Monday, March 17, 2014

Student Appreciation Day

Today was Student Appreciation Day.  This was our focus of the day:

The morning started with all of the teachers greeting the students at the door.  We even opened the door for them.  Our high school students were very confused and unsure what to think about this.  We had special, small activities which took about 5-10 minutes planned for each class period.

Today was a fun and positive day!  Today was a day where we focused on our great students and we put aside our frustrations!

What do you do in your school to help with climate?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Sun

Today was a fun and exciting day!  Yesterday the students did online research using to learn about and create a digital model of the sun.  Students then used google draw to create their sun and label it.  They also needed to include descriptions about the different layers.  Today they brought their sun models to class.  I was so excited when I saw their results!  The best part is that they are all unique models yet they all met the standard!  My struggling students did great with this activity.  Here are a few of their digital models.  Two of these models were created by "at-risk" students.  I'm so happy with the results!

Monday, March 10, 2014

A heavy heart today

I got a new student midway into the second quarter.  He is an "at risk" student.  He has been in a lot of trouble but I don't really know the details.  I must admit when he walked in my door with his pants hanging low and tattoos all over his arms I was a bit uneasy.

I soon discovered that he was very polite and attentive in class.  The first time I emailed him back a digital assignment with comments for improvement, he emailed me right back asking if he could improve it.  Yes!

Then the day before his first quiz he stopped by to ask me questions concerning the quiz concepts.  He really wanted to do well!  When he missed a question, he wanted to know why he missed it and how he could be better.

The last few days, this student has been missing from my class.  Today I asked one of his friends if he was absent again.  His friend replied, "Yes, and he's not coming back...he went to Mexico."

My heart sunk.  "Why did he go back to Mexico?  He was doing so well."

"I know but he made a bad decision and he's in trouble now."  His friend said.

I went to talk to the principal about this.  She said that the rumor is that he went back to Mexico.  The problem is that this breaks his probation.

I am saddened by this.  My heart is heavy.  He was doing so well in my class and other classes too.  I know that he could have been successful!  What can educators do to help "at-risk" students see their potential?

Sunday, March 9, 2014


It's 9:45, my three children are all tucked in bed dreaming of a fun day of playing outside (finally).

I wish I was getting ready for bed too.  However, I'm running around trying to get everything done...

I am doing the dishes.  I cooked today...I don't mind cooking the problem with cooking is the final result; a mess and lots of dishes.  I cooked twice today and did the dishes twice today.  Actually, I literally just finished doing the dishes.

I am doing yet another load of laundry as I type this blog.  I have piles of clean, folded clothes on the laundry room counter just waiting to be put away and I have more heaps of dirty clothes waiting to be washed.  Sometimes I wish I lived in a nudist colony...well not really but it would help with my laundry woes.

I am finalizing lesson plans.

I am finalizing grades.

I am thinking about conferences this week.

I am thinking about the housework that I didn't get done this weekend.  I guess it will still be there when I get around to it...which let's face it with conferences this week it will get messier before it gets clean.

Being a mom and a full time teacher isn't easy.  How do you balance it all?

Oh, and I missed my blog post yesterday because I fell asleep.  I guess I needed to sleep to make up for the hour I missed last night...and who knows how late I will be up tonight.  :)

I am hoping I'm not alone in my struggle to balance it all.  I hoping for a great week at school and with my family!

Friday, March 7, 2014

It's Friday and the end of the quarter!

It's Friday and the end of the 3rd quarter!  My students were restless today!  It has been a long winter and I think they are in need of some nice weather and a break...and I am too.

I teach 9th graders physical science 9th period.  Yikes!  It is a challenge sometimes, but especially today.  Today they seemed to have a lot of extra energy.

We did a hands on lab creating series circuits to test the conductivity of various objects and solutions.  They were surprised that salt water and pickle juice were conductive.

Pickle juice is conductive because of the salt (NaCl) in it.
The lightbulb is on and working (it might be difficult to see from this picture).

After we finished the lab, we watched a National Geographic video about a golfer getting struck by lightning.  This was right up their alley.  I find that keeping this group engaged with labs and things interesting to them makes class run more smoothly.

After school I had a few more students come in to redo a quiz and turn in some missing work.

I should be thinking and preparing for next week (parent teacher conferences) but really all I want to do is relax on the couch in a hoodie and fleece pants while watching a movie with my family.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Great Concert!

Tonight I enjoyed watching my 5th grader play her trumpet in the 5th grade band.  It is so fun to watch the 5th graders play because they are so excited about their new abilities!

Before the 7th/8th grade band played, the director spoke to the audience.  She said that she had been reading this fall in her Band Director Journal about 10 things that make a great band director.  She said one of them talked about sight reading.  At first she was really excited because she explained that they sight read often during class.  However, as she continued to read the article said that if students can really sight read then they should sight read at a concert.  So tonight in front of a full audience, the band director passed out sealed envelopes to each band section.  We listened to the band discuss the piece prior to playing.  They discussed the key signature, tempo, skimmed it for tricky rhythms etc.  Then they played the was really cool!  I was so impressed!  I was impressed not only by the song but by the "guts" and "faith" of the teacher.

I'm thankful that my daughter has a great band director!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A great class!

The highlight of my day today is a class that I'm is a great class!  Our Tech Integrationist is teaching a class after school that meets every Wednesday.  This was our focus this week:

1) Spend time on twitter!  I love that!  We are encouraged to participate in a chat.  I already do this but there are a few teachers in the class that are new to twitter.
2) Sign up for a few webcasts on
3) Create two lessons incorporating technology using the SAMR model.  
4) She also added a challenge that I'm excited to try Twitter in the Classroom.

I am so lucky to have a Tech Integrationist at my school!  Check out her blog...she has great ideas that you will love to use in your classroom!

What twitter chats are your favorites?  Have you used twitter in your classroom?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

End of the quarter crunch

I'm feeling that end of the quarter "crunch."  The kids are restless and a few are losing focus.  Let's face it I'm a bit edgy too.  I have a few students going on week long vacations...they will be missing a week of chemistry.  I have a few students that are still trying to pull up their grades before Friday.  I'm trying to get my grades finished by Friday and at the same time I'm preparing for a long week next week with parent teacher conferences on Tuesday and Thursday nights.  Whew!

Instead of being overwhelmed, I'm trying to stay organized and focus on positive things.  Let's see...

  • I was up at 5:30am.  My 5th grader forgot to tell me that she needed supplies for a school project ;)  I was up early, rode my bike for a half hour and then headed to the store for her.  
  • I enjoyed teaching my 9th graders about circuits.  Today we built circuits in class.  They enjoy this hands on activity.
  • I finished up stoichiometry with my chemistry students.  I can't wait to see how they do on their quiz Thursday.  They have worked so hard learning this challenging material.
  • Tomorrow I have an afternoon of professional development (AIW).  I hope to learn from my science department.
  • I came home, drove my kids to various events, popped a meatloaf and potatoes in the oven, swam laps and came home to some great comfort food!  
Whew...I got a lot accomplished today!  I hope this continues for the next two weeks.

Tonight I need to find a task or student work example to share with my AIW group.  I am exhausted and I hope to go to bed early tonight.

How do you get through your end of the quarter crunch?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Church and science?

I'm so excited about this post!

Church and science?  Yes!

My 9th grade student told me today, "Mrs. Hurst, I thought about you yesterday at church."

Hmmm… (I don't hear this from my students very often.)

"The priest asked me to fill the baptism water.  He told me to make sure it was warm so the baby wouldn't cry.  I thought of you and I remembered that you said water had a high specific heat.  This means it takes a long time to heat and a long time to cool.  So I decided that I shouldn't make the water too hot because it might not cool down fast enough and it could be too hot for the baby.  So I just made it warm realizing that it will stay warm for a while."

"YES!"  I exclaimed.  "That is awesome!"

This was the highlight of my day!  What a marvelous Monday!  I love it when my students can make those connections without me and apply science to their life.  It's so great when they share these things with me.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Another wind chill advisory day = a great day to read!

This has been a really long winter!  I really don't mind winter however, this winter has been so bitterly cold.  I am continually getting text alerts from the local sheriff department telling me that there is a wind chill advisory.  Actually this winter it has been common for me to get a text warning stating that the wind chill advisory is being extended!  We have snow but it is so bitterly cold that we can't go out and play in it.

Today is another wind chill advisory day.  The good thing about these days is watching movies and reading books.

I started a new book yesterday, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" by Amy Chua.  It is a book I've heard a lot about but I haven't read it yet so I'm excited to read it and then discuss it with my book club in a couple of weeks.

This is a quote from the very first page of the book.  Chua is explaining how Chinese parents raise such successful kids.  This is what she states:

"Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:

  • attend a sleepover
  • have a playdate
  • be in a school play
  • complain about not being in a school play
  • watch TV or play computer games
  • choose their own extracurricular activities
  • get any grade less than an A
  • not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama
  • play any instrument other than the piano or violin
  • not play the piano or violin"
Wow!  Like I said, this was page 1.  It immediately grabbed my attention because this isn't common childrearing in America.  I am now on page 60 of this book.  One thing that I really like about her writing is her honesty and her transparency.  

As a parent and as a teacher, I think I will be able to relate to many aspects of this book.  Right before chapter one she states:  "This was supposed to be a story of how Chinese parents are better at raising kids than Western ones.  But instead, it's about a bitter clash of cultures, a fleeting taste of glory, and how I was humbled by a thirteen-year-old."

I can't wait to read more about her journey!  I hope to learn more about myself and my personal views as a parent and as a teacher through her.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

In like a lion

Today March is coming in like a lion.  Certainly this means that it will be going out like a lamb.  Right?  I hope so because this seems like a long winter!  It started snowing yesterday at 3:00 and it continued to snow all day today.

Snowy days are perfect for books and coffee and this is just how I started today at the young adult book club!  This is my favorite way to start my weekend!  Today the young adult book club discussed "Matched."  I found it to be a fun read.  There were many surprises in the book that left me wondering and wanting more.  There are two more books in the trilogy and I hope to read them too...someday when I have extra time ;)  Maybe this summer but it seems like my reading list just keeps getting longer and many great books and not enough hours in the day.

Tonight I decided to grade my magnet and electricity assessments so that Sunday I can relax and enjoy a day of rest.  My students did so well on this assessment!  I am very excited to share the results with them on Monday!

I have been doing a hybrid SBG this semester and I have seen great changes in my classroom.  The assessment on Friday was evidence of this.  One of my "struggling" students that nearly failed first semester science currently has a B!  Third quarter will finish this week.  In the past, by the end of the quarter struggling students have given up and quit.  However, this time the environment in my classroom has changed and now my struggling students have hope.  They know they can have more time to relearn and reassess on learning goals.  On Friday my struggling student said to me, "I studied this Mrs. Hurst and I'm going to get at least a 3."  (He did get a 3!)   He was so excited to see how well he did on his assessment that he came in after school to see his grade.  He said he couldn't wait to go home and tell his dad.  What a great way to start the weekend...not only for my student but for myself too!