May 06

Teachers ARE professionals #edBlogaDay

Wouldn’t it be nice if teachers were treated like the professionals we really are? I have a unique set of skills and experiences that I believe sets me apart from other educators. I have an excellent rapport with students (at least I like to think I do), I am consistently working to revise and improve lessons, and I seek out new learning all of the time. I spend hours inside and outside of my classroom working to be the best educator I can be. I spend my summers immersing myself in experiences to bring back to the classroom. I have participated in and facilitated experiences that no other teachers have completed in my district. (Seriously – I have had some of the most AMAZING experiences ever – like space camp, advanced space camp, standing under Atlantis, floating in microgravity with NASA, seeing shuttles and rockets launch, helping students interview a NASA scientists live on NASA TV, being a NOAA Teacher at Sea, Creeks to Coast, and facilitating an ISS contact for our students.)

And yet, my salary is exactly the same as any other teacher in my district who has the same number of years of experience and the same degree that I have. Why is that? Shouldn’t there be some value to the unique experiences I provide students? Shouldn’t teachers who go above and beyond be compensated? It would be absurd to give every employee with the same experience and education level the same salary in the corporate world, so why is it the norm in education?

So when will I know that my profession is respected? When teachers become a valuable asset to their schools worth fighting over, I’ll know. When teacher salaries are not dictated by a one-size-fits-all pay scale, I’ll know. When teacher opinions are valued and sought out, I’ll know. When politicians finally realize that teachers know more about educating our nation’s youth than they do, I’ll know.

Teachers are professionals, and it is time for us to be fully respected as such.

(And this would be pretty cool, too.)

May 05

#TeachingIs #edBlogaDay

IMG_3862Teaching is

Inquiry and discovery.

Excitement and frustration.

Collaboration and chatter.

Learning that is loud, and messy, and fun.

Impacting the future every day.

Developing relationships and leaving impressions.


Creating and connecting.

Problem solving and making.

An investment of time.

Memory making.

Important and vital.




May 04

Sketchnotes experiment: Day 2 #edBlogaDay

Student Sketchnote

Student Sketchnote

Today we really dived into our gas laws unit. I started today’s lesson by reviewing some basic shapes to help with drawings when using sketchnotes. Mike Rohde outlines these in TheSketchnote Handbook. Almost anything can be drawn in sketchnotes using a rectangle, circle, triangle, line, and dot. We also looked at techniques for drawing people, faces, and type. We created an appendix in our sketchbooks for these techniques. There were a couple of questions about why we were learning art techniques in a science class, but overall, students were really positive.

Before I started the actual lecture on sketchnotes, I reminded students not to worry about the details or information they were really familiar with from the material. Instead, the big idea of sketchnotes is to focus on the big ideas.

When I began going through the lecture section of class, I went rather quickly. Some students were still in the habit of trying to get every word written down. I had to remind them again that they didn’t need to write everything down but rather focus on the big ideas. I was a little worried that perhaps they weren’t getting it, but I should not have been concerned!

I had a chance to go around and check out the student drawings while they were working some practice problems. I was really impressed with what I saw. Most students were really engaged with the information, and their notes looked amazing. I also noticed that some students said they would need to back and finish their notes later because they had details to add. Other students were using the notes handout I passed out near the end of class to supplement the notes they had taken and add in information they had missed. I hope this is a good sign that students will continue to interact with their notes long after class is over.

See the gallery below for all of the awesome student sketchnotes and check out the entire project gallery on Flickr.


May 03

Chasing balance: my biggest concern about teaching #edBlogaDay

balanceI have a weakness. It is finding balance in my life. There are 14 school days left in the year, and I am using this to justify the long days at school, the weekends filled with work, and hours spent in front of my laptop. However, there is always an excuse for me; the time of year rarely matters.

But you know what? I shouldn’t think this is okay. Our profession should not place demands  on us that require almost as many hours working outside the classroom as we spend inside the classroom. Now, I know not all teachers spend hour upon hour a week working, but I think most, if not all, of the great ones do. Why? Because we care about our students, our profession, and the world.

In the process of caring so much, we forget about someone very important in our classroom.


We neglect balance in our lives and justify it because we are working with kids and impacting the future. I am the worst at this. I generally start a year with some semblance of balance, but as the year progresses, I become more and more unbalanced. By the time I reach this point of the year, my entire life is school, and I have lost all sense of balance.

This summer, my goal will be to find balance and to establish a plan to maintain balance throughout the school year. I need to find balance between what happens inside of school and what I need to do outside (like take care of me, my husband, my dog, my cats, my house, etc.) Will it be easy? No. Do I always manage my time well? No. Is there a huge room for improvement? Absolutely.

How do you find balance?

Note: I wrote about a similar topic a month ago, so obviously this is a huge weakness for me! Just Breathe


May 02

Spring is love #edBlogaDay

I grew up in Florida. People will often joke that Florida doesn’t have seasons. Of course Florida has seasons; they just aren’t traditional: hurricane season, tourist season, strawberry season, and citrus season are just a few. Growing up in Florida, I always wondered what the big deal is about spring.

When I moved to Georgia almost ten years ago, I finally discovered spring.


Spring is bliss.

Spring is incandescent.

Spring is buds and flowers and pollen.

Spring is green, verdant and lush.

Spring is hope bursting forth.

Spring is petals floating on the wind.

Spring is bird song greeting the morning.

Spring is bees buzzing.

Spring is world made new.

Spring is the bluest of skies.

Spring is life blossoming.

Spring is love.

May 01

Sketchnotes experiment: Day 1 #edBlogaDay

IMG_6696If you have been following the blog the past month, you know that I have been brainstorming a way to bring sketchnotes/doodling/art journaling to my chemistry classroom. This is a concept I would really like to incorporate next year, so I am piloting it with one of my classes for our last unit of the year.

A week ago, I passed out simple bound books to my students (our “sketchbooks”) and asked them to decorate the covers by Thursday (yesterday). When students got to class yesterday, I asked them to start by walking around the room and looking at each others decorated covers.

I spent the next part of class explaining my big idea for sketchnotes. There is actually a lot of great research supporting the use of doodling in the classroom (like this article from LiveScience that explains Doodling May Draw Students into Science). Next, we watched a short video from Mike Rohde explaining the Sketchnote process. After that, I had a short discussion with students to hear their initial thoughts. The biggest concern students had was making sure they had all of the details of the notes. Since Sketchnoting focuses on the big ideas, they were worried they would miss a detail that would be important for an assessment. Except for that, students seemed pretty open to the idea. I had already anticipated that this would be a concern, so I was happy to tell them that they would receive a packet of completed notes for the unit. (We usually do cloze style notes.)

After watching a longer video of the Sketchnoting process in action, students were ready to try it themselves. They were starting to realize that the visual elements did not require a lot of drawing skill. It is more about doodles and lettering. For our first challenge, I displayed the two standards we will be covering this unit.

  • 13b. calculate temperature, pressure and volume of gases using Charles’ Law, Boyle’s Law, and Gay-Lussac’s Law
  • 13e – use concepts of the mole and Avogadro’s number to calculate the molar volume of gases (GPS)

I then asked students to interpret the standards using sketchnotes based on their prior knowledge and what they thought the standard meant. It was a great way to preview the content of the unit and for students to uncover things they already know.

In the slideshow, you can see some of the decorated covers and initial sketchnotes from students. I think they look amazing for just beginning. I am looking forward to seeing how this plays out. Many students were really excited to have the chance to draw and doodle and were asking if the process could be applied to other classes. Students even suggested I should do this with my students next year!

I am also participating with my students. I think it’s a good idea to model something new (or even well known). I’ve found that students are much more likely to buy in to your crazy ideas if you do it along with them. It shows students that you think it is important enough to do, too. I am so excited to see where this journey takes us, and I hope you’ll continue to follow along!



Apr 30

Celebrating #AprilBlogADay Success! Looking forward to #edBlogaDay

edblogadayWhen I stumbled on the #AprilBlogADay challenge 30 days ago, I thought it sounded like an awesome idea. I knew I needed motivation to become more consistently. I decided to sign up and hope I could keep with it. The first few days were the first couple of days were in the run up to spring break, and then spring break arrived. The first 12 days of the month were relatively easy to keep up.

As the month continued, there were definitely a few times when finding time to post was a challenge. However, I wanted to stick with it, and I am so glad I did. I have been able to reflect on my practices, celebrate the amazing things my students are doing, cultivate exciting new ideas, and make connection outside of my classroom.

Thirty days later, I am happy to celebrate successfully blogging every day in April!

I am so glad that I joined #AprilBlogADay. It was worth every minute spent brainstorming and composing posts. I am now looking forward to the continuation of the project with #edBlogaDay. My goal is to read, comment, and share (via Twitter) a different blog each day during the month of May. I will also attempt to continue blogging daily. This part will be a bit of a challenge as the school year is winding down. It’s definitely going to get a bit crazy the last 15 school days and with our Maker Fest on May 16th, but I am sure I will have many amazing stories to share from the last few days of school.

So, once again I invite you  to join us for #edBlogADay in May. You will learn so much, and it will be worth every moment you have to spend on it (even if you can’t make every day). I hope to see you next month in #edBlogaDay!

#edBlogaDay Sign Up

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