When a Colleague is Absent….

There are 3 kinds of coworkers……

  1. The ones who largely ignore it when you are absent. “Oh, you were sick?”
  2. The ones who resent your absence. They are actively rude to your sub. “I don’t know what she wants you to do with her classes. You should call her.” They refuse to help your students. “You’ll have to wait until she’s back.” They complain about your absence to administration or to the association or both. “You should really monitor so-and-so’s attendance more closely.” These people are evil. If you have one of these people in your life, avoid them.
  3. The ones who circle the wagons, reassure you by text that everything’s fine, make copies for your sub, and give your students extra help during their lunch periods. These people are angels on Earth. If you have even one of them, buy them coffee this morning.

Top 11 Ways to Build Student Engagement in Weather


How to build engagement in your weather unit:

  1. Build your own weather tools. It’s easy to build an anemometer, barometer, wind vane, and rain gauge. Find the directions to build these weather tools here.
  2. Have students collect their own weather data. Use your bulletin board space to create a place where students can record temperature, humidity, precipitation, cloud cover, and so on every day during the unit.
  3. Photograph weather events to create a bulletin board. If your students have cell phones or access to cell phones, challenge them to take a picture of each type of cloud before the unit is over. Have a photo contest to see who can represent the most kinds of weather in a collage.
  4. Learn how scientists record weather. Historical weather data is abundant and easily downloaded. Use weather data to teach graphing skills and make this a cross curricular project.
  5. Learn about dramatic weather. Hurricanes, hailstorms, blizzards and tornadoes are fascinating. Play videos of thunderbolts and have students research how often a person is struck by lightning in your state.
  6. Have students research weather phenomena. Most students will know how rainbows are formed, but do they know about sun dogs or lenticular clouds or dust devils? Ask students to find an image and create a slide show. Use this opportunity to teach citation skills and check two things off your list!
  7. Teach students how to read a weather map. Once students learn what an air mass is and how fronts are represented on maps, they’ll be able to make their own forecasts.
  8. Competition is good for the soul. Have students enter their weather predictions for the next day and keep track of how often they are correct on a class thermometer.
  9. As a culminating project, have students create their own weather report using actual data. Have them create slide shows or videos to play while they are reading their forecast.
  10. Make the project even more engaging by filming the weather reports using green screen technology. WeVideo.com is one inexpensive digital editing tool students can easily learn to use. There’s even a free version.
  11. Try this free digital escape activity. Students practice and review weather vocabulary to find clues and solve puzzles.

Many of these ideas are taken from my weather bundle which includes worksheets and hands on activities about weather graphs, maps, and tools.

Please let me know you’re here and leave me a comment to say hi!


Late days & Getting Dinner Done

I worked late today.

There was an assembly today and students came during my lunch for extra help so I wound up not having any prep time today. I had a ton of papers to grade and hadn’t done any planning or setting up for tomorrow yet. The sun was setting when I left work – about 3 hours after everybody else.

I find that I have to do that at least once a month and sometimes as often as once a week, just to stay on top of it all. The paper landslide sometimes overtakes me and I have to put in a few extra hours. I’m adamantly opposed to bringing work home – after this many years, I shouldn’t “have to,” although I sometimes break that rule, too.

But then I walk in to a hungry house and nothing is cooked.

Voila – the Instant Pot!

If you don’t have one, please go get one. I can whip up chicken and dumplings from frozen chicken in about 20 minutes. Even something as complicated as ribs takes less than an hour. And the bolognese I made today – out of this world. I’m happy to share recipes if you want – LMK!

Floating – a density experiment

Remember, a dead fish can float downstream, but it takes a live one to swim upstream.

W.C. Fields

Why do some things float and some things sink?

The simplest answer is density. Things that are more dense than water will sink and things that are less dense will float.

It’s phenomenal! Aspartame found in diet soda is less dense than sugar found in regular soda. The density of diet soda is around 0.97 g/mL and the density of full sugar soda is around 1.02 g/mL. If you have a bucket of water, floating a can of diet soda in the same water that regular soda sinks is a great phenomenon to introduce density.

There isn’t a student alive who doesn’t love the density column experiment. You find 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 liquids of different densities and pour them into a graduated cylinder, one at a time, densest liquid first. If you’re smart, you’ll be sure the liquids have different colors to make the effect more dramatic.

I’ve been successful using these liquids:

  • pancake syrup (density = 1.37 g/mL)
  • antifreeze (density = 1.11 g/mL)
  • salt water (density = 1.03 g/mL, add food coloring for more fun)
  • canola oil (density = 0.92 g/mL)
  • isopropyl alcohol (density = 0.786 g/mL)

I suppose you could substitute tap water for the salt water, but that’s less fun. The cool thing about this is that the densities of the layers are different enough that they won’t mix. Of course, each layer is a different color which is even cooler.

Did you know that diet soda floats annd regular soda doesn't? It's all because of density which you can explore by making this density column.

A more challenging density column includes liquids that will mix next to each other such as isopropyl and water. A little food dye in one or both of the layers will show them mixing at the surface.

I wrote a density workbook for a fifth grade class including the density column lab and lots of worksheets to practice D=M/V. I think it could be used for older students also.

Of course, in order to measure density, students have to first know how to measure mass and volume. I included a review of mass and volume in the packet, but there are other resources to teach mass and volume that you should check out.

Be sure to let me know you’re here by leaving a comment and subscribing below!

Stay Home!

Dear Parents,

Please don’t send your children to school sick.

We know that you don’t want them to miss any school. We know it’s hard to find child care for sick children.

And that’s why we want you to keep them home. Please.

If they have a fever that you’re hiding with Tylenol “just so they can make it through the day,” then they need to stay home. If they come to school and ask to see the nurse before 8 am, they should have stayed home.

If you send your sick kid to school, 23 other students in his class are now going to catch his cold. And so will I.

So for the next 3 weeks, I’ll be dealing with my own cold (don’t get me started on how hard it is to make meaningful sub plans) and dealing with 23 students who should be staying home but aren’t, all in various stages of a cold. All with a cold of my own.

In some circles, saying this is forbidden. Somehow, teachers aren’t supposed to think about their own health and welfare, just the educational needs of their students and the day care needs of their students’ parents.

But hear this. Teacher welfare IS important to your children’s educational needs. If I’m out sick for 2 days, that’s a lot of busy work your child is doing instead of actually learning something. That’s 2 days less of extra help learning to read or do long division or balance chemical equations.

I’d love to know your thoughts.

Mass and Volume hands on activities

Into the Massive Void

Whatever you are, be a good one.

— Abraham Lincoln

It’s President’s Day.

And a 3 day weekend!

Most of you are probably relaxing or getting errands done for the week ahead. I spent the morning writing a seriously fantastic mass and volume unit for my resource room 8th graders.

I’ll start the unit with an explanation of the difference between mass and weight. I created a worksheet that explains how to calculate your weight on other planets which is kind of fun.

One of the trickiest things to teach in mass is measuring mass of different things. It’s easy to find the mass of a solid object but much harder to find the mass of a liquid or powder so I wrote labs to practice these skills.

Volume can be calculated if the object is a regular rectangular prism or other geometric figure, so I threw in a page of practicing length x width x height. And measuring volume of liquids is pretty easy for students to learn, but it’s much harder to use the displacement method to measure the volume of irregular solids. I included a worksheet for each of those skills. Finally, I wrote a lab measuring volume of liquids, regular solids, and irregular solids.

veteran science teacher writes her first blog about measuring mass and volume

After the mass and volume unit, we’ll learn about density. I’d love it if you’d check out my mass and volume unit here and give me some feedback.

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

Introducing Myself

Who am I and what am I doing here?

Hi and welcome to my blog!

My name is Jayzee I have been teaching science for more than 30 years. I spent a few years teaching 6th grade earth science, a few years teaching 10th grade biology, another few years teaching 11th grade chemistry, a dozen or so years teaching 7th grade life science and 8th grade physical/chemical science, and a few years teaching 12th grade electives including anatomy and physiology, weather, astronomy, and earth science. Most of this was in 1 district although I have moved once or twice to climb the salary ladder.  

What am I doing here?

  • Because teaching is very isolating if you let it be. There are days when talking to nothing but teenagers changes the way you think. When I start to think that posting videos on TikTok is a great idea or that the new SnapChat filter is cool, I know it’s time to reach out to my amazing coworkers for some adult time.
  • Every good idea, in teaching and otherwise, is better when it’s shared. If I have a great idea for the classroom and I use it with my 90 students, the world is a better place for those 90 students. But if I share it with 10 other teachers? Well, you can do the math.

I absolutely love what I do, and I wouldn’t quit even if I won the lottery.

This has been my mantra for the 30+ years I’ve been in the classroom, and I hope it remains my mantra until I retire.

And it’s true. I love engaging the kids, crafting new lessons, watching the lightbulbs brighten.

So please let me know I’m not just writing thing into a void! (Although, to be honest, talking to oneself is still better than not talking.) I’d love a comment or an email at JustAddH2OTeacher@gmail.com.