3/31/11

Thursday, March 31st

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students continued working on the Bird Beaks activity.  Yesterday students began designing their own bird.  Today, based on the characteristics of their bird, they had to write a paper giving the bird a name, a scientific name, the ecosystem where it lives, describe what it eats (based on the bird beak they selected), how the feet help the bird survive (based on the feet they selected), and the function of the birds color.

6th Grade

Students completed two seasons labs.
  • Angle of Light Rays and Surface Distribution.  Using a flashlight holder (see below), students shine the light at three different angles.  They draw a circle at each angle and measure the size.  The purpose of this activity is to demonstrate that the larger the angle, the smaller the area covered by the light, and the more direct heat energy (warm)  we would receive from the Sun.  The smaller the angle, the larger the area covered by the light and the more indirect heat energy (cooler) we would receive from the Sun.

  • The Shadow KnowsUsing a protractor, clay, straw, and flashlight (see below), students shine the light at the straw at four different angles.  They measure the length of the straw's shadow each time.  The smaller the angle, the longer the straw's  (indirect heat energy from the Sun).  The larger the angle, the shorter the straw's shadow (direct heat energy from the Sun).
 

Both activities help  demonstrate why we have hotter temperatures in the summer (direct heat energy when the Sun is high  in the sky) and cooler temperatures in the winter (indirect heat energy when the Sun is lower in the sky).

3/30/11

Wednesday, March 30th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students began working on an adaptations activity - Bird Beaks.   This is a multipart activity.  The first part involves looking at specific types of beaks and how they are used by the bird.  Next, they look at bird feet and how they help a bird function.

Next, they "design a bird" identifying specific traits and characteristics of their bird and then using the proper beaks and feet.

6th Grade

Students completed the Tracking Sunrise and Sunset assignment.

The next activity involved daylight hours in unidentified cities.  Students select two cities and graph the number of daylight hours.  Using the graph, they answer questions.

3/29/11

Monday and Tuesday, March 28th 29th

Here's what we did the last two days.

7th Grade

Yesterday, there was a substitute.  Students watched the Life - Birds episode and took notes identifying bird adaptations.

Today, students completed their Reptile Adaptations reports.  Overall, I was quite pleased with the quality of presentations.

6th Grade

Yesterday there was a substitute.  Students watched Standard Deviants - Solar System and A Traveler's Guide to the Planets - Pluto and Beyond.  Students took notes while watching the videos.

Today, students worked on the following seasons assignments.
  • Sunrise, Sunset - Using a table showing sunrise and sunset times in Salt Lake City, UT, students answer questions about daylight and nighttime hours.
  • Tracking Sunrise and Sunset Students make a line graph showing both sunrise and sunset times through the year.

3/25/11

Friday, March 25th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students began their Reptile Adaptations presentations.  About 1/3 of the class presented today.  All the presentations were great.  I was very impressed the quality of information and work.

6th Grade

We completed two seasons lab activities.
  • Reason for the SeasonsThis was a two part activity.  In the first part, students place a globe of the Earth on four different spots, representing the four seasons.  They shine a flashlight on the globe and observe how the Earth looks during the different seasons.  Part two consisted of students drawing three circles on a sheet of graph paper.  One circle was drawn using a flashlight shining at 90 degrees.  The second circle was drawn with a flashlight shining at 45 degrees.  The final circle was drawn with a flashlight shining at 30 degrees.  They counted the number of squares on the graph paper.  The purpose of this part of the activity was to reinforce the fact that the larger the angle of light, the more concentrated the light.  The smaller the angle, the less concentrated the light.  This represents direct and indirect sunlight.
  • Seasons For Times a Year. This is similar to the second part of the previous activity.  Students circle two lights shining on graph paper.  The first is at 90 degrees, the second is at 45 degrees.  This time the students count the number of squares (including squares that are covered half or more in light).  They calculate the size of a square on the graph paper, and determine the area each circle of light covers.  The purpose of this activity was to reinforce the fact that the larger the angle of light, the more concentrated the light.  The smaller the angle, the less concentrated the light.  This represents direct and indirect sunlight.

3/24/11

Thursday, March 24th

Here's what we did today. 

7th Grade

Students worked on comparing state reptiles with other students.  

6th Grade

There will be a make-up/re-take test for the Phases of the Moon unit on Tuesday.  Any student wanting to re-take the test (any portion) needs to study the review notes.  If the student doesn't study the notes, they won't be able to re-take the test.

We did a seasons lab activity today - Four SeasonsUsing a globe and bright light, students simulate Earth's revolution around the Sun, observing the Earth as it tilts towards and away from the Sun.  Next, they place a piece of tape on each longitude line, beginning with the one nearest Utah.  Students determine how many hours of daylight there is during summer and winter.  

3/23/11

Wednesday, March 23rd

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students watched two episodes of Animal Atlas.  Their assignment was to list the animals and their adaptations.

6th Grade

Students finished their textbook assignment.


Students also completed a seasons lab activity - Why Is Summer Hot?  We needed a sunny day to do this activity.  Since today was a clear day, I decided to take advantage of the good weather.  Students use two thermometers, one upright and slanted so it will receive direct heat from the Sun.  The other was placed flat on the ground.  This would receive indirect heat from the Sun.  Students checked their thermometers every five minutes for twenty minutes.  Then, they check temperature two more times at thirty minutes and forty minutes. 

The purpose of the activity was to demonstrate that the temperature of the thermometer receiving direct heat energy was higher than the temperature of the thermometer receiving indirect heat.  This demonstrates why summer (direct heat) is warmer than winter (indirect heat). 

3/22/11

Tuesday, March 22nd

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students completed their research for the Reptiles Adaptations report.

6th Grade

Students started working on an assignment in the textbook.  The purpose of the assignment is to reinforce what they have learned from the lecture and videos.  

3/21/11

Monday, March 21st

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students continued working on their Reptile Adaptations reports.  Tomorrow will be their last day.


6th Grade

Students watched two seasons videos  - Bill Nye - Seasons; Science Court - Seasons.

3/20/11

MESSENGER Orbiting Mercury

The MESSENGER space probe was successfully placed into orbit around Mercury Thursday, March 17th.  This is the first space probe to orbit Mercury.  The Mariner 10 space probe flew by Mercury three times in 1974 and 1975. 

There will be a check of instruments and on April 4th it is expected MESSENGER will begin its official mission.  It's scheduled to last one year.

Below is an animation of the MESSENGER orbital insertion process. 


3/18/11

Friday, March 18th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students are continuing to work on their Reptile Adaptations presentations.

6th Grade

We began our seasons unit today with the lecture and notes

3/17/11

Thursday, March 17th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students continue working on their Reptile Adaptations report.

6th Grade

We completed our phases of the Moon unit today.  Students took the unit test.

3/16/11

Wednesday, March 16th (Early Out)

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students continued working on the Reptile Adaptations report.  A number of students decided to make a PowerPoint presentation as a part of their project.  This means we'll need to spend a few more days in the computer lab.

6th Grade

We completed our last phases of the Moon activity (test is tomorrow), Going Thru a Phase.   Students made a paper Earth/Moon model.  The Moon was a gumball.  As the Moon "revolved" around the Earth, students shined a flashlight on the gumball.  They observed each phase, drew a picture of what they saw, and identified the phase. 

This activity helped students review Moon phases based on where its located relative to the Earth and Sun.

3/15/11

Tuesday, March 15th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students continued working on their Reptile Adaptations report.

6th Grade

Students made a Moon ClockUsing a Moon Clock, students can tell time by finding the Moon and aligning it on their clock.  They can also find out when you can see a certain phase of the Moon.

Using their Moon Clocks, they completed the following worksheets:

3/14/11

Monday, March 14th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students began working on Reptile Adaptations. Each student was assigned a State Reptile.  Their assignment is to:
  • write a report about the reptile. 
  • prepare a class presentation about their assigned reptile.
  • draw a picture of their reptile, identifying adaptations that help the reptile survive in its environment.
6th Grade

We watched The Universe - The Day the Moon Was Gone.   This video pointed out that the Moon helps keep the Earth's tilt stable.  Without it, Earth's tilt would wobble like a top.  Without the Moon, there would be lower tides and less land masses.  Global climate would constantly change.  There would be constant high winds and numerous hurricanes.  It is questionable if there ever would have been intelligent life because of the unstable climate. 

3/11/11

Friday, March 11th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Today was the last day set aside for students missing work to get it done.  At first, 17 students were missing one or more assignments.  As of today, four students are missing assignments.  Sadly, two of those still have not turned in any assignments.  They will be spending time in a Buddy Room next week working on their missing assignments.

6th Grade

Students finished the Phases of the Moon WebQuest.

3/10/11

Thursday, March 10th

Here's what we did today. 

7th Grade

Students missing work continued to do the assignments they haven't turned in.  The class has gone from 17 students missing one or more assignments to 6 students.  I'm pleased with the work my students have done.

6th Grade

We began working on a Phases of the Moon WebQuestThe purpose of a WebQuest is to have students complete tasks using the Internet.  Websites student can are provided to them.  This WebQuest will give students the opportunity to review what they've learned about phases of the Moon.

3/9/11

Wednesday, March 9th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

I finished grading all students assignments yesterday.  When I finished, 17 out of 26 students were missing one or more assignments.  This means 65% of my students haven't turned in all of their assignments.  Frankly, this is totally unacceptable.  I also am tired of the sloppy work students are turning in.  Let me give a few examples:
  • In answer to a question "When do white foxes shed their fur and what color is their fur?"  over half-a-dozen students gave an answer similar to this one a student wrote - "a. April; b. June."  (no student was able to show me the color June [or spring, or autumn, or August, etc.]).
  • Many students are turning in incomplete assignments, not answering questions.
  • I'm starting to get responses like "I don't know" as answers for questions.  This tells me student won't review the source information to find an answer.
  • Students, after being told I expect complete sentences, are providing one or two word(s) as answers.  This does not demonstrate a student's knowledge.  (They have been told since the first day that one or two words would not be acceptable.) 
In the past, I have allowed students to leave early for lunch if their work is completed.  Students who haven't turned in assignments have left.
Today, and over the next two days, students who are missing work will be working on the missing assignments.  They are expected to complete the assignments.  Students who have completed all assignments have been given free time.
In the future, students will have to give me their assignments for my review.  I will do a quick review and let them know if they assignment is acceptable.  I will not accept assignments that are not completed correctly.  students will be expected to follow class rules and do their work.  Every single student in the class is capable of doing good work.  I expect them to perform up to their potential. 
6th Grade 
We did the following activities today:
  • Moon Lollipops - Students use Styrofoam balls on a stick to demonstrate phases of the Moon.  A lamp is used for the Sun and the student represents Earth.  They observe how much of the ball is in "sunlight."  This represents the phase of the Moon.  The picture below shows a similar activity to what was done in class today.
  • Students who needed extra time to complete the Identifying the Phases of the Moon worksheets had time to complete the worksheets.
  • Students need to know how to create and understand tables as well as how to make and understand graphs. The final activity, Graphing Phases of the Moon, gave students information about how long each lunar phase lasts.  Using that information the make a table showing the phase and how many days it lasts.  Using that information, they make a bar graph. 

3/8/11

Tuesday, March 8th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

We watched National Geographic - Science of Dogs.  It was a great video.  It presented possible hypotheses for how wolves became dogs.  It presented information about genetic problems with purebred dogs.  Because the population is so small for any purebred, there is a greater chance of developing genetic problems.  They stated that it is estimated that 1 in 4 purebred dogs have genetic problems.  The DVD also discussed ways vets are attempting to treat genetic problems.  The success with treating genetic problems with dogs could lead to possible genetic treatments for humans in the future.

6th Grade

We watched Bill Nye - Moon.  Students worked on Identifying Phases of the Moon worksheets. 

I didn't have a copy of the Phases of the Moon Graphic Organizer notes completed yesterday by students.  You can get a copy here.

Mars Class

A brief note about last trimester's Mars Class.  We were able to schedule the groups' presentations for Friday, March 18th.  It is scheduled for noon and will be done from my classroom.

3/7/11

Monday, March 7th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students finished their Dogs Adapting to the World assignments.  Students also watched Polar Battlefields.  This is an excellent program that helps students understand how the polar bear has adapted to its arctic climate.

6th Grade

Today was the first day of Science B.  Students who were not in my 1st Trimester class were given a disclosure statementThis needs to be signed and returned tomorrow.

Students were given a homework assignment.  Our first unit explains why the Moon changes phases throughout the month.  Students are expected to observe the Moon each night (weather permitting!) and draw a picture of what they see.  This assignment will be due Wednesday, March 23rd.

I reviewed the reasons why we see different phases of the Moon each night.  They took notes as a part of the lecture.

3/3/11

Thursday, March 3rd (End of 2nd Trimester)

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students continued working on the Dogs Adapting to the World set of assignments.

6th Grade

Today was the last day of the 2nd trimester.  Monday, students will be going to different classes.  We watched When We Left Earth - The Explorers.  Students learned about the missions to the Moon from Apollo 12 to Apollo 17.

Mars Class

Today was the last official day of class.  Students continued working on their PowerPoint presentations.  It looks like they will be presenting the project proposals live the week of March 14th.  That will give them time to finish the presentations as well as time to practice their presentations.

3/2/11

Tuesday, March 2nd

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

We started our dog assignments.  Students began working on Dogs Adapting to the World.   This assignment consists of...

  • Using a dog fact sheet, review a set of statements and determine if they are true or false.
  • Read From Wolf to Woof.  Answer questions about the article.
  • Given a list of dogs, identify where the dog was first bred, what it does, and what traits it has that help it do its job.
  • Read a list of jobs done by dogs and write a one-to-two page paper.

6th Grade

We began watching NOVA - The Pluto Files.  This is narrated and hosted by Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson.  He is considered the person responsible for Pluto no longer being a planet.  It's a great video because it shows the process how science works.  It identifies the issues and the debate (that is still on going!).

Mars Class

It's been decided students will be presenting the proposals live.  Today, they began working on the PowerPoint presentations.  These will be used instead of the actual paper.

3/1/11

Tuesday, March 1st

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students who didn't finish yesterday's assignments finished them today.

While students were working on their assignments, we watched NOVA - Dogs Decoded.  This was a great video about dogs.  There were two great parts.  A family took in four wolf pups and raise them like dogs.  The wolves never became domesticated.  No matter what was done, they never behaved like dogs.  They were more aggressive and territorial.  After two years the wolves had to be returned to the sanctuary where they were born.  There is more to domestication then just training.

The second part talked about a project that has been done over the last fifty years in Russia.  They took a number of silver foxes.  After they bred, the watched their pups as they grew.  The fell into three categories - aggressive, fearful (of people), and neither.  They took the last category (about 1% of the foxes) and bred them.  Each generation the only pups that reproduced were those that were neither aggressive nor fearful.  By the third generation, they had pups that responded positively towards people.  Today they have foxes that are every bit domesticated as dogs.  In fact, they acted like dogs (tails wagging, licking faces, etc.)  It was a fascinating and interesting video.

6th Grade

We finished the 6th grade core test today.  Students have two more to go.

Mars Class

There we a few problems with parts of the proposals.  Students worked on correcting them. 

Paige Graff, my contact at Arizona State, made an interesting offer today.  She offered to have the students present their proposals live.  They like the idea, so I'm exploring ways this could be done.  Our head of the tech departments, Darin Nielsen, said we could use the conference room at the district office to do it.  I'm hoping we can work this out.