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Lego Robotics Club!


For the past several weeks, #schoolofheroes kids have had the opportunity to learn and explore with LEGO Robotics kits!  Not only has it been an exciting learning environment where kids can experience STEM Engineering concepts, they have also had a lot of fun doing it.  The student pictured above is having a blast – little does he know he is expanding connections and dendrites in his brain every second he pieces those blocks together!  Or take another student – “B” – who told me several days before that he was COUNTING THE DAYS until Lego club – and this is a student who has told parents and teachers he doesn’t like school, he has trouble making friends.  It’s increased his knowldege, his confidence, and his love of learning.  Doesn’t get any better than that.  It’s why I love education.  It’s why I come back to work every day even when it’s tough.  Because experiences like LEGO Robotics or dance, or music or drama or gardening, photography, a great history or science project – you never know what is going to change a life.  Can’t wait to see what’s next!


Next Year will bring a lot of changes to our school (as it does EVERY year) and we are already getting ramped up for it!  Change is scary, but necessary.  Without change, we never move forward.  And at MSE we are always moving forward, into the future!  The biggest change next year will be our Apple ConnectED grant, allowing all students and teachers to have an ipad – the apple ecosystem of technology and applications will revolutionize education, and I can’t wait to be there to see it!

MSE – Welcome to the Future!


Spring Carnival (Parents and Kids are Awesome)

Lesson I learned this week: Give a kid and/or a parent a job and they will do it with a fire and enthusiasm you’ve never seen before 🙂  We held our spring carnival and I feel like I did nothing – Our PTO sold all the food, our leadership kids took over booths and sno cone sales, and our kids ran all the booths, some without needing supervision (including a kindergarten booth while Ms. McClelland got dunked in the dunk tank).  Everyone went above and beyond, happily, to put on a fun activity for the community.  That’s what the school of is all about – creating Heroes in our community.  We got a little closer to our vision this week, with a little help from our friends, teachers, students, parents…..(even some HS and Jr. High volunteers!)  Thanks again.

Make Some Memories

The sad fact is, many students don’t like school.  They don’t want to go to school each morning, they dread the classes, maybe the kids, maybe even the teachers.  This has got to stop!  No kid wakes up on the day they’re to go to disneyland and says “i don’t want to go!”

So – emulate those that have it figured out.  Why not be a little bit more like disneyland?  Or the zoo?  Or the park?  Or all the other places you can think of they always ask “can we go to….”

One way we’ve tapped into a sense of fun is through media publishing.  The kids love getting their face up on youtube performing or creating a video.  This is the second lip dub video our school has done, and the kids can’t stop talking about it for weeks after.  We have a feed of it running in the lobby, and kids stop and stare and watch it 20-30 times throughout the year – it never gets old to see yourself up in lights! 🙂

Make memories at school.  Make fun at school.  Make kids want to come, and in turn they will start to want to learn.

Melting Chocolate

There’s few things that catch a kids attention better than chocolate.  Well, candy in general pretty much does it, but chocolate holds a special place in my heart.

Also, in moderation chocolate is not so bad for you – and if you use dark chocolate there’s even more healthy benefits – so you don’t feel bad giving the kids a little sweet incentive once in awhile.

We recently did an experiment with the melting point of chocolate that got the kids excited about being scientists.  When I told them there were scientists who helped make chocolate, that was something they could all see being a fun job!

The point of the experiment was to show how different forms of matter, in different states, change in different ways.  They only think of “solid, liquid, gas” in terms of water, because that’s the easiest example.  But they don’t think of chocolate in a liquid form, or plastic or metal – because those are a little harder to make liquid (and they don’t really become a gas).

So we took ice cubes and chocolate chips and placed them in seperate hands.  It took only a second to reach the melting point of the ice!  Most kids needed to drop them in the sink right away, and the resulting water that was left over in their hand was obvious for them to see.  The chocolate took a little longer.  After about a minute or so there was minor melting, but nothing big.  After a few minutes it was becoming a little bit of a mess, and I let them “eat” their experiment. (one chocolate chip, and you’d think I gave them a whole box of chocolate the way they were grinning).

In addition, I had them hold a piece of plastic for a minute, to show that IT’S melting point was WAY higher than our body temperature.  Different molecules react to temperature in different ways.

Science Rocks!

Spring Break

What a great, much needed rest.

It’s been a week since Spring Break came to a close, and I’m hopeful for the next two months!  The first few days back from a break are sometimes rocky – did they REALLY not remember what country we live in after just a week away from school? – but I think we’re back in a groove.
As a teacher, each new school year seems to provide a blank slate of possibilities for what’s to come.  On the first day of school there is a magical feeling, like anything is possible and we’re going to learn everything by the end of 180 days.
Now that spring has come into our school year, there’s a sense of urgency.  I only have them for a short while, and an even shorter amount of time until their end-of-the-year state exams.  Now we tend to focus our curriculum into a tight laser of “the essential” stuff we want them to know before they’re out of our hands once again for the summer.
And isn’t life the same way?  We start out with wild dreams and crazy expectations (in a good way).  The world is our oyster.
Halfway through, we start to get a little more practical, but there’s still a lot of fun to be had.  The reality that not EVERYTHING is going to be accomplished in one lifetime is pretty clear now, and we start to focus our efforts on what we thing is most important.
I haven’t reached the spring break of my life yet, but whether we’re there, or around the halfway mark, or even if you’re still at the first days of school – this is clear: 
Treat every day like it’s the final days of learning.  The last days of school are coming soon enough….



They say that Pride goeth before a fall, and I think that’s true about self pride.  But pride is an important commodity as parents and educators.  We feel pride at our students and children’s accomplishments, and there’s a little bit of self pride in there as well, because you KNOW there must be at least a LITTLE bit of you inside that accomplishment. 

It’s okay – no, it’s NECESSARY – to be prideful of our young charges.  They need that pride to keep going.  They feed on it.  I think sometimes we forget to show them that pride – even the ones who don’t always make us feel prideful.  In the elementary years  there are many learning opportunities, and even though sometimes it takes doing it WRONG for the child to learn not to do it. 

For instance, I had a young student try stealing for the first time last week.  I know he’s not a theif, it was almost like he needed to try it.  Needed to see what it was like and see if he could get away with it.  Now that he’s been scolded and told that it is wrong, he’s not tried it again.  When they do things like that, they are still good kids, and they need to feel our pride in them still.  That pride keeps them believing they are great, and greatness comes from belief.

I am extremely proud of all my students, and exceedingly proud of my kids.  The girls are getting so grown up now – they actually wore heels and earrings to our recent father/daughter ball outing.  It was a fun night with my kids, and I couldn’t have been prouder.

The trick is keeping that pride the next day, when they’re whining about not having enough of the right kinds of cereal. 🙂


It’s amazing the power a smile can have.  I think I went through my first 20 years trying to hide my smile because I thought it showed weakness.  I wanted to show strength and toughness, and a smile was just too nice.

But I learned through time and trial and error that a smile is a lot tougher than muscles or scowls.  A smile can open doors.  A smile can change souls.  All strength does is harden hearts and close doors.  You may be able to force your way through some doors, you may be able to change minds through force and intimidation, but in the end that is not a final solution.  Just a temporary fix.  The door you pushed through is still going to be closed to you next time, probably more so.  A smile can open it up, and keep it open forever.

It comes down to two different styles of leadership and dealing with people – do you want to be the type of leader that dictates and forces compliance, or the type who builds capacity based on respect and relationships, and then dictates – and compliance comes naturally and organically because of that respect and relationships.

Just smile.  Have a positive attitude in all things.  Then people will not only start opening doors, they will hold them open for you and offer to help you pass through them.

Rochester SAGE - Supporting Advanced & Gifted Education

Heinlein Quote

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed. – Michael Jordan

The pupil who is never required to do what he cannot do, never does what he can do. – John Stuart Mill

I want my kids to fail.  That probably isn’t at the top of your list for your kids, but it should be.  Failure is one of the most important experiences they will ever have.  The road to success is paved with failure because failure teaches us how to succeed.

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I’ve been out with a persistent “bug” for a little while now, and finally feel ready to get back in the saddle.  After you’ve been away for a few days, it feels like forever.  Things have piled up since you’ve been gone.  It seems like the year is slipping away (we only have sixty days left?  We HAVE to get moving on those decimals!)  I have to remind myself to take a step back and remember that it’s okay to have a substitute once in awhile.  That it’s more important for thier teacher to work at 100% for most of the days, than it would have been to teach sick and tired for all of them.  (the kids are better off for it anyway – no one wants a cranky teacher!) 🙂

But now it’s time to really focus on the work.  Remember and reenergize about what we’re doing – getting these kids ready for life!  Put me in, coach!  I’m ready!