Friday, October 25, 2013

3c: Engaging Students in Learning and 1b: Demonstrating Knowledge of Students with Protein model made from a baby toy

Continuing with the theme...

In my last post I showed a blood model that I use to help my students understand that oxygenated blood tends to be a red color and deoxygenated blood tends to have a deep red color with the blood model.
blood models

Here is another way I use simple materials to demonstrate a concept to my students. I use baby pop-it beads to show the relationship between amino acids and proteins. 


Each bead represents an amino acid (I wrote the names of different amino acids on each in permanent marker) and a long chain of them represents a protein.

    I keep my eyes pealed for these babies at garage sales because eventually someday I would like to have so many "amino acids" that I can make a protein chain that is long enough to twist and make a shape that would be a better representative of a protein's tertiary structure.

What do you use as models in your class?

originally posted on

3c: Engaging Students in Learning and 1b: Demonstrating Knowledge of Students with a blood model

     Some of my students have a tough time understanding concepts if it isn't right in front of them. So to make the concept of oxygenated and deoxygenated blood clearer to them, I had them help me make 2 models for our classroom. These models lasted over a week before getting gross (then I flushed them) and saved the mason jars for next school year.
The canning jars were filled with water (to represent the plasma), cheerios (to represent the red blood cells because rbc's don't have a nucleus which made the cheerios a good shape), food coloring (red and blue), and marshmallows.

The idea came from

Some of you have requested that I put links on my blog where you can buy the items I use so I am going to try to do that for you. Especially those of you who live in a different country than I do...this will help you! 
You can buy canning jars here:

You only need a small amount of cheerios...I purchased a couple of these Cheerios in a cup containers so I don't have to buy and store an entire box of cheerios in my classroom for next year.

The jars are created exactly the same except that one jar (like the one below) only gets red food coloring.
represents oxygenated blood

The other jar gets red and blue food coloring to make it a deep red color.
represents deoxygenated blood
What models do you use in your classroom to help your students?

originally posted on

Friday, October 11, 2013

4c: Communicating with Families with an Open House Video (NEW VIDEO)

I have updated my Open House video!

I like using an Open House Video for 3 reasons:
1) Parents can get a better idea about what happens in our classroom if they can see it.
2) I only have 8 minutes with each set of parents and I don't want to forget to tell them anything.
3) Parents that are unable to attend Open House can watch the video on my website from home.

You can read about and watch my old Open House Video here: Open House Video 2012.

This is the new one:

A lot of people have asked how I made it and what software did I use...
Here is what you need to make your own video:

1) lots of pictures of your classroom over the years.  I usually have a simple digital camera in my classroom everyday just in case a photo-op comes up.

2) I loaded the pictures into Keynote on my Mac

(If you have a PC or prefer Microsoft software you can use PowerPoint)

Most teachers already have some sort of a PowerPoint video for Open House...if so, you are    already 1/2 way there. Add some pictures of the kids throughout the year having fun and learning and add your voice to explain the PowerPoint and you're done!

3) The simplest way to make the video is to use free software like Photostory  Click here to check out Photostory.

If you want to get fancier you can use video editing software like iMovie, but I really like Camtasia Studio because I like to use it to make my lesson videos for my students. The software isn't free but it's worth the price because it's easy to use, you can do some amazing editing, and there are a boatload of tutorial videos to help you understand what you are doing and how to use it like a pro.

(Education Pricing is $79 for Mac, $179 for PC) Link to buy Camtasia Studio for Educators

The videos are located here: Camtasia Tutorials for Mac
                                              Camtasia Tutorials for PC

4) a CD or DVD to burn the video so you have it for next year. Notice that I did not put the school year in my video I can use it again. Don't recreate the wheel unless you need to!

Good luck creating your own video...please comment below and send us the link your video if you create one!

Originally posted on