Monday, April 26, 2010

Unwanted plants...

Saturday I returned from leading a crew of comcast volunteers into the school's veggie garden, and ventured into my own backyard.

I weeded, appreciated the return of perennials, cut of dead flower stems from last year and pondered a certain plant.

Later in the day, I showed the new blooms and the mystery plant to my wife. We decided it was a weed. Being foolish I examined it a bit. Later, I would be glad I didn't taste it.

No, I don't taste strange plants and after this experience I will think twice about not wearing gloves.

My wife tracked down the plant and informed me that I had a thriving poison hemlock in my garden.

Sunday, she took the action photo that leads into this post, when I removed the plant. In the evening I searched out videos on plants that are winning the chemical war with humans, well, I could have used chemicals to kill the hemlock.

So, today I told my students to not be like me and be cautious when encountering a strange plant, and we reviewed the plants I normally speak of when I speak of the dangers of gardening. This is the hippest informative video found...

By the way the comcast volunteers did a great job helping out in our garden and across campus.


Friday, April 23, 2010

kudos to the Mighty Assistant... dried, fresh, and blooming flowers

above you see some of the bookmarks we made this winter. I had my hand in gluing the flowers down, but my wonderful assistant worked the flower press with many a student last summer and fall. The other day she made an arrangement of of Azalea blooms which led to...

  1. a student saying,"Can we dry those?" and off I went with students to gather spring blooms and the Mighty Assistant and the other students got out the microwave press. We came back and then back again with blooms of Blue Bells, Dogwoods, Cherries, Apples, and Pansies. Not what I had planned, but a wonderful day to capture spring in our midst
  2. On Tuesday, our supervisor came in to observe my teaching and saw the flower arrangements. Today my supervisor called to thank the Mighty Assistant for the arrangements she made this morning for a luncheon, which celebrated the success of some of our students.

This morning as I worked on the computer, the Mighty Assistant, saw something that no one had seen. One of our mystery aloes had decided to put on a show. And as my work week ended, I took some photos of that discovery...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

David Attenborough, a celebrity, takes us into Earth Day

In my classroom, there resides a few DVD's of the amazing nature films starring the David Attenborough. If nothing else, my science students will leave my school knowing that this man has lived an amazing life during which he has brought nature's mysterious ways into our homes again and again and again. They all know his name, and how cool is that. He makes us smile, and how cool is that.

20 years ago it was The Living Planet that emerged for us to see. After planning out a week of exploring the echinoderms in my zoology class, I changed plans Monday morning. We are watching, taking notes, and discussing the final segment. It is here that after exploring all the habitats of the Earth, Attenborough takes on how humans have changed the planet. So, we watch and discuss, and then I am sending the students to go to our new Wiki and update the planet's story. In the last 20 years, what has happened to those animals, plants, and places that Attenborough so cares about, that at the age of 83, he has reached the North Pole as he films his new series about life in the frozen realms.

Here, is the final message that my students will watch tomorrow...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

entering the world of wikispaces

I have an experiment going on at work. I have set up a wiki to use in my science classes. We will see where it leads and soon I will let the world in to see it, but for now the students and I are constructing it.

I let the students on last Friday and I learned a few things before the second class logged off. It will be like that, failures and successes guiding us on to a new teaching tool. My main mistake was having too many students editing the same space and student work was loss.

I want the students to be actively involved in teaching each other, not just a list of assignments. We will see.

This is the a wikispace by a presenter I saw at the NSTA conference... Why Wikis and see how he has applied it... his class wiki

Are wiki's happening in your district or are they blocked?

If you have a wiki for your classroom... I would love to see it. I'll let you know when we unveil ours.

many more examples of wikis

In horticulture we had plenty of weather to be outside this past week and our flower garden has gotten a spring cleaning. We scattered lettuce and broccoli raab seeds. We even ventured into a bed we don't usually touch, but I got tired of seeing all the dandelions. Here is a photo of myself and a portion of our flower garden as it appeared in August of 2007...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

it just isn't right outside

well, I think so.

6 weeks ago when piles of snow were massive... if you had told me that we would have several upper 80 degree days during the first week of April and that Spring would be several weeks ahead of schedule... I would have told you that you were confused.

I was giving a tour of our flower garden to a group of students who are sampling horticulture for the final quarter of the school year and I was trying to point out how strange things were in the plant world. A record warm March followed by more excessive heat has things racing ahead of schedule.

We had gotten to the Bee Balm and a student pointed out that it was overwhelming this... (photo taken in a previous year)

and it showed my point... the Bee Balm should not be so high. I am curious what such an early Spring will lead to...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

viewing the microscopic and living plants for big changes

The day I returned from the National Science Teacher Association Conference, I had lots of ideas floating in my head. I started with this one: understanding the relative size of the microscopic world.

But first I had the students write down the name of a huge, large, medium, and small... human made objects in Physics and animals in zoology. Then I had them take their scraps and in groups place them in order.

Then I gave them the slips of paper that had 17 objects, the largest being a coffee bean, the smallest being a carbon atom. It was interesting to see the strategies used to place them in order, but there was plenty of frustration. How can you size things that you can not see? Then I showed them this on the the smart board...

FROM COFFEE TO CARBON use your mouse to slide the button under the pictures to zoom in. Which they found as cool as I did when I saw it at the conference.

Teacher resources for this and other units created at the University of Utah can be found here (scroll down on your left). Use the link at the top left to flip back and forth between Teaching and Learning.

My horticulture classes are gearing up for spring which came suddenly after a very snowy February. March proved to be very warm and wet. I am glad that we were asked to provide flowers for a celebration of the residential program at our school, which is sadly closing come graduation in June. For most of the tables we chose to have living flowers...

all the pansies that weren't flowering when we bought them, are now flowering in a bed outside my classroom.