Thursday, August 30, 2012

Coffeechug Daily Education Links 08/31/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Lego Building Challenge Student #2: Duck

Here is the second creation in the BMS Lego Challenge.

This one is simply titled, "Duck", and is another impressive build from the 20 pieces available.


Great job Josh Turner.

Who will be next?

And what will they build?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Monarch Caterpillar Days 3 & 4

Well, our caterpillars(we have 3) are not real active yet. We don't seem to see them do much of anything, but when we wake up in the morning the leaves are starting to be consumed more and more. I believe that Aiden and Addy have hungrier caterpillars than mine. I need to take some pictures of theirs to document their growth as well.

Monday(Day 3) we noticed that they had indeed become slightly larger. It is noticeable.


This photo was taken in the morning. Some of leaf had been consumed, but not as much as I expected. Not that I have any prior knowledge to draw on, but I thought they would eat more, but in reality those holes are bigger than the body of the caterpillar so that is impressive.

Here are a few photos from Tuesday(Day 4). I could once again tell this little guy is growing every single day.



I think today was very clear that he has grown since Saturday. Hard to believe how quickly they grow.

Here a few facts about the monarch caterpillar/butterfly.

  • They only eat milkweed. They will starve to death before eating anything else. Nature is crazy.
  • When this guy gets bigger(over 1 inch) he will eat two leaves a day! Insane hunger pains this guy must have.
I will be back again tomorrow with updated photos and a few more facts. Thanks for checking things out.

Lego Building Challenge Student #1 - Duck on the Bank

How about setting the bar high with the first creation in the Lego Building Challenge that I started here at BMS? Dave Schmidt, a 7th grader took on the challenge first by being the first to sign up(you can read the challenge details here or click the tab on the menu above).

Here is his creation


Not too shabby! What I like about this the most is how he created a platform that shows the duck on land on the bank of a water source.

Student #2 has the pieces and I look forward to seeing the next creation. I will keep you posted. We have several students/teachers signed up so I will continue to update as the creations come in.

Until next post, keep it nerdy....

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Journey of a Monarch Butterfly: Day 1 and 2

Saturday morning, Aiden and I headed to the Putnam Museum for a cool presentation about Monarch Butterflies. We were able to see some amazing butterflies and learned quite a bit. I think I learned more than Aiden as he already knows a ton about butterflies.

I thought it would be cool to document the life cycle of our Monarch Butterflies. Aiden, Addy, and myself each took home a caterpillar. I have my own that I will taking care of along the way.

As of right now the caterpillar is quite small. We brought them home in these tiny little containers. Yes, those little black dots are poop. All these little buggers do is eat and poop. You can see the holes in the milkweed from their nonstop eating.


I transferred mine to a larger jar. Here you can see how small the little bugger is in the photo below. This image below was magnified. We are talking a centimeter or so in length.


Today, Sunday, August 26th, marks day 2 of our journey documentation. Notice how much more of the leaf has been consumed compared to the pictures above. Also, a ton more poop balls.


I then had to transfer in some fresh milkweed. We have plenty of milkweed leaves and we store them in the fridge to keep them fresh. Crazy to think that in about a week or so this guy will be eating two leaves a day! 


Tomorrow I document more. I tested out streaming video online of the caterpillar while away at school so classrooms can check it out. I will try to get that setup before I leave tomorrow morning. Hopefully this helps out some elementary classrooms. I know Aiden will get a kick out of this documentation.

I will be sharing some facts this week as well. Crazy stuff!

Lego Teacher Nametag Prototype

I decided to go all out and be super nerdy! What better way to do this than by creating my very own Lego nametag for school. Perhaps I can generate a Lego minifig trading frenzy like Legoland. Here is what I have crafted so far. I can tweak this a bit more and make it better, but this works. I just need to figure out a way to make it attach to my shirt. I need a pin type operation for the backside or some rare earth magnets. I have a bit of time left this Sunday to figure it out.

Lego Nametag Prototype for school

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Coffeechug Daily Education Links 08/26/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Lego Building Challenge Begins

This summer I taught Moving To Middle. It is a class to help out the upcoming 6th graders.

In my small group I gave one student each day a pack of Lego pieces to take home. Their job was to create something cool.

I have decided to keep this challenge going because it is a ton of fun.

Here are the rules

1. You can only use the pieces provided in the bag. There are 20 pieces total.


2. You do not have to use them all. Use a few or use them all.

3. You need to come up with a name for your build.

4. You have one day to complete. I need the creation and extra pieces and bag returned the next morning before/during TA so I can move it on to the next person. Even if you forget, please return the items.

You will sign up with the form posted below(or on the Lego Challenge tab above). This form will allow me to keep track of the order of who is next in line. I will contact you via your Gmail accounts. During TA you can come down and grab the bag of pieces.

I will take a picture of your creation and post them to this blog.

Be creative.

Have fun.

Sign up below.

This begins as soon as someone signs up. Let the games begin.

Here are links to the first two creations

FLL Senior Solutions - Intro Video For My Robodogs

I created this short little intro video for our Robodogs Lego Robotics team for the Senior Solutions season. The package came yesterday so I thought it would be fun to create a short little video to get them ready. We meet as a team with parents next week to figure our our schedule and groundrules and then we begin!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Language Arts Teaching Idea About Grammar

I was reading online last night and came across this article -

The author creates these made up stories of various punctuation marks. I thought it was pretty clever.

While reading the article, I thought of a possible teaching idea utilizing the framework of this article.

What if students created imaginary stories of various parts of speech, grammar, and punctuation?

As students use their creativity to hash out a story that combines the elements of the particular grammar item they would be constantly thinking about their writing skills, grammar, and effective parts of speech. Through revision and peer review the whole time students are always going to be engaged on some level with writing elements.

In middle school, who knows what type of stories they would come up.

That is all from the randomness of the bald guy!

Short But True

I saw this tweet out on Twitter last night and it is so true.

 "Thanks for that amazing worksheet!"
 - No Student Ever

What is it that will allow students to reach their potential and keep that love of learning that they have as a little kid?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Don't Let The Institution of Education Bring You Down

Keep pursuing your passions and ambitions.

Yes, there are times in education when teachers feel restricted due to mandates, scheduling, protocols, etc.(you can insert any acronym you like).

However, stay positive. Stay the course. Instead of complaining and just being a bystander to the issues take a new approach. Figure out how to make it work.

Don't give up on your ideas. All it takes is more brainstorming with people and your connections.

If you can't find the answer it is not because there isn't one, but rather that you are not asking the right questions.

Find a way to GET IT DONE!

P.S. When you do find a way there is no better feeling in the world of education and teaching.

Monday, August 20, 2012

First Lego League: Senior Solutions Is About To Begin!

I love Robotics.

I love Legos.

So, it is only natural that I coach First Lego League.

Today I saw some blog posts from a few teams that have received their boards.

I can only say that I am excited to see this board. From what little I have been able to see I am excited for this board and a new set of challenges.

Our team will meet up for the first time next week. This will be the first time the whole team will be together since our Lego camp this summer. We will be figuring out a practice schedule and getting underway.

I will be using my new education blog to keep people updated on our journey this year. My goal is to be more current and keep people in the loop.

Here is to a new season and another journey of learning.

Here is our wiki page -

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Coffeechug Daily Education Links 08/17/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Textbooks need to go and so does our current way of teaching

I just read this post that contained a letter from a former high school student about how textbooks are not the answer. It was weird reading this as I just had a conversation with a colleague about how we teach is the way we learn and how we were brought up. We talk about our frustrations with students acting unmotivated or not caring about what we are teaching. At what point do we as professionals look at our teaching methods and realize we are out of touch? It is time to realize that our students are wired differently than us. It is time to realize that they learn differently than us. Our fears in schools(blocking sites, cellphones, etc.) are the tools and daily life of our students(and our own). Funny how some of use are not ready to get on board with students using the cell phones, iPads, tablets, etc. to conduct their learning through their own means when during inservice and big faculty meetings you see those very some people on their phones checking Facebook, email, etc. It is time for us to catch up before we get too far behind(if we not too far behind already).

Here is a link to the letter from the former student

Weird how while composing this I came across this very video as I was sorting my emails that I send myself.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

This just blew my mind about collaboration

One of my favorite education blogs is

Today I watched this video posted on the site. It is a TED talk(my obsession that I cannot stay away from). This speech really brings up some great points about how and who we work with and how to improve our passions.

I need to absorb this some more and gather my thoughts. I keep thinking about the applications of her driving point to my school as we experiment with Project Based Learning this year. It is an essential piece to help PBL take off in the right direction.

Watch the video and I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

Don't Focus On Technology Because....

if you put all your marbles into the latest greatest technology tool and forget about the essential teaching one day your "latest greatest" technology will be old news like this electronic globe that speaks from 1996 where probably about 1/5 of the countries, cities, landlines don't exist anymore.

Hard to believe 1996 was 16 years ago. This was an amazing tool that kids loved at one point. When is the last time you saw a kid use a globe? It is no longer relevant to their lives when they can hit up Google Earth and see things in real time.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Lego Challenge Design #2: Eye-ffel Tower

Here is the Tuesday creation.

Design #2 - Eyeffil Tower

Moving To Middle Lego Challenge #1: Eye Slide

Before school starts my middle school offers a one week crash course for the soon to be 6th graders. This class allows them to get comfortable with the building, lockers, classes, etc. before 1000+ kids come rushing the halls in about a week.

In my small group I give one student each day a pack of Lego pieces to take home. Their job is to create something cool. My only rule is that they have to use all the pieces. I don't care how they use the pieces as that is the only rule.

These kids are still embarrassed to stand out so working with them to challenge themselves and use their brains. They will continue to get better and I plan on doing this during the school year with any student that is interested.

Here is Lego Design #1: Eye Slide

Design #1: Eye Slide Idea #2 coming soon. This is a great two minute idea for students to share their work to start class. I look forward to watching the models change and improve. As always, being a teacher I would love to have you share more great ideas that I can use with my students. I hope you enjoy this new project of mine.