the definition of "ballin" is "Living the good life" in and out of work. This is what makes me love life.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Vocab Review Template

It's that time of year again...Review Time!
Although we are still finishing up out last unit of the year, we have started end of the year review to get ready for the Regents Exam on June 17th.

I have seen this review game in several different places and haven't tried it out yet. 

I have printed them out on cardstock and cut them out and put them into plastic baggies. (All teachers know how much time it takes the students to cut stuff out and especially at review time...time is precious)

I created a template and a couple of these games already and just yesterday I received 3 emails from my fellow Biology Listserve teachers looking for such a here ya go.

Here is a link to the template in the iCloud (Pages format)

What review games do you and your students like?

originally posted on

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Presenting at NYSCATE's Digital Learning Summit 2014

On Monday March 31st I had the wonderful opportunity to present at the Digital Leadership Conference in Liverpool, NY. Many of the attendees were school district administrators from all over New York State. I am very grateful that NYSCATE believes in teachers like me and helps teachers to learn new and innovative ways to motivate students in the classroom. 
Online learning is something that I could talk about for hours (literally) and I ran out of time to cover my entire presentation so I have shared my presentation here.

From the Trenches: Life in a Blended Learning Classroom 

Presenter: Amy Balling is NABT's 2013 Outstanding Biology Teacher of the Year for New York State.

This session will address triumphs and struggles faced in the past four years of running a blended Regents biology class. We will take a look at how online learning helps to address the needs of the students in a mixed classroom with students at various levels of ability. You will walk away with cost-effective strategies and free tools to enhance your traditional classroom and get you on your way to creating your own blended learning environment.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Presenting at STANYS Mini-Conference March 26, 2014

This afternoon I will be presenting at the STANYS Mini-Conference at the Buffalo Museum of Science.

My topic will be Aurasma and Augmented Reality in the classroom. I blogged about it here. Here is a slideshare of my presentation. Enjoy!
Click here to see my presentation.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

2014 Pinterest Challenge Chalkboard Slow Cooker and chili recipe

So I'm going to accept the 2014 Pinterest Challenge. I am challenging myself to try out something on Pinterest each month (and hopefully blog about it.)  

So here goes...
I found this Pin on Pinterest and filed it away for a rainy day. Yesterday was a 50 degree rainy day here in Buffalo (I know, in January that's crazy.) So I decided to try it.

The good news was that I already had everything I needed from previous projects so overall it cost me NOTHING!  I actually have 2 slow cookers a really nice stainless steel one and this ugly one that was collecting dust in the basement. I almost never use it because it was all discolored.

You can see the discoloring better in this picture....ewww. (don't judge)

These are the materials I used: Glidden Gripper Primer, Valspar Black Chalkboard paint, Greased Lightening Multi-purpose spray, Frog Tape, and 300 grit sandpaper.

I washed the slow cooker with the Greased Lightening spray 
(It is amazing at washing up greasy surfaces)

I also lightly sanded the surface, washed off the dust, and put Frog Tape on the areas that I didn't want painted.

This is what it looked like after one coat of primer.

and after 2 coats of primer

 After one coat of chalkboard paint

After two coats of chalkboard paint


While it's out I might as well use's how I make chili:

 The ingredients

Amy's Sweet Jesus Chili
1 pound 95% fat free ground beef
medium onion, chopped
medium pepper, chopped
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
6 oz can tomato paste
15.5 oz can black beans (undrained)
15.5 oz can red beans (undrained)
half of a 12 oz can of Coca Cola, Dr Pepper, or Pepsi 
3 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 tablespoon of cumin
1/2 tablespoon of smoked paprika
1/2 tablespoon of Sriracha Hot Sauce

Cut up a medium onion and a medium pepper (I used little snacker peppers)

Mix the raw ground beef and the peppers and onions in the pot.

Add the remaining ingredients (do NOT drain the beans...that's where a LOT of the fiber is at)

Stir well to mix and then turn on the slow cooker.  4 hours on high, or 8 hours on low.


What slow cooker recipes do you love?

Join me in the 2014 Pinterest Challenge and share your Pinterest successes

originally posted on

Modeling Mitosis with Oreo Cookies 1e: Designing Coherent Instruction

Oreo Cookie Mitosis

The problem was: What do I do with the students the day before Winter Recess?

We were about to finish the Reproduction and Development Unit but needed one or two days of review before the test.  I know a lot of teachers like to show a video but the way I see it you are essentially telling the students that "today isn't an important day, you aren't important to me, let's just take it easy."

I was looking for a fun activity that would help the students review and would entertain them and keep them out of trouble for 40 minutes.  For whatever reason I ended up googling: Mitosis Cookies and found resources and ideas on the following websites:

I then took parts from each site and created this handout for my 9th grade Biology students: Click here for the handout

oreo cookies provided by students
They brought in plenty of cookies, and I provided the colored sprinkles, plastic dixie cups, toothpicks, and construction paper.

colored sprinkles

It was a huge hit!  The kids loved it, they were ALL engaged in the lesson and were able to eat the cookies when they were done.

You can see the pictures of what they produced below.

What fun activities do your students enjoy before a vacation?

originally posted on