December 11, 2014

T'was The Daze Before Christmas - A Holiday Letter to My Colleagues.

Inspired by Erica Colon's (Knitty Gritty Science) The Daze Before Christmas TPT Freebie, I decided to write my own for my colleagues, with my school specific references.

* Venkatanarasimharajuvaripeta is one of the longest Indian names.  We have many South Asian students in our school with challenging names to memorize. Many are quite beautiful sounding once you get the knack for it.  I'm still working on this one though.

TPT Sellers Giving Back for the Holidays

I'm a very lucky person, as my husband reminds me of all the time.  Just because I live where I do, I am a part of the 99% of the richest people in the world.  I don't have to worry about my next meal, where I will lay down my head at night, my physical safety or having any of my needs met.  Heck, I also have most of my wants met to boot.  Sometimes it's difficult to keep this in perspective when we're constantly bombarded with messages that tell us to strive for more and more stuff or that we don't have enough yet.

I want to hold on to this perspective that I am in this lucky 99% majority.  This December I would like to give back to those not as fortunate.  One of the student led groups at my school called VON (Volunteer Now) has been raising money to build a school in Sierra Leone.

This is their Free the Children's Brick by Brick Campaign.  It will take $10 000 to build the school house.  As access to education is an issue near and dear to me, and I would love to support the students at my school, I'm going to try to put a dent in that figure and I would invite you to help me.

On Sunday December 14th, 100% of the earnings I make on TPT will be going to Free the Children's Brick by Brick campaign.   Every dollar you spend in my TPT store on this day will go to this cause.  Why not get some useful educational resources and help build a school overseas at the same time?  Sunday is usually my best sales day so I am very excited for VON and their Brick by Brick Campaign.

Other teacher authors on TPT have also decided to make December 14th their day for giving back and I invite you to happily purchase products from these talented teachers as well.  Each has their own charity they would like to give back to.  Please check them out.

I would like to give special thanks to Erica Colon (Nitty Gritty Science) for being the kind mastermind behind this idea and rounding all of us up for this Great Day of Giving Back.

October 26, 2014

Teaching Science Using Zombies!

Who doesn't love a good zombie?  Over the last decade, a slew of successful movies and now AMCs t.v. series, The Walking Dead, have cemented the zombie as everyone's favourite monster.  The zombie apocalypse has become the backdrop on which every human story can be told.  In this nightmarish zombie dystopia, the human condition can be eviscerated and bared to the bone.  There are endless opportunites for humans to sink into depravity, connect with the primal, attain glory and seek redemption. Riveting stuff.

I love the zombie trope, and so do many of my students who have been initiated into fandom through The Walking Dead.

I decided to celebrate zombies by making an activity that uses the idea of zombies to teach scientific concepts.  This is especially fitting because it's now October which means that:
  1. The new season of The Walking Dead has started.
  2. All Hallow's Eve is almost upon us and kids are primed to respond to all things creepy, scary and blood encrusted.
  3. Yesterday, thousands of zombies descended on Toronto.   I'm not even joking!

Toronto loves a good zombie, even our infamous mayor, Rob Ford.  Here is Ford partaking of a choice bite at one of the Annual Toronto Zombie Walks.

To celebrate Halloween and my love of zombies, I created an activity called The Science of Zombies that uses zombies to teach several different scientific concepts: transmission of contagion, rabies, prion diseases, brain damage, congenital insensitivity to pain, hyperthyroidism and tapeworms.  I've never had so much fun making a resource before.  My love of zombies, plus my love of creating engaging student resources, were perfectly married in this endeavour.

I couldn't help myself, I used this product in my own classrooms last week.  I couldn't wait until Halloween!  I gave it to my Gr.12 Biology Class, as well as left it as a sub plan for my Gr.9 Science Class.  Both classes were very engaged and learned a lot of science!

THE SCIENCE OF ZOMBIES product includes:

(1) 6 page article (with diagrams)
(2) 2 page question worksheet with answer key {editable}
(3) 1 page zombie apocalypse survival guide {editable}
(4) 1 page crossword {editable}
(5) 1 page quick mark quiz {editable}
(6) 2 page lesson implementation guide

I always put my science articles in Duotang booklets to save paper and photocopying costs.  After printing them out and inserting them to Duotangs, I had a whole class set.  The prepared Duotangs were perfect when I had to use the article for an emergency sub plan since all the supply teacher had to do was photocopy the worksheets that accompanied the article.

Below is a link to the full product if you want to take a gander.

June 11, 2014

Get Your Teaching Blog Designed by a Professional

Need a teaching blog professionally done?  Try these designers!

I recently played around with the idea of getting my teaching blog professionally designed by a designer who has experience designing teaching blogs (i.e. knows what a teacher blog needs and who a teaching blog appeals to, and can make a great blog on a teacher's budget).

I went to the TPT forum to ask teachers who designed their teaching blogs.  I got a list of blog designers who all have happy customers and I thought I'd post the list here in case any teacher is looking for a pro to make their blog.  I've looked at all of their websites and there's tonnes of talent here.  Some of them ares also sellers on TPT so they will know quite well, what TPT seller will need to promote their blog.  I'm sure you'll find a designer to meet your needs from the ones below.

A List of 9 Recommended Blog Designers

June 4, 2014

How to Make Larger and More Effective Pins for Pinterest

Most pinners pin their product directly from their TPT  store, TN store or their own blog.  My suggestion is to custom make your own Pins for every product before you pin it on Pinterest.

Why make pins larger? 
1) They get noticed more if they are larger, leading to more repins.
2) You can customize what information is on the Pin.  You are not limited to only what images are available on your website.

How to make pins larger.

March 1, 2014

Doing Teacher Burpees on Machu Picchu!


What does a biology teacher do on her year off to travel the world in 2013?   BURPEES!  As well as meeting the challenges of a low oxygen environment.

These celebrational burpees were done after 5 days of high altitude hiking to the amazing ruins of Machu Picchu.  Our little group was one of the first up the mountain to arrive at the ruins that last morning - start the climb at 5am!  It was worth it.  As you can see, the place looks deserted and it's like we have it to ourselves...

February 8, 2014

Genetics BINGO Activity - This will hook the students on genetics!

Are your students sticking out their tongues, pulling on their ears, jacking up their thumbs and making (or trying to make) the Vulcan hand sign?  YES!!!  At least they will with this fun genetic traits activity which gets students to discover traits about themselves and their classmates they never knew they had!

A fun activity for both students and teachers.  Playing this game is a great way to get students interested in genetics.

May you live long and prosper, whether or not you can roll your tongue.  ;)

January 18, 2014

Textbook Task Cards - Start Off your Science or Biology Course with Some Textbook Confidence!

Get them to use their textbook without prompting!
They will realize how useful their textbook is.

Often students do not get the most out of their science textbook because they either feel intimidated by it or they don't know how useful it can be.  Starting off your science course with an activity that familiarizes the students with their textbook is a very handy way to ensure that they will use their textbooks more often, more effectively and without as much need for prompting.

TEXTBOOK TASK CARDS to the rescue!

November 24, 2013

Healthy Blueberry Nut Bars for the Hungry Teacher

I swear, there aren't that many chocolate chips!

"No Bake" healthy high protein snacks.  Let's make them!

The Background:  I am a part of a staff fitness group (5 dedicated members) at school.  We generally alternate between high intensity training, weights and core strengthening every morning (M-F) from 7:30am til 8:00am before classes.  We all have different goals and mine in September was to gain 4lb-6lb of muscle by the end of the school year.  

I told my workout colleagues (I'm the only biology teacher) about the protein window and asked them if they wanted to take advantage of it by making some some healthy high protein snacks (the store bought ones are full sugar and unwanted additives).

August 8, 2011

Befriending Camels at the Pyramids of Egypt


There are two types of Camels.  One-humped camels are native to the Middle East and the Horn of Africa and the two-humped type (the Bactrian camel) is native to Central Asia.  Contrary to popular belief, these humps are not sloshing around with water, but are instead filled with fat reserves for energy storage.  This is a great adaptation that concentrates the fat away from the rest of the body so that camels do not contain much fat in other areas which would cause too much thermal insulation.

July 27, 2011

Trekking for Gorillas in Uganda


Like much of the world's mega fauna, Highland (Mountain) Gorillas are endangered.  Their range is in the Congo, Uganda and Rwanda (the green areas in the map.)  My trek was in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (What a cool name, but it is obviously a misnomer.)

July 15, 2011

Ugandans Don't Need Gyms!

Don't judge my muscles next to him!

North America has an obesity issue.  I don't think it's deniable.  We spend more money on weight loss: supplements, equipment, gym memberships and diet schemes than any other part of the world.  Yet, we still remain fatter than most of it.  There's no new information there.

But when you visit a place where the people are fit and yet eat nothing but carbs (yes....evil carbs) for all three meals, it brings home how different cultures treat their bodies in relation to their food and their level of activity.

I asked to take a picture with one of the men helping to build the new kitchen at the Almond School (you can see the old kitchen in the back. It's just a shack.)  I asked him if he ever went to the gym.  A laugh was his response and then he shook his head for no.