Thursday, August 27, 2015

"Doing Science" with Fortune Fish

I love the variety of courses I get to teach for pre-service teachers. The one I've been teaching the longest is "Teaching Science PreK-Middle School." I began adjuncting this course in 2007, and it has slowly evolved over time to the current state, after 15 or so iterations.

One of the key themes that has not changed, however, is that I have my science methods students "do science" on a weekly basis. That is, we aren't just learning about science; we are actively investigating, observing, inferring, experimenting, and communicating what we discover. I want them to experience learning science this way in the hope that they will carry this approach to teaching science into their own classrooms down the road.

So, when we began the new semester in science methods yesterday, their first assignment is an investigation...

I handed out a little plastic sleeve to each student:

What's in the package?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Middle School Teachers: American Ninja Warriors of the Profession

I have a new course I'm teaching this year: Planning, Instruction, and Assessment in Middle Schools. I'm so excited for this one! I was a middle school teacher myself for 14 years before becoming a teacher of teachers, and I care deeply about making school a developmentally appropriate experience for young adolescents.

Teaching in the middle grades isn't for everyone.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Today is my 18th first day of school as a teacher. Add to that 4 years of college, and 13 years of K-12, and one of preschool, if you want to count that too...and this is my 36th "first day" of school.

I still love school. I still love to teach.

It still terrifies me.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Thoughts from Camp: A Religious Experience

I spent last week serving at Royal Family Kids Camp, a camp expressly for kids in the foster care system. My last post shared a few of my initial reactions after my week, but I've continued to reflect on the experiences of the week, and now a whole week has passed since returning home from my six days at camp. I think I'm ready to share this now...

I am still processing the experience. On Monday of last week when I returned to the office, several people asked me, "Did you have a good week at camp?" That was a challenging question to answer, honestly. There were times of fun and great joy, for sure. There were also moments where I felt real sorrow, and even anger. Honestly, it's hard to encapsulate what I feel about it, because it's all so mixed up. It was an emotional blender of a week.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Making Moments Matter

I spent last week serving at Royal Family Kids Camp; a camp for kids who are in the foster care system. I've worked at many different camps over the past 20 years, and this one was unique for a variety of reasons. Our main goal: show these kids that they are loved, and not because of anything they have a 1 John 4:19 kind of way. ("We love because he first loved us.")

I'm hesitant to call it a "life-changing experience," but only because that seems like hyperbole. I know that my thinking, my heart, and my faith were pulled, pushed, and shaped through my experiences last week, and I'm still thinking about it all. (Honestly, I've started writing a post about it a couple of times, and I am just not able to pull it all together just yet.)

But one thing I'll share...

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Nine Administrators You Might Know

It's that time of year again...when my thoughts start turning toward the new school year, but I'm still scrambling to make the most of the summertime I have left with my family. My son and I were talking Lego at lunch, and he said, "Remember those crazy superhero teacher and superhero student teams we made last year?" (Oh, yes I do son...)

And then he said, "We should make another one."

So I said, "How about principals?"

A knowing smile spread across his face...

And thus, we present to you, the nine administrators you might know:

Monday, July 27, 2015


Oh, don't you just love educational jargon? (I sound like I'm being sarcastic, don't I? Maybe I am...a bit...but to be fair, I think every field has it's own jargon, and since I'm in education...)

Here's a toy for you to play with, edubabble lovers: check out's Education Jargon Generator.

It will produce gems such as...

"We will unleash standards-based engagement structures via self-reflection."

"We will disintermediate child-centered education within a balanced literacy program."

"We will harness group-based mastery learning throughout multiple modalities."

"We will morph over-arching learning in authentic, real-world scenarios."

I'm sure you don't know anyone who talks like that though, do you? :-)

Maybe it's because I'm starting to think about the new school year that is just a few weeks away, but I'm almost ready for a game of buzzword bingo. Anybody else want in?

Created with using selected text from ScienceGeek.