Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Roller Coasters, Visitors, and Snakes!

Another eventful week!!

Most of the week was spent on completing our Roller Coaster project.  This project had no real reason except to be fun at the end of the year.  About a month ago I told my students to start collecting toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls, and cardboard boxes (cereal, cracker, etc).  Then they were split into groups of their choosing and all I told them was that they needed to build me a really creative roller coaster where the marble could start at one end and make it to the other end without any human help.  All they could use was cardboard and tape (that they had to bring).  Their creativity was awesome!  Some coasters had flips, turns, jumps, tunnels, and more!  It was just a fun and creative activity for the end of the year.

We also were fortunate enough to have a group of teachers from Willis ISD come and observe us this week!  They wanted to check out our students, class, and projects.  It is always a blast getting to share what we do with others!

Finally, I love current events.  On Monday evening last week, the largest snake ever caught in Florida was caught.  It was 18 feet and 8 inches!  So of course the next day in class the students and I measured out how long it was, we talked about invasive species, and I found this awesome video on PBS.com that we watched in class.  Did I lose a day of class?  Yes.  But man the conversations were awesome and it was great getting to discuss "history" as it was happening!

Here's to another great week!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

#youmatter and bridges! May 1-10, 2013

The last two weeks have been a blast.

First of all we've been working on our latest project; Bridge building!  I wanted a fun project that still involved some math so here's what we did...

The first things students did was watch two videos from Discovery Education about how bridges are built in the real world and some neat examples of bridges across the globe.

Students then formed their own groups and had to come up with a construction company name, logo, and slogan.  They also had to complete three blueprints of the bridge they were planning on building.

After submitting their blueprints, and getting them approved, students had a budget of $1.5 million dollars to create their ultimate bride.  They were only allowed to use Popsicle sticks and Elmer's glue.
  - each posicle stick cost $5,000
  - each bottle of glue cost $50,000
  - each color of paint was $3,000
  - each marker used to color was $1,000

Students had to stay within budget and create a bridge that they thought could hold the most weight.  The bridge also had to be at least 16 inches long and 4 inches wide.

After creating their bridge students also had to create presentations.  They were going to act like a really company and submit a "pitch" to me to convince me to buy their bridge.  Their presentation had to have their slogan, logo, company name, company history, bridge costs, an estimate of how much weight they think it will hold, and pictures of work along the way.  The kids did awesome!

After everything was completed (they had a little under 2 weeks) they presented their presentations to me via Google Hangout (because I had to be at home that day).  It was so cool to see my students do their entire presentation via Google Hangout!

When I came back that next Monday we broke bridges!  We piled weight on top of the middle of the bridge until the bridge broke.  The highest holding bridge lasted to over 250 pounds!!

The other activity we did for a day was a #youmatter activity.  If you're on Twitter you may have seen the hashtag #youmatter that was created by Angela Maiers (@AngelaMaiers)  She has also created www.choose2matter.org and http://choose2matter.org/general/the-launch-of-the-quest2matter

It pretty much exists to remind people that they are noticed and someone appreciates them.  And I thought what a better time to do this than Teacher Appreciation Week!!

So I got with my students and we made a giant wall of chart paper in the hall and wrote the hashtag #youmatter at the top.  We taped a box of markers to the wall and sent an email out to teachers encouraging them to write #youmatter notes on the wall (my students also wrote #youmatter notes on the wall).  I worked on tweeting notes that were written during the day with the hashtag.  Each one of my students also wrote a letter to a former (or current) teacher that they wanted to thank for the impact they had on their lives.  After writing the letters the students hand delivered them to the teachers.  I can say that there were quite a few tears shed.

It was a great day and one where the students got to recognize accomplishments of teachers and just flat out tell them thank you and that they matter.  It was awesome.

So to Angela Maiers I say, THANK YOU.  You have inspired me greatly and I hope to continue to push my students and fellow teachers to remind other that #youmatter.  Also, if I'm not mistaken, today (May 15) is Angela Maiers birthday, so you should send her a "Happy Birthday" tweet :)