Sunday, May 29, 2011

What I Am Doing This Summer

With school finally over I have time to catch up on some things. Here are some things I plan to do this summer:

1. Design new lessons for my teachers pay teachers store. I have many ideas but usually don't have the time.

2. Read the books I received for Christmas. Yes, I haven't quite finished these yet! I really want to read The Mists of Avalon. It is an older book that I never had the chance to read.

3. Go see my grandma and grandpa in Nebraska.  I haven't seen them in many years.  They are in their 80's now.  I feel like I need to go to tornado alley to see them!

4.  Clean out my bedroom closet.  Well it's just a mess by my standards.  I need to take everything out and start over.

5.  Above all else, spend some quality time with my two kids. We will probably go to grandma's house in New Mexico or something fun.

Join this linky party and tell us what you will be doing!  Link at:
Littlest Learners

Thursday, May 26, 2011

What I Have Learned From Teaching

1.  Do not yell!  Have you ever seen yourself yelling?  Not a pretty picture.  That is what the kids see and want to see again!

2.  Be very consistant.  This is probably the most important.

3.  Smile a lot. Kids love teachers that do this.

4.  Don't take yourself too serious.  I used to post  a paper at the back of my class that said remember rule #7.  The kids would ask me what rule #7 was all year.  It was actually just to remind me not to take myself too serious.

5.  Be able to laugh at yourself.  You are much less intimidating when you can do this.

6.  Be nice to your support staff.  They will repay this kindness!

7.  Don't say anything that you don't want everyone to know.  Schools are like small towns.

8.  Plan amazing lessons.  My students told me my rover lesson below was amazing.  Music to my ears!

9.  Not every student learns in the same way or on the same day.  Accommodate, modify and have high expectations while you do.

10.  Enjoy what you do or get a different job.  Anyone who works with kids should love what they do and still be excited about what they teach.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rovers, Rovers Everywhere!

Well the rover project has come to a close today.  There are so many rovers my entire classroom was completely full.  This was probably the best end of the year project I have ever done with a class.  The rovers were so varied and creative from all of my students  There should be many future engineers, and scientists coming from this generation.

My lesson culminated with building a rover, but first my students had to find out about Mars and pick a mission.  They created a mission patch for their group and named their rover.  They then went about creating their own Mars Rover.  The had to stick to a $2,000,000.00 budget during the project.  That meant that they could not purchase items from me that would exceed that amount.  They could buy things like metallic paper, foil, NASA stickers etc. and my prices were greatly inflated!  This meant that they had to use mostly recyclable items to build their rover.  They used boxes, paper towel tubes, soda cans, plastic juice containers etc.  I think they did an amazing job.  We had a lot of fun the last few days!

If you are interested in this lesson to build rovers in your classroom I have posted it in my store at Teachers Pay Teachers.  Here is the link:
Mars Rovers Project

Saturday, May 21, 2011


My class began building their Mars Rovers last week.  As you can see they are pretty amazing.  Whenever I give this type of "create whatever you want" assignment, I am always amazed with what students can come up with.  I didn't even think they would bring in materials.  I give them some of their decorations, but the majority of the project comes from recycled materials they would normally get rid of at home.  The day we started building, I was driving to work and saw all these students with boxes walking to school.  I thought, "Oh my goodness, this is all coming into my classroom!"  I'll have to post some pictures of my mess of a classroom in a later post! 

The rover above was created by three boys in my first hour.  They need to paint their treads this weekend but other than that it is a fine example of what 7th graders are capable of when allowed to have some free will!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Motivation During the Last Weeks of School

I find the last weeks of school to be daunting. Grades are in, state testing is done, and all the kids know it.  Last year proved to be one of the worst years on record for me as far as enjoyable final days of school go.  I am sure it was my fault in some ways.  Maybe I didn't have enough fun stuff for the last few weeks, or maybe I was tired myself.  In any case, by the end there were fights and foul language and things flying!  I almost put in for Ms. Viola Swamp to come sub my class! Mrs. Collingwood was going to be missing!

This year I vowed it would be different.  I have a project I am running called the Mars Rover Project.  I am actually writing it as I go.  It will probably end up on teachers pay teachers eventually.  My students are building a model of a Mars rover.  They have to have a mission for their rover and then build it to fit the mission.  The must stick to a certain budget.  They have certain items they can "buy" from me but must use recyclable items for the majority of their rover.  I had two students tell me that they should become engineers during this project.  The rest are having a great time and I haven't seen anything "flying" this year.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Hunger Games Literature Study

I have been working on a Hunger Games lit study for awhile.  My main motivation was the fact that I will be teaching 7th grade reading next year along with 6th and 7th grade science.  This literature study has activities for every chapter of the book.  There are basic lessons in setting, mood, rising action, climax, and resolution, as well as some fun stuff.  There is a found poem for Haymitch, a comic strip for Peeta, and even a haiku for Rue!  I even added a web based lesson that covers edible and medicinal plants (gotta put in some science!)  There is also a section about the ethics of reality tv.  I think Suzanne Collins was trying to get a message across about what is moral in that realm!

I had the 6th grade teachers at my school look it over and the only thing they really wanted in addition to a good answer key was a test that was set up like our state test in reading.  Let me tell you the answer key took long enough!  I did eventually come up with a test that covers the figurative language, setting, etc. and is in the state testing format.  The whole thing is 67 pages long and can be found if you are interested at:

Monday, May 2, 2011

The “WOW” Factor of Nature by Amy Brown

This past week in my biology class was spent on a unit on classification and taxonomy.  This is one of my favorite topics to teach because the diversity of life on Earth is so incredible and amazing.  Just now, I am sitting at my kitchen table looking out over our large back yard.  The evidence of adaptation to our current environment astounds me.  I am making a list to share with my students on Monday:
1.   A hummingbird is at my feeder.  (Yes, in the deep south, we already have hummingbirds back from the winter.)  Its beak is perfectly adapted to extract the nectar from any flower.
2.   The bees are very active this morning, buzzing in and out of every flower in sight.  Flowering plants take advantage of the bee, and cover its body with pollen every time it lands on a flower.  What a perfect way to deliver a sperm cell to an egg cell of a flower a block away.
3.   The birds are singing like crazy this morning!  What a perfect way to find a mate and establish behavioral barriers between the species.
4.   I can see beetles who are perfectly camouflaged to blend in with their surroundings.
5.  The fruiting bodies of mushrooms are poking up from the ground to take advantage of the deluge of rain we have had this week.  Water will spread their spores to great distances.
6.  A great blue heron is wading at the edge of our shallow pond.  Its body is perfectly adapted for wading and grabbing up the small fishes it sees.

It is an amazing time of the year to be a science teacher.  Nature is packed full of examples that we can share with our students.  I certainly hope that my students come away from this unit with the same "awe" as I have when considering how natural selection has brought us to this point in Earth's history.  Every organism in our sight is adapted to this particular environment.  All we have to do is to look carefully at our surroundings and we will see a multitude of examples of adaptation.

My challenge to you is this:  When Spring hits your particular area of this beautiful earth, take a class period and go outside with your students.  Give them a magnifying glass.  Have them make a list of the living organisms they see, and have them describe how they are adapted to the environment.  Yes, some of them will be "off task" and some of them will misbehave, but some of them will get hooked on nature for life!   I teach high school students, and I am stunned each year at how few of them have ever planted a seed, taken a walk through the woods, hung a bird feeder at their home, thrown "helicopter" seeds into the air and watched them spin, watched a spider spin a web, the list could go on and on!

These children will be responsible for making decisions about our planet in just a short number of years. We better get them excited about nature.  We better make sure they understand how their actions impact our planet. Our students are the future caretakers of this beautiful planet and there is not an "app" for that.  I hope that when they are adults we have taught them enough about science and nature that they can make informed decisions about how to take care of it.

I hope that you will visit my blog and become a follower.  My blog is called "Science Stuff" and can be reached here:

My blog has links to quite a few FREE products that can be fun activities for both middle and high school science students.  I hope to see you there!

Amy Brown is the author of the blog called “Science Stuff”.  Amy has 27 years of teaching experience in high school biology, chemistry, and AP biology.  Her blog is about ways to make your class more engaging and exciting for the students.  You can find her blog at:
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Design by Custom Blog Designs