Elements 4D App

I recently found out about a new FREE app that I think all middle school teachers and chemistry teachers would love- the Elements 4D app by Daqri. In addition to the free app, the site also provides free lesson plans for teachers of elementary students, middle school students, and high school students.  It is an augmented reality app in which students discover the properties of various elements (available via interactive blocks that are printed and assembled into cubes by the teacher prior to the activity - also free to download from their site.)  CLICK HERE to be taken directly to the site.  
The video clip below shows 2 of the 6 blocks that are provided (36 different elements in all).  By utilizing the app, the elements are brought to life.  Students are able to see what the element looks like in its natural form - it's state of matter is shown inside the block as the element "comes to life."  Students can also click on the element name to discover more factual information about the element.  If two elements are able to combine to form a compound, the compound that is created will also "come to life" when the two element blocks are touching.  Students see the chemical equation that is produced when the two elements combine to form a compound.  If they do not form a compound, nothing will happen.  

The Assessment-Grading App That Changed My Classroom

For years, I have been using data to drive my instruction.  Tests (summative assessments) were entered into a program (Eduphoria) that aggregated the data for me and I used it religiously to make adjustments in my teaching and lesson planning.  This is how I discovered the concepts that my students were understanding, not understanding, and what teaching strategies and methods were most effective.  If a particular lab or activity really seemed to drive the point across and the test data supported it, then I definitely made note of that and was sure to continue it in the following years (with minor tweaks, of course!).  But most of the time, I was ready to move onto the next unit and the data I collected was only used for developing my lessons for the following year.  I was missing out on the data that was probably most important in the moment - the quizzes.

Formative assessments are really where you have the chance to catch misconceptions and make interventions before it's too late.  But for some reason, until last year, I never put as much emphasis or attention on my quiz data.  If you aren't looking at assessment data, you are missing a HUGE component of what can make a difference in the success of your students and you as an educator.  Data should drive the instructional decisions you make.  We don't have the luxury of tons of extra time, so why waste your precious minutes on assumptions about what you think your students are struggling with and what they have mastered.  

3 Smart Ways to Improve Parent-Teacher and Student-Teacher Communication This School Year

As secondary educators, our list of responsibilities seems to grow exponentially every year.  More paperwork, more tasks, more meetings...

Why do we view communication as such a daunting task?  I believe it has a lot to do with the amount of time it can take.  On several occasions, I've contacted a parent at the beginning of my conference period, only to have the BELL end the conversation!  There went my entire conference period and I got none of the work completed that I really needed to.  UGH!  But what if there were quick and simple tools at our fingertips that made communication quick and simple?  Well, guess what?!?! Those tools exist!  Now you just have the difficult task of choosing which one is right for you.  :)

I present you with Celly, Class Messenger, and Parent Contact Cards...

Task Card Storage & Organizational System (plus a FREEBIE)

The days of organizing my task cards in these little plastic file folders from the Target Dollar Spot (or was it Dollar Tree?...I can't remember) are over!  Bottom line... they cost a dollar and I'm so glad I didn't spend much more than that.  Whew! 

They got so bulky and I was constantly having to go through them all to find the cards I was looking for.

Now they are so organized!  I love the rainbow colors that coordinate with everything in my classroom and for the first time, I can quickly glance at the boxes and find the set of cards I am looking for...heaven for this organizational freak!

For those of you who own my task cards, I have decided to share the Task Card Storage box labels with you as a FREEBIE!  And each time I add a task card set to my TpT store, I'll update the signs so that you will have everything you need to complete the job.

Items you will need:

Directions for assembling your task card storage & organizational system box:
1.) Print out the FREEBIE in my TpT store on card stock and laminate (optional).
2.) Cut out and place signs inside of each box, using double-sided tape or hot glue to attach to plastic.
3.) DONE!