CD Hovercrafts – A Fun Science Craft Idea

A science lesson can be such a great part of the teaching day. Unfortunately for some, it can also be the most boring. I am always looking for innovative ways to get kids’ attention while teaching them science. Bill Nye videos are very useful and they are titled by standard which makes it easy to select one for your class. But video can’t be the sole thing you rely on when igniting interest. I discovered in the last few years that crafts or experiments can awaken even the most sluggish learner.

I’m currently teaching guitar in Summer school and I saw a science craft another teacher did I want to share. It shows how one force can work against another in unison to create movement. In this case, it is a hover craft. The materials needed are: 1) an old CD you don’t want anymore 2) a balloon 3) The “pull top” style water caps (see image) and 4) a glue gun.

As far as the lesson goes, the sky’s the limit. Do you think you could do something with this idea? I’d love to hear about it.

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Puppet Communication

Puppet Communication in Upper ElementaryCommunication should be of the utmost importance to a teacher. She/he should consider all tools at her/his disposal to get the point across to kids. All the planning and research in the world can’t be used unless the teacher knows how to communicate it to students. Direct communication like speaking to a class or one-to-one has it’s place of course as probably the most important and effective mode of transporting knowledge from teacher to student. Still, indirect or implicit communication can have a stronger impact in select situations. For example, when teaching social rules of the classroom, a skit or puppet show may be more effective than a lecture. The stuents can see themselves and their peers in the puppet and not feel self-conscious or defensive about the content. Sometimes, even having the kids make brown bag puppets or other type and then allowing them to speak through the puppet.

I got these 2 puppets from my friend who sort of collects them. Ever since we were kids, we were both playing with puppets. The first one was probably my first birthday. My friend has been a collector and puppeteer ever since. I asked him if he knew the best place to buy some. I found out Toys R Us had a nice selection online. I was very fortunate that day because he gave me two high quality puppets as gifts. I use “Mr. Pig and duck” once in a while in my teaching. Anytime I am about to make an word picture or any sort of example, I think of using them. The kids attention is drawn to them like moths to a light bulb. It never ceases to amaze me how powerful puppets are to captivate student attention.

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The Hamburger Method for Writing

Teachers use devices to get kids writing. This is the method I’ve found most useful in my 17 years of teaching. Today’s blog prompt is below.

We all know how to do something well — write a post that teaches readers how to do something you know and/or love to do.

Source: Teach Your (Bloggers) Well | The Daily Post

As a fourth grade teacher, I teach many things in a given year but the most exciting for me is teaching writing. A lot of kids and adults don’t like writing so this presents a special challenge for me. Not only do I want them to have the tools to be able to write but also the enthusiasm and love for writing as I have. Through the years I’ve gathered some excellent teaching tools. The hamburger method is my favorite for teaching writing.

The key element I teach at the get-go is that the title should be written last. That flies in the face of all chronological thinking but there is sound logic behind it. How can you introduce something that doesn’t exist yet? Doing a hamburger outline helps to this end. You come up with your three paragraphs. For example here is an introduction: Mr. Riley is a nice teacher, smart, and helpful. Then each of those becomes a “patty” on the hamburger. You need only to add reasons and details for each of the three paragraphs.

Your introduction is already written. The conclusion is just the intro restated like, “So, as you can see (insert intro here).” With just a little fill in work, you can make a 1-2 page paper out of this hamburger method. Try it with your kids if you like. We all need as many tricks as possible to be productive writers.

The Clencher

“What to do with my ride of an afternoon?”

The Peanuts movie is out. I heard Snoopy does a mean WWI Flying ace vs the Red Baron. Food courts are nice. Getting a chair massage at the mall while reading could work but maybe not because I have the girls. Fact is, I could do any nuber of things because it’s early dismissal and the teachers go home early today too. Sometimes the ride defines itself as you go along.

In 1997 when I was 27 years old I was offered a job as a 5th grade teacher. It was unexpected because I was only a substitute but they liked that I was bilingual and that I had a Master’s Degree. They grandfathered me in on what is known as an “emergency credential” in California. There was a teacher shortage at the time so if you had a few requirements and you passed fingerprints, you were in like Flynn.

Before I accepted the job that would later become my passion and career, usually it’s reversed for people, they follow their passion and it becomes a career, they took me to the school I would be teaching at. I observed the classes with the Principal and instatly knew this the right job for me.

But there was one clencher. I talked with a teacher, a male, who told me he had a wife and 3 daughters. He said teaching was a great job for raising a family. As I was talking with him, he got a phone call and I oerheard it. He was arranging a meetup with his wife at the local cinema for a matinee … AFTER WORK.

I knew this was the job for me at that moment. Today it continues to  give me the time I need to be with my family and follow my personal dreams alongside teaching.


Sculpt Me A Union

I’d ask a sculptor to carve a “union Strength” arm to represent my 2015. For #ThrowBackThursday I’m reposting this article from my teaching website I wrote in January 2015.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Immortalized in Stone.” Your personal sculptor is carving a person, thing or event from the last year of your life. What’s the statue of and what makes it so significant?

16414431556_9695483388_zI am involved in my teachers union and I have to say it is a challenging endeavor sometimes. You are sending out the message that your troubles are the fault of the district. As someone who is always trying to not blame, and failing most the time, I sometimes struggle with this. Unions, like any political organization, can fall into the trap of dehumanizing the district employees. In my district, we have over 300 teachers and about 6 district employees making decisions that affect parents, students, and yes, teachers. My goal in my union is not to attach people but rather show the value of a union. Parents in my district value teachers, they show that by their numbers when they come to our meetings and get involved in organizing with us. I want to be a force that helps their families and specifically their children. Name calling and blaming will only get people riled up for a moment. To gain real buy in from parents, we need to show them what’s in it for them. Continue reading “Sculpt Me A Union”