Day 28: Being YS Well – The Stall Street Journal


A big initiative this past year has been to encourage staff and students to be YS-Well (York Suburban Well). There is a great bulletin board near the gym with teacher photos and what WE do to stay healthy (eat right and exercise seems to be the common thread, although I added that humor and fun are just as important). The best were these posters in the bathrooms. What a clever idea!

Day 27: The Funky Chicken

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Sometimes Most of the time teenagers amaze me. Our high school of about 900 students has an amazing homecoming weekend. Thursday night includes powderpuff football, a parade and a bonfire. Friday is a pep rally and the game. Saturday is the dance. All of this is planned and executed by a student council of about 60 students with some help from their advisers. At the pep rally the students show such great spirit. When they do the Trojan Rumble, they all do it. When they do the Funky Chicken, even the elementary students who serve as prince and princess, know it! Click here for the video.

Day 26: Galileo Revisited


Galileo would be proud as IS II students do an activity “similar” to his inclined plane experiment. The real rationale is to have the students plan and conduct an investigation with a clear independent (angle of ramp) and dependent variable (time), a set of constants, reliable data, some calculations, a procedure, a materials list, a hypothesis, an analysis section that includes a graph done with Logger Pro, and a conclusion. I give them the “bones” of the report on a shared Google doc and they make it their own. They must insert at least one photo. They worked on the first lab report collaboratively and for this one they work as a group but write up the report on their own. By the way – thank you iOS7 for a stopwatch that now records to the 0.01 seconds.

Day 25: Sports Drink Analysis


What is in a sports drink? IS I students are analyzing a mystery sports drink for presence of sugar, electrolytes, and dissolved solids. Student shown here displays the results of the Benedict’s test for monosaccharides. Tomorrow they will use Logger Pro and conductivity probes to test for electrolytes and evaporating dishes to figure out % dissolved solids.

Day 24: Need for Speed


A quick discussion of speed vs velocity and off we go to time how long it takes cars to pass between two trees 14 meters apart. Students then calculated speed in m/s and then converted to mph. After one lengthy factor label problem I showed them that 1 m/s ~ 2.24 mph. This is in preparation for a ball and ramp lab that closely mimics Galileo’s inclined plane experiment.

Day 22: Locker Decorations

Impressed with our students when they decorate other’s lockers and impressed that students don’t mess with the decorations. The birthday ones are the best, but sometimes they are just notes of support or encouragement. Here are some I photographed today.


Birthday – Zombie theme (inside had “bloody” box with a heart in it.


18th birthday


Senior Buddies – not sure what this is all about.


Booster Club did these!


Some are quite elaborate. 🙂

Day 21: Celestial Spheres


Today we got out the celestial spheres and started our discussion of celestial coordinates. Students learned how to describe the position of a star using right ascension and declination. Always impressed with how interested they are and how quickly they catch on. We set the spheres to today’s date and discussed the autumnal equinox this weekend and the sun’s position when it rises, is at solar noon, and when it sets.

Day 20: Advisory Group


New this year is a “homeroom” period of 10 minutes sandwiched between 3rd and 4th period. Small groups (14-16) meet with a teacher in this “advisory” period. Each group is a mix of freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. We watch the daily NewsLink school broadcast and have a chance to connect every day. Every few weeks we have longer advisory periods for activities. The group and teacher will stay together for the student’s entire HS career. It is the hope that the upperclassmen can take on the role of mentors to the younger students and that there develop a sense of belonging and support. I have stressed that I want my room to be a safe place to land each day. We already plan to celebrate birthdays, attend a school athletic event together, and bring snacks in every Wednesday (Oreos and pretzels today!) We have an Edmodo group and the connections are happening.

Day 19: Pendulum Inquiry


Every couple of years I pull out this tried and true activity to introduce inquiry. Students need to figure out if changing the mass or the length of a pendulum affects the period. I now share a Google doc with them that has the “bones” of a lab write up. One member of the group makes a copy of it, renames it, shares it with the other group members (and with me). They have to investigate both length and mass but start with the variable they chose for their hypothesis. They do some prototyping on the first day to figure out how the set up the apparatus and we get to talk a lot about number of trial, details in materials list, proper procedure, and how they will record and display their data. As they work on the report we will address graphing, analysis, and their conclusion.