10/31/10

Friday, October 29th

Sorry this is a couple of days late.

7th Grade

Student continue to work on their cell unit assignments.

6th Grade

Between my being gone 5th/6th hour (Student Council Red Ribbon Week assembly) and my needing a little time to regroup, I decided to show two videos the students today.

The first video discussed fungi. The second was Bill Nye Germs.

Monday, we pick up where we left off. The unit will be ending in two weeks.

10/28/10

Thursday, October 28th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students are continuing to work on the cell unit assignments.

Students are making great progress. There are only three students still on the C1 Layer, but they're almost done and the posters they are making look great.

Almost half the class is on the C3 Layer assignments. I'm please with their work.

6th Grade

Students are continuing work on the microorganisms unit assignments. Most are making great progress.

They had me running around the room all day between getting supplies and helping students. I love days like today! It gives me more opportunity to work directly with individual students or groups. I get to know the students better, and I'm able to spend one-on-one time with students making sure they understand their assignment(s).

10/27/10

Wednesday, October 27th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Student continued working on the cell unit assignments.

I have set due dates for each assignment. They are...


6th Grade

We began the day watching an episode of Good Eats - Yogurt - Good Milk Gone Bad. I enjoy the show because the host, Alton Brown, talks about the science of food and cooking. This episode not only gave recipes to make yogurt, but he talked about the science behind the bacteria and how it makes yogurt. It's a great episode demonstrating beneficial uses of bacteria.

Students continued working on their microorganisms unit assignment after the video.

10/26/10

Tuesday, October 26th

Here's what we did in school today.

7th Grade

Students continued working on their cell unit assignments.

6th Grade

Students continue working on the microorganisms unit assignments.

After looking at how much time we have remaining until the end of the trimester, I have come up with a number of due dates for each layer.


I'm finding around half of my students have completed their work through the C2 Layer and are working on the C3 & B1 Layers. I have a few students working on the B2 Layer.

This schedule will allow students ample time to complete work while giving us review time before we have the end of trimester test.

10/25/10

Monday, October 25th

Here's what we did in class today.

7th Grade

Students continue working on the cell unit assignments. I expect all students to have finished the C1 Layer assignment by Thursday; I expect the C2 Layer assignments to be finished by Tuesday of next week.

6th Grade

Students continue working on the microorganisms unit assignments. The proficiency levels earned for the C1 Layer assignments have been entered into the computer. Any student who did not complete the C1 Layer by Friday received a "Z" (assignment not turned in). When the workbook and quiz are complete, the "Z" will be changed to their earned proficiency level; however, the Life Skill proficiency will be lowered to 2 or lower.

10/24/10

Hubble Wide Field Planetary Camera (WFPC 2)

Last Sunday (October 17th), I had the opportunity to see the Hubble Wide Field Planetary Camera (WFPC 2) that took all those marvelous pictures since 1990. Hubble was repaired by the astronauts of STS-125 in 2009. was replaced by Space Shuttle astronauts in 2009. It was on its way to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and made one stop at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. It was an experience being able to see the actual camera. Here are some pictures.

(WFPC in space)



(It was hard to get a good picture because of the reflections off the plastic)

(The blue dots identify places where micrometeorites hit Hubble)

As a part of the program, former astronaut Bruce McCandless talked about the camera. Captain McCandless worked on the development of the Hubble Space Telescope. Two of his claims to fame is that he was the CAPCOM during the first moonwalk July 20, 1969 and he was the first astronaut to use the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) in 1984 (becoming the first human being to fly in space without a tether - in essence becoming a satellite). I had the chance to meet and talk with him for a few minutes.















(Bruce McCandless talking about Hubble)




(Bruce McCandless flying the MMU)

All-in-all in was an exciting afternoon for a science geek like me!

Friday, October 22nd

Here's what we did in class.

7th Grade

Students continued working on their cell unit assignments. Many students who began at the C1 Layer are finishing up their work and moving on to the C2 Layer. All students who began at the C2 Layer have completed their work and moved on to the C3 Layer. At this layer, students will begin to learn about cells through lab activities.

6th Grade

Students are expected to have finished all work on the C1 Layer of the microorganisms unit assignment by the end of today. Proficiency levels will be entered on Monday. All students will be expected to have completed the C2 Layer workbook by Thursday.

I currently have students working at every level up to the B2 Layer (C3 Layer & B1 Layer workbooks available here).

10/21/10

Crackling with Solar Flares (NASA Imageof the Day)

I wanted to share NASA's Image of the Day. It's a great picture of a solar flare.

From the website:

Fast-growing sunspot 1112 is crackling with solar flares. So far, none of the blasts has hurled a substantial CME, or coronal mass ejection, toward Earth. In addition, a vast filament of magnetism is cutting across the sun's southern hemisphere. This filament is so large it spans a distance greater than the separation of Earth and the moon. A bright 'hot spot' just north of the filament's midpoint is UV radiation from sunspot 1112. The proximity is no coincidence; the filament appears to be rooted in the sunspot below. If the sunspot flares, it could cause the entire structure to erupt. Thus far, none of the flares has destabilized the filament.

Rick Riordan

While I was visiting my father in Denver, I had the opportunity to meet Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver. I love the Percy Jackson series, so I was pleased to have the chance to meet him.

He has two new books coming out. The first is The Heroes of Olympus. This is a continuation of sorts of the Olympians with new characters. I haven't started to read it, so I don't know if Percy Jackson shows up.

The other is The Red Pyramid. This book introduces new characters and is based on Egyptian gods. I've read about forty pages and I have really enjoyed the book. I have never really studied Egyptian mythology, so I'm enjoying learning some new mythology along with reading an enjoyable book!

Mr. Riordan was very nice and I had an enjoyable conversation that lasted about twenty seconds (the people making sure the line kept moving did their jobs!).

Tuesday - Thursday, October 19th-21st

Sorry I'm late updating the blog. I have to admit that I was kind of lazy when I got home the last two nights from Parent/Teacher Conference.

I want to say thanks to those parents who attended. I enjoy having the opportunity to meet my students' parents.

7th Grade

We began our cell unit assignments on Tuesday. I handle this unit different from a normal unit.

I used a modified form of layered curriculum. About two weeks ago, students were given a pretest to see what they knew about cells. Based on their test scores, they were assigned to a specific C-Layer. (Layered curriculum has three layers - C-Layer - basic knowledge, understanding. Student builds on his/her current level of knowledge; B-Layer - application or manipulation of the information learned in the C-Layer. Problem solving or other higher level thinking tasks are placed here; A-Layer - critical thinking and analysis. This layer requires the highest and most complex thought.)

Students start at one of the following three C-Layers:

  • C1-Layer - Student has little pre-knowledge about cells.
  • C2-Layer - Student has some pre-knowledge about cells.
  • C3-Layer - Student has a good basic understanding of cells.

Students have been working on their workbooks since Tuesday. We will continue the Layered Curriculum for around four more weeks. For more information about the Cell Unit, click here.

6th Grade

We began our microorganisms unit assignments on Tuesday. I handle this unit different from a normal unit.

I used a modified form of layered curriculum. About two weeks ago, students were given a pretest to see what they knew about microorganisms. Based on their test scores, they were assigned to a specific C-Layer. (Layered curriculum has three layers - C-Layer - basic knowledge, understanding. Student builds on his/her current level of knowledge; B-Layer - application or manipulation of the information learned in the C-Layer. Problem solving or other higher level thinking tasks are placed here; A-Layer - critical thinking and analysis. This layer requires the highest and most complex thought.)

Students start at one of the following three C-Layers:

  • C1-Layer - Student has little pre-knowledge about microorganisms.
  • C2-Layer - Student has some pre-knowledge about microorganisms.
  • C3-Layer - Student has a good basic understanding of microorganisms.

Students have been working on their workbooks since Tuesday. We will continue the Layered Curriculum through the end of the trimester (around Thanksgiving). For more information about the Microorganisms Unit, click here.

10/15/10

Wednesday, October 13th & Monday, October 18th

I've been out of town these two days, so there's been a substitute in the class. Here's what I had the students do both days.

7th Grade

I created a worksheet from Sections 1.1 & 1.2 in our textbook, Cells and Heredity. We will be starting our cells unit on Tuesday, so I wanted the students to get an overview of the structure of a cell.

6th Grade

Students are reading the magazine Kids Discover Germs and completing a worksheet. This will give them a good opportunity to learn about the harmful effects of microorganisms. We start our microorganisms unit on Tuesday.

10/13/10

Tuesday, October 12th

Here's what we dd today.

7th Grade

We began our cell structure and function unit today. I presented the basics with a lecture. Students completed a concept map as a part of the lecture.

6th Grade

Students watched the Discovery School Video Understanding Bacteria. They completed a worksheet while watching the video.

I really like using the video as an introduction to bacteria. The video presents both benefits and the harmful effects of bacteria. My favorite part of the video is how the (now closed) Homestake Mine had to clean up the river, which flowed black. They ended up using bacteria that eats cyanide. They were successful to the point that trout now live in the river.

It's a great video.

10/11/10

Monday, October 11th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students presented their science projects to the class. I was very impressed with their work and the jobs done by each group.

Tomorrow, we begin our cell unit.

6th Grade

Students took the sound unit quiz. The quiz officially ended our heat, light, and sound unit.

Based on the pretest results, the majority of students don't know what a protozoan or decomposer is. I decided to show them two videos - Eye of the Cyclops - Algae and Protozoans and Eye of the Cyclops - Decomposers everywhere.

The two videos introduced students to two important groups of microorganisms. The two videos gave them a good overview of protists and decomposers.

10/8/10

Friday, October 8th

The end of a week and we're also half-way through the 1st Trimester!

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students finished up their science project display board and presentation for Monday.

6th Grade

We're wrapping up the sound unit and, with that, the heat, light, and sound unit.

Here's what students did today.

  • Bee Hummer. Students make an instrument that, when twirled, sounds like bees. Supplies used include a craft stick, two erasers that fit on the end of a pencil, a rubber band, and a 3x5 card. After they were finished, they went out front and tried out their hummer. Here's a drawing of the completed bee hummer.


  • Bees: Buzz Pollination. This is a Pulse of the Planet podcast that explains how bees use sound to gather pollen. I thought it was an interesting use of sound that most people aren't aware of. I wanted students to see how sound is used actually used.
  • Pop Bottle Music. Students use five empty glass pop bottles and fill four of them with various amounts of water (the fifth is empty). This activity demonstrates how the size of the object (amount of air available) determines the pitch.

10/7/10

Thursday, October 7th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Groups continued working on the display board for their science project.

6th Grade

I will be giving the re-take for the light unit quiz on Tuesday, October 12th. Before students can re-take the quiz, they need to complete the review assignment. The graphic organizer must be turned in by the beginning of class Tuesday to re-take the quiz.

Today was the noisiest day of the school year. Students completed the following lab activities...

  • Sound Sandwich - Students take two large craft stick, two small pieces of a straw and three rubber bands to make a noise maker. Students blow between the craft sticks to cause the rubber band vibrate. The pitch can be changed by adjusting the location of the two straws (move them closer together or far away).
  • Straw Sounds. A straw is cut in a "V" at one end. Students blow and make a loud noise. One activity they did was to cut the straw, making it shorter a number of times. This changes the pitch and makes it higher.
  • Plucker Up. A string is placed in a cup and held in place with a paper clip. Students put the cup to their ear and pluck the string outside the cup. They can change the length of the string while plucking. This changes the pitch.

10/6/10

Second No-Hitter in Postseason History


Phillies pitcher Roy Hallady has had quite the year. Earlier this year, he pitched the 20th perfect game in major league history. Now he pitches the second no-hitter in postseason history. The first one pitched was Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series. He almost got a perfect game. He walked only one in the 5th inning. (I know this isn't school related, but, hey, I love baseball and things like this are exciting to share!)






AP Photo

Wednesday, October 6th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students began putting their display boards for their science project together.

6th Grade

Students worked on the following sound labs...

  • Tuning Fork Observations. Students use tuning forks to demonstrate sound is vibrations. This is done by hitting the tuning fork and place it on the desk. They hear the tone as it passes through the table. A vibrating tuning fork is put in water. The water flying all over the table also demonstrates the tuning forks are vibrating. They also have two different sizes of tuning forks. They compare the pitch of the two. The large fork has a lower pitch; the smaller fork has a higher pitch.
  • King Gong. Students make earphones using cups connected with string. A metal hanger is placed on the string. The hanger is tapped with a spoon and students listen to the tone. The sound is a cool sounding gong.
  • Party Line. This is the old telephone activity. Two cups are connected with string. Students talk on their "phone." Next, a third cup is tied onto the string. There are now three phones. One more phone is tied onto the string. Four students can now talk to each other.
A few years ago, I had a class who wanted to see how many "phones" they could put on a string. They successfully connected eighteen "phones." They all could hear each other when the strings were pulled tight. It was quite a site out in front of the school that afternoon!

10/5/10

Monday & Tuesday, October 4th & 5th

I apologize for not updating the blog yesterday. 6th Grade students took their light unit quiz, and I was disappointed with the results. I spent most of the evening working on remediation in preparation for the re-take.

Here's what's been going on in class the last two days.

7th Grade

Yesterday students took the cell unit pre-test. Their scores will give me the last bit of information I need to begin the unit (hopefully, by next Monday).

Today students began to wrap up the lab part of their science project. We launched rockets again today with the Green group.

6th Grade

Yesterday students took the light unit quiz. As I mentioned, I was disappointed by the scores. I've just about got a remediation pack put together.

We reviewed the basic concepts of sound.

Today, students took the microorganisms unit pre-test. Their scores will give me the last bit of information I need to begin the unit (hopefully, before the fall break).

10/1/10

Friday, October 1st

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students continued working on their science projects. Most finished today; those that didn't will on Monday. We didn't find the X-15, so Green Group's work was scrubbed!

6th Grade

We finished our light unit and began the sound unit. I gave the sound lecture and students completed their concept map during the lecture.

I enjoy the Blue Man group and had the chance to see them in Chicago. During the show, they did a number called Drumbone. As they were performing it, I turned to my wife and told her that this would be a great demonstrate of pitch (how high or low a sound). I was able to get a DVD with the Drumbone performance and I now use it as a part of my sound lecture.

I found a copy of it on YouTube. Here it is. (Be sure to watch how they change pitch!) Enjoy!