Periodic Table, Elements, and Technology

My Chemistry class worked on a project to explore the uses of elements in everyday life. Ms. Blanchet and I worked together as a collaborative team to develop this lesson. The lesson was student-centered in that the students had to work together in pairs and use software to gather information. The software was on iPads. In pairs, students were to explore an assigned group of elements. Some students worked alone in order to cover the whole periodic table. This lesson was a great replacement lesson from my rather lackluster and traditional lesson on the elements. The students were involved from the beginning to end of lesson. The lesson was designed for 45 minutes. The introduction of the lesson/ student engagement was a song that had all the elements names in the song. I offered the students who learned this song by heart an incentive of an “A” on a bonus test grade. Next, the students had to find the symbol, the atomic number, draw a picture, and to write a use. The pictures the student drew were admirable, and they had very few problems finding uses. The students were engaged throughout the whole lesson. As for comments from the students, they said the graphics and the software was great, they learned that elements are in many things and is used for everything. Also, they wished they had more time. In order, to achieve an excellent grade, students were encouraged to go home over the weekend to finish with the help of a website: to complete assignment. The final product is to have a huge periodic table to display. I hope this goes well. It is a class effort and everyone had a part to do. -Ms. J. Gibson, John Ehret H. S. Chemistry teacher More Links:

What a “co-ink-ee-dink”…more fun with money

What a coincidence! Just as I was putting together my post on “Blanchet Benjamins”, one of my former students posted on Facebook about the “Dollar Rede$ign Project” where designers from all over the country are submitting extreme makeovers of U.S. currency.  (See my previous entry for my submission. 😉 ) The rationale is that the dollar’s main competitor, the Euro, is much cooler looking than our old-fashioned greenbacks.

What do you think? Is it time for an upgrade to the look of our cash? Many argue that this is totally unnecessary at a time when we should be concerned about the value of the US dollar, not its appearance. Others say that a modern overhaul may help boost the dollar among its competitors worldwide. Regardless of which side is right, I think it is fun and interesting to see the ideas that people are coming up with.

My favorite submission features a total redesign with different sizes assigned to each denomination for easy counting at a glance.  A totally new set of pictures is also introduced, excluding almost all the original presidents currently depicted on our 1-500 dollar bills. While I don’t know if I agree with these drastic changes, I do like the look of it and I think that the picture choices could be changed fairly easily to reflect what everyone agrees should be shown on our money.  Check out Huffington Post for a slideshow of some more of the best designs.

Inequality Mobiles

These photos are a couple of the Inequality Mobiles my students created.  We had a lot of fun.  Each student was assigned an inequality at random.  They had to work out the inequality, graph it, and use it to create a mobile.  The mobile is created using a hanger, string, paper and tape.  The purpose is to give the students time to focus on one problem.  This is a favorite project of mine because it’s fun, it allows students to be creative in a subject that doesn’t always support creativity, and it allows students time to think about why they are solving problems the way they are and ask important questions.

-T. Cosman, Algebra 1 teacher, Ehret HS

Extreme Classroom Makeover!

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Thanks to Debbie Diller’s book, Spaces and Places, I was able to makeover my classroom–big time. My new job requires me to provide job-embedded professional development (training) for the almost 200-teacher faculty at my school. I am required to have the “model classroom” where teachers can come in anytime and observe the use of best practices, integration of technology, etc. I wanted to create a classroom environment that was not only functional and comfy for my kids, but also an inviting space for teachers to come hang out and watch me teach. When I first got my room assignment, I was somewhat disappointed at how small it was, especially when I saw that there were other classrooms around that were much bigger than mine, and given that I needed space for teachers to come in and two classes with 33 students apiece. I asked for a bigger room, and was told that it would be taken care of, but then I turned right around and started trying arrangements with the room I had, and began to realize that maybe I could make it work. What better way to build a model classroom than to have a small space and show what amazing things can be done when you have a plan? While the jury is still out on how the kids are going to react, I have gotten a lot of positive feedback from the teachers and staff who have passed through my room so far. This year really marks a shift in the way I approach my job. I am very thoughtful and calculating now where I was quick to act before thinking in the past. I guess I’m slowing down in my old age!!! I think I have a rationale for just about every aspect of my room, from the removal of the teacher desk, to the inclusion of a coffeemaker. I really feel energized and ready to start the year in my new classroom. I am so looking forward to hearing the reactions of my students and more teachers! Visit my flickr gallery here for more pics and info about my classroom makeover—I only wish I would’ve taken “before” photos!!!

Here is a youtube (sorry, blocked folk, that’s all I could find) video with more info about the amazing book I used as a guide to setting up my room:

Thanks to my best friend and educator, Nicole, i had the opportunity to hear from Debbie Diller herself!She suggested that I email Diller, so I left the following message on her comment form at
“I just wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed your
Spaces and Places and that it was so helpful to me. I wrote a blog
post about it with flickr pics that I also added to your flickr group. I would love to get feed back from the guru herself!!! Please check
out my blog post at:”

Then SHE said:
“Hi Tinashe (I know how to pronounce your name, too, after visiting your classroom pics! Great idea to add that pronunciation key)…

Thank you so much for showing me how my work has touched your classroom. Wow! How cool to see my work moving into a high school math classroom! That is beyond my wildest expectations! (My best friend, Tangye, is a high school math coach and she told me this book could help in high school, too.)

I love your room. It looks amazing. Wish I could see it, but am not in the area. Too bad. I love the color scheme. It looks calming, and I can imagine that you never want to leave it. (:

A few things I thought of while looking at your pics…
1. To protect those brand-new pencils on the tables, I add a red tape flag to each (so they can’t be taken so easily). I use red electric tape from a dollar store and wrap it around the pencil to create a tape flag. So easy and effective!

2. One thing I do in my office to help me organize my many professional books is to put my books in labeled clear plastic shoeboxes on my shelves. This makes it really easy to find what I need. I’m thinking it might help teachers easily find what they need if they want to check out books on teaching Geometry, Statistics, etc. Just a thought.

3. Love the coffee station for teachers! They will, too!

I’ve just begun my own blog, too. I would love to share your blog with others and expand the reach to high school, math, and PD coaches! Fabulous! Check it out at It may take a while for me to post it, but stay tuned.

Thanks so much for writing to me! What a treat. I was working on writing my newest book on math stations (for K-2) when I decided to take a break and check my email. So glad I did. You’ve inspired me, too.

All the best,

One word:
Thx for the feedback, Debbie!

Algebra Camp Day 4

Today we really got down to business and learned. The first group played math jeopardy, and we all had pedometers and we walked around campus and calculated how many steps we took in a certain amount of minutes. The second group worked on integers and also played math jeopardy. Tomorrow will probably be even more exciting.
by Abigail and Amber