Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Concept Map to End All Concept Maps

This week I did my book talk for all of you and together we created something that I had talked about in my book talk. In my book talk paper I had said that my book, Napolean’s Buttons by Penny Le Couteur and Jay Burreson, could stand as a single book or be broken into its chapters for use in a chemistry classroom. Whichever way the book is utilized it would be really beneficial to make a class-wide concept map for the major compounds and themes within the book, you could even include some historical figures as well but that would add to the complexity that is already outrageous.

As most of you who were there remember, I passed out short chapter summaries that were about two paragraphs long as ask you all to skim and pick out major topics. Because we were pressed for time I prepared most of the bubbles for the concept map already prewritten on the white board. These words included the compounds covered in each chapter as well as major themes such as war, trade, exploration, healthcare, etc. I made a practice concept map the night before in all black pen and the paper basically ended up looking like I drew a giant, blobby spider web. However, by including different colors for you all to write in our creation in class was much more appealing and even more complex. If I were to do this again, which I would like to, I would have made each team add their connections in a different color so that we could see which chapters and teams contributed to which connections. Below is a picture of our masterpiece, I’m sure with more time and possibly having read the actual chapters instead of just summaries, we could have made it even more fantastic.

Book Talk Concept Map

Exciting activities versus structure and routine

Recently I feel like I’ve been challenged more at my recent placement and a lot of it stems from the space that I’m working in. The school where I’m at is currently working at full capacity, even slightly over capacity in some grade levels, and thus classrooms are being used almost every block each day (including lunch for the middle schoolers). Because of this and the added hurdle that my classroom is only slightly larger than my living room, I have recently felt more confined and stuck than usual. Also, because we are in the basement of a renovated nursing home my science classroom isn’t the least bit “science-y.” We do have lab table-style desks but other than that my room could easily be a social studies, English, or foreign language room with absolutely no evidence that science was once done there.

Because I am starting a new unit this coming week, that I hope can be more inquiry based and exploratory for my students, I am getting stuck with what activities are feasible in my space. There is a lab type workshop that Ryan developed and we worked together to perfect (that he blogged about) that I’m hoping to use with my students that spans over two class periods and talks about adaptations and mutations within species that are harmful, neutral, and advantageous. My struggle with this it that it asks for one “island” of desks that the students work around on day one and then two “islands” on day two. More specifically, being that I have 27 students, nine lab tables, and three or four teachers in each class there isn’t much room to arrange the desks in a way that would be beneficial during both the workshop and our bridge/summary/closure time.

My CT, her co-teacher, and our inclusion teacher are very against letting our kids move around mostly because of space and because many of them can’t handle themselves in a less constricted classroom setting. I’m torn over whether I should modify the activity to fit my space and limitations or if I should work to make my room arranged as I would ideally have it for this activity and give my students more freedom than they’re used to. The latter of these has the potential to completely blow up in my face, but the former would require me to really scale back the sample size for the activity (working as a whole class gathering data vs. working as a table of three to gather data).

What would all of you do in a situation like this, give the students more freedom for a more exciting workshop or provide more structure and scale back the variety in the lesson? Reasons why will be helpful as well, of course. A link to the activity I’m talking about will be added once Ryan blogs about it.

How does my body protect itself from what I can’t see?

Hi everyone, so today I taught a lesson on the immune system and wanted to share it with you all because it had a lot of engaging pieces that might work well for all of us in the future. Because I worked with some chemicals today I had my students wear goggles and gloves as they would if they were doing a regents level lab. Also, because of the size constraints of my room I ask that my students stay seated for class, which did limit one activity significantly.

My focus question for the day was “How does my body protect itself from what I can’t see?” It was interesting for the students and they really did gasp the main idea in the end, using connections from most of my activities.

I started with a bridge that asked how the students thought germs were spread and how quickly they could spread. This brought up a lively discussion in all three classes of the different types of germ transmission between people.

Following my short bridge I did a model of a cold spreading, like Jill did for STARS. Unfortunately because of the size of my room all my students stayed in their seats for the first two classes, and then in the third I modified the model to be entirely a demo that I manipulated with the help of my CT. For my first two classes students were instructed to share a part of their liquid with four other people and to record their names. In the last class my CT and I mixed the cups while a timer counted down one minute. After this I shared that we started with two cups being infected with a cold and this indicator (phenolphthalein) would indicate if someone was sick but it turning the liquid pink in each person’s cup. Students were asked to take about a minute to make a prediction and then I went around adding a drop of indicator to each student’s cup. I asked that infected students raise their hand to keep track of who got sick. This got them very engaged as they were all hoping that they hadn’t contracted the cold. In the end I averaged about 25 out of 30 infected cups, which was what I was hoping for.

I ended up making major modifications to this model after further talking through the safety considerations with some teachers in the building and considering the typical behavior of my last class. My first class handled the activity very well, which I can’t say surprised me because they are my best class. However, my second class is my most challenging, and in hindsight I think it would have been best if I had cut this demo out for them, they were very off task and distracted and it led to a small spill at one table. Because of all this I decided to have the class observe me while I did a shortened version of the demo at an open table. This still got the point across to everyone but was less exciting for them, especially when I was walking around with the phenolphthalein.

I was torn about this part of my lesson because I was really excited to do this model with my students. However, because of the chemicals involved (bleach) I got advice telling me to avoid it all together and to take very serious, strict safety precautions. Done over I’d like to try to model with a more safe base (or acid) and was wondering if anyone had some ideas. Obviously I could change indicators to account for using an acid, like white vinegar, but it hadn’t crossed my mind until I debriefed with Jo Ann that that was an option. Also, there is something cool to be said for the hot pink that the phenolphthalein turns in a basic solution.

Following this demo/model, two of the classes this segued nicely into my showing on “The Sneeze” because students identified sneezing without covering your mouth as a way germs spread; my third class required a bit more facilitation from me to make the jump to the video. The link for this video, if you haven’t seen it is below.

Then we spent a majority of the remaining class in reading stations with short blurbs about specific pieces of the immune system. This section worked well for me because I gave two of my three classes two minutes to silently read and then three minutes to answer the corresponding questions. For my third class I read the blurbs to them as a class because of some of my students’ lower reading levels.

I had an additional YouTube video that I found that appears student made that put a nice review on the four stations together. Unfortunately we only got to watch this video in one class because of time constraints but in the one class it made a world of difference in tying all the major concepts of the lesson together. Below is the link to that video.

We followed this video up with summary and closure, as we always do at my placement.  The summary asked students to answer the day’s focus question and the closure asked students “If a vaccine allows your body to produce antibodies against a specific germ, why do you think we need to get a new flu shot each year?”  This question worked well and got a variety of responses, including some variation of the right response; that is, that the flu “germ” changes slightly each year and so the antibodies aren’t as effective between flu season.

I attached my 4.9 Immune System Workshop4.9 Immune System Readings and 4.9 Immune System HW materials below for this lesson. It was done in a 70 minute class period but could also be broken into two pieces if need be. Ideally, to not be rushed, I think I could have used an extra ten minutes or so but given the hurdles thrown at me it went better than I expected in two of my three classes. I’m open to any suggestions or comments, as I’m sure you all have ideas that could improve on this work.

The Nitty Gritty on my Poopsock Model

Last week, on my first day of student teaching at this placement I taught my students about the digestive system. I used Ceb’s idea from STARS and created a model of the digestive system, through which my students would teach themselves about each organ in your digestive system. This ended up fitting really well with my school’s philosophy of the students constructing their own knowledge and allowed me to do something really hands on for my first day.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take any pictures because I was so preoccupied with all of my other demands but I do have all my materials that I used to share with you all.

Before we started the lesson I had students complete a bridge that asked them to chew an unsalted saltine cracker for three minutes while taking observations every 30 seconds. By this I was trying to start the discussion of digestion, specifically that digestion is both a chemical and a mechanical process.

From here my students were responsible for coming up for a class definition for the responsibility of the digestive system in our bodies and labeling all of the organs that make up the system. After this I introduced the levels of organization for the human body (cells, tissues, organs, organ systems, human body).

After the background knowledge was formed we moved into the digestive system model. During this piece of my lesson I would first describe the actual mechanics of the model; for example, ripping the bread or adding the vinegar, and then the students (in their table groups) would actually do that “organ” in the model. I expected that after they had physically completed that section of the model they would come up with what that organ did to the food that a person actually digests.

I did each organ individually, where each table group would perform the actions needed to model that organ, after which we would come together as a class to combine our explanations so everyone was on the same page. Breaking it up this way seemed to work really well because it gave the students time to investigate the model on their own but didn’t give them too much time to get lost or overwhelmed in the process. At the conclusion of the model we came up with definitions for chemical and mechanical digestion that each student was responsible for recording in his packet.

I’ve attached my 4.1 Digestive System Workshop packet and can email you my SmartNotebook pages if you want (the blog won’t let me upload them). Below is the materials and explanations to create the model for a single group. I had my students digest a single slice of white bread, which did (admittedly) make my room smell like Elmer’s glue by the end of the day for some reason but was simple and not as gross as it could have been.


Materials for each organ:

  • Mouth
    • Quart size ZipLock
    • Water
  • Esophagus
    • Balloon (animal balloon style)
    • Plastic beads
  • Stomach
    • Gallon size ZipLock
    • White Vinegar
    • Baking Soda
  • Small Intestine
    • Knee high stocking
  • Large Intestine
    • Mid-calf tube sock


If you have any questions I’ll answer them below or in person.

The Cyber Lounge: A Whole New World

This week I had my first experience in a classroom-like setting without my CT and Jill, but instead with a TA with who I am not very familiar.  Our Regents Chemistry class has officially split into two groups of about six students.  On each day one group can be found in the classroom while the other half goes down to the cyber lounge to work online.  The ‘teams,’ as Jill and I have dubbed them, alternate between classroom and cyber lounge and each of us are assigned to a single team so that they students have some continuity with teachers.  Our CT will stay in the classroom everyday and give instruction or labs to supplement the online content.

Friday was  Jill and mine first day of participating in the split class scenario.  After Jill going down with the wrong team to the cyber lounge and us having to trade locations it was left to me and the cyber lounge TA to facilitate my students’ learning while also managing the other students in the cyber lounge’s noise.  By the time I got to the cyber lounge all my students were splayed across the floor on bean bags or on the video rocker chairs.  There was another group of about six or eight students who I recognized (because my placement is a small school) but who were not in my class.  These students were on their phones (phones are not allowed at school and the administration collects them in the morning and redistributes them after the final bell rings) and watching loud music videos on their ChromeBooks.  I felt like I should have done something about them having their phones because phones are prohibited at my placement; but, I also know that the students that leave early to go to MCC for classes are allowed to get their phones back early.  So, maybe these students were leaving soon for the bus soon? However, at the end of the period they were still there so I should have said something or had the TA say something.

Following about five phone conversations, all of which lasted about ten minutes and included passing the phone among students, these students (that weren’t mine) proceeded to watch music videos riddled with inappropriate language and phrases on full volume while I gave them looks to turn it down and the TA asked them to quiet down.  Other students, with bathroom passes or other passes, kept peaking their heads in to ask about job applications or what they were doing about that night’s football game or other unrelated things.  The last disruption, that lasted to remainder of the 72 minute period, was the students decided to watch Hercules on full volume together.

Of my five students only one was pulled into this chaos.  The student that was pulled in was clearly very close friends with the other students and is one of the lower performing students in the class.  My other four students were relatively far from the chaos, with headphones in, working on the Chemistry classwork or other classwork they had prioritized higher.  (On a side note; my CT is okay with the students working on other things in class, as long as they do their Chemistry work at home.  This is because all of our content is done online, and so they don’t have to be in school to learn.)  I walked around twice to check on the students’ progress and answer any questions they had.  I was making sure they knew what lesson they should be through by Monday and that they had a classroom simulation on Monday that pertained to the lesson they should be working on now.  This seemed to work really well with the four students who were away from the chaos.  However, my one student who sucked into the chaos acknowledged me asking how she was doing, and said she was just about to start, but then never logged on. (I can check their activity through my account for the site.) One my second lap around she I told her that she is three lessons behind and needs to get going she did the “smile-nod-ignore” tactic.

At the end of the periodI gave my CT and Jill the full report of the horrendous period in the cyber lounge experience.  We decided that no other students would be allowed in the cyber lounge during our class period, and that the student who refused to work despite my prompting would be banned from the cyber lounge for the next week so that she would be more motivated to catch up, and less distracted.

Being in the room without my CT but with a TA with whom I wasn’t very familiar with, was weird.  I really struggled to find what exactly my role was and just how much power I had.  The TA, after some reflection, seemed to really care less what was going on in the cyber lounge (as long as the students weren’t hurting each other).  This fact alone makes me feel like I should have acted as though I had more power than I did.  Next week when I’m back in there, it will obviously be different because the other students won’t be there, but clearly I need to take the reigns more.  I imagine this is something that I will get better with with time but I was surprised at how much I sat back when there was another adult present in the room; especially because I don’t consider myself an adult, and because I felt as though I was in her domain and she would have more control over it than she did.  Well, at least now I know.

More things to do with all my spare time

The past two weeks in STARS I’ve been doing titrations with my team and, although on the surface it’s been going well, I feel like I didn’t facilitate the “spark” the way it was for me … and I guess that’s making me feel guilty.

Day one I wasn’t as concerned with results, I just wanted my team to enjoy the titrations and get excited about them the way I do.  When day one went super smooth and I realized I could push my STARS to titrate twice in one day, so on day two I regrouped my team and challenged them to titrate twice in the hour we had before cleanup.  This also went well and I thought that meant they enjoyed the titrations and therefore there wasn’t too much more for me to do beyond begin them thinking about their results and what they meant.

Apparently this was wrong.  Days three and four this week were much more of a challenge.  I had substantially lower attendance than I ever did earlier on in STARS; however, the STARS that I did have in attendance were my regulars, and understand what I expect of them.  Some of my older STARS have stopped coming, or only come sporadically because of other commitments, and I seem to have a few younger STARS that are deciding to come more frequently. Of my regulars, I have two girls who have almost entirely disengaged from the titrations, my beloved titrations. Granted, yes, the preparations for the food samples are tough and this past week they were asked to work with peaches and kiwis (two of the tougher samples to workup). However, these two girls seem to have no recollection of the process from the week before, or on day four the day before.  This is all on top of my three most committed STARS who love, love, love my titrations and whose eyes light up each time I tell them, yes, we’re doing more titrations today.

Now that there is only one day left of data collection I’m struggling with what I’m going to do about engaging my entire team.  I mean, if color changing titrations aren’t an activity that can take hold of everyone’s interests and keep their interests than what will? Certainly the tedious titration workups, which I already plan to pare down considerably, won’t hold their interests and get them excited about our results, especially my two girls who are already disengaged.  I have two experts lined up to come talk to our team, which is going to force me to lose some time for workups, but will that be worthwhile time for my incredibly quiet team? On the topic of how quiet they are, how can I prompt them to talk more, both for when our experts come in and for our Friends and Family dinner on Wednesday? I definitely don’t want to be taking the lead at either of those events so that my team can start to take ownership for the science they have created and engaged in in just four quick weeks.  That is the whole aim of this right? For our STARS to own what they’ve done and really show it off to a variety of audiences? I have a plan, that a week or two ago I was very comfortable with; however, I’m not so sure things are going to go as planned? My main concern is how quiet my team is for when our expert comes in and how I’m going to engage everyone (especially my two disengaged STARS) following the data collection phase of our experiment. I guess I need some more time to think about it all …. now if only I actually had that spare time to put towards perfecting my STARS plan….

These are my reflections…

Camp was an incredible learning experience for me. It pushed me to really break out of my shell and step out of my comfort zone like nothing before it has. It definitely pushed me to the brink of my sanity but in the end it was one thousand percent worth it. I feel I was able to really break through to several campers over the course of only five days. I felt as though I really got to know them, like I would have if I were their teacher for a month, or even more! This relationship building, that my team wasn’t particularly focused on while writing our goals and objectives, seemed to be the missing link for our team’s success. By knowing what got a particular camper excited to work or what activities they thrived in I felt more well prepared in lesson planning to include those situations in advance, while also having their biggest dislikes in mind to stay away from while working.

Our team didn’t utilize the technology on the iPad to its fullest extent. While in small groups there was some camera use we unfortunately didn’t get to use the iPad much beyond that. However, we did use SmartBoards with our computers on several days while at the University of Rochester to make maps, graphs, and list ideas. This really got some of our campers excited because it was a step above just writing on the whiteboards, which was also one of their favorite activities. I, personally, felt I got to use some unique technology, specifically on day five when i got to fully explore the technology in the GRS classroom by using the televisions and stereoscopes combined to project some images of a crushed, dead spider we had collected in one of our team’s collected water samples. I think this got some of the campers, in our group and others, excited about the water again and allowed me to make a good tie back to the fact that everything that we were examining came from a beach that many of us have spent time at. Changing settings did make it a little difficult to keep our investigation grounded in the “where” but the stereoscopes helped to strengthen that tie, especially given that the next day we all were involved in planning for our presentations.

All in all, I think I did a good job having my “teacher voice” develop into a friendly, yet leading voice. I also think I did well using all available spaces and technology in my lesson planning. I do think I could have worked on being more involved in the days that I was not leading, I struggled knowing the whole plan and agenda because of differences in work styles within my group. While this sounds like strictly a complaint I realize that this scenario is probably going to happen in the future and it was a great test of my patience and perseverance during such a stressful time; between classes, camp, lesson planning, eating, sleeping, and basic hygiene my schedule was definitely over-packed. Camp definitely shed light on some new aspects of my identity which has made me much more confident in a teaching setting.

This class had absolutely broadened my horizons with regards to technology. This is particularly surprising to me because I like to think of myself as relatively tech-savy. Between the variety of data collection tools, microscopes that hook up to TVs for easier viewing, how to use a SmartBoard to its full abilities, and a plethora of new iPad apps I feel like my head is going to explode with new information. While we did spend so much time learning new technologies and discussing them I still find myself relatively hesitant with some areas of the technology. For one thing, technology is moving SO fast these days and, while we did have a critical commentary discussion on this, I do fear the day where I can no longer keep up for one reason or another. Next, with technology comes many more opportunities for this going not according to plan. Although we did get in the habit of planning for plan a, b, c, and d if necessary it’s intimidating to have to always have so many backup plans and be able to trouble shoot something on the spot, during a lesson even. Anyone who has done any sort of adventure or party with me knows I’m a huge planner, but planning for x, y, AND z to go wrong is hard … and stressful. Ignorance really is bliss for some things. My last main concern with technology is where the line exists between “Let’s try to build this technology into a lesson to help with X” and “I’m using this technology just because it’s cool.” I find that while I try to be innovative in my lesson planning sometime I find myself going overboard with the technology which actually takes away from the main goals of a lesson.

I guess what I’m trying to say is with regards to technology is:

  • It’s hard work to stay on top
  • If plan A doesn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters. Just breathe.
  • Less isn’t necessarily more, but more also isn’t more

Until next time…. (and next Usher reference #classicthrowbackz)

Camp Age Bar Graph

Camp Day 6 – Presentations

Day Six? Check. First real teaching experience? Check. Best night of sleep I’ve had in a while? Check.  This week was absolutely the top three most stressful, exciting, rewarding, and challenging experiences of my life … all balled up into a single event.  Despite how little sleep and high stress I lived through I’m so glad I had the chance to experience it all.

Now for specifically Day 6, because I want to save some stuff for my final reflections.  Today was presentations.  Although we did set up for our campers and prepared most of our materials we really did leave so much of the actual presenting up to our campers’ decisions and preferences.  We had some attendance problems (again) today which threw an early wrench into the equation but the four campers we did have show up did exceptionally well given the circumstances.  Some roles were changed and some others were added to but the campers picked up the appropriate notecards and made each section of the presentation their own.    It was really exhilarating to see our campers, who (just a week ago) were soaked to the bone and asking if squirrels could swim, and who now were presenting the different types of bacteria and how the chemicals in runoff can change the health of Lake Ontario, The Genesee River, and the wildlife that lives in those bodies of water.

The presentations, despite our team’s minimal prep work, went as close to flawless as I could have hoped for.  All campers were engaged, presented their data in full, clear voices, and fielded questions from the Level 1 and 2’s with such ease and skill and it really made the past week’s struggles SO worth it.  Hearing the campers define turbidity and pH was mindblowingly gratifying, as was seeing one of our quiet campers thoroughly explain safety and its importance while handling bacteria.

Overall, I’d give today an 11 out of 10.  That being said, there were a few things that could have gone better.  The biggest, and most prominent of these was our under utilization and poor placement of our trifold board.  It eventually got shoved to one edge of the table to make room for the equipment (which turned out to be the more engaging of our presentation elements) and once our board presenter became a model for the equipment the trifold board became obsolete.  However, our campers seemed to pick up on this because they each added some information from the board into their own portions of the presentation which did end up making up for it.  Besides that, we had one camper that was less engaged and quiet than the others but I suspect that was because he was the only boy present in our group today.  Otherwise, everyone spoke loudly, clearly, answered questions well, and best of all we got through our entire presentation in each round of rotations with time for one or two questions.  I have trouble with that in my own presentations that I spend hours rehearsing, and there goes my campers nailing the presentation on their first formal attempt.  It was all just so rewarding; I can’t wait to feel this feeling again in school!

Camp Day 5: Presentations and Spider Leg Hairs

Day 5 was our last day together (working) and thus had a laundry list of things to accomplish in order to be prepared (or close to prepared) for our presentations to the Level 1 and 2 Scholars at the Freedom School. We started the day by revisiting our work from Days 1 through 4 while adding in the data we collected in graphical form. The graphs led to a lot of GREAT discussion on what we found and where it may have come from. Some of our younger and/or more quiet campers really got their voices out there which was really great.

We then broke up into smaller groups so that we could tackle the three main aspects of our presentation. I took two campers to plan out our tri-fold board that we will be using to illustrate the course of our experiment. Luckily, we have some great pictures of collecting data up at Charlotte and then analyzing it in the labs on campus that we have plenty of evidence that our campers were, in fact, full blown scientists for the week. One of our youngest campers, who I was working with really got interested in the safety levels of the bacteria in the lake and river and so I’m really looking forward to him telling the younger scholars about what we found and how the river and lake compare.

After lunch we came back together to roughly script our presentations, again as small groups. During this time I got to show of my microscopy skills by showing a crushed spider we found in our water specimens on the stereoscope while attached to the TV. This was a huge hit with the kids, although it may have been too popular as it became a huge distraction. I think Michael got some pictures using the fancy stereoscope so if they worked I’ll have to post a picture up here as evidence of my skillz. All my work counting epithelial cells at a local toxicology lab really worked out so I’m glad the kids enjoyed seeing the spider as much as I did.

Overall, I think today went really well. It was the first day all week that we got to basically everything on the schedule. We felt a little rushed but I think that worked to our advantage of not having any particular conversation drag on like it did yesterday. I feel like, personally, I had another great day engaging M. I used some sports analogies to keep him focused and “in the game for all four quarters.” I felt less engaged in the afternoon, mostly because my group seemed to know what they wanted to talk about; I began more of a technology guru/resource for the campers to find out some information they needed as background to talk about our investigation and less of a team leader (which I didn’t necessarily have a problem with).

I know today isn’t technically the end of camp but it did feel like it to a certain extent. We know that 2-3 of our 6 campers won’t be there on Monday because of football commitments; and we have (all week) have attendance issues with all but 2 of the remaining campers. Our presentation has the potential to need to be pieced together to make up for missing campers’ voices. The past five days have literally been the most insane and demanding of my life but I also don’t think I’ve ever felt more accomplished and connected to my friends and “mentees” before. The finale (and some significant work) still awaits us but for now I’ve thrilled to not need an alarm tomorrow morning and get some good eating and breathing time.

Camp Day 4: Construct-ify-ing the “why”

Day four means time to create our explanations and conclusions from our data collection and analysis on days two and three.  This was a particularly tough day on the campers because we really tried to challenge their thinking to create the strongest, yet most accessible investigable question to present to the Level 1’s and 2’s at the Freedom School.  Another issue that was immediately apparent was attendance in our team, Day 1 we had 4 campers and 2 servant leaders, Day 2 we had six campers and one (brand new) student leader, Day 3 we had five campers (one brand new) and one student leader, and today (Day 4) we only had four campers and one servant leader.  Also, knowing that one camper isn’t going to be around on Monday to help give our team’s presentation because he has football camp is a huge bummer.

As I said before, today was tough.  We pushed our campers our of their comfort zones to lead their investigation on their own, through their own ideas and questions.  We spent a significant chunk of time of improving our question followed by a SmartBoard enabled graphing tutorial and data discussion.  We did exceptionally well in the morning facilitating discussion; and I, personally, think I did well with two of our campers in a small group talk to verbalize their thoughts more clearly (and loudly).  This was a challenge, but necessary, to improve their ownership as well as to make sure their voices were heard over some of the more enthusiastic and engaged members of our team.  However, our discussion to get a better question seemed to really drag on, and I think we pulled everything we could (and more), out of our campers.  I think we, as leaders, could have done a better job sensing this and sidelining the discussion while we moved into a more exciting and fun activity so that we could re-energize and re-engage our campers.

Tomorrow seems like it will be a really packed day, but I think it should elicit the campers’ creative sides more which I’m hoping will help to engage everyone and allow everyone to contribute however they feel most comfortable.  I am a little bit concerned about getting everything done, since we do have so much on our plates and often it takes a little while to get our team’s wheels rolling.  They seemed to really enjoy the whiteboards and SmartBoard so hopefully with that we will be able to start off on a strong note by exploiting the available tools and technology.