The Right Conditions

You may think this post will be about optimal learning and/or teaching conditions. If so, think again. I am geeking out in this post to share an activity my 5th grade students have been working on with conditional formatting in Google Sheets.  Full disclosure: Before I started my teaching career, I spent several years programming databases and I LOVED IT! (most of the time)

Recently, my students and I have come across various activities and puzzles in Digital Breakouts that relied on a variety of conditional formatting and functions. The students were intrigued and I was pretty sure my database background would reveal the "magic" going on behind the scenes. After a little digging, I was able to figure out the process digital breakout creators were using and began developing ideas for helping my students learn the process too.

We have been working on learning to solve the Rubik's cube. We've also been creating mosaic designs that can be created with the cubes. I decid…

Family STEM Night

It has certainly been a while since I shared on the topic of a Family STEM Night. This week we hosted a really great evening for families to engage in high energy STEM activities. Perhaps some of the energy came from the vertical alignment centered on NC Science Standards of Force and Motion. Everywhere you turned there were objects in motion and families caught up in conversation with each other and the teachers. This post will be short and sweet. I am including some photos and captions along with some of the tweets from the evening. Perhaps readers will find some inspiration or an idea at just the right time. As the night progressed, I worked intentionally to #hashtagwithpurpose so that all the great ideas would become part of the bigger community of educators cataloging the NC Science Standards. Take a look at all the great learning! Then join the conversation on Twitter. Search #hashtag180 on Twitter or click the link for more info.  Check out @KyleHamstra on Twitter to catch the …

My #OneWord 2019: Ambition

I guess that the #OneWord movement is nothing new, but this is the first year I have opted in. My word for 2019 #ambition. Why ambition? Because even though I may still appear to be an overachiever who finds extra hours in the day to keep growing my #PLN and learning about #edtech trends, I feel less ambitious than I was when I first started this blog. Somewhere along the journey, I think I really did slow down a bit.

Ultimately, my #OneWord is about a sense of accomplishment.
It would be easy to choose #OneWord and do nothing with it, but I am determined to regain my #Ambition this year! January is off to a good start, but it is early. I am not posting this to say, "Hey look at me and everything I am doing." I am posting this to acknowledge areas where I am being ambitious and reflect on ways that my #ambition still needs work.

Ambition around the house...

YUCK! Housework - seriously not my favorite thing. Plus, it is a never ending battle. My #ambition here is limited but I w…

2019 - Getting Back on the Blogging Bike

On June 8, 2011, I wrote and published my first post for this blog. I closed this brief but important post with the following paragraph:
"I hope you will join me on this journey.  This blog and the other information on my website are intended to help other teachers benefit from my experiences.  If you want to make an impact on your students through meaningful, inquiry-based science simulations then you've definitely found a point of reference. Make sure you click to follow this blog so you don't miss a single moment of the journey."
As 2019 begins, I am hoping once again to return to the regular routine of blogging. For me, that means taking a closer look at where the original journey led. The majority of posts on this blog were accumulated during the first two years (2011 and 2012).  I already knew that was what I would find.  Just as I wrote in that first post, the journey takes twists and turns. In 2012, my journey turned down a road that would ultimately lead to ea…

#EmpowerBook - Week 1 of IMMOOC

Hi there! I'm back and this time I have a new purpose for writing. Purpose is so important! It's not the only thing that makes a difference though. I also have something worth writing about.
I'm getting better about getting my ideas out of my head and daring to share them with others.
For example, earlier this year I made a suggestion that some of my colleagues and I try a book study. Lo and behold... some of us have selected a book

What's more, the timing was absolutely perfect for those of us who wanted to go one step further to join in with #IMMOOC Season 4. I like to think of myself as the kind of teacher who is on the cutting edge. One of my first teacher evaluations has a comment from the principal stating "she likes to try new things." I remember thinking, now why couldn't he just say she is innovative?  Yup 20 years ago I saw myself as an innovator and I've really never stopped "trying new things" even though the structure of schools do…

Life or Debt: Holiday Shopping Update

Awhile back, I shared a post about my Life or Debt unit.As we approach the holiday season I wanted to share a little update. Last week my students had to "go shopping" for all the fixings for a traditional Thanksgiving meal.  Today, I surprised them with a little Black Friday and Cyber Monday Holiday Shopping. I used the same app that I mentioned previously to create a list of items that people are purchasing this year with the actual costs during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  In class, the students rolled a die to determine how much shopping they would do. The number on the die correlated to the number of times that they had to tap the button on my app and buy something.

The room was buzzing immediately! Students were groaning, exclaiming, consoling each other, and generally had great difficulty containing themselves.  Further accentuating the event, last week was a short "work week" and student pay day today was only averaging $40. As if that wasn't enough, …

Tech Solution: Edpuzzle in the Spotlight

I would like to welcome my colleague Emily Hine as a guest blogger. Emily is a 5th grade teacher at New Century International Elementary School.  I have asked her to share her experience flipping the classroom using Edpuzzle.  Neither of us receives any compensation for endorsing Edpuzzle.  This post is representative of her personal experience.
Looking for a way to incorporate videos into your classroom, and still hold students accountable?  Forgot to print the paper that goes with the video?  No problem, Edpuzzle is an awesome tool if you want to flip the classroom and still hold students accountable.  Edpuzzle allows you pull videos from other people or include your own videos.  If you are looking into flipping the classroom and want to spend most of your time in small group, or even differentiate your learning with different videos, Edpuzzle allows you to spend more time in small group then giving a lecture.
Now, if your anything like me, you are not always satisfied with videos fro…