Saturday, February 27, 2016

Thinking Caps ON! STEM Challenges in Science

What happens when you give students a random assortment of materials (rice, popsicle sticks, straws, tea bags, glue, jelly beans, and toothpicks... to name a few) and challenge them to create something? Magic! Magic happens! This year, I've really embraced STEM challenges in my science classroom and I strongly believe you should do the same.  I can't take credit for these incredibly creative challenges. SmartChick Teaching has been my source of inspiration! I highly encourage you to check out her TpT store here

Here's a recap of the there projects we've competed in 2016:

While studying animal adaptations, students were challenged to create a bird's beak. Their beak could be designed to pick up rice, beans, lentils, or seeds. As you can see below, some groups wanted to "be the bird" and truly experience this STEM challenge!


My students are currently in the midst of their American Revolution unit. I wanted to join in on the fun in science... so we created structures to keep tea bags dry when dumped in the Boston Harbor. Originally the task was to create a "crate", however... I was flexible with different designs that were presented. I couldn't crush the creativity happening in the room! 

We even had a live stream of the Boston Harbor playing through our Apple TV.  We decided it wasn't the best idea to stand in a semi-circle around the table for the rest of the day, so we played a live feed and continued about our business. 

By the time the end of the day rolled around, all of the tea bags were still dry... we had to sink them. It was very exciting! 

Our latest project was building geodesic domes out of jelly beans and toothpicks. Students had to build the strongest structure. To find the winner, we put chapter books on top of the structure. The current champion held 13 chapter books! It was incredible.

During this project, I felt like I was the host of a cooking show. Bouncing around from group to group, channeling my inner Giada De Laurentiis, asking each group to tell me about their project and asking, "why did you decide to use a jelly bean that way?" 

At the conclusion of each project, we've debriefed and had great conversations about what went well, what didn't work out so well, and what we learned about engineering. After every project, each class has commented how powerful it was to work as a group because everyone offered great ideas and contributed to the genius of the project. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Arkansas? CHECK!

Before I was a homeowner, I had the great pleasure of renting a duplex from an amazing couple. They are both living the dream of retirement, but you would never know because their day planner is quite full! 

Among the countless hobbies they enjoy as a couple, they also have traveled the entire country together. Throughout their marriage, they have visited (almost) ALL 50 states together. I find this feat rather remarkable and I challenged my husband to do the same with me. 

Don't get me wrong... I could go for another week in the Dominican Republic, but I'm ready and willing to check out good 'ol U.S. of A's beauty as well. 

For Valentine's Day, we checked off one of our neighboring states and officially visited The Natural State. 

May not seem like most to some.... but boy-oh-boy, I enjoyed every minute with my Valentine and two best friends!

More to come on our Eureka Springs trip in a future post. 

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Hear Us Out! Subscribe to our YouTube Channel!

Do you ever have grand ideas for a project and then step back from your incredibly elaborate ideas and think to yourself, "how in the heck am I going to pull this off?" 


Have you ever continued with the incredibly elaborate project idea.... and then when you're in the thick of it you think, "Oh crud. How are we are going to pull this off?"

Luckily, this was one of those times were I took the advice of my co-collaboraters and we took the project down just a smidgen and it's been in-cred-ible. 

Instead of attempting to manage a full fledged newsroom, we decided to have our classes create original "Opinion Talk Shows".  Our writing focus for this quarter is opinion writing, so what better way to share our opinions than to write it AND share it on YouTube?

To kick off the project, we decided as a class to name our show, "Robertson Rivals". Each week, one small group gets the opportunity to take one of their published opinion pieces and transform it into a script for a talk show. 

Behind the Scenes

Small groups collaborate through Google Slides to write their script and decide on specific "parts" for the talk show. 

Our inspiration for opinion topics come from Scholastic News Magazines. Our more popular debates have been...

Should participation count as a grade?
Does everyone deserve a trophy?
Should students have homework over breaks?
Should schools make up snow days on Saturdays?

We invite YOU and your students to subscribe to our YouTube channel and weigh in on these topics. My students love watching the "views" number spike and hearing feedback from other kids (some even in our building) about their talk show!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Little Cheesy

The past few years I've enjoyed standing in the treats aisle at the grocery store trying to think of puns for my student's valentines. My husband is the king of punny thoughts so I highly enjoy naming off candies and treats and asking him to come up with something.  A yearly activity I plan to continue for-ev-er. 

Gosh... Married life is the best. 

 Last year I thanked my students for making me "Snicker" everyday...

In the past, I've made things "O-Fish-AL" about my appreciation for my students. 

This year, I'm just plain cheesy. :)

Happy Valentine's Day (week) to my fellow teacher friends! 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Looking to try something new in the month of February? My suggestion: Kahoot!

We just can't get enough of Kahoot around these parts! 

Before Christmas, I took the plunge and created a study guide for our solar system assessment on Kahoot's game-based response system.  Since then, my students have been begging and begging to play again! I knew the end of our animal classification unit was around the corner, so I created another study session for this week. 

Engagement was through the roof! My students love the instant feedback and competition. I love the excitement over the content, how easy it is to create, and the feedback I receive from the teacher's perspective. 

So far, I've only utilized the "Quiz" portion of Kahoot.  I haven't used the "Discussion" or "Survey" features yet. 

Do you have any great quizzes to share? I love to share! Share with me and I'll share with you!

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