Showing posts with label STEM. Show all posts
Showing posts with label STEM. Show all posts

Monday, June 06, 2011

Another Use for a Dissecting Tray

So although our last day of school (for teachers) was on Tuesday, the day after Memorial Day, Mrs. Eagle, Mrs. Angora and I, along with our assistant principal and former science Teacher, Mrs. Sparrow, showed up on the first of June to go through and organize (and clean out) our science lab.  This was all brought about because of the huge focus we're seeing in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).  It was also brought about because that lab, in the five years we've had it, is a mess.  People don't clean up after themselves, people have dumped things they don't want in there, and there is a lot of stuff in there that we've had for years and years that no longer applies to any curriculum, that we really don't need.  (Like a box, a big box, of science fair certificates - and we haven't had a science fair in six years.  That went to an elementary school.)

So we went through every drawer and every cabinet, labeled and cleaned what we needed to keep, and had piles of stuff to go to the high school, and the elementary schools, and then a huge pile of just plain trash.

And they had some aluminum dissecting trays.  Which got me to thinking...

I'm having trouble with a crow.

For some reason this year Mr. Bluebird decided he wanted me to plant some sweet corn in the garden.  I'm not sure where this came from.  It's been years since I've planted sweet corn mainly because it takes up a lot of space and I can get it a lot cheaper and easier from the local farmer's market or the Amish farmer I buy from every Saturday.  But, whatever, I said okay, we'll plant sweet corn.

So after the huge rains we had - again - in May, I went and planted a square of sweetcorn.  And about a week later, while looking out the bathroom window at my garden early one morning, I saw a big black crow poking holes in the ground where the sweet corn was planted.

Upon further inspectionI discovered that the darn bird had dug up each and every seed I'd planted.  He'd left tell-tale little holes he'd dug.  This was not good.

So, since I had more seeds, I'd planted another batch of corn.

And a few days later, he'd dug them up again.

This was getting ridiculous.  In the meantime, Daddy Bird and I were at Lowe's (we always seem to spend a lot of time there) and saw that they had sweet corn seedlings in among all the tomato and pepper seedlings.  His idea was to plant the seedlings and then pull a joke on Hubby by making him think that the crow didn't really get the corn and it had come up anyway.  I'm all for a little joke here and there so we bought the seedlings and I planted them and we were all ready for our joke which we were going to do while hubby was cooking steaks on the grill.

Except I went out to the yard about an hour before we planned to start cooking and that stupid crow had already gotten into my garden and pulled each and every seedling up and thrown it on the ground!  ARGH!  I quickly replanted the seedlings, we had the joke on hubby (he figured it out because neither one of us can keep a straight face) and in the meantime I found some gardening fabric I had in the shed to put over the corn seedlings to hopefully keep the evil crow away.

But then I saw those aluminum dissecting trays...which, cut up into eighths, and strung on a string across the garden box, might just keep that stupid bird away from my corn.

So far, so good.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Packing Up to Pack it In

So the last day of school for the kids was on Tuesday the 24th.

The last day for teachers, due to the fact that the kids were forgiven the ungodly number of snow days we had this year but the teachers were not, is Tuesday the 31st.

Which means we have had a lot of time to kill.  Our days usually consisted of about 3 hours of in-services, meetings, workshops or whatever.  Then lunch on our own.  Then the rest of the afternoon was spent packing up our rooms, working with other teachers, and trying to keep from becoming completely bored before we could leave at 2:30.  The 8th grade teachers - every one of which had to change rooms - really needed the time.

Just in case some of you were wondering, the 8th grade teachers had to change rooms for a variety of reasons.  One, since our district is pushing a big huge STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) initiative into the 8th grade this next year, they finally saw the light and realized that science teachers probably need to be in the rooms with running water and sinks, since the social studies teachers who were in those rooms weren't using the running water and sinks.  (No, I still do not have running water and a sink and it will be a cold day in hell before any of us in the old part of the building ever get those, even if we are teaching science.)  The other reason is that we will again have a number of 8th grade teachers who will be picking up two7th grade classes next year, and it makes sense to have these teachers on the end of the 8th grade hallway that's closest to the7th graders.  Last year we had 7th graders running all over the building (and consequently being late all over the time) because their teacher was way down on the end of the 8th grade hallway.  So, truly, it all works out.  Or it should.

Maybe because the admins solicited topics for the in-services, they actually were, for the most part, pretty interesting.  We did a review of our first year of SWPBS (school wide positive behavior support) implementation which was interesting.  Our discipline referrals are way, way, way down this year, but of course the grade with the most problems is 7th.  Let's face it, they just lose their minds that year, regardless of all the positive reinforcement you give them.  As Mr. Enforcer said, it's amazing the amount of stupid boy stuff that he sees out of the seventh graders.  (Sort of like the kid who smuggled his friend onto the school bus in a duffle bag since he didn't have a permission slip from the principal to ride another bus.  Gotta wonder about that one.)

We also had a great in service on what kind of information you can find in a cumulative file.  The Principal is planning on giving us two days of in-service credit at the beginning of the year to work on the files of our 20% of kids who are considered most at risk so we can come up with some interventions - great idea, if you ask me. As luck would have it, my whole team knew exactly what file the Principal was using as soon as it went up on the document reader - even though the names had been blacked out - because it's one we worked with most of the year.  Truly, this poor kid has one of the worst life stories I've ever heard and you could have heard a pin drop as The Principal went through his file and highlighted things that popped out at her that we needed to look at.  Mother had him at 17, father deceased, did okay on state tests until the 5th grade, removed from the home twice, mother has a drug problem and was charged with abuse and neglect, not to mention the fact that she'd lock her kids in their bedrooms while she turned tricks for drug money, she'd lock them in the car, live-in boyfriend was on the lam for some sort of felony conviction, and it went on and on.  (Is there any surprise here that this kid does not do well in school?)

And of course Mrs. Eagle and I spent a lot of time going through our files (and dumping a lot of stuff), going through our unit binders (and dumping and adding stuff) and generally coming up with some ideas for next year.  Although STEM is going to be hit hard and heavy in 8th grade, we're being "encouraged" to attempt more of it on our own next year as well (no big deal as we did a lot of that this year anyway).

So, it's been productive, and unrushed, but we're all about at the end of finding things to keep us busy.  So one more day, which includes our end of the year lunch, and then we're free.

Except I have a science lab in-service on June 1st.  Maybe I can sleep in on the 2nd...