All posts by Tiarra

I need your expertise…

Throughout my student teaching I found that some of the best lessons I implemented were ones that I shared and requested feedback on from other science teachers. Involving other science teachers allowed me to gain insight from what they have done. It allowed us to share ideas and material, as well as refine instructional strategies. By the end, the finished lesson proved to be much better than the original.

So I thought, why not try this out with my cohort. I don’t have an exact lesson planned, but I have an idea that I would love some feedback on.

During my 8 weeks, the students will be uncovering ideas about the water cycle and minerals. To tie the units together, I wanted to develop a lesson around the key idea that “The use and distribution of mineral resources and fossil fuels have important economic and environmental impacts. As limited resources, they must be used wisely (NYSED, n.d.).” So here is my idea:

I wanted to get articles (newspaper, some scholarly, etc.) on mineral resources in New York State. I then want to pose a scenario depending on the resource. The following is an example

Scenario: For the past 50 years a mining company has been mining Wollastonite in your neighborhood. The land that they mine is right next to a Forest Preserve. The mining company is running out of land and are looking to start mining the Forest Preserve. There is a law that protects the Forest Preserve from industrialization. The only way the mining company can move in on the property is if voters allow it. As a voter what would you vote for, or against, the company expansion onto the Forest Preserve?

To make a well informed decision you will need to:
Explain how you would identify Wollastonite.
Identify human uses for Wollastonite
Identify important economic and environmental impacts?

Some example information I would provide are found below (I would print these out):

Another idea:
I provide them with different mineral resources of New York State, and they:
Explain how to identify the mineral.
Identify human uses for the mineral
Discuss recent issues/concerns involving mineral resource

Some example information I would provide are found below ( I would print these out):


Some other things I was considering was discussing the project and having the students design the rubric with me on how they should be graded. This will help them know what is expected, as well as let them take ownership for their work.

These are just ideas I’m developing. I am open to any suggestions, tips, resources, and/or concerns.


New York State Education Department. (n.d.) Physical Setting/Earth

Science Core Curriculum.  Retrieved by


Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore… or are we?

Getting use to the high school life has been my goal this week. I talked to a high school science teacher, whom I met at the beginning of my first placement, and she told me “They need the same things as the middle schoolers, they just show it differently.” This statement really made me reflect on my experiences so far.

So this is what I took away from this week: there is going to be challenges and rewards, much like before, they just may take different forms. When it comes to some of the challenges I still might be able to use the same tactics. For example, it used to be a struggle to make sure every student had their uniform on in class. I decided to address this issue before the students entered the classroom. I would stand by the door and as I greeted them I reminded them they needed the appropriate attire on before coming into class. The new issue is headphones and cellphones that students have as they walk into class, and seem to not want to put away during class. So how I might extinguish the spark before it takes away from class time is stand outside the door to greet them as usual, and have the students put the electronics away before they come into class.

One thing I need suggestions/help on: Every other day the classes have 90 minute periods with me. On the other days, it is 45 minutes. I went from teaching every class I had the same thing and they all progressed, for the most part, together. Are there any suggestions on how to keep the classes on the same track and balance/keep organized the different classes?

Until next time:


New Year…

The first month of the new year is coming to an end and our cohort is finding their place in different classrooms with new students. As I begin to lesson plan, I try to find ways I can build upon the students’ understanding of science as I enter into their classroom half way through the year. I am looking for designs that let me bring my theory and ideas into the classroom, but not throw off the balance that is already there.

As a preservice teacher, the one thing I find I can not get enough of is material. I am always searching for a variety of thoughts and ways to really prepare, scaffold, and engage students in learning. This semester I am going to try to use my blog to offer ideas, and share what has worked and what has not worked. Please feel free to share the same.

In one of my classes at Warner we were discussing how we should make goals visible to students. As I have been going over the goals for the unit on Minerals and Rocks, I have been thinking of ways to make them explicit to the students.

As I was reading through articles I found a suggestion. Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock discuss a teacher who uses a learning journal with her 6th graders. She used the following format to not only share goals with her students, but also let them set their own personal goals.


silly(Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, p. 148, 2011)

I thought it could be useful now, or even in a future classroom setting.


Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D., & Pollock, J. E. (2001). Classroom

instruction that works: Research-based strategies for

increasing student achievement. Alexandria, Va: Association for

Supervision and Curriculum Development.

What a week…


So this week is going to be a short one…but I hope helpful as well. I had my first observation ever, with both my supervisors, and it went so well! However, me telling you how well I did won’t help you so I’m going to tell you where I messed up and adjusted accordingly.

🙂   No matter how much they repeat what you say…it doesn’t mean they comprehend it.

My first class: We went over ALL of the parts of the microscope and repeated at least 7 different ways NEVER EVER USE COARSE ADJUSTMENT WHEN IN HIGH POWER. I felt they were ready, and sent them back to the microscope. As they started observing the hydra, I saw 1 group touch the coarse adjustment while in high, and quickly corrected them before they could move it. I then heard my CT correct someone, so I felt I needed everyone’s attention. I needed to figure out where the misconception was. So I asked them: “What don’t we do if we are in high power?” Their response: “Use the Coarse Adjustment” OK…so they got that. So why was every group about ready to use the coarse adjustment?

“Which one is the high power?”
They were able to point it out.

“OK…where is the fine-adjustment?” (I knew they knew where the coarse-adjustment was)
Blank stares.

I did show them previously where it was, but they didn’t remember.
How I fixed it: Every following class, the CTs and myself walked around with the microscopes while introducing the parts, and made the students physically point out the fine-adjustment and coarse-adjustment.

🙂   2 Misconceptions I learned students have with Cells:
So the hardest thing was trying to prepare for student misconceptions when it comes to a content that is not my specialty. So if we could compile a list of misconceptions we all experience that would be great. Anyways 1st misconception-

~An onion is not living.
The classes were split 50/50 on this. How I combatted it…luckily my students realized they were looking at cells. I referred them to the cell theory and then it clicked as we went over other
ways they are considered living.

~The nucleus of a plant is a cell.
I had an example of blood cell on the whiteboard, and an example of onion cells. We had the students circle the cells in the picture. I didn’t correct them at that moment. I instead moved on to the organelles of the cell and their functions. After we reviewed the parts, we then revisited the onion cells and blood cells. Before asking if they wanted to make changes, they were asking if they could fix what was on the board.



So that is what I have for tonight because quite honestly…this week was draining but also very good!

If you have any other common misconceptions or lessons learned, it doesn’t have to be biology related, please feel free to comment.

“Cells, Cells, the Cytoplasm Gels…”

Between studying for my content exam and finishing up my STARS project, I have been preparing for my mini lessons. The topic is….CELLS! I will be teaching 7th graders about cell structures and functions.  While planning, my CT showed me a video that her students loved last year.

So here is the thing about the video…it works. I played it a couple of times while doing some school work at home. I did this to familiarize myself with the video in case I wanted to make a playlist for the students while they did their activities. I didn’t show the video to my family, but both my daughters were coloring near me as it was playing. The next day, as the girls played Candyland, they both sang to themselves “Cells, Cells, the cytoplasm gels”. Even though they had no idea what that meant, they recalled that information. So maybe there will be some “Cells” background music playing, or maybe it will play as the students enter class and/or as they leave. Obviously, my goal would be for them to recall the information and understand what it means.


Other ideas on how to help my students recall information and strengthen their comprehension of the content (besides having a solid well-rehearsed lesson plan):
* Take the role as “Ms. Plant” and another teacher be “Ms. Animal” and we will wear signs that outline our key structures
*Relate cell structure and functions to school structure and functions

If anyone would like to add some ideas, please do so.

A Day to Remember…

STARS is officially over for the cohort. I almost can’t find enough words to explain the past seven weeks, so I’m going to try to sum it up with a few; memorable, intense, rewarding, absolutely draining, and 100% worth it. I could write countless blogs on the numerous lessons and memories I will take with me from STARS, as well as how it helped me grow as an educator. However, I would like to focus on the last day; collaborative conversations.
Our STARS were well rehearsed and prepared, but it was the moments that we didn’t rehearse that had the most meaning to me. (Oh boy, I’m slightly tearing as I type this)


One of the first occurred when we had our visitors in our room. Everyone in the room had to introduce who they were, and say one interesting thing about themselves. The STARS had to give one thing they loved about Science STARS. We got answers like “making new friends”, “just being with the team, and doing science”, “the visit to the U of R”, “dissecting flowers”, “learning about the plants”, and “the recognitions at the end of every day”. It was really cool to see some of the takeaways the STARS had.
The next occurred during our presentation, when the “light team” was presenting to the guest. One of the STARS had handed everyone a piece of paper, and asked them to draw what they saw in the microscope, and write what they thought it was. While the guest did as they were instructed, one of the STARS grabbed my iPad and said they needed to get a picture of what they saw, because it made them “feel like a teacher.” I told them it was because they were the experts and had a lot of great information to share with the community. I also pointed out to them how successful they were, because it was only a minute into that part of the presentation, and they had their audience fully engaged.


Full Engagement (picture taken by STAR)
Full Engagement (picture taken by STAR)


The last that I would like to discuss in this blog entry occurred during the questioning portion of the “light team’s” presentation. A guest challenged the claim one of our STARS made about their hypothesis being correct. The guest pointed to the graph, and said that the graph showed that the sunlight grew more than the artificial light. The STAR that made the claim, quickly stepped up and explained how the guest misread the graph. She explained that for the investigation, we used tomato plant clones, so it was hard to start with two of the same size. However, she pointed out that the data showed, as well as the graph, that the plant that used artificial light grew 5 cm, where the one in sunlight only grew 2cm. Therefore, proving their hypothesis that if they used artificial light, then the plant would grow faster than a plant in sunlight. The reasons why this interaction was amazing, and a “proud” moment for me are as follows:

1. The question section wasn’t rehearsed. STARS were not sure what audience would ask. However, they were able to recall information that enabled them to provide great feedback, and answer to the community’s questions.
2. She said clones! She remembered a part of the protocol that was only touched on briefly, during a hectic time, when the hydroponics systems were set up, and the plants were planted. We did not touch on that any time after, nor did we mention it as we prepared for presentations.
3. She didn’t allow an adult to tell her that she was incorrect in her claim. She had enough confidence in her work, and the evidence to support it to argue in a very professional, and scientific way. (I did tear up at this moment during the presentation)

So overall, our final day of STARS was a success. I think most importantly, the STARS realized their accomplishments, and what they are capable of.

My Reflection…

I feel the best way to represent what I have to say for this blog, is with help of some visual aids.

I am currently on my journey to becoming a teacher:



While on this journey, I realize that on a daily basis, there are many questions, thoughts, concerns, feeling of all varieties, and happenings from all areas of my life, occurring and influencing me in many different ways, and many times intertwining with each other.   The blog entries reflect some of these, but definitely not all. So today, I am going to focus on things that influence me, and how one area of my life teaches me lessons that I can use in a different areas. So let us look at the visual below:

These are some of the major components of who I am, that help shape my educating and learning experiences, in the teaching field.




So the other day, I learned a lesson from one of the wisest individuals I know; my 5 year old. It happened when we were sitting in her room. We had snuck off to get away from the ruckus of the football game on TV. The Buffalo Bills were letting everyone down, and everyone was being quite vocal about it.

I sat on her bed, diligently working on Lesson Plans, while she built the Bills Stadium with Legos. I caught her glancing at me a couple of times, like she had something on her mind. Finally, she expressed it.

“So mommy, are you going to tell me what’s wrong?”

“Hunny, I’m just tired, that is all”

“Mommy, I can tell by your eyes that you are sad. Are you going to tell me why?”

I stopped and smiled at the familiar words, which usually came from my mouth, but now my daughter decided to use them on me.

So this is when the grad student/teaching part of my life came in. I know we want to model, as educators, what we want the students to do. So I realized I had to open up to my 5 year old about what was bothering, in hopes she would do the same, next time I ask her.

I told her.

I told her my feelings had been hurt, and I feared how it would affect me in a certain environment. My daughter looked at me, and then said:

“I’m sorry that happened to you. Hold on to it, remember how it made you feel, and don’t you ever treat somebody the same way. You are in control of yourself, your actions, and how you respond.”

I was caught off guard at her response. I just looked at her and felt like I was looking in the mirror at a much younger, much cuter, reflection of myself. She again had used my words on me, and she was right. She told me exactly what I needed to hear. She made me realize that I too need to be careful with how I say things, because I don’t know how it will affect someone else, especially a student.

Sometimes you need to take your own advice, I’m just lucky enough to have a smaller version of myself to remind me of that.





Building Relationships & Identities

So this week the relationships I’m building at my placement really shown through at certain times. Through my placement and into STARS, I’m building my identity as a teacher, as well as scaffolding the STARS GREEN team into seeing themselves as scientist.



The “R” Word = Relationships

I received my first present from a student 🙂


1st gift :)
1st gift 🙂

One student opened up about personal issues when prompted to work on classwork, they were avoiding. After conversation, they started working . (ARROW: could I have said something better, more efficient?)(Plus: did validate issue. Let them know I’m there, and so are other people)

Found out one of the students want to work for NASA-Had a fun conversation with that
Found out one of my students would like to play football for Syracuse or Rutgers.
( I <3 learning about their interest)




A lot of SCIENCE!!!
A lot of SCIENCE!!!



Very content heavy week, but kept STARS engaged
A lot of SCIENCE!!
(ARROW: What to do with that one person who is always negative?)

Week of Firsts

This week was a week of firsts. I attended my first open house as a “teacher”, I was given my first chance to lead a part of class discussion, we had our first STARS meeting with our STARS team, I even wrote my first “awesome job” post-it note, and gave it to a student who was staying on task, while others around him were not. I could probably go on with more firsts this week, but these are the ones that stick out the most.

The great thing about these firsts, are they are forcing me to take on the responsibilities of a teacher, where I’m held accountable. This new increase of accountability is only intensifying the realization that I am where I belong. That doesn’t mean everything has been completely perfect, in fact I feel everyday has been an intense roller coaster of emotions. I have hit some of my strongest highs this week, and then in matters of seconds, hit an ultimate low. However, at the end of the day, I wouldn’t change the day. I might not want to repeat it, but I wouldn’t want to change it.

So, as mentioned before, I attended my first open house as a “teacher”. I think this really made me see how far I have come, and realize how the kids see me, as well as their parents. It also made me realize what is important to these parents. One dad said to his daughter, “Wow, they have set you up for success in here. I shouldn’t expect you to do poorly in here at all.” I think that statement says a lot about the environment and structure my CT sets. I hope to hear a parent say that someday about my classroom.

During the open house, there were a couple of times when parents talked directly to me because my CT was busy with other parents. One parent was there just to quickly let me know what he expected out of the teachers, should his daughter start doing poorly, or acting up in class. Another student came in with his mother, walked over to me, shook my hand (like we have him do before he enters class), and said hi. His mother started laughing and said that was a strange thing for him to do. I could tell he was a little embarrassed, so I explained to his mother that we have all of the students do that as they come into class because we like to take a second to see how each student’s day is going. This in return lets the students know we care about them as individuals. She seemed to really appreciate that.

At open house, I got to meet the grandmother and mother of a student who is also a part of the Grow Your Ca$h STARS team. I had him tell them about what he did that day, which involved presenting information, to the Director of the Get Real Science Program, to ask for grant money. They knew he was a good student, and expected the best out of him. His grandma asked him where he sat (most of the tables are in groups), and he said he has a group but usually chooses to sit alone. This of course concerned her. However there is a conflict between him and another student, which they were aware of, and I think that may play a role in him choosing to sit by himself.

On my way out, while in the hallways, I had a handful of students introduce me to their parents. Some of them were a part of the STARS team, and it was fun to see the parents’ reactions when their kids told them what they had been doing for the past 2 days. One father pulled his daughter close in, and told her he was so proud of her. I’m starting to realize these are the moments that teachers live for, because catching these moments, and being a part of them, is amazing.

On my way out, a student stopped and introduced me to her dad. When she had said I was Ms. Worthington, he responded “Oh, so you are Ms. Worthington? I’ve heard all about you. You guys (myself and my CT) are her favorite teachers.” This really caught me off guard, because I never thought a student would look at me as a “favorite teacher” while I was in a placement. It was kind of cool, and made me realize the impact we have already.

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow…”

Looking back at this past week, I would say overall it was OK. The outcome from recruitment was awesome. As a whole cohort, I would say everyone did great. It was awesome to see/hear the students’ interest in the other projects, as well as ours. I’m a little disappointed, because I feel the experience could have been so much more meaningful if I felt more prepared, and had a better understanding of how certain tasks linked to another. What we got to do this week, and what we are a part of, is such an awesome opportunity/program, but I personally really didn’t get to take that in at all.

Well on 2nd thought, maybe I did. There were some brief moments I did take them in. Like when I looked over to Jessica’s display during the Expo, and saw how awesome it looked, and even better after the Expo, and the mess at her station, evidence showing the students were enjoying science in the brief 10 minutes that she had with them. I just wish I got a picture of that mess. I also had moments during recruitment when we heard the students’ excitement about all of the other projects. It was cool to see that our cohort did well in peaking the interest of the students. Going forward, we should be all right, I hope. I’m feeling a little more prepared.

My pluses- I’m happy most got to see why I love my CT. I have learned so much when it comes to classroom management and relating to the students. I also enjoyed going to her coworkers classrooms, and seeing them being as equally engaging and passionate about science. All of these teachers are pretty inspirational, by representing their love of science and their care for the students through their teaching. I think one personal plus, that was brought to my attention by AC was that Alanna and I had engaged a classroom of high school students for the first 10 minutes of first period class, at 7:30 am. AC said all eyes were on us and they were participating…I would say that is a win!

My arrows-By the end of Recruitment, and even the Expo I was done. I was exhausted, frustrated, and just done. I don’t like getting in that mood, it is not like me at all, so it really bothers me that I got to that point. I wish I had pics or something to put on this blog too. I really don’t like when it is just words, so instead I will leave with some words of wisdom from our buddy Einstein…

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning.”

― Albert Einstein, Relativity: The Special and the General Theory