Sunday, April 29, 2012


Last week I reviewed my heat unit with one of my favorite science experiments.  It's fairly easy to complete, and it really helps students understand the concept of insulators and conductors (which almost always gives my students trouble).  All you need is a glass cup, plastic cup, and 2 Styrofoam cups (one with a lid and one without a lid), a source of hot water, and thermometers.  I only do this activity with one group at a time, because I get a little nervous doing it with a whole group since it does involve hot water.  I had each group fill their cup with water and place all four cups in a microwave.  After the water has heated up, students should record the initial temperature of the water, and then measure the temperature again after ten and 20 total minutes.

**I do not allow students to remove the cups from the microwave.  I'm the only one who can touch anything until I make sure everything is safe.**

I have my students fill out this recording sheet (which is on TpT) as they work to help them organize their information.  It's always surprising to see that the class cup has the highest temperature initially, but has the lowest temperature after the 20 minutes.  I cannot say how many times I heard, "This is so much fun" or "I love science" when we did this experiment.  I think those are the times that make my job so awesome!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tornado: 1 Year Later

Exactly one year ago tomorrow, my husband, who was working out of town, called me on my way to school and told me that he'd heard there may be bad weather that day.  I still remember rolling my eyes and laughing at him.  Little did I know that would end up being the one of the scariest days I can remember.

At about 9:00 that morning we were called into the hallway for a tornado warning, and at first it really wasn't that big of a deal.  When the lights went off and emergency doors slammed shut, I started feeling a little nervous.    Then, there was this change in the entire atmosphere of the school that I really can't describe, but we all knew that something was really wrong.  You could hear the storm blowing in, and I was absolutely terrified.  All I could think about was my daughter at her babysitter's house with gigantic trees all around her.  I tried to text her babysitter to make sure they were in the closet, but my hands were shaking so bad I couldn't type anything.  I secretly felt about ready to panic myself when I saw 20 pairs of eyes looking at me with this complete faith that I would take care of them.  It was a humbling experience to say the least, and I have to say those sweet faces are what helped me keep it together.  Somehow I was able to smile and act like we had it all under control, and thank the good Lord it was all over without any major incidences.

School was dismissed and students starting signing out almost immediately, but it took awhile for most people to get to the school, because so many of the roads were closed due to trees and power lines that had fallen.   After all of my students had dismissed, I was shocked to see for myself what had actually happened all around us.

My daughter, who was almost two at the time, and I pretty much spent the entire afternoon and night in our guest bathroom.   She had no clue what was going on and thought eating her peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the bathtub was great, and loved the little bed I made her in the tub.

We were hit with a larger storm later that evening that completely demolished several homes in our community, one of subdivisions hit hard was less than a mile from our school.  We were very blessed though that no one was badly hurt during any of the bad weather that day, because there were other tornadoes in nearby communities that took the lives of several people.

A year later, I still see physical effects of the storms, but the thing that I notice most is the fear in my students' eyes every time it rains.  Just as soon as it gets even a little bit overcast, the first thing they ask me, is if there's supposed to be a tornado watch, and if a storm comes they're terrified.  I hope to see this fear ease over time, and I'd really love to know what all I can do as their teacher to help ease these fears.

My heart and prayers still goes out to those who lost loved ones during all of the events of the past year.

Monday, April 9, 2012

New Birds & Test Prep

We returned from spring break (which was wonderful) to find that a Killdeer had laid eggs right outside my classroom, and it's been a neat little learning experience for my students and me.  We quickly learned that these birds are very protective of their eggs.  If anyone gets near the female, she starts acting like she has a broken wing to lure you away from the eggs.  The male is much more aggressive-if he's around watch out, because he'll swoop in and actually try to peck you!  Needless to say, we've kept students away from the nest and placed a barrier over the eggs, so that the birds can come and go, but students will know to stay away. 
I did find a little video on youtube of the broken wing act that you can see here.

Testing Tips Posters
I don't know the requirements for different states and/or districts, but at my school we can't have anything academic on our walls for testing.  We either have to cover them up or take it all down.  These means all of my word walls, anchor charts, maps, standards-everything!   I took everything down right before spring break, but I can't take all of the bare walls.  We are allowed to have testing tips posted, so I've made some test tip posters to display on my former standards based bulletin board.  I thought they turned out pretty cute, so I thought I'd share.  There are 10 different posters that you can use, and hopefully they'll help jazz up my bare walls!  You can click here for your posters:)

You can visit No More Monkey Business for even more test prep tips with a new linky party for test prep!