Tag Archive | teaching

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!

Education is important

We NEED school.  With all the opinions and research out there, one thing doesn’t seem to be in doubt – education is important.  Some students receive home school education from their parents, and I respect that.  Some receive education from private schools and charter schools, but most of our population is educated in the public funded school system.  And it’s a fact – our kids need education, in some form or another.  I believe in the public school system because I believe that kids benefit greatly from the trained individuals that can give them the best education they can get.  I know I am much better equipped to teach my kids about the range of a set of data, or superlative adjectives, when I myself have been educated and trained and have experience teaching it.  It just makes sense.

Free public education is what we have.  That’s an awesome, powerful tool.  Our country, and democracy, relies on our citizens being uniformly educated.  Every kid is a future voter, and  our voters need to be knowledgeable to keep our country strong!

When I talk to my kids about what I do, I like to jokingly say that I fight evil.  In our society, ignorance leads to violence, crime, and hate.  By educating the future adults of our world, I’m helping keep them on the right track.  In addition, I’m educating the people who will become our future doctors, lawyers, police officers, road workers, and soldiers.  I’m educating the people who will help us and keep us safe.

Be thankful we have free education for all.  It’s a small price we pay for an educated country.  Not everyone  in the world has that luxury.  We need our schools.  No question.  Education fights evil!

make your time count

It seems that I count a lot.  It’s a fundamental skill and idea in our society to use numbers (and a system of numbers based on increments of 10) to conceptualize an amount.  It can be an amount of objects, and amount of time, and amount of money…if we want to keep track of anything we have to count.

I’m often counting down to motivate kids to quickly finish a task.  “Okay, put away all your materials!  10, 9, 8, 7….”

Sometimes I mix it up – “100, 90, 80, 70….”  It’s effective, and all my kids know how to count down from 10, I know that! 🙂

But when we engage with kids, and spend time with them, we need to make sure we don’t count down the time, instead of making the time count.

Every second you are with a young mind – as a teacher or parent or uncle (you get the idea) – is an amazing opportunity to take advantage of filling that mind with knowledge and wonder.  Make your time count each day.  If you are just filling the void with things to count down the time – “okay, now just write some sentences” or “just sit down and watch TV” you are missing the opportunity of the day!

Make your time count each day.

http://www.livingthecrazykidslife.blogspot.com

Boys are awesome (girls are too)

DSC00185

If you are a teacher, educator or parent, you know there is a big difference between boys and girls (beyond the obvious grass stains).  You know that boys deal with problems, handle stresses, deal with boredom, deal with friendships, deal with authority all differently.

I want to be up front about the fact that I enjoy teaching girls in my class – that’s obvious.  Most teachers will tell you that the girls in their class are fairly well behaved (elementary grades).  They sit still, do their work, and their handwriting is so nice!

I’ll contend that school is a place where a girl (for the most part – there’s always exceptions to the general rule) will do well.  The sit and be nice model works for the way a girl handles life (Brain Rules – Medina).

Boys don’t sit still as well.  They are wild and crazy.  They have too much energy.  They want to hit a problem with their actual head, rather than try and solve it with their mind.

But boys are awesome too.  They are fearless and boundless.  They don’t have the problems socially with cliques so early on like girls sometimes do.  And they are enthusiastic when they are interested.  So INTEREST THEM.

Do something to engage the boys in your class.  Do something messy.  You’ll both thank me for it (and you won’t have to wrangle Johnny into his seat for the thousandth time that day).

http://www.livingthecrazykidslife.blogspot.com

Progression of Independence

At some point, all little birds must leave the nest.  In nature, the birds have it right.  They are eager to push them out because they know it’s what they need to survive in the world.

As parents, we’re reluctant to let go because we’re scared.  Scared they will fail.  Scared they will get hurt or worse.  Scared we will have done the wrong thing by letting them go too soon.

But as teachers and parents, it’s important to get kid progressing toward independence.  They need to be able to perform the skill we want to teach them BY THEMSELVES without any help.

We do that with steps.  First, do it for them.  Show them.  Give examples.  Let it sink in.

2- Do it with them.  Work on it together, with them providing as much help as they can.

3- Have them do it by themselves with a little guidance, or with another student partner.

4-Have them try on their own.  Repeat as necessary.

You do.  We do. They do.  Simple and effective.

Get your kids progressing toward independence!  They’ll thank you for it!

http://livingthecrazykidslife.blogspot.com/2012/01/theyre-getting-so-big.html

Engagement is the key

image

We have the curriculum.  We have the great teachers.  We even have technology and district support.  But if the kids aren’t listening, there’s no point to the whole thing.  If the kids aren’t paying attention…if the kids just don’t CARE – there’s nothing in the world that can change it.

We need to get them engaged – engaged in the work.  Interested in the work.  They need to WANTto do it.   Without engagement, we’re knocking on a locked door.  Engagement is the key into their heads.

So, how do we engage?  There’s the old teaching tricks which still work well – use a “hook” to get them interested, discuss the stuff they are interested in (if I have to do one more problem solving problem having to do with candy or football, I swear…), use their names in the examples…those are all great and useful.  But we need to kick it up a notch with today’s learners.

1- It’s got to be relevant.  They aren’t stupid – if they know it’s something that really doesn’t MATTER, then it’s not going to matter how much you make it about pokemon cards.  They wont’ care, because it isn’t important.  You need to prove to them that it’s something they need, and can use in the future, and is RELEVANT to their lives.

2 – It’s got to be fun.  It won’t always be so simple, and nothing can be fun for everyone all the time, but it’s got to have an element of fun.  Let’s be honest – we like things to be fun too.  That’s really what FUN means.  And don’t you like teaching when it’s fun for YOU too?

3- Use technology.  Not embracing the current technologies – phones, pads, projectors, the internet…is only going to stifle a student’s growth.  The more they can control those technologies, the more they’ll be in a position to control the earth in the future.  They are the ones who’re going to be in charge of your life in 60 years – let’s make sure THEY understand how to program the VCR. 🙂 – besides, it will ENGAGE them (and it makes the work all the more relevant at the same time).  Don’t be afraid.  Use their smartphones.

4- Target instruction.  This is the toughest one in my opinion, because it takes a lot of juggling.  But if you can get the right learning targets to the right students, they are going to be motivated to be successful.  You lose half your audience when you’re targeting the instruction too high or too low.  It’s tough to do, but it’s worth it (and it IS possible – I have to give the same lesson to 1st graders, 2nd graders, 3rd and 4th graders at the same time.  It’s hard, but doable.  Trust me).

Engagement!

@MisterEdie on twitter – follow me!

http://tinyurl.com/edieninos1 for more info!

We are creating memories as well as mental abilities

I remember very little from my elementary education years, if you figure that there were about 1000 days in K-5, and I probably remember maybe 200 individual days or events.  I do have some knowledge of the things I learned (I remember the ABC’s, how to count, and that the united states has 50 of them – so don’t get discouraged teachers.  It IS sinking in.)

But the day to day stuff is pretty much lost to me, except for some very specific memories –

– asking a girl to be my girlfriend (she declined)

– Any time I was made fun of or embarrased

– Meeting friends for the first time

– The talent show in 5th grade

– Mrs. Phillips singing “Peanut Butter and Jelly”

– and on and on (that’s maybe another blog post – “elementary memories”

The point is, memories are made each day in our classrooms, and we don’t even know it.  We usually don’t even know it when they happen (like the girl I heard talking to a boy yesterday, asking “if you could go out with anyone in the class, who would it be?” with a hopeful tone to her voice (he was WAY too young to know how to respond to that).

Next time someone asks you what it is you do, if you’re a parent or teacher or mentor or friend, tell them you’re a MEMORY MAKER.

Now, excuse me.  I have a few memories to make myself.

check out http://tinyurl.com/edieninos1 for more exciting adventures, and follow @MisterEdie on the twitter

Everyone is a Hero in their own Way

DSC00185

When you go out in the morning, do you see yourself as the hero or villian in your story?  I’m willing to bet almost everyone sees themselves as the Batman in their story (or Superman, or Wonder Woman…).  And the people that are the challenges in your life, they are the bad guys – the Jokers, Lex Luthors, and…whomever Wonder Woman fights.

What we need is new thinking.  We need a realization that EVERYONE is the hero in their story.  To Apollo, Rocky was some upstart young guy who didn’t pay his dues who was getting into the big leagues and trying to steal his thunder and his paycheck.  This guy needed taken down a peg, and it was up to the hero – Apollo Creed – to do it. 

When you come up against your nemisis (like the lady at the coffee shop that always ruins your order, or the co worker who is passive agressive and always talks behind your back, or the boss who yells a lot for no reason) or just someone who is making your life difficult (like that kid who just won’t stop talking about his summer vacation, or the one who always whines when he loses at checkers) try to remember that they aren’t the villain.  They’re the hero of their story, and it’s up to you to meet them with respect – like Batman and Superman do.  They may not agree all the time.  They may believe THEY are the right hero for the job.  But they aknowldege they are both heroes, just trying to do good in this crazy little world.  And they respect each other.

Respect each other today, and believe like I believe – people are just trying to do the right thing (even if they don’t always do it the right way!).

check out http://www.livingthecrazykidslife.blogspot.com  or http://tinyurl.com/edieloco to hear about my own little life’s heroes.

Artists in Everyone – Top 4 ideas

My top 4 (not 5?  Not 10?  No, I don’t need to be pingenholed by a specific round number.) Art activities.  Ready?

Art is dead.  Isn’t it?  It seems so sometimes in public schools that artistic endeavors tend to go the way of the dodo.  It’s hard to find time in the day to do art education when you don’t have a test forcing you to cover the material.

In our state, we have yearly art assessments we give, but they really aren’t graded.  Our scores aren’t printed and made public.  Parents don’t come to you and pound on your door, demanding why their child earned below average on their art assessment.  It just isn’t a priority in our leaving children behind age.

Of course, I may be biased because I have a theatre background, but I truly believe that keeping a foot in the artistic world helps you be a more rounded person, and the research shows that artistic activities help you access more of your brain function.  Kids who have an opportunity to have art experiences, do better in many subjects.

Of course, where do you get the time?  The answer is simple – you’ve got to do it during reading, or history, or math…slip it into the lesson without them even knowing it.  Sometimes they look at me with a puzzled expression – “wait a minute Mr. E….is this Art?”

Nope.  It’s math…with a dash of art thrown in for good measure.

So, how do you do it?  “What if I don’t know anything about art?” you say.  “What if I’m a terrible artist?”

Funny enough, most of the teachers out there are great artists, they just don’t think of themselves that way.  I’m terrible at putting together a nice collage or bulletin, but a lot of my peers put me to shame in that category.  I’m not any great shakes at classic drawing art anyway.  I’m more of a writing, photography, abstract paper mache kind of guy.  But we don’t need to be locked into “art” as “pictures”.  Art is just expression.

So, a few ways to incorporate art into the curriculum, for those teachers, homeschoolers, moms and dads and caregivers out there in this crazy old world of hours:  My top 5…

1) In history, check out a few classic scuptures.  Greek, Roman – probably nothing too revealing for the younger kids, but there’s some good stuff out there.  You could even do the acropolis or the pyramids – some example of classic art or architecture.  Get a pic from google, and give everyone a copy.  Obviously talk about the time period – who the egyptians were, where Greece is today, etc…

Then have them sketch their own example of the work.  Depending on age, they might take 5 minutes or an hour on it.  We did this with a local sculpture, and some did a slow, methodical job and some flew through.  It’s all good (See Kassy’s pic above)

2) Math Problem solving – For some reason my kids never want to draw a picture when they have a word problem.  For me, it always helps me to help them visualize the story problem.  So, sometimes I’ll make it a requirement – you HAVE to draw the story out.  Or maybe have to do it with magazine clippings, and make a story problem answer collage.

For example, if the question was – “Dan wants to buy a sandwich and soda for lunch.  He can get a roast beef or a turkey sandwich, and he can get lemonaid, sprite, or coke to drink.  What are all the ways he can have lunch?” – they’d have to actually draw all the turkey sandwiches with color, or cut out foods from a magazine (or find pics online for younger ones who need technology practice!)

3) Color science – this is a simple and always fun lesson on light absorption.  Just get some paints together and experiment what the blends will come out as.  Have them make a hypothesis, then test it.  Remember, when you see purple paint, really what the paint is doing is absorbing all the other spectrums of light EXCEPT the blue and the red, which is bouncing back to your eye.  So if you mix red and blue, you’ll get purple.

4) Snowy day? (like today) – Make snow sculptures inside.  Then watch them melt to discuss forms of matter, molecular movement to make those forms of matter, what matter is…go crazy.  Hey…why didn’t the rocks on my snowman’s face melt when the snow did?

I’m sure I could think up 3 more, but that’s all for now. 🙂 Have a great day – go out and learn something!

Check out http://tinyurl.com/edieloco for a little more info.  See ya!

 

Kassy’s conductor pic – 4th grade

Double Duty

http://ow.ly/i/pvqV
I love when you can kill two birds with one stone.
Sometimes when you’re teaching kids you lose yourself in the process. In fact, focusing on the objective at hand is extremely important. However, if you can combine objectives – if you can do two things at once – that’s even better.
100 years ago it was pretty good if you could just read and write. But as we learn more an more about our earth, there’s more and more we have to teach. I can’t imagine what the state standards are going to look like another 100 years from now!
But with all that to teach, there’s not enough time to do it one by one. You have to get creative.
Recently we did gingerbread houses with crackers and frosting. It was great, because we could talk about nutrition, and also about communities and construciton. We talked about squares, rectangles, triangles. We talked about weight and load bearing, and why roofs should be peaked.
And in the end, we had a snack. That’s killing two birds with one stone!
check out http://www.mredie.com for more fun ideas to do with the students (or your own kids), and check out the instant plans section if you’ve got a sub day coming up.