Today was my last observation ever as a student teacher. I can’t believe I’m typing that! Well since it is the Warner Way…and an important part of understanding…there are some highlights I would like to reflect on from this past week.

The hook:
Wiggins and McTighe discuss the importance of “Hooking the students” when designing engaging and effective curriculum. This week I feel I had a really good hook. To begin the lesson, I had students write in their journal 2 origins of rocks. The lesson was an introduction to rocks; therefore the question was more to assess the students’ prior knowledge. After all the students had a chance to write their responses in their journals I played the following video:

I read the prompts out loud and at the end of the video, in all three classes, there was an applause from the class. I really believe this video hooked the students into learning about rocks.



Presentations and Test:
I had the students do a NYS minerals presentation and the results were amazing!! The most memorable moment came from a class who usually needs constant reminders to respect each other. In this class we have a student that struggles with speaking in front of people and requested to do the presentation just in front of me. I told him to give it a try in front of the class. When he was heading to the front of the room, I heard one student whisper to him “It is 4th quarter against Wilson, you’ve got this.” (This student is a basketball player and his best game was against Wilson) There were a couple of times he would stop and a different student each time would encourage him on. He did great and yes, I slightly teared up listening to the class encourage him on. Even thinking about it now makes me love these kids so much!
To add to the presentations, in each class of about 20 students, the most we had fail the unit test was 3. I was so happy!

Listening to the students:
At the end of class today, the students were asked what advice they had for a new teacher. Most of their responses: patience. They then told me I had that and not to worry :- )
It has been a great week and looking back I would like to hear some takeaways the rest of my cohort has.




McTighe,J.and Wiggins,G. (2004). Understanding by design.

Alexandria, VA:  Association for Supervision and Curriculum


Going “All In”…

Last night I sat around a table in Panera with a group of my favorite individuals whom I have had the honor of being a cohort with. We met to discuss different ways to prepare for an interview that we are all headed to tomorrow. So for this blog I decided to write about some takeaways I had from the meeting:

If you are going to have an artefact don’t have it be too much writing. A picture, figure, or model that quickly represents what you are trying to show is the best.

It is OK to take a minute to think things through before responding. Take a drink of water if needed (just not for every question).

Nervous is normal.

Get rest.


Don’t wear fake eyelashes and pants rolled above your boots.

Most important…

BE YOURSELF!!!  I say this because every time I’m with my cohort I realize how lucky I am to be a part of this program with this particular group. Every individual has unique strengths as an educator and shares those strengths with the group allowing the others to benefit from them. Not only do they have strengths as an educator, but they have strengths (compassion, drive, encouragement, support) that make them awesome human beings. Let the interviewers see YOU and YOU will be just fine. Because through you they will see your students and how much you have done in the short time you have been in this field. I truly feel any establishment would only benefit from having any one of you be a part of their school. I say if you be yourself, every single one of you are going to rock the interview.

Good luck team, and see you there : -)

Transferability…Evidence of Understanding

Wiggins & McTighe state:

Understanding is about transfer, in other words. To be truly able requires the ability to transfer what we have learned to new and sometimes confusing settings. The ability to transfer our knowledge and skill effectively involves the capacity to take what we know and use it creatively, flexibly, fluently, in different settings or problems, on our own (McTighe & Wiggins,p.40, 2004).

I took a chance this week. I wasn’t really sure how it would go, but I decided to try it. Fearful of causing misconceptions, I still tried. If it wouldn’t have worked well the first time I tried, I was prepared to make changes for the other classes. So here is what I did:

As an introduction to minerals, I wanted students to get in the mindset of how/why we classify things. We started out by having a small conversation on “how do we organize things,” with most students saying by similarities or by putting things in groups. I was able to connect their “groups” to classifying and asked them “why do we classify things?” Some responses included “so we can study it” and “it is just easier”. I then asked them to think back to the Democrat & Chronicle article called Keep Cow Manure out of New York’s water (mentioned in last week’s blog). I asked them why we don’t want cow manure in our waters. Most said it was because it was “dangerous, dirty, pollution, etc…” I then asked them “Well how do you know that? Explain.” I did get “because there are pathogens in manure.” Which was followed up with “How do we know it is a pathogen?”, and it was then that the class realized it was because a pathogen was classified as a pathogen. This is NOT where I took the risk. The risk was what followed.

After our small class discussion, I had 4 pictures of 4 different birds on the board; a toucan, a penguin, a blue bird, and a blue jay. I asked the class to write 5 characteristics that they would use to identify the birds from each other. So this is where I got nervous. Birds really have nothing to do with minerals, right? Would my students be able to make that transfer between identifying the different characteristics of the birds to using properties to classify minerals?

After they came up with their own characteristics, I had them share with a partner and prepare to share with the class. As a class they came up with some great distinguishing characteristics: size, shape, color, wing pattern, bird call, shape of beak based on the environment in which they are from, structure of wings, etc. I then asked them if they thought if any of the characteristics of the birds could be useful in identifying minerals. When called upon they were able to say shape and color. I then had a student in every class say something along the lines of “I’m sure the mineral tells us about the environment it is from, like the birds do”. Mind blown. A connection I didn’t even expect and maybe didn’t think about at first, but they did.

That is my “transfer” story for this week. Maybe the lesson is don’t be afraid to take some risk, but be ready to adapt and change if it isn’t working. Have a great weekend everyone!


Bryant, E. (2014). Keep cow manure out of New York’s water.

            Democrat & Chronicle.  Retrieved from

            /06/06  /dairy-cows- manure-owasco-lake/10102171/

McTighe,J.and Wiggins,G. (2004). Understanding by design.

Alexandria, VA:  Association for Supervision and Curriculum


Science & Technology with a little Circle of Life for Jess

The NSTA recommends that students will “be able to consider the trade-offs among alternative solutions when considering decisions that involve competing priorities (NSTA, 2010)”. This quote was taken from the National Science Teachers Association Position Statement on Teaching Science and Technology in the Context of Societal and Personal Issues.


When I read this, I instantly thought of my 8th period Earth Science class. In an activity that allowed them to investigate the processes of the water cycle (specifically precipitation and runoff), I gave them an article from the Democrat & Chronicle called Keep Cow Manure out of New York’s water. This article discussed how New York’s booming yogurt industry is negatively affecting New York waterways and lakes. For this activity, the students were asked to read the article and write down initial thoughts and then discuss what they read with a partner. This specific class really focused (through their own interest) on ways to fix the issue. This lead students to engage in conversation around “trade-offs among alternative solutions”. One students said to just get rid of the cows, while another student argued that the economy needs the cows. Below represents some of the responses I received and reflects some of the discussion held in class.

"We need cows because we milk"
“We need cows because we milk”

Bringing this issue-based lesson to class increased the students’ interest in learning the water cycle, while providing them a meaningful connection to the content. I feel it opened up more opportunity to discuss relevant science applications in real world situations.

Something else I would like to mention and this is specifically directed toward Jessica. Today I attended a PD on Ubd that involved Living Environment Teachers and Earth Science Teachers. The Living Environment teachers were discussing the food web and ecology. They planned on using The Lion King as an example. They were going to use the opening scene and the scene below. It might help, it might not




Bryant, E. (2014). Keep cow manure out of New York’s water. Democrat & Chronicle.  Retrieved from

NSTA. (2010). Teaching Science and Technology in the Context of Societal and Personal Issues. Retrieved from