corrections, they were allowed to get a laptop from the cart and begin working quietly on their bonding project. This structure flowed much more smoothly. Students were able to work at their own pace, I was able to monitor all the students more closely, and the students were much more focused and engaged in their work. This was especially evident in my 8/9 class where I often have classroom management issues. During this class, many of the students who tend to be off task and a distraction tot he class were focused throughout the whole class, engaged, and working very diligently. I was especially happy to see one of my students who is the most off task and diagnosed ADD was focused the whole class and was showing a great work ethic. I was able to help him with many aspect and in the end he, and many of my student, performed well on their quiz and let with a strong focus for their collage project.
This placement has really shown me the power of collaboration (especially with people who you think a lot alike) and reflection. Working with Joel has really been a great experience and I am very grateful to collaborate with him. Too bad it comes to a close this week as I wrap up my Innovative Unit. I wish that was the case with my schoolwork as well…
I feel like I am at a lose of words today. There is so much emotions running through me for multiple reasons at this point and its hard to focus on one thing today. Mostly its hard to get past thinking about the face my four year old cousin gave me today as I had to explain to him how I missed the registration for an Easter Egg Hunt he has been looking forward to for over a month. I am still trying to figure out where I lost the email and why I couldn’t find the link about it when I searched for it in the same place I registered for it last year. So I took him out to lunch and bought him some M&Ms to help make things better but even with that we returned to my Grandma’s house and the first thing out of his month is “We didn’t get to get any eggs this year”. I failed him. Needless to say you know his Easter basket from me next weekend will have a bunch of eggs in it.
I don’t mean to start off this post in a depressing manner, but it’s hard to think about teaching when you get that sad look from a four year old. That and this past week I really didn’t have much going on in regards to teaching. Eighty to ninety percent of the 7th grade is in Washington D.C. this week and I lost three days of instruction. It has been a great time to plan and grade, but it also makes this week pretty packed if I want to stay on track. I am finding that planning out so far in advanced like we did with our innovative unit that it is hard to keep with your plan 100%. Timing always is not always on your side, there are so many factors that can alter your plans (like field trips and science fairs), and what may look good on paper (and in your head) may not be great for your class. So now towards the end of my placement I am feeling the crunch to make sure my students are understanding the content for their exam while still being engaged and hands-on. I have a few ideas for the week that I am going to work with this week so we will see how it goes.
Looking beyond the fact that I disappointed my cousin today, he did hug me goodbye and said he had a good day. And I was able to spend some time with him and his little sister. I rarely get time to spend with them so I going to walk away with the happy thought of spending time with them today. That time as well as seeing the little things that amuse them and make them smile are the little things that help to keep you going.
Coming into my placement I wasn’t sure whether or not I would like the block scheduling aspect to teaching. I had never experienced it before so I had no basis to judge how teaching would be for 83 minutes as well as teaching the same lesson two days in a row (2 sections one day and the other two sections on the second day). After 5 weeks of teaching with this schedule I have really come to appreciate the amount of time you have in class, as well as the amount of time to reflect on the lessons.
As my innovative unit continues I have really been given opportunities to reflect on my lessons and even act upon the reflections. I am able to have a full day to rethink and revise my lessons before I have to teach them again to the other half of my students and that time has become very valuable. That extra time is so wonderful compared to having 40-80 minutes between classes where it is usually hared to make major changes and often times there are student and other distractions that keep you away from making significant changes. And if you only teach the lesson in one day, you can still reflect on it for next year, but for the next day you need to move on. That’s what it was like in my last placement.
My first two lessons in this unit overall have gone pretty well. They flowed well, I was mostly on time, the students were engaged, learning, and understanding, and everything seems to be working out well. There were only minor aspect to these lessons like being more clear with instructions before you let the students go off on their own, or silly distributions methods. Things that matter, but still little things to me right now. This week was my third lesson for this unit and for my first day of it I really did not like how it worked out. It wasn’t a bad lesson, but to me it didn’t flow well and the stations activity we did at the end was not justified for the students. So in the end I wasn’t sure what they got out of the stations activity because we didn’t have enough time to go over what they saw and how it applies to what we are learning. We were also working on a Triple Venn Diagram to help review for the quiz which is a great method to review except it felt like we rushed through it and I didn’t get to apply it the way I intended where I had them work individually to fill out as much as they could and then work with other students to fill it out along with the stations information. I wanted to be able to look over their initial responses as they filled it out to be able to see what they were thinking, but since I ran out of time that didn’t work out the they I wanted it too. So at the end of the day these were the aspects I wanted to change…
1) Take out the solubility aspect to the stations (it really didn’t fit overly well in the unit) and exchange it for an electrical conductivity stations for ionic and covalent compounds in solution. This would allow them to see how that station compared to the electrical conductivity station with ionic and covalent compounds in a solid state.
2) Give the students more time at the stations. Originally I gave them 5 minutes and for some reason this was not enough. So I structured it where the students had 7 minutes at the electrical conductivity of solids station, 7 minutes at the practice drawing ionic and covalent bonding station, and I demonstrated the electrical conductivity in solution station (there was not enough conductivity meters for solutions to make is a hands on station for the students without it being to congested and time consuming)
3) Give the students a handout that had empty tables for them to fill out the information at the station. I know, its not inquiry in the aspect for having them design their own, but my students during the first day stress out over doing having to make their own, and then many students didn’t write everything down so it was difficult to see their results when I was going over their work at the end of the day.
4) Rearrange the lesson so that I introduced metallic bonding before the stations activity. There is a table in their journals where the students have to review the types of bonding introduced at this point and then an extra stop for them to question what we are missing and to thinking about it as a class to determine that we haven’t seen how metals bond. In the first lesson we did the table, went on to the stations, then did metallic bonding, and then brought it all together with the Venn Diagram. In the end this structure didn’t flow as well as I anticipated and this part of the lesson was very disconnected.
5) Use the Venn Diagram at the end of the lesson as a ticket out the door. That way it would be done individually and I can see where students are still struggling with understanding to know where I need to spend some time on for the review before their quiz.
The next day I implemented my changes and the lesson flowed soooooo much better and the stations were given meaning to the students which was something that really bothered me about the last lesson because it felt like it was just there, if you know what I mean. The first have of the lesson flowed like it did the past day, and then we went into metallic bonding before the stations which worked well. The balloon demo used for students to see how the electrons behave in a metallic bond is a big hit with the middle schoolers. Then, after they had time to reflect on how electron movement in metallic bonds differ from ionic and covalent we moved into the stations. The added time helped and the students were able to complete the two stations they were instructed to finish with in the 14 minutes. For the few who were able to get done early, I had them experiment with the electrical conductivity of solutions station and had them help demonstrate and explain what they saw to the class. Then I was able to connect with the class how covalent bonds don’t conduct electricity, but with ionic bonds they don’t conduct as a solid, but do when they are in solution. This was a point that I was unable to do with the previous classes along with the fact that it made the stations meaningful.
In the end I was not able to get to the Venn Diagram which was probably the down point of the day, but I was able to use the reflection on the metallic bonding as their individual assessment. This applied more to the summative assessment then the stations activity did, but the stations were still a valuable aspect to the unit. At the end of the lesson I was able to look back and say that my students were engaged during the whole lesson, gaining a good understanding of electronegativity, polarity, and metallic bonding, and overall enjoying science. These were some difficult concepts for even High school chemistry students to understand and I can say that at least 50 to 60 percent of my students understood the concepts of polarity. These concepts were not part of the school curriculum, and are not part of the NYS intermediate science curriculum, but we decided to still teach them as a challenge for our students. I am really glad that I did and overall many of the students embraced the challenge. For those who struggled with the concepts they didn’t have to worry because the question on the quiz about polarity was a bonus question.
Reflecting + Time = Awesome lessons… And don’t forget the 30 second stretches for the students!!! That 30 seconds really does make a difference!
I’m sitting here at about 7pm on a Saturday exhausted and struggling to focus on my work. Last night I had to leave working with Joel at 10:30 pm because I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer and still had to drive home. I have contemplated about being public about my increasing struggle to keep my head up high as I am in the home stretch to this program, but that’s the thing… I know it is the home stretch but that light at the end of the tunnel is not getting any brighter. Right now, the two things that are keeping me going is looking forward to working with my students at my placement (their energy, excitement and smiles are contagious) and Joel (I’m so thankful I have him for support and to work through everything with him! I should also probably say thank you to his wife who lets me come over all the time and has been really supportive to both of us as we are working through all our work so Thank you Adrienne!)
So in light of the fact that we are loosing an hour this weekend, here is my rant on time…
Plan and simple, there is not enough of it. Well Duh Julia… You’re just figuring that one out!?!? No, I have known time can usually be against most people, but I have worked real hard to try and manage it and keep myself organized this semester but lately it seems like it is falling apart. For our first observation we were supposed to write an “Exemplar” lesson plan and submit it as such. I clearly recall at the beginning of the semester we were told we were not at the “applied” point where we should be and we worked together to talk about what to work on. So to try and work towards the applied or “exemplar” point in my lesson plan writing I have reached out for much help and support from many people on my lesson plans since then, which I am extremely grateful for, but I still have much to work on. Honestly, that is fine with me, I want to keep progressing my thinking and therefore my writing, but again I come back to my “friend”, time. It takes me a good two to three hours to put a “decent” lesson plan together and even then I know it is not at that “exemplar” point. I struggle with wanting to do my best, but having to settle with mediocre because I know I have to work on other readings, other assignments, planning, reflecting, grading, and other lesson plans, and so on. Then when feedback comes back I feel so inadequate because I spent so much time on it and I only think about how now I will need to spend more time to correct what I can’t seem to do well in in order to try to become better.
Then as I sit down and work on more schoolwork, and I begin to think about all the other things I need to think about: Working on my resume, finishing up my certification exams, getting everything together to apply for jobs, making sure I have enough evidence for my portfolio, and then the standard things like laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, and I’m sure there is more. I haven’t been able to make time to go to the gym since January, because as good as it makes me feel afterwards, I feel guilty I haven’t been working on school work. To top of my frustration is the lack of time to see my family. Just today I get a phone call from one of my grandmas that I am extremely close to and she is telling me she is worried about me because she hasn’t heard from me in over a week. I forgot to call my grandma who I used to talk to at least twice a week.
Truthfully I do not know what I expected to get out of writing this post. I think the thought of losing an hour tonight makes my want to cry which is sad because it is just an hour! I mean this post, or rant, as no personal attack towards anyone, merely a way to express my frustration in my tired state.
At my placement they are doing these 5 star qualities aspect with their schools where they promote respect, responsibility, kindness, self control, and integrity. Last month they were focusing on respect, and this month they are talking about responsibility. It has been interesting to watch my students participate in these discussions during homeroom, and then see how they act differently later on in the day. Sometimes I wonder how much these middle school students really take these 5 qualities to heart. I probably shrugged the talks off and joked about it with my friends later in the day too when I was in middle school. I have been thinking about this a lot lately, especially after the guest speaker that spoke during an assembly on Thursday. His name is Mark Brown… and he was a great speaker. He used the Disney movie Beauty and the beast to set the basis of his talk as well as it being a story that the students could relate too. The idea is that the “beast” is the person who is viewed as the outcast, or the person who is teased and treated poorly. Gaston is the bully who picks on the “beast”, and Belle is the only person who showed compassion towards the “beast” which in return allows the “beast” to turn into a prince. So his message to the students is to”Be like Belle”. He did a great job at obtaining the students attention and I hope he got a message across to them. Middle school is an important developmental stage, and for most people, they way people treat you starting in late elementary and middle school stick with you for the rest of your lives. I know it has for me.
Having speakers like this come into schools can be such a powerful aspect to a adolescents development. It may not get through to everyone, but you hope it will get through to most and the people it does reach you then hope they will continue the message to their peers. You can check out Mark’s Facebook page as well as a biography about him here.
And I know there are a few of you!! My friend showed me this site when I was in North Carolina and I fell in love. The main site is called Pioneer Women, and she has a section all about cooking! What makes it so addicting is the detail and passion she clearly puts into it. Every recipe is walked through step by step with pictures and at the end of the blog she has the recipe and an option to print the recipe in multiple card sizes. Her writing is very creative and detailed and it draws you in! So here is the link if you want to check it out:
I just want to start off by saying… I LOVE this profession. I love it for so many reasons that are more meaningful than the fact of being able to have snow days, but hey, every profession has its perks!
I wanted to share it because this is something I feel is very important in education. One of the best parts about my students teaching right now is the fact that I get to network with so many other teachers and share ideas and resources with them. I have learned so much from working with my cooperating teacher as well as my cohort and I hope that they have all been able to learn something from me. My favorite reason is reason number 5, “to stay engaged in education”. I am always trying to better myself as a teacher and as a person, and by networking with others who are passionate about what you are also passionate about, you can have meaningful conversations which will in someway better you in multiple ways in the end.
Another aspect of networking, which I am experiencing first hand at my placement, is networking within in the school, specifically within the teachers of your grade. At my placement the seventh grade teachers are broken down into teams where there are the core subject teachers, a special ed teacher, a counselor and administrator, that all work with a specific set of students. I have come to admire this system because the teachers are able to communicate about how the students are doing and work together to address the needs of the students. They meet every other day to discuss student progress as well as they use this meeting time to bring in parents and students to discuss the education the students are receiving. I have found that they use this time very productively and the teachers continuously work together to make sure all the students are successful in their education.
From this team system, I have also been able to get to know and work with the special ed teacher on the team. I have started to work with her, and since she is on my team, some of my students. I am able to spend additional time with a few of my students who need additional help, and really get a better understanding of ways to help them make the most of the time they are in my classroom. No, I am not inclusion, but these are still great tools and techniques I can learn since I will almost always be working with these types of students at some point. Plus nothing is better then spending some one on one time with students, they are such wonderful little people!
I have come to really enjoy this system, but if I were able to take it to another level, I think the core teachers should work together more with curriculum, especially at the middle school level. I feel like there is a lot that they could do to connect the content areas together and to make it even better they are on a block schedule so there is so much that can be done if the students have two block back to back! What are your ideas about this??