April 16, 2014

Dichotomous Keys and Jelly Beans

Being that I come from a language arts background, most of the lesson ideas I share are geared toward reading, writing, and word work. What can I say? It's my comfort zone!

But today I have to share with you an awesome lesson we did in science this week because our students LOVED it!

We started studying classification this week, and with this came instruction on using Dichotomous Keys. We had thorough discussions on the principles of taxonomy and learned how all living things are given scientific names in addition to the common names we normally hear. 

Then, the fun began!

We started the lesson with some Harry Potter, which means I was won over from the very beginning. Here's the quote that was shared:

“He [Harry] finally tore his eyes away from the druidess Cliodna, who was scratching her nose, to open a bag of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. 

"You want to be careful with those," Ron warned Harry. "When they say every flavor, they mean every flavor—you know, you get all the ordinary ones like chocolate and peppermint and marmalade, but then you can get spinach and liver and tripe. George reckons he had a booger-flavored one once."

Ron picked up a green bean, looked at it carefully, and bit into a corner. "Bleargh - See? Sprouts."

They had a good time eating the Ever Flavor Beans. Harry got toast, coconut, baked bean, strawbery, curry, grass, coffee, sardine, and was even brave enough to nibble the end off a funny gray one Ron wouldn't touch, which turned out to be pepper."

At this point, student pairs were given a dixie cup half full of Jelly Belly candies and a corresponding Dichotomous Key. Students took turns selecting a bean and using the Key to determine its flavor. You can find a bunch of these online, but I found this one to be most helpful since it includes a key for the name brand as well as the Sam's Club brand for those who are thrifty like me! :)

Then, students had to eat the bean to assess their skills, and record whether or not it was the flavor they expected. Of course, the classroom teacher told them the Harry Potter Jelly Beans were included in the bunch, which made the activity even more exciting for the students who were afraid to accidentally eat a vomit or ear wax bean. Watching them nervously bite into each bean was pure entertainment!

She didn't actually include the Harry Potter beans because she didn't think to oder them in time, but if you're interested in doing so, this article includes a Key for those beans as well. Even if you don't go all out and include these beans, trust me, your students will throughly enjoy this activity!

April 14, 2014

IMWAYR: Stories About Stepping Up

During ELA, we've been talking about what it means to "Step Up" to make a difference. To help our students realize there are more opportunities to step up other than bullying (seriously... this is the ONLY example they were able to give on the first day of our unit), we've been reading some short stories about others who've made a difference.

Jimmy and Ryan and the Well in Africa that Brought them Together is a wonderful story that begins when 6 year-old Ryan takes on extra chores around the house in order to earn enough money to build a well for clean water in a remote village in Uganda. His determination inspired many others who joined in his efforts, and together, they were able to reach his goal.

When Ryan travels to Agweo, he meets an orphan named Jimmy, and the two form an instant friendship. The story then takes an interesting twist that teaches readers about the dangerous reality for too many African children. Is it possible for Ryan's family protect their new friend?

This is a fantastic book for providing an example of how our students can step up in big ways to help less fortunate people across the globe. I especially like that it all started with a six year-old, showing our students that you're never too young to make a difference.

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down is a fabulous picture book that shares the story of four black college students who sat down at the Woolworth's diner waiting silently to be served. This story gives students a better understanding of segregation and the determination it takes to start a movement of change. In particular, this movement resulted in a change in law and stood against injustice.

I can share that my students were surprised by the fact that this movement gained so much momentum without the use of any words. We talked about how there can be great power in silence, meaning that even when you feel like you can't say something, you can still take a stand. This was also a good lesson about how sometimes it takes a long time (four years in this instance) to initiate change, and that many people needed to band together to end segregation.

Six Million Paperclips: The Making of a Children's Holocaust Memorial is an inspirational story about how a teacher in a small town in Tennessee helped her students grasp the concept of 6 million Jews being murdered in the Holocaust. Ultimately, they decided to collect paperclips, each one representing a life that was lost.

Several years and many volunteers later, the school group put together a memorial at their school, which displayed their paperclips in an authentic German railcar. The memorial served a way to honor the victims as well as a means to spread awareness through the community. As my students demonstrated, it's hard to grasp the magnitude of such a big number without being able see it.

You can read more about this group and the documentary about their experience here. If you're anything like me, this story will inspire you to want to do something equally as impactful with your own students!

The final story, The Dog Poop Initiative, talks how people need to take initiative in their lives rather than sitting idly by or waiting for someone else to do something. In this story, author Kirk Weisler recounts a day when he arrived to coach his sons's soccer game to multiple warnings from various adults about a patch of dog poop on the field.

These good citizens warned others to keep their distance, yet Kirk realized, not one of them had the initiative to take 30 seconds to clean it up. He wondered how this example translated to other areas of our lives and whether or not we're creating a society of people without the initiative to do whatever it takes to make the world a better place. What a great message for our students to hear!

**Please check my book log for a complete list of my Monday book reviews

April 8, 2014

Hair Reveal and A Tasty Treat

I'm linking up with Holly today because I tried some new things.

First and foremost: my hair. Those of you who follow my blog know that I was searching for a more affordable method for coloring my grey hairs. In addition, I had the problem of my ends being much darker than the hairs closer to my roots because they were just saturated from years of dye.

Based on advise from many of you as well as some expert tips I read online, I decided to start by stripping my hair with Color Zap. Actually, if you want to get technical, Joel did all this for me. We only applied the Color Zap to the length of my hair, as instructed by the nice stylist who cut Joel's hair earlier in the day. Basically, this product will remove any hair dye and lighten your hair a shade or two. Mine turned out kinda orange, which was what I expected.
After the Zap, we went straight into the DIY color. I bought Ion Color Brilliance in "Dark Mahogany Golden Blonde," which is really a deceiving name since it's a dark reddish brown color. But the name totally made me nervous.

And the result? Well... I'm not 100% happy, but it's good enough for now. I think next time, I will try a darker shade, as it's still looking a little orangey to me. The color Zap left me with somewhat of an ombre look, which I wasn't aiming for but will gladly accept. I probably would have destroyed my hair had I done this intentionally.

Anyway, here's the final product. Please ignore the silly face I'm making... this was originally a text to Alison while I was still trying to decide if I should keep it or run back to the store for more hair dye. What do you think?

I also want to add that I did a 3 hour coconut oil hair mask to repair some of the damage from the stripping and coloring. It made SUCH a huge difference in my hair's texture. 

My second Tried it Tuesday was a recipe from Skinny Taste, which is one of my favorite websites for healthy recipes. My coworker brought in these flour-less chocolate brownies, and we were all in shock when she told us they were made with a base of black beans. And then when she rattled of the rest of the ingredients, I was incredulous that this tasty treat was the result.

What finally sold me on trying these myself, I'll admit, is that you make these brownies by throwing everything in a blender. Yep... I can do that kind of baking!

The consistency of these brownies is more cake-like, in my opinion, but that's a fair trade considering how much healthier they are! Joel, my dad, and my brother gobbled them right up without complaining... even when I told them the secret ingredients! :)

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