Saturday, July 27, 2019

Summer Refresh

Hi everyone! Summer is ending and we teachers are gearing up for another school year! I've been busy in my classroom off and on for the past several weeks. I decided back in June that I needed a shake-up in my classroom. After 18 years of teaching middle school science (and no plans to go anywhere for the foreseeable future), I knew that I needed to make some changes for myself, as well as my students! I was discussing my feelings with a colleague and friend, and she said--you mean you feel stale?? It was the simplest, yet most accurate description! At that moment, I vowed to not be stale anymore!
This desire for a change has been in the back of my mind for some time now, but two major things prompted me to make it happen this summer. First, I went to a state technology conference and attended several sessions that really motivated me to incorporate technology INTO my curriculum--not just throwing in some random technology one day! Second, our governor passed a law that all students K-12 will be required to receive computer science education. This law will go into effect over the next three years, however, there's no time like the present, as they say!
So...I took a good look at my space, and decided to turn a corner of the classroom into a "STEM Lab". I want to do all the things, however, I decided to start small and chose five or less "new" ideas to incorporate into my science curriculum. I teach two classes of eighth grade physical science and two classes of seventh grade life science. I plan to use green screen videos, podcasting, stop motion animation, and drones to address various aspects of the curriculum. I purchased Parrot Mini-drones to teach coding, as well as real-life simulations where drones are used, LEGOs to use for stop motion animation and simulations with the drones, Play-Doh for modeling scientific concepts such as chemical bonding and cell structure, and I built two small recording booths from legal sized crates and soundproof foam squares to use with video narration and podcasts.

LEGO Mania:
Sorting the LEGOs by color turned into a 4+ hour job, but the end result was pretty satisfying!  I used Sterilite shoe boxes from Wal-Mart (always a great deal this time of year) to sort them. The metal shelf is from IKEA and its called the Hylis. The mini-figures are my pride and joy--hopefully I'll let the students use them!

STEM Lab in progress:
The lab still is not complete, however, I have made tremendous progress in the last week! The drones have separate spaces, my Play-Doh is organized, and the blue bins contain a class set of LEGO cars, that I will use as a Back-to-School activity (similar to a Master Builders competition), as well as other uses throughout the school year. The shelves pictured here are also from IKEA, they are the Kallax 2x4 cube shelves that I turned on their sides to define the space. The giant watercolor lightbulbs were printed at Walgreens as posters, mounted on foamboard, and hung from the ceiling using black paracord. The white photo frames you see scattered around are another IKEA favorite of mine--they are called Tolsby (only $1)! Finally, I cannot end this post without remarking on the wonderful world of Canva, for designing the signage you see throughout the lab, and Walgreens, for printing all the signage. Canva + Walgreens is a truly wonderful combination!

I designed this poster in Canva, printed it at Walgreens, put it in a plexiglass frame, and hung it on my bulletin board with command strips. I plan to design other posters and switch them out during the school year. The bulletin board is covered in Better Than Paper bulletin board material, and the frame around it is moulding that I purchased, had my dad build the frame, painted it with Annie Sloan chalk paint in Florence, and also attached it by command strips. (I could write a lengthy article about the 1001 ways I use command strips!)

Since school has not started yet, I cannot tell you with absolute certainty how all this will go...I have the desire to make it work and hope my passion and enthusiasm will be enough for student engagement! Stay tuned for more information!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Hey y'all! Thank you so much for stopping by my brand new technology blog! In this blog, I will be sharing teaching with technology ideas, especially in science because that's what I teach, but if you don't teach science, hopefully you will find ways to make it work in your own classroom. I will also sprinkle in some classroom decorating tips, DIY ideas, management and organization tips, and other topics of interest for teachers!

A little about me...I'm starting my 19th year as a middle school teacher. I teach in a middle school in central Alabama. I have taught 7th and/or 8th grade science all but one of those years. In 2018, I graduated with a Master's Degree in Library Media, and look forward to one day having a library of my own! I love middle school, though it's not without challenges. I love watching my students mature and develop plans and goals and personalities.

This summer I was able to attend the AETC (Alabama Educational Technology Conference) and it was AWESOME! I learned about some really, REALLY cool things to do with my students this coming year. I can't wait to share these projects with you once we return to school in August. While at the AETC, I attended a workshop about Google Educator certification. After reviewing and studying the material, I took the test and I am happy to say I received Level 1 Certification in June! I believe that this training will help me with technology integration with my students. Stay tuned...

Summer Refresh

Hi everyone! Summer is ending and we teachers are gearing up for another school year! I've been busy in my classroom off and on for the ...