Monthly Archives: June 2014

Blogging about Blogging (and other things)

Summer A. Where do I even start?

These six weeks have been the fastest of my life and I’m torn whether that was good or bad.  Probably both.  Good in that I’m looking forward to my first weekend with no immediate deadlines hanging over my head but bad in that we’re six weeks closer to graduation and I am already obsessed with our cohort.  I never expected to be thrown into such a diverse group but still feel so connected with all of you and I can already feel myself dreading graduation.  Good thing we all have to keep in touch with Warner, hopefully that will spill over into our friendships outside of school.

Blogging has been surprisingly therapeutic for me.  At first it definitely wasn’t that way.  I really struggled figuring out what I was going to write and it ended up stressing me out for the latter part of every week; but, now the weekends are my favorite part of the week, not because of the obvious, but because I get to read everyone’s blogs and learn a little more about each of you.  Also, I can’t imagine I’m the only one that loves reading comments on their own blog about the similarities we share.  Blogging, as I’ve said in my “Science, Science everywhere!” post, has definitely made me more aware of how much of my life is surrounded by science which will hopefully help me to scaffold my own authentic inquiry in my future classroom!

I also think blogging has really facilitate me breaking out of my shell.  I’m sure at this point very few of you will believe me but, in that pre-class homework we had to do one of my two questions in the “3-2-1” exercise was how I would have my voice heard because the blogs gave the impression that everyone in GRS was very outgoing while I’ve always considered myself pretty shy. So, now that I’m out of my shell I don’t plan on going back in.  I feel as though being pushed to engage and contribute in class has definitely made me get more out of it than I would have otherwise.  Good food for thought in the future.

On that thread I decided to organize my favorite of my implications conclusion from class, which I took liberties and have entitled “Future Work” in my notebook, here.  First, so that I have a consolidated list and second, so (hopefully) you guys can help to add whatever I may have forgotten.

“Future Work”

“Making Thinking Visible” Making lists of big ideas help to solidify concepts during open discussion as opposed to letting ideas “float away”
Fishbowl Desks like |_|Facilitates better discussionEasier to demonstrate things in the middle
Everyday things as Science things Introducing students to something that doesn’t feel science-y to them and then showing the science to them can make a foreign idea (science) more relatable 
Bring science into the classroom Bringing authentic inquiry into the classroom can help to overcome obstacles with getting students out of the classroom to experience scienceLake water for platingLake plants for microscope slides

Bring experts into talk

Museum Walk & Talk Class wide discussion/critique of projects can provide positive reinforcement, provide possible pit-falls to look out for (if critiquing a plan)
Reading Over Shoulders Use pieces of what each student wrote to guide conversation at quiet points
Debate Kids love to argue! Form teams and debate (make it a class project perhaps)
Scaffold Vocab Scaffolding complex/new words can help to not discourage a studentLearning vocal and concepts concurrently is overwhelming!
The Elusive Sweet Spot All kids struggle to learn; there exists a “sweet spot” where content is challenging enough to engage a student but not so challenge that it discourages them (Vygotsky’s “Zone of Proximal Development”)
“Pass-Read-Steal-Talk” Have students answer the same questions on a paper and pass around the circle, steal the ideas you want and pass againConversation at the end to compare understandings and take-aways

It’s incredible the amount of practices we’ve been introduced to and I can’t wait to see even more.  Clearly we’re entering an uphill battle but I have a feeling the view from the top is going to be extraordinary.

Class Blog!

Check out our class blog this week written by yours truly!

The Adventure to End All Adventures

Words will never be able to tell the story of Jill’s and my adventure yesterday as accurately or as funny as it really was, but I feel that I must try because it really was so much fun. Also, if someone could show me how to upload videos from the iPad to here we took several that will really add to the story.


So basically our plan for the day was to start in Geneseo getting data and water samples and end up in Charlotte at the beach.  Geneseo and Avon ended up being our biggest struggles and we both agreed had we traveled north to south instead of south to north we might have quit after seeing the river access points in Geneseo and Avon.

Finding the Geneseo access point was harder than we expected, we wandered around like lost puppies for a while, called several friends who were alum of Geneseo, and finally we typed the perfect search into GoogleMaps that gave us the result we needed.  Luckily Jill bought rain boots (because her flip flops would have never survived) and we carefully descended the muddy shore down to the river and the labyrinth of bugs neither of us could deal with.  The measurements all went smoothly but during our final 90 seconds at the shore, packing up the DataHub and probes, the insect gods must have decided they wanted to test Jill’s and my limits and we were surrounded with every variety of flying bug you could imagine.  This clearly ended in a ton of screaming, laughing, and a serious sprint back to the car.

Avon was a similar debacle.  First off, the bugs in Avon made the bugs in Geneseo looks like gnats.  Then, the fishing access point that we found online for best river access was essentially a muddy cliff down to the river.  I attempted to climb down in my sneakers but quickly got suctioned into the mud only two-thirds of the way down and retreated to the safety of the cement path.  Huge props to Jill for volunteering to climb down in her boots to get the samples (especially since she has said multiple times how she is not a nature person).  She climbed down with only one free hand and was able to get all the data while dodging airplane sized mosquitos, quicksand-like mud, and me laughing and videoing from above.  She didn’t come out completely unscathed but she made it, and that’s what matters.

Avon Cliff Selfie Avon Mud Cliff

Dirty but still smiling!

Dirty but still smiling!

Scottsville was my turn to climb, for which I switched shoes with Jill and descended a long, rocky hill to the river below.  Unfortunately for Jill this was much less eventful and she couldn’t get the revenge she had hoped for what I filmed in Avon.

Post Measurement Boot Cleaning

Post Measurement Boot Cleaning

RIT was also uneventful, as well as the U of R, where we finally took a lunch break to enjoy our matching Wegman’s Subs and chocolate chip cookies.

UR Selfie UR Measurements JK

At Ford St we were asked by some passerby if we were going swimming (and to be careful) which gave us a good laugh.

Ford St Storm Clouds Ford St Selfie








We ran into Mike at Corn Hill who gave us a hard time because, “Don’t you guys have work to do?” To which we got to show off our WhirlPaks and DataHub probes to one of the first people who didn’t look at us like we were crazy.  But then we encountered a few more people who looked at us weird when I climbed down a ladder to the water and had to hang on for dear life as I scooped the WhirlPak under the surface.

Holding on for dear life

Holding on for dear life

Corn Hill Measurements JW Corn Hill Measurements JK








Smith Street Bridge and Maplewood park didn’t give us any access points to the water so we ended up losing those two data points along the way.

Turning Point park gave us a good flashback.  Walking up and down that hill was quite the workout after being out and about for a good seven hours at that point.  We did find a great camping chair at the water access, but it was sitting in the river bed.  Even Jill’s $10 wasn’t enough for me to climb into the river for a comfortable seat to take measurements in.  There was some rustling in the reeds around our access point we were sitting at to which we guessed at that point in our adventure it was probably coming from a Mountain Lion (Jill’s guess) or a crocodile (my guess).

Turning Point Camping Chair

We ended at Charlotte’s boat launch which went pretty well, the parking lady urged us to “keep the fish alive!”  But, after eight and a half hours exploring Monroe and Livingston Counties I think I can speak for both Jill and I when I say we will leave that for another day.

That's all folks!

That’s all folks!

Science, science, everywhere!

Mendon Ponds Canoe

I really struggled this week thinking of what to write about since nothing nearly as exciting/terrifying happened to me this week as opposed to last week and, because I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed with work and moving. However, Friday I spent the day at Mendon Ponds Park in Henrietta, canoeing on Hundred Acre Lake, which ended up giving me plenty of material. Since our field trips around Rochester to “find science in the city” I have been much more attuned to seeing science where it isn’t so obvious.

First getting the canoe securely fastened to the car, which became quite a test of strength for me, made me think of all the forces acting on the canoe as I drove. Then, once we found the lake there was an endless supply of life under the surface to explore …. from above of course, it’s not quite swimming season for me yet. I tried to get pictures of everything but with the glare from the glorious sunshine that became pretty difficult. The only thing I did manage to get was what seemed to be an underwater Christmas Tree farm. These plants covered the entire bed of the pond but never broke, or even touched, the surface. I assumed from this there must be a delicate range of temperatures that the plant can survive in.

Mendon Ponds XMas Trees

There was also a variety of cloud shapes to be named and discussed as well as birds and insects to attempt to identify. Being that I am not an avid bird watcher or insect collector my guesses were assumably completely wrong. However, I did find that I remembered quite a bit about clouds. What started as just a trip out to the park because the weather was perfect became a scientific experience for me. I think I called out “Science!” so many times my friends started to do it as well just to poke fun at me.

Being that I am a chemist, and have spent an incredible majority of my time and credit hours exploring chemistry and its related topics I realized I used to not see science existing as abundantly as it does. Science to me, for a while, was chemicals, experiments, NMR results, chromatography, and the like. Before, in my eyes, rocks were just rocks, bridges were built wherever you wanted, and bacteria was all bad and everywhere (I apologize to all the geoscientists and biologists out there). Being out in Rochester for the two classes last week opened my eyes back up to how much of life the topic of science actually covers, which I am extremely grateful for. Being aware of science outside of the lab and textbook makes learning much easier for students, as we’ve read and experienced ourselves. So, I’m glad to now feel the urge to shout out “science!” whenever I see something I can relate back to a topic I learned back in school.

Mendon Ponds