Friday, December 16, 2011

Sick Santa

I just got word that Santa won't be making his usual rounds this year. It seems like his overly rich diet has caused him to get gout. This will unfortunately keep him home on Christmas Eve.

The good news is Santa has contacted teachers around the world to ask for help. He has created a special, super-secret Amazon account that he will use to pay for all the presents this year. All he asks in return is that we have one student per family pick out presents for their entire family. Sounds like fun, right?

Your task is to find presents for each person (including yourself) on Amazon and to give that list to me. There is one very important qualification, the cost of each person's presents must be between $195 to $200. You cannot spend more or less. Because Santa is a non-profit organization he gets his purchases tax free so we don't have to worry about adding those in.

You will need to keep track of the items for each person, the url for each item, and the cost of each item. How you do so is up to you. I would suggest you create a spreadsheet using Microsoft Excel or if you have a Google account you can use Google spreadsheet. Here is a tutorial for creating a spreadsheet in Excel. You could even create a Google form to put in the information you need. Of course paper and pencil will also work. Just make sure the total amount to spend is between $195 and $200.

You may want to check with your family members and ask them for ideas, or you could just pick things you think they will want. Santa expects you to explain why you chose the gifts you have for your family and yourself, make sure to include that information with the list.Whichever you choose, get the lists done and give them to me so I can pass them along. You don't want to miss out on Kris Kringle's gifts and if you don't get the lists finished Kris may decide you are not behaving and deal with you appropriately.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bridge Building Simulations

One of the most enjoyed activities from the last school year was constructing bridges through games like Bridge Building Game. The purpose of this game is to construct a bridge that will allow the lemming like pink dinosaurs to cross safely across a chasm.

 Here are links to similar games:

Cargo Bridge

What do you need to know to be successful at these simulation games? Do you think they are good simulations?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

JibJab Christmas

JibJab is a fun site where you can take pictures and insert them into movies. I have picked two movies you can use Elf Snowball Fight and ElfYourself. There are many JibJabs you can make, but most of them require you to purchase a membership.

You will have to download pictures and then upload them to create your movie. Here is the link to the school pictures on Picassa.  Just click on the the pictures you want to download. Right click on the picture and save as: name of person to your desktop. Then you will have them to upload.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Lakin Has Been Nominated for an Edublog Award!

I remember as a child hearing an adult say that watching kids open presents at Christmas was much more fun than opening their own. I thought they were crazy! Of course now that I have kids of my own I completely understand the sentiment. That is why I am so pleased to share Lakin's nomination.

Lakin is one of 32 student blogs recognized for their outstanding work. Lakin was nominated by Carolye Foote's blog, Not So Different Future. I am very grateful to her for recognizing Lakin's work.

I would be grateful if you took the time to check out the nominees and vote for the one you think is best.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

If You Designed Your Classroom, What Would It Look Like?

For today (and maybe for the next few days) I want you to think critically about what learning should look like and be like. While you are moving on to the high school next year, you still have a lot of background knowledge about school here. Here is what I want you to consider:

  • What worked for you in the classroom? What didn't?
  • What would you have changed? How would you change it?
  • What was it that you learned that was really important and needs to continue to be taught?
  • What was taught you did not need to learn?
  • What furniture arrangements worked well for you, if any?
  • How would your dream classroom look? What kind of furniture, technology, ect.?
  • How would your dream school look? What would it have?
  • What kind of instruction did you learn best from? Do you prefer lecture, reading, worksheets, activities, projects, other ways?

The assignment is  (choose one):
  1. Design a classroom, from furniture to curriculum, that you would want to spend 174 days in next year.
  2. Design a school that you would want to spend the next four years in. (include classes, common areas, etc.)
I want you to create a physical representation of the classroom/school. I want you to design the classes/subjects you would learn and include major learning objectives for them.

Learning Objectives:
  1. Think critically about what would be the best learning environment for you.
  2. Design your ideal learning space.
  3. Share your thoughts with others.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Seperating Mixture Write-Ups: Mrs. Ripp's Students

Below are five different science procedures written to explain how to separate a mixture. Since you have performed this experiment before in 7th grade (and in 5th grade too) you should be able to give an expert opinion on which method written by the students would be easiest to follow.  Leave a comment on the best post and explain why you think his/her method is the best of the five.

Eric's Post

Nate's Post

Sophia's Post

Abby's Post

Kyra's Post

Free Rice 2.0 is a quiz site and a way to help the World Food Programme end hunger. For every answer you get right, ten grains of rice will be donated. While this may not seem like a lot of rice, it adds up. An added feature is that you can now pick from several different categories of questions.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

We Are The Solution/Pledge Against Bullying

We Are the Solution is a video and site created by students at Edward Town Middle School, located in Sanborn, New York. Watch the video then go to the  site if you wish to sign the pledge to help stop bullying.

Since YouTube is blocked at school,  here is a link to the video on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Story Postcards

My students have been doing some creative writing. I decided that they should share their stories with their parents and so I gave them this opportunity. The students drew a scene from their story using paint and then I printed the pictures out using card stock.

I then had the students write the first paragraph of their story on the back of the card along with their mailing address so they could be mailed home. When parents receive the card they will have the opportunity to ask the student what the paragraph is about and then the students can share their story.

Math Benchmarks for 7,8

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Examine The Age of Exploration Through Comments4Kids

Class, it is time to stretch yourselves a bit. Today you will be looking at some blog posts by high school students in a Modern World History Class. Pick two different posts to leave a comment on. Make sure you don't leave a drive-by comment. Copy your comment and the blog post URL to a post on your blog and publish it when finished.

You may want to leave your blog address on your comment so it can be tracked back.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Comments4Kids Wednesday

The real value of using technology in your classroom is not:

  • student engagement- If you want better student engagement, design better lessons.
  • the "cool" factor- see above
  • 21st century skills- Identify what that means first, then we will talk.
  • parent involvement- Do we really need to make more excuses for unengaged parents?
  • learning how to keyboard- I won't even dignify this one with a response #oopsIguessIjustdid
The real value of using technology in your classroom is:
  • creating connections- We learn so much through others that are different.
  • sharing- We are smarter than I.
  • conversations-A post is an attempt to start a conversation, a comment makes it happen.
Technology is not only about doing old things in a new way (although  there is nothing wrong with that). Technology should be about creating opportunities for us to learn from others when that would be impossible without it.

Today let us find some real value with our technology. 

  1. Leave two excellent comments on your peers blog posts. 
  2. Leave two excellent comments on students blogs outside our community. (See Below)
  3. Copy and paste all four comments to your blog and include the URL of the original post.
  4. Publish your post. 
Mr. Boylen's 8th grade students have been doing some writing too, give them some good, critical comments.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Our Own Intereactive Art Museum!

Mrs. Smith (our Art teacher) and I have teamed up to create an interactive art "museum" for our students' work.

Mrs. Smith chooses are work that she thinks best illustrates what she is having her students do. She then puts it on the "art museum" wall.The student creates a video explaining about the work, what they did, and what they learned.

Here is the QR Code for Alex's video. If you scan it with a smart phone you will be taken to the video.
Here is the QR Code

Now when someone comes along and wants to know more about the art work they can simply scan the code with their smart phone and instantly start watching a video of the artist explaining his/her work.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Fun 2011

Here are a couple sites you might enjoying visiting for Halloween. The first site is online pumpkin carving. What kind of face does your pumpkin need? The second site is Zap-A-Ghost. How many ghosts can you click on? The last site is Hidden Spirits. Can you lead a scientific investigation to debunk a haunted hotel?

Online Pumpkin Carving


Hidden Spirits

Ben and Jerry's Halloween Fun

Transylmania 2

M&M's Dark Chocolate Game

Here is a Scariest Places on Earth Show you may enjoy watching.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Create a Drawing in Paint

Marissa's Picture
Today you will be creating a picture for your creative writing story using Paint. While paint can be hard to use, the possibility to do something very interesting is there.Don't believe me, look at Marissa's picture above. When you are finished, save it to the computer pictures folder on the student shared drive.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tuesday's Lesson Plan

Here is the lesson plan for today. Listen carefully to it. Remember, criticism does not mean being mean. Criticism is supposed to address both good and bad parts of the story so make sure that when you give your criticism the purpose is to help make the story better. 

If you do not have your first draft finished, read what you have. Do not work on your story while someone else is reading theirs. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Why I Write

The National Day on Writing is October 20 and we have been asked to submit an answer to the writing prompt "Why I Write". If you look carefully at the rules you will see that you can use any writing form you choose from a play to a haiku.

You will publish the answer on your blog and then on the "Why I Write" site. Your story may be selected to be added to an anthology eBook that will be created later this fall!

Friday, October 14, 2011


"Poptropica is a massively multiplayer online game and virtual world, targeted at children ages 6 to 15, where players can travel, play games, compete in head-to-head competition, and communicate safely with each other. There is a role-playing component as players are encouraged to finish "island missions and get medallions."

If you have finished this weeks assignments, check it out.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Storytelling: A Couple Scary? Stories

Here are a couple stories I recorded. I toned down the scare for the setting and audience. Junior High students can't handle something really scary ;)

The Yellow Lady of Big Rock by Mr. C's Sounds

The hook by Mr. C's Sounds

Friday, October 07, 2011

Isle of Tune

It is about time I find an interesting music game/sim. Isle of Tune allows you to create music by creating roads, lining them with musical items, and then sending cars down the street. It is hard to explain, but it is very cool watch/listen.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Comments4Kids Wednesday

Today you will be commenting on blog posts. First you will choose three of your fellow 8th grade students here to leave a comment on. You will choose from the other two classes.

After you have finished those comments, you will choose two posts from the links in the widget below to leave comments. Remember to follow the commenting rules we have already established:
  1. Relevant
  2. Positive
  3. Good Conventions (spelling, punctuation, etc.)
  4. If you don't have anything to say, don't leave a comment. No Drive-By Comments!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Lakin's LineTime Review

Lakin made a video review of the app LineTime and posted it on her blog. Click here to watch her review.

Your Science Lesson

Today I would like you to write about the science lesson you are teaching. Be sure to answer the following questions:

  1. What are you teaching the students?
  2. Where did you find your resources/information?
  3. What activity are you having the class do?
  4. What vocabulary are you introducing to the class?
On Thursday you will be writing a reflection on the lesson you have taught. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Bean Project Write Up/ Plans for the Week of October 3

Here is this week's plan. Along with today's lesson. Take a look at what you will be doing this week. I would love feedback from you. If you see something I should add or change you can leave a comment on the post or even leave a comment on actual plan. If you leave a comment, leave your first name so that we can discuss it later :) Here is the link to this weeks lesson plans.

Today you will finish writing up your lab posts from the Bean Project. You will need to make sure you address all of these parts:

  1. Problem
  2. Background Knowledge
  3. Hypothesis
  4. Materials 
  5. Method
  6. Experiment
  7. Collect Data
  8. Conclusion
  9. Questions for Extensions
As usual make sure your conventions are good.  After you have finished, let me look at them before you publish so I can approve them.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Terrifict Tiger Assembly, September 2011

These are random scences from today's Terrific Tiger Assembly
Miss Reta Lott This Is America Respect

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What Are You Learning?: Plate Tectonics

More videos showing what students are learning and doing in science class. This time students are working on lessons they will be teaching to the rest of the class.

Students Can Facilitate Their Own Learning

Lakin decided to create a paper model for her Explorers PowerPoint. She sketched the idea for each slide on paper so that she could organize it and tweak it before she created her presentation. Because she had already organized her pages and received the feedback she needed she managed to put her presentation together in just a few minutes. Instead of spending time on the computer making decisions about what information to include and how she should organize it, she focused on finding great pictures to emphasize her points (to the point of not even needing text on some slides!)

Don't Make Your Presentation a Killer!

Here is a slideshare presentation we will use in class to help my students understand how and why they should make good design choices when using any presentation software.

Monday, September 26, 2011

What Did You Learn?: Non-Ivory Soap Boats

Here are a couple videos from students that watched their soap boats. Some of the boats sunk and some of them floated. Here is their reaction.

What Are You Learning?: Explorer Projects

Students are researching explorers of North America. They have to create a PowerPoint presentation as required by the Missouri Assessment Program. Here are a couple students explaining what they are learning and what they are doing.

Picture of Captain Cook from

Here are the links for your explorers assignment. Read the directions very, very carefully and follow them. The links are also found on the right of the blog below the green bar. Make sure you cite your sources! You will upload it to Google Documents when you are finished.

Instructions for the Explorer Project
Links for the Explorer Project

Use EasyBib to cite your sources appropriately. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Our Students are Artstounding!

Francisco and Jessie drew an amazing picture of a mustang, our district's mascot. Today is football homecoming and they are showing their school pride. Check out the video where they explain what they did and what they learned.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Noel's Library of Electronic Books

Mrs. Owens showed the teachers yesterday how we can access the online electronic books (ebooks) that we have available. Here is how you can access them too. On the left of the class blog under Class Links you will find a new link titled Our Library Electronic Books. If you click the link it will take you to this screen.

For your user name type in: S (for student) and your lunch number. For example: S1234
For your password type in your whole last name in lower case letters.

If you logged in correctly you should see this screen.

After you have logged in, see what kinds of books you have that are available to read. Do you see any you can read that will help you with the things you will be studying this year? (I did notice a book on Christopher Columbus!) After you have spent some time browsing, I want you to write a blog post answering the following questions:

  1. Can you use this library outside of school? Explain
  2. Is using this site legal in regards to copyright? Why or Why not?
  3. Identify 2-3 books you might want to read. What makes them something you want to read?

Soap Boat Float

The students are working on creating soap "boats" that will float. We are experimenting with shape and density to try to understand why some things float and some sink. Since we cannot easily measure the density of the soap bars, students are using measurements of mass as well as boat design to see if they can create a boat that floats from a bar of soap that ordinarily sinks.

Below are a few videos I took asking the questions: What are you doing? What are you learning?

Here is some footage of the students working on their boats.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Aluminum Boat Float: What Did You Learn?

Here we have three videos of students relating what they are doing/learning with a hands-on lab activity in science. The assignment was for them to design an aluminum boat that would be able to hold as many marbles as possible. You may note that one student talks about surface tension. The students had been introduced to this concept in an earlier lab. Although the application was wrong here, it is still good to see them reach back into what they have been learning.

This activity took place before we introduced the concepts of buoyant force and density. Now they have some experiences we can relate to when we do get discuss them.

Monday, September 19, 2011

7th Grade Art Work

Here are some of the projects our 7th grade have created this year.

Create A Graph: Graphic Data Representation

Create a Graph is a wonderful tool for creating graphs. You can use the program to create bar, line, pie, and other types of graphs and you can print them or save them as a pdf or jpeg.

Today you will use the data you collected to create a line graph for your plants and a a bar graph for your aluminum boat (7th grade only). You will print the graphs and save them as a .jpg and upload the picture to your blog.

Here is how to set up your bar graph.

 Download and Print from this tab.

You only have today to get this project completed so you had better get busy!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pumped Up Kicks!

Did you know you can design your own Converse shoes? Not only that, you can also buy them after you make them just the way you like them! Go to the Create Your Own Custom Converse site and make the best pair of kicks you can. After you have finished, capture the picture by pushing the shift and Prt Scr (print screen) buttons. Then go into Paint and paste the image. Save it as a .jpg and print it out. Can you make the best looking kicks in junior high?

Christmas Keepsake Ornaments
The MCHS Junior class is now offering two Christmas ornaments for sale. For only $5.00 you can add one of these keepsake ornaments to your Christmas decorations.

Ornaments will be available for sale at home games. If you are not able to attend, contact Mr. C and he will get you into contact with the right people.

Friday, September 09, 2011

What Is Copyright? How Do You Want to License Your Blog?

Today we are going to begin looking at a really complex issue. If you remember a few days ago you filled out a survey for me where you had to give your opinion about some specific copyright issues. Hopefully your questions will be answered after you do some research.  Here is the link to the answers to the survey if you would like to review them. Here is a link to the original post.

Any question that asks what copyright is needs to have an answer, and what better place to get that answer from than Wikipedia. Here is the link to the Wikipedia page on copyright. Check it out and make sure you can give me a good definition of what it means.

Our next step is to check out, an organization dedicated to creating different types of copyright licenses. While here you will need to:

  1. Identify the six different licenses you can get from
  2. Understand what each of the licenses will allow others to do with the content you create.
  3. Choose which Creative Commons license you want to put on your blog (or you may choose to keep the original copyright.)
  4. Write a blog post to explain why you chose that particular license.
  5. Add the license you chose to your blog as a widget. 
You may want to read the first paragraph on the About page at to get a sense of why many people think it is so valuable. 

You may also want to talk to others about the different licenses. Push each other to explain why you are choosing a particular license. Push me to explain why I chose the license I did for our class blog .