Monthly Archives: March 2011

High Stakes

This week I proctored the Ohio Graduation Test to fifteen of my favorite little people ever (forgive me for the little bit of sarcasm that still creeps in now and then!) and I got to see some of them AGAIN at the end of the day for a grand total of 5 out of 7.5 working hours.  It…made me want to burn my teaching license at times.  Proctoring may not seem like a big deal, especially because I had a pretty good group of kids behavior-wise, and all I really had to do was read the same stilted directions five times, distribute water and mints, and provide tissues.  But there it is still something emotionally and mentally demanding about being “on” almost the entire day.  This semester I have lunch duty 5th, and two of my girls like to come in to my room during their 7th period lunch, so I literally had one hour a day with no children.  By the time 8/9 rolled around, I was exhausted and my kids were wound up like nothing else, testers and non-testers alike.  At one point I realized that they weren’t in the mood to learn or work, so we did some class-bonding activities like 2 Lies and 1 Truth and Little Known Facts, just because I had to remind myself why, oh why, I was there in the first place.

But our guidance counselor did say something that brightened my view of the whole ordeal.  She told me that my easygoing attitude (ha!) helped the kids relax, which is helpful since I think test anxiety is a bigger issue for our kids than in higher-performing districts.  And that just helped me keep in mind that at the end of the day, I am here to show these kids that I’m on their side and want them to succeed.

BioRap DNA

I graduated from Ohio State’s molecular genetics program in 2009 and the College of Education in 2010, so I was thrilled to see that my undergraduate department had put together a fairly decent rap about protein synthesis.  Being the thoroughly ridiculous teacher that I am, I decided that my kids were going to learn and perform it.  My morning class didn’t really get into it, but my afternoon kids did great.  I purposely chose three strong personalities to do the chorus, and they brought a lot of necessary energy to the whole thing.  (Another subtlety of classroom management that they don’t teach you in college!)

I wrote out the lyrics on index cards divided approximately into stanzas or verses.  Then I picked out key vocabulary words and wrote those on Post-it notes.  I gave each kid a post-it, and after playing the original rap for them, instructed them to find their classmates who had vocabulary words from the same verse.  This became their performance group.  I ended up with 6 groups, and since there were 6 verses total plus the chorus, I decided to do the last verse myself.  Maybe I’m giving myself too much credit, but I think that willingness to participate with them was one of the intangibles that made the lesson work.  I believe that students are supposed to do their own learning work, of course, but I also think that the teacher has to be willing to do anything she asks of her students.  Plus I just thought this was a lot of fun!

The original:

>Note to Self

>I’ve been writing several blog posts in my head, but the last three weeks have been a time when tons of stuff has happened but not much has gotten done.  Since my last post, I have (in no particular order)…

  • survived my first bout with high-stakes testing
  • recorded and posted my kids rapping on Youtube
  • received free supplies from generous people via
  • participated in my first special ed Evaluation Team Report for a student
  • reported an instance of physical abuse of a student
  • taken TeacherInsight

>Genetics with a Smile

>I’ve used the Genetics with a Smile lesson in every class I’ve taught since my internship.  In middle school, we used it to review the differences between sexual and asexual reproduction, and last semester I used it to teach dominant and recessive traits and as a general illustration of genetics.  This semester I tied it into our lesson on meiosis (Mitosis & Meiosis: Doing it on the Table) by having the students first write the diploid genotype of their parental smiley, then segregate the chromosomes into gametes, and finally combine gametes with a partner to form a zygote, whose genes they translated into an illustrated phenotype.  The kids love to color for a change, and I usually post the smileys around the room as a visual cue.

The version of the lesson I use is from Columbus City Schools, modified from T. Trimpe’s lesson from Science Spot.  During my overachieving intern days, I actually made 25 sets of 11 diploid paper chromosomes for use with this activity, and I am sooooooooooooo glad I kept them because I’ve used them multiple times.  (This is probably why teachers are such packrats, because everything is either expensive to buy, time-consuming to make, or both!)

Awkward Family Photo