Tag Archives: high school

Web Tools for Educators

22 Dec

Are you an educator who wants to incorporate more technology into the classroom but don’t know where to start?  You’re not alone.  Even teachers that already use quite a bit of technology in their classes struggle with information overload.  There are so many cool things to try.  Where do you start?

Whether you are a teacher, administrator, involved in elementary education or secondary education, teach online classes, or teach ELL/ESL students, The Super Book of Web Tools for Educators can help you get started.  It’s a free e-book created by bloggers, teachers, and administrators. 

Here’s a sample from the high school section:

Synchtube (http://synchtube.com) is a service for watching videos and chatting about them at the same time. Here’s how it works; find the url of your favorite YouTube video, copy that url into Synchtube, and begin chatting with your friends while the video is playing. You can comment on the video and share thoughts inspired by the video while you’re watching. Synchtube allows you to have up to 50 people watching and chatting simultaneously.

The entire book is basically short synopses of various tools geared toward many different areas of education.  Even if you are tech savvy, I say give it a glance.  From just briefly browsing through it myself, Isaw lots of tools I have never heard of before.


Firework Fabulous–the MHS lip dub

21 Dec

On December 8, 2010, the students of Magnolia High School in Magnolia, Texas came together to create something truly special.  The students performed a lip dub to Katy Perry’s “Firework”.  Nearly all groups (athletic, academic, you name it) at the school were represented. 

The lip dub basically portrays the simple story of a new student entering Magnolia High, nervous on his first day.  He is welcomed to the school by all of the student groups (dancing around the school to “Firework”).  It creates a family atmosphere and the student is clearly at ease by the end of the video, assured that he’ll find  a place to belong.  It’s really neat.  Thanks, MHS, for inspiring us!

Quick and easy way to demonstrate basic DNA structure

27 Nov

Here’s  a quick and easy way to get your students out of their desks for just a few minutes and demonstrate DNA structure at the same time.  It will also take very little preparation time on the part of the teacher, too (always a bonus).  This should be done after discussing the basics about DNA:

  • It’s a nucleic acid.
  • It’s made of monomers called nucleotides.
  • Each nucleotide in DNA has 3 parts–a 5 carbon sugar, a phosphate group, and a nitrogenous base.


Give about half of your students a nitrogenous base.  You can either write the letters A, T, C, G on notecards and tell the students the base-pairing rules, or you can get more elaborate and create complementary shapes for A and T, and C and G and have them figure it out.

Line up these students with bases and tell them to place the base in their left hand and hold it out to the side.  They must then put their right hand on the shoulder of the person in front of them.  Their bodies represent the 5 carbon sugar (deoxyribose) and their right hand stretching out represents the bond holding the backbone of the molecule together. 

Next, tell your other students to grab a base and line up next to the others to create the complementary strand.  They will automatically try to put the bases in their right hand and stand facing the same direction as the original line of students.  Say, “No, remember, the bases should be in your LEFT hand.”  After a puzzled moment, they’ll figure out that they have to face the opposite direction to make this work, and then you can tell them that they’ve just demonstrated one of DNA’s most important properties–the strands are anti-parallel.  🙂

Why do students have poor research skills?

21 Nov

A recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education describes a study suggesting that many students lack basic research skills.  I think most teachers and professors would probably think to themselves, “Well, duh”  when reading this. 

Alison J. Head, a co-principal investigator for the project, said the results suggest that today’s students struggle with a feeling of information overload…Ms. Head said the findings show that college students approach research as a hunt for the right answer instead of a process of evaluating different arguments and coming up with their own interpretation.

I suspect Ms. Head is correct in suggesting that students are “hunting” for the right answer.  So why are students approaching school work and research in this manner?  And what do we, as educators, do about it?

Like, OMG, why are you so rude?

20 Nov

I’ve listened to my co-workers complain all year about how rude, snotty, mean-spirited, and lazy the students at our school are.  At first, I was puzzled.  Compared to my previous workplace (which was rife with drugs, sex, and violence), the students here are angels.  They are engaged in learning, seek their teachers out for extra help when it’s needed, are polite, and are just generally extremely fun to teach.

I wish I could remain under this enchantment, but I’m starting to understand some of my co-workers complaints.  Over the past few days I have witnessed several students (none of my own, thankfully) being rude, mean-spirited, and just generally acting like JERK FACES. 

Instance #1: While helping a fellow teacher  set up for a lab activity in her class, one of the senior boys, Jimmy, who had chosen his lab table called out to another boy, “Hey Peter!  Come over here.  Peter!  Peter!  Over here.”  Peter most definitely heard Jimmy asking him to be his partner.  Peter pretended not to hear and joined another table with much cooler boys.  I’m not one to let things like this slide, so I glance up at Peter and say coolly, “Come on, man.  You’re going to ignore Jimmy?  He’s been calling you for the past minute.  Not cool.”  Peter’s face turned red, and the teacher, also perturbed, then switched all the groups herself.  (Fortunately we have a good enough relationship that she didn’t mind me butting in.)

Instance #2: During one of my break periods today, I could hear some girls conversing in the science room next door very loudly before class began.  The conversation went something like this:

“Oh my god, you will not BELIEVE what happened.  Mrs. Robertson came into the bathroom when I was in there, and she STARTED TALKING TO ME!  I HATE when teachers do that.  I’m like, why are you talking to me?  Yeah, she said, ‘Hi, Bethany, how are you?’  We’re in the bathroom.  Oh, and then she TOUCHED my shoulder!  Ugh, I know!  I’m like, what are you a perv?”

I very nearly marched in there to proclaim, “Yes, clearly a teacher being friendly to you and speaking to you as if you are an actual person is clearly out of line!”  Somehow I restrained myself.  The teacher she was talking about is, incidentally, known as one of the kindest, most soft-spoken teachers on our campus. 

mean teens

Mean Teens

Instance #3:  While walking down the hall during the same off-period, some students were sitting in the hall (allowable, as it was their study hall period).  I overhear one young man say rather loudly, “I pay $25000 a year to go to this damn school.  Why should I care about the freakin’ rules?”  I stopped and slowly (and rather dramatically) turned around and stared him down.  One of his friends noticed me and started hitting him in the shoulder, whispering, “Language, dude, language!”  I simply shook my head, and turned back around saying, “No, not just language, guys.  Attitude, too.  Language AND attitude.”  After witnessing this last display of teenage snobbery, I was feeling quite ill-tempered.  I returned to my room and vented about the behavior of the students in all of these stories to a colleague. 

Then something unexpected happened.  The young man from instance #3 appeared at my door and apologized profusely and sincerely.  I suppose there is always hope for the next generation after all.  🙂

(As a humorous aside, when I was looking for images related to “apology” and “sorry” to include in this post, Tiger Woods kept showing up.)

Dramatic DNA!

15 Nov

Most high school biology textbooks contain a brief description of the history of DNA research.  Stduents read a little bit about Francis Crick, James Watson, Maurice Wilkins, and sometimes Rosalind Franklin as well.  Dramatize this for your students by showing clips from the film “Life Story”, starring Jeff Goldblum:

Cellular Respiration Song

14 Nov

A really cute song about cellular respiration to the tune of “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas. 

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