Sunday, 19 January 2014

An Inspired Sunday!

I always check the TpT Newsletter every Sunday morning, even before I get out of bed.  Today Pink Cat Studio was featured with this adorable free game.  Amazing!
Just sooo stinkin' cute!

So I thought, "I have to learn how to do this".  I thought she had programmed the whole thing using visual basic, but she said she just used PowerPoint.  At least I didn't have to learn a new programming language!

After skimming through a few very dry tutorials on YouTube and after a lot of play here is what I made, using Pink Cat Studio's dino clip art set :)

A pterodactyl swoops in...

 Here is the game board.  Each time you click a dinosaur it moves forward until the finish line (except, a meteorite crashes into the dinosaur right before it gets to the finish line.  Morbid? Maybe.  But it is funny!)
Pterry the Pterodactyl is my fave character.
 The questions appear when "Question" is clicked and the same goes for the answer.  If they kids get the answer wrong I can move on to the next question.  If they get it right then I can jump to the race page and update the race.

It is so cool!  I am super proud that I figured out how to do this... when I could have been marking :P  Sorry kids, at least you'll get some sweet review if you don't get your marks by Thursday!

Monday, 13 January 2014

My Favorite Lesson to Teach: Why are Bubbles so Colorful?

I am SO excited!  Tomorrow I teach my favorite lesson in all of high school!
Why are Bubbles so Colorful?

Why is this my favorite lesson?

1. We start off by playing with bubbles in the courtyard of the school.  The students, though they are 17-18 years old LOVE that they get to blow bubbles!

2. It sounds easy, but it actually draws on my Grade 12 Physics students' understanding of concepts from Optics in Grade 10 Science and Waves in Grade 11 Physics.  Without those you really can't understand why bubbles are so colorful.

3. The entire lesson is written in sidewalk chalk.  I got out before class and set-up what the kids already have in their notes and then we add to it with the sidewalk chalk.

4. It draws from partial-reflection/partial-refraction in Grade 10 Science, one of my favorite concepts in that unit.

5. And from waves in Grade 11, another very fun unit!
6. There is room for puns... "Springtime review" is taking out the giant springs (think monster Slinkys) and review the boundary behavior.

7.  And you can write really big... and be silly.

8. They even have personalized examples based on the color (wavelength) of their chalk. 

9. The sidewalk chalk stays until it rains, so my lesson is visible to the entire school for a week or more, and students and staff will stop and go through the lesson as they walk between buildings.

Now, because it is winter I will have to make some adjustments, but I am still so excited to teach 17 & 18 year-old students why bubbles are colorful.  Ah, the joys of being a Physics teacher <3

What is your favorite lesson to teach?  Let me know in the comments :)

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

2014 Goal #3: Mark Smarter

I've been working diligently over the past few days on this goal.  I left school in December quite sick and with LOTS of marking.  Thanks to the school closure day and 2 no-student no-bus days I've been able to get down to 2 class sets of projects, one class set of tests and test corrections.  That's still a lot but boy did I work hard to get it down to that!

This is a goal I need help with and I would love your comments!

I make my tests, quizzes and assignments relatively easy to mark:
I use Mr. Sketch markers and erasable pens to make marking more fun and quicker:  see how I put the 0 1 2 3 at the bottom of the question on this practice quiz - that's a huge time saver!

I am organized:
I have the Organizing Utility Tote from Thirty-One (the BEST teaching bag in my opinion) with the Fold n' File.
Organizing Utility Tote
But yet I still get sick, tired and overworked.  How do you keep up with your marking?  How do you mark smart?
I would LOVE to read your suggestions in the comments!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

2014 Goal #2: Focus on Skills

I think it is so important that teachers focus on teaching transferable skills to their students.  Heaven forbid all of my students don't because scientists!  If they choose a different path for their lives my goal is still to teach them skills that they can use to help them in any study and career.  This funny video always helps to remind me that if the students don't remember how to create electricity, or draw ionic compounds, at least they should be able to take something from my class:
(Not safe for work or kids!)
Thanks, CollegeHumor!

So as I look forward to the new year and shortly the new semester I think about the skills I want to students to learn in my course, in no particular order:
1. Measurement 
2. Calculations
3. Organization
4. Planning
5. Time Management
6. Decision Making
7. Problem Solving
8. Finding Information
9. Communication (Oral, Written)
10. Collaboration
11. Reading
12. Summarizing
13. Making Inferences
14. Interpreting Data
15. Computer Use

Can we add more to this list?  What skills do our students have to leave us with?

My goal is to organize my skills list into a document that I can use when I am lesson planning and tracking students' progress especially for reports.

Another one of my goals is to take these skills with the Climate Change unit in Grade 10 Science and create a complete introduction unit to that course that covers all of the skills and all of the curriculum.

And continuing with my PLC for this year, to utilize many of these skills through the use of Academic Conversations.  Many teachers in my school have been using the Academic Conversations posters that I made for a PD Day earlier in the school year.  Here they are if you want a look.
Can you add any essential skills to the list?
What are your teaching goals in 2014?
Let me know in the comments!

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