Teaching the Scientific Method

Every middle school science teacher I know starts every school year with the scientific method. We learn the steps, we analyze how they apply in various situations, and we move on. Even if we will be using CER (Claim, Evidence, Reasoning) in lab reports, we are still teaching the scientific method at the beginning ofContinue reading “Teaching the Scientific Method”

Free Google Classroom Banner for Back To School!

Target has Back To School sales. I have started my pile of things to bring to school – flair pens, some new book ends, and fancy post its. Maybe you’re one of the schools that opened last week, or maybe, like me, you still have a few weeks left. Maybe you’re like me and haveContinue reading “Free Google Classroom Banner for Back To School!”

12 Strategies for Early Finishers

By default, I used to tell early finishers to review their work. Some teachers ask early finishers to help the slower students keep up. Sometimes early finishers get asked to do busy work around the classroom – organize the book shelf or wash the glassware. But now I use enrichment activities for my middle schoolContinue reading “12 Strategies for Early Finishers”

8 Getting to Know You Games that aren’t too cringy

Those first few days of middle school are awkward. New faces, new hormones, new anxieties. Middle schoolers grow up at different rates, and some reach social maturity a little earlier, making that awkwardness even more obvious. Your whole year will run more smoothly if your students break some ice right now. But kids find gettingContinue reading “8 Getting to Know You Games that aren’t too cringy”

A Week of Sharks in Middle School!

Jaws got us excited about sharks, but the Discovery Channel got us curious. Sharks are terrifying and majestic at the same time making them ideal for engaging middle schoolers. When I see something that middle schoolers find interesting, I pounce on it. Here’s the new unit I designed this year for A Week of Sharks!Continue reading “A Week of Sharks in Middle School!”

Tips for a Great Science Demo Lesson

I was interviewed in my current district over the summer vacation and they asked me to do a demo lesson. There were no students, just a bunch of administrators with clipboards. Where do you even begin to prepare for such a situation? Here are some tips for a great science demo lesson given the ridiculousContinue reading “Tips for a Great Science Demo Lesson”

Managing Burnout

This is not my first rodeo. This was my 33rd year in the classroom. And I can assure you that this was the hardest year of my career. Our last day of school was a last week. I literally sat on the couch for 2 solid days. I took naps and snacked. That’s all IContinue reading “Managing Burnout”

Genius Hour in Middle School

What is Genius Hour? Genius Hour is sometimes called Passion Projects and is an opportunity for student directed learning based on inquiry. Students can explore their own unique interests in a loosely structured classroom environment. They choose what they want to study and how they want to study it. They also choose what kind ofContinue reading “Genius Hour in Middle School”

Where are the teachers going?

I just signed my contract for next year. But a bunch of teachers did not. What’s happening? Some staff turnover is normal, of course. Education Week says that a “normal” number of teachers leaving the profession is about 8% per year. This year is different. This year, the number is at least double and even triple inContinue reading “Where are the teachers going?”

The Science of Summer Sports

“But when will we have to know this?” Every middle school teacher has heard this lament. It’s hard to make Newton’s Laws or simple machines exciting, and it’s hard for a 7th or 8th grade student to engage with heavy dry material. But when you can make the science engaging or relevant, kids will digContinue reading “The Science of Summer Sports”