Friday, December 9, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

For the chemists!

Since you just did a major research paper on it, I thought I would share the following photos of Europa! Enjoy :) (Click on the link or the photo to see all of the pictures, there are some real beauties out there!!)

Picture from NASA

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Student Day Phases

We had a fantastic time at our COVA student day yesterday!  We had the opportunity to discuss and show our amazing students all about Phase Changes (in 45 minutes or less).  Of course, we had ONE experiment (there has to be ONE in every crowd, right) that didn't work.  We were attempting to supercool water and managed to freeze it quickly, but no supercool joy.  So, my challenge to you, dear students and readers, is to supercool some water at YOUR house, make a video of the event, then send me the link!

Let the showing up your Chemistry teacher begin!! :)

Here is some inspiration (thanks )!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Rare Earths!!

Did you ever wonder about those little discussed elements on the Periodic Table that are just hanging out on their own underneath the rest of their elemental brothers and sisters?  Well, here is an article for you!

Rare Earth Metals-National Geographic June 2011

We don't talk about them much, but in the article you will learn exactly how rare they are, some common uses of these metals, physical and chemical properties that make them useful, where they are found/mined and some of the social and political issues behind these elements!

Enjoy and feel free to comment with your thoughts or questions!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


In Physics, we are currently studying electricity and I came across this video. I find it endlessly fascinating! Hopefully you will, too!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

View Pure...solution to YouTube Yuck!

You know you have seen it! YouTube Yuck!  You know, the nasty comments or inappropriate video suggestions that have made it difficult to use YouTube in your classroom or home?  Well, thanks to R Byrne's suggestion at his fantastic site, there is a solution!  A site called ViewPure will strip a YouTube of all extras and just play the video!!  YIIIPPPPEEEE!!  I can't wait to try it out in my live sessions!

Without ViewPure                                                           Using ViewPure


Challenge 6: Adding more media!!

Sometimes as science teachers, we can get bogged down in all of the details, and forget that science is really fun, engaging, exciting and comes naturally to our students.  I am a very left brained person, so I thought it would be good to push myself using bitstrips!!  Here is the initial result:

This is TOO much fun and is actually a really simple site to use.  It does have a 30 day free trial, but then starts to charge a relatively nominal fee.  I will have to investigate the possibility of signing up!! 

What are some ideas you have for using comic strip creation in the classroom??

Ideas??... at

Thanks to Edublogs for the awesome blog post about all sorts of fun and interactive media!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lessons from a horse: photo practice...keeping it legal (hopefully)!

Tee hee!!  Thanks to Steve Jurvetson for a great photo and a great laugh this morning!  Many of you know already that I have a slight horse addiction.  Ok, a major horse addiction.  Training horses and training people around horses has given me amazing insights into teaching and has made me a much better teacher!!  Below is a top 10 list of things I learned about teaching from horse-ing around!

10) Getting up early and being the first person at the barn (or at school) helps me ease into the day.
9) I enjoy the ground work more than I enjoy the result. 
8) Spending time on the ground work is not only enjoyable, but is the only way to get the result you want.
7) Racing to the finish line usually ends up in stitches (literally and figuratively).
6) Teamwork can never be underestimated and any two individuals can become a team with the right guidance.
5) Sometimes you have to get dirty to get clean.
4) Daily practice is the only way to earn success.
3) A good rider stays out of their horses' way and lets them shine.  A good teacher does the same with their students.
2) Sometimes you win the biggest when you aren't even in the show!
1) Discipline matters.  I love riding, my riding students have been waiting their whole lives to spend time with their horses.  However, sometimes no one wants to show up and do the work that it takes to ride.  But you do it anyway and it is awesome. Always.

What are some ways that a hobby has helped you be more successful??

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Staying active while learning from home: physically and mentally

Student's learning is sometimes quantified or counted by a measure called "seat-time." While there are some learning activities that require seated, quiet and focused attention, there are others that can be incorporated into active activities!

Over the years, many researchers have investigate the connection between learning and being physically active. They have found that the more physically active you are, the better you can learn. You can read just a couple of articles about it here, here and here.

Schooling and working from home can sometimes put us in danger for feeling isolated, dull and not being as active as we should be. However, there are SO many ways for you to incorporate some active learning ideas and just plain physical activity in your day to keep you both mentally active and physically active!!

In this article from, the author addresses the idea that we not only need to incorporate 30-60 minute periods of vigorous activity into our week, but also that we need to stand up more often. I have no idea if that is true, however, I plan to incorporate more standing into my day by purchasing a "standing desk" for my laptop!!

Get creative to add more standing time into your day. Here are a couple of ideas:
  1. Call a teacher rather than write a lengthy k-mail. Then, you are free to stand or walk as you talk on the phone.
  2. Perhaps a friend or family member would help you review for a test as you go for a walk or hike.
  3. Take breaks during the day to incorporate physical activity. Get outside, skateboard, hike, walk, run, play a sport, or even do some chores!
  4. Use a smaller water bottle! I use a Nalgene bottle for my water. (BPA free, of course). However, I am thinking about getting a small water bottle that I need to refill often so that I need to walk to the sink several times per day. That would be a very simple way to incorporate more standing and walking into your day.
  5. Find a high and stable place for your computer screen so that you can stand during ClassConnects, just be sure that you don't wander off!
  6. After a stretch of sitting at your computer, get up and stretch, do some jumping jacks or push ups. Something to get your blood, and your mind, pumping again!
  7. Have a mini dance party at your house between subjects. Turn on your favorite tunes and get moving!
As many high school student lose access to physical activity during their school day leaving them at higher risk for depression, obesity and type 2 diabetes, online students and teachers have the advantage of being able to incorporate LOTS more movement and exercise into their day! Increasing movement and exercise will help you lean better, help you focus and aid you in getting a good night's sleep.
Remember, your mind is an organ like all others in that it need oxygenated blood to function properly. Integrating more physical activities (both heart pumping and not) into your day could not only improve your physical health, but can help you learn better and have a more fulfilling day!
Please comment and let me know how YOU incorporated movement and exercise (or even standing) into your school day!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mini-Reviews for three Blog Posts

I wanted to share three great posts I have come across recently:

1) Stickr-Create Sticky Notes on Any Website by R Byrne. I love this post! It is so easy to forget the content of websites or the great ideas of others as soon as we navigate away from a site (or are forced to reboot)! Mr. Byrne does a great job of showcasing a neat tool without an overly wordy explanation, leaving it up to us to decide how we might use this exciting resource.

2)A great post about School Choice by Lori Lolz! I am a whole hearted believer in school choice and feel strongly that we have to focus on innovation, not stagnation and tradition (that word choice was for you, mom). I am proud that I have spent my career helping to grow young and amazing schools!! Are we perfect yet? No, but we are trying to get there, which is more than I can say for some of the dusty B&M schools who keep doing the same things they did 10, 20 and 30 years ago! Lori's post is about National School Choice Week, which is a great time to raise awareness of all of the schooling options out there.

Speaking of choice, look at all of the choices people in my area have. Each red dot represents a school. I wonder if COVA has a fuzzy red haze that curtains the state, sense we are lucky enough to educate an incredibly diverse population!

3) I also love the leadership post written by Stephanie Hoaglund. Leadership is an incredible resource that can truly make or break a school. Teachers, administration, students, parents, (and many more) must be leaders in order to create a successful future for students!!! I also appreciate the timely mention of one of our most powerful leaders, Martin Luther King, Jr. Here in Northern Colorado, we are smarting after a Greeley District 6 Board member made heinous remarks about this hero of our nation. I appreciated Ms. Hoaglund's bringing my focus back from anger at a poor leader, to the highest respect for an amazing leader and person.

Passions and an idea (of course)

My passion is change and growth! Whether that be in my classroom or in my "regular" life, things are always changing, and hopefully, improving.

I often try new recipes for our family. And by often, I mean 5-7 days a week! My husband questions the logic of my ever changing quest for culinary perfection, but has resigned himself to being a new recipe guinea pig. I find some good ones though, and they do get made over and over. However, if the recipe is just OK, never again does it cross our lips!

In my classroom I often tweak small things with the overall goal of making my teaching better, more clear and more effective. I change how I format an announcement or I change what I put into them. I am frequently evaluating what my students tend to access more often, and attempt to put less energy into things that they rarely use so that I have more time and energy to focus on effectively using the things that they tend to use more often (while still encouraging them to use all of the tools that are available to them)!

This week, I have formally begun posting language objectives in my synchronous classroom sessions and creating/using supports surrounding those. We just went through an ELL training with our district, and it struck me: MANY of our students are missing so much academic language for so many reasons! Time to get on the boat and teach them what they need when it comes to language!

Now, this doesn't mean that I haven't been teaching language before now, of course I have! However, I intend to make explicit language instruction a more central theme both in synchronous and asynchronous portions of my instruction.
This is just one change I have made this year. Will it be revolutionary on its own, no. However, when all of the little changes add up over the year, I hope that my students will reap the rich rewards!!!

This post inspired by day 2 of 30 days to kick start your blogging by edublogs.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Teacher Challenge’s 30 Days to Kick Starting your Blogging-why??

Why am I participating in the 30 Days to Kick Starting your Blogging Teacher Challenge? I will give you a list:
1) To form a new habit of consistently blogging my thoughts, tips and ideas.
2) To create a rich resource for my students to extend and enrich their learning.
3) To extend my PLN.
4) To continue in my quest to be a life-long learner.
5) Because sometimes I get caught up in the daily grind of life and forget to push my own boundaries/challenge my "way of doing things."
6) To encourage other staff members to blog!
7) To help debunk the myth that the Internet is something to be feared.
8) To compete with my buddy K-Pod! ;)
9) To find other amazing blogs and bloggers to help keep my professional fires burning.
10) To always keep my focus on my students, their learning, and their futures.

Watch over the next 30 days to hopefully see a transformation in this blog!! :)