Last fall I travelled to New York with my fellow 2008 state Teachers of the Year to participate in a video project sponsored by the Council for Chief State School Officers and by the Pearson Project. Each of our state TOYs created individual video works on the topic "Why I Teach". I think you may find the results interesting and get a greater insight into why I was so amazed and honored to, spend time, and become friends with this amazing group of teachers last year. You can find it by going to http:/www.pearsonfoundation.org/ccsso-toy/2008/.
105 years ago today at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina Orville Wright accomplished what no man before had been able to do - he flew the first successful powered flight. Others had flown gliders, and many were trying to accomplish this goal (many with heavy financial backing), but the Wright Brothers were first.
Many (including the Smithsonian's Langley) were reported to believe that the Wright brothers were unworthy of this achievement because they lacked the academic credentials. The Smithsonian spent almost $100,000 ( early 1900s dollars) on a wind tunnel that the Wrights built for under $100 - and which was found to be a more effective tool to study aerodynamics! Our scientific history is filled with tinkerers, dreamers, and curious people that many would consider amateurs, but who accomplished great things.
So to all of my students, and those students who visit me here at the Science Corner, I challenge you to dream big. We need your dreams! Thank you Orville and Wilbur Wright!
I am an avid follower of my friend, Mike Geisen's blog site. Mike is our 2008 National Teacher of the Year and has been on the road almost non-stop since being introduced at the White House last May. Mike has a unique sense of humor and take on things that is invaluable in his journey. Away from his wife and two young children, Mike is finding balance by sharing his trip with us through this site. It is a must watch. From a video journey through Japan (complete with one of the most hysterical introductions to a hotel room), to his take on the national educational scene, to reflections on his personal journey, Mike gives food for thought to every teaching professional.
I encourage you to follow Mike's journey. If you are like me you will be hooked on this site. Check it out at http//ntoy.blogspot.com (or go to my links below and click on his site).
For my northern teaching friends looking out at ice, snow or frost I thought a look at our school garden before we go on winter break might be of interest to many of you and your students. Some of our beds are being spruced up with annuals planted by our fifth grade garden club; we are finishing off the last of our tomatoes, replanting onions and broccoli, and awaiting the harvest of our carrot crop; and we are fighting weeds just as any dedicated gardener would! Let us know what you think!
I want to share the accomplishments of a friend of mine. Paul Gray, 2008 Arkansas Teacher of the Year, recently returned from a trip to Antarctica where he joined the National Geographic Society on expedition. Paul is an AP Geography teacher and was selected from teachers across the country to participate in this great adventure.
I am both proud of Paul's accomplishment and excited that he was able to participate and share with us in this once in a life time experience. I am posting a couple of pictures he has shared of life on this frozen continent.
A journal of Paul's experience can be found at http://www.expeditions.com/DER_Details113.asp?DailyReport=148082&SearchS
At many of my workshops I am asked to share ideas related to organization. I teach in a portable classroom and see about 725 students each week. There is simply no room to display samples of student investigations or share with students what other classes or grades are working on. My solution has been simplified in this age of digital photography.
I am constantly taking pictures of students at work (with signed permission provided to homeroom teachers at the beginning of each school year). I regularly print the pictures in sheets of six pictures and place them in plastic sheet protectors. These plastic "displays" are attached to the metal cabinets by my front door. As students enter the class and line up to leave the pictures are there to be viewed by all. Kids regularly see their friends and siblings and get a peek into what's going on in other classrooms.
For Open House I have expanded this to a slide show that runs non-stop on my Smart Board for everyone to enjoy. Since my program uses science journals and hands on explorations, rather than product driven projects and worksheets, these pictures becomes documentation and a great source for conveying what takes place in the lab.
As our northern friends are enjoying frost and snow, we in Florida welcome the annual migration of "snow birds" taking temporary residence in our trees. This year our third graders are participating in a population study in which we identify and quantify the population of birds found in our adjoining wetlands area. High in the pine and oak trees we are watching daily and recording our observations. Using binoculars, field guides, cameras and data sheets we hope to accurately record how our bird population will change through out the school year.
To date we have been joined by flocks of Crows, Mockingbirds,and Sparrows. We have been joined by two large Owls (see picture),a Red Winged Hawk, a Bald Eagle, Doves, Snowy Egrets and a female Cardinal. We will post our pictures and observations periodically throughout the upcoming months.
Our fourth and fifth grade have been exploring static electricity and have had a great time with Van DeGraff generators. Pictures illustrate the excitement that can also be generated. if course a cheap alternative can easily be created by placing styrofoam beads (or small pieces of styrofoam peanuts) in a balloon. Blow up the balloon and you have a "supercharged static electricity ball". Rub the balloon on pieces of wool, silk, or fur and watch the beads react!
A special thank you to our principal, Janet Medina-Maestre, for being such a good sport. If you look closely you will see much of her hair beginning to "stand up". Everyone has also enjoyed as I place my head near the ball and catch static electricy bolts jumping to my hair!
A quick apology for the limited recent postings. I have a history of back problems beginning with back surgery twenty years ago and I recently spent a few weeks in bed with more back problems. I'm back in the lab walking with a cane, but still not at 100%. This has limited my time in the evening on the computer. Hopefully I will be more regular with postings.