Monday, November 26, 2012

My best wishes

This semester, I have been surprised by the literacy levels of my students. They are able to identify typos and misspelling on our presentations and they let us know about them. They are not able to relate my content area with any other part of their life.

What will your literacy-rich classroom look like? 

An utopic view of my first year as a teacher:

Sept. 30, 2013
Dear Journal:
This is the first month of my teaching experience; my literacy rich classroom has students that are engage with learning and are avid to know more. They express their interest in chemistry and we made a contract where we all agree on working hard to make this year a good learning experience.
My students are engaged in knowing more. They have many questions whose answer I don’t know, that we all need to start learning.
They are reading a sequence of books, that it is a best seller among teenagers.

December 15, 2013
Dear Journal:
I can’t believe that we are almost half way through the year, I am grading the first semester final test and my literacy rich classroom looks like are having a good experience. We are learning together. Communication is good and we created a good teaching/learning environment, where we promote literacy and science.
My students are engaged in solving problems. We developed a strategy where we solve the chemistry problems and then we write a narrative where we explain how we solved that problem and what are the important things of the answer of that specific problem.
We are also reading aloud a novel related to the development of the atomic program during WWII.
They are writing the narratives of the problems we solve
And we are discussing about the problems, the solutions, and how the new concept that we are earning are linked to our daily life.

May 30, 2014
Dear Journal:
Wow! The year is almost over, my first year as a teacher in California. My literacy rich classroom looks like a place where we all want to be. Where an holistic approach rules, where students are engage in their own learning and where we think and act “out of the box”
They are capable of independent learning in understand, solve and explain how to solve a problem. They know and understand that chemistry is present in every part of their life, they are able to do some research, to read and write about a specific topic and they can relate some of those topics to their daily life.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Project Tomorrow

I went to the web page of project tomorrow and I chose the “Mobile Leaning Report” (

Of course, one of the topics that teachers, administrators, parents and students need to address is the internet access: “How much is too much?”:  In some schools there is wireless internet access just in the library and there are many firewalls that don’t allow students to have access to many websites, like you-tube, those fire walls limit teacher’s access as well.

On the other side, there are schools with a campus 100% wireless and with open access to all the resources. Even teachers create Facebook accounts for their classes.

If parents are providing with Internet access to their kids: “ 2011, two-thirds of parents of school aged children (67 percent) noted that they have a personal smartphone; an increase of almost three times from 2006” (project tomorrow – mobile learning report), by buying tablets and smart phones, why are schools limiting the access? (In Internet closed campuses), and are we teaching our students to be self-conscious of the risk on the use of the Internet? (In Internet open campuses)

I saw the video “Is anyone listening to students?” ( where three High School students presented their opinion about the use of Internet in their classrooms. The argument presented by the second student makes me reflect about the what I don’t like about the Internet: It that it is making us less patients; now if we hear about something new, we just jump into Wikipedia and we want to become experts in that subject. But the student had a point... jumping into Wikipedia will satisfy a curiosity that otherwise, if you need to wait, and come home to learn about the topic that cached your attention, by the time you are able to do that, you will probably forget about that topic.
Also the opinion of the third girl surprised me, because she expressed something that I don’t like about the open use of the Internet in campus: texting during class. It was surprising that a student pointed that and complained about that.
The problem that I see is that the two situations come together: the benefit of being connected, with the texting-gaming situation. I think that educating our students on the use of the Internet is the solution, but we are not yet prepared for that.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Unit Plan

Hi and thank you for reading.

I created a unit plan. I'm posting some of the aspects that I consider the most important of that plan:


Subject/Content Area: Chemistry

Course Regular: Chemistry

Grade Level: 9th, 10th and 11th grade 

Length of Unit: Two and a half block periods – (1:45 per period) To be teach by mid October


3. Unit Rationale: Enduring Understandings & Essential Questions

This unit is about chemical bonds. Atoms linked among them in different ways. The way in which the atoms are bonding will provide the compound with specific properties. We can understand the properties of a specific substance, we can predict them and we can “build” specific materials that can meet our requirements if we understand the chemical bonds between their atoms.


Enduring Understandings (EU)

The enduring understanding that I want to leave to my students is the idea that chemistry is involved in every day and in every part of our life. In this particular unit, chemistry explains the bonds between the atoms that form a specific compound. By understanding the bonds and the properties that each kind of bond provides to the compound we can understand and predict some properties of the materials that we see and use. I expect that my students will understand that chemistry is important and as an immediate use in science and technology. Sometimes we can take better decisions based on our knowledge, so I want to promote knowledge.

Essential Questions

What are the different types of chemical bonds?
What is the difference between them?
How can we explain the physical and chemical properties of the compounds that form ionic bonds – crystals?
Based on observation, can we predict what type of bonding structure is present in a given sample?
Can we refer the knowledge of this unit to real life situations?
What habits are you ready to modify after this unit?

Reason for the Instructional Strategies & Student Activities

The activities in this unit are activities that repeat the same concepts in different ways. They try to help all the students to understand the concepts, and some of them are especially targeted for the students with special needs, but they can help the rest of the class.  

6. Unit Calendar: (Chemical Bonds)
Into Activity

The course of Chemistry is a course that it builds on itself; this unit is a logical continuation of last unit, the Periodic Table. By recapitulating concepts as electronic configuration and noble gases electronic configuration, we can be ready to start the unit about ionic bonds


Day 1
Day 2

Content Standards

2a. Students knows atoms combine to form molecules by sharing electrons to form covalent or metallic bonds or by exchanging electrons to form ionic bonds

ELD Standards

1. Standard for Listening and Speaking Cluster 7
Level (EI) Ask and answer questions by using phrases or simple sentences.
Level (EA) Respond to messages by asking questions, challenging statements, or offering examples that affirm the message.

2.Standard for Reading Comprehension Cluster 4 ES
Level (EI) Read and orally identify a few specific facts in simple expository text, such as consumer and workplace documents and content area text.
Level (EA) Read material and analyze how clarity is affected by patterns of organization, repetition of key ideas, syntax, and word choice.

2c. Students know salt crystals, such as NaCl, are repeating patterns of positive and negative ions held together by electronic attraction

ELD Standards

1. Standard for Listening and Speaking Cluster 7
Level (EI) Ask and answer questions by using phrases or simple sentences.
Level (EA) Respond to messages by asking questions, challenging statements, or offering examples that affirm the message.

2.Standard for Reading Comprehension Cluster 4 ES
Level (EI) Read and orally identify a few specific facts in simple expository text, such as consumer and workplace documents and content area text.
Level (EA) Read material and analyze how clarity is affected by patterns of organization, repetition of key ideas, syntax, and word choice.

Learning Objectives

1, After the lesson, the students will be able to understand the ionic bond by naming the monoatomic ionic compounds

2. After the lesson, the students will be able to understand crystal arrangement by identifying   some of the properties

Student Activity

Small groups (4 students)

1. Each group will be assigned with three elements of the same family of the periodic table

2. Each group will develop the electronic configuration of the assigned elements. They need to look for a pattern.

3. Each group will explain the electronic configuration of the elements and will figure out a way to fulfill the octet rule.

4. Presentation on the board, using magnetic models: “How ions are formed?”

5. Presentation of the ionic bond where names are introduced (Power point)

6. Reinforcement of naming compounds.

7. Worksheet: ”Practice Drill: Formulas and Names”

1. Review of ionic bonds

2. Presentation of Crystalline arrangement

3. Hand-on activity, model of a crystalline arrangement


Self assessment of their research
Worksheets : Names and Formulas

Crystal gallery
Voting for the best crystal. Prizes!

 At the end of the Unit the students will have their unit test, where they need to show that the concepts were understood. There is a lot of help for students before the tests like the after school programs, the teacher is available during lunch, or during independent work time.


This lesson is differentiated, it provides different ways of teaching the content in many vary ways: with a power point presentation, with models, with independent work, etc. And we need to remember that the teacher is always there, in the classroom available to help on o one-on-one during the time when the rest of the students are working independently.

Maybe the activities are too tight or the crystal contest can be very difficult for polyatomic ions, so wee need to limit our possibilities to monoatomic ions; that activity will required more critical thinking (which is good). I think that the instruction part of the unit is very easy to understand, but there might be students that haven’t understand the basic knowledge, so that is something that I need to see if there is a need for reinforcement.

The students need to be able to write the formulas: that is a good way to verify if they understood, because writing formulas or naming those formulas implied a lot of concepts.

Designing a unit is a hard task. It involves looking at the whole picture and that is something that can be difficult at this stage for us. There are some activities that we can plan, but we can add some other after planning the unit. Also planning for a whole unit don’t give you a lot of flexibility to modify your instruction. But in general it is important to have a Unit Plan.

Now I know that I can plan for more than tomorrow’s lesson. By planning for the whole unit I will be collecting lots of resources: I can try to make them fit into a lesson if they are useful resources.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Young and modern at heart...

Sometimes my cooperative teacher picks up a lesson that involves an artistic creation, like the periodic table project where one of the outcomes was to create a drawing related to an assigned element of the periodic table.
I also asked my students to make a creative project for the “Día de los Muertos” (with the intention to bring together science and a cultural tradition, trough an artistic project) where they put together on a piece of construction paper the picture of a famous scientist with his short biography and they decorated their work accordingly to the Mexican tradition.

But besides those projects, creativity doesn’t come very often to my classroom. Me as a teacher, I try to present my lessons in creative ways.
Problem solving and critical thinking are always on the top of my head. I love to promote those ideas and to teach my students to use their skills and resources to solve problems. I promote collaborative working, because I think that sometimes my students can be good teachers of their peers, so I learned that strategy and I am trying to apply it very often.
I try to apply the new technologies that what I have learned: I use prezi for my presentations, I created a blog for my classroom, I embed videos on my presentations. Unfortunately not all my students have Internet access, many of them don’t have smart phones that is why some of the technologies that are available to enhance the learning experience are unable for me at this time.
We teach students to be self-directed when we work on a project activity. For those kinds of lessons, the activities guide the student to cover the learning goals as they work independently. We are monitoring their knowledge to verify that the goals were achieved. And this kind of instruction allows us to teach small groups of students according to their specific needs.
For almost all of those projects the students work on small groups, the groups are always the same, students have already their assignments, they know their strengths and they work on what they know they are strong on that.
We incorporate strategies and activities to provide a balanced and comprehensive curriculum. We vary instructional strategies according to the purpose of the lesson. We motivate students and encourage their efforts.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Día de Muertos

There is one Mexican tradition that intrigues and fascinates the people that become in contact with this culture. The: “Día de los Muertos” celebration. During the first two days of November the cemeteries all over Mexico become a colorful places where everybody wants to be. It is a way to keep the dead alive, and it is also a way to honor them. But make no mistake; it is not a Mexican Halloween.

In my school there is a group that preserves the Mexican traditions, and it is a tradition to build an altar for the loved ones that passed away.

I called for volunteers among my students to cooperate with the altar, to bring a photo, a small biography of our love ones, and help decorate according to our Mexican tradition. The loved ones that are going to be in our altar include: Rutherford, Einstein, Curie, Faraday, Bohr, and more scientists who made possible the advance in the science field in the last century.

On one hand we are addressing a cultural tradition that we want to preserve, it reinforces the sense of belonging, it brings pride for the culture, and it promotes family values and traditions; on the other hand, we are learning about my content area.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Teach for brain development and memory

I’m aware that chemistry is a very difficult subject. In order to succeed in my class students need to have a great capability to visualize abstract ideas. That is a concept that I always have in my mind when I plan my lessons. Abstract thinking is something that not everybody has, that’s why I need to look for other ways to facilitate the understanding of my content area.

When I’m teaching I use models and make a lot of similes in order to promote the understanding of a concept. I try to translate some of the concepts to things that are more visual: like chemical bonds for handshakes.

I also try to help my students to make connections with their daily experiences, by explaining why we do some things the way we do: how we prepare lemonade? How can we save money by using vinegar as a fabric softener? Why we cook adding the ingredients in a specific order? On one hand, chemistry is everywhere; on the other hand, some of its concepts in the curriculum are very difficult to understand.

I plan based on a practical application of the lesson that I will be delivering. That is the way I use to transform short-term memory into a long-term memory: in the form of semantic memory or maybe emotional memory. By relating the knowledge that students just acquire to real life situation.

And in my experience that works, when students can see the immediate application of the concept, they are more interested in that concept.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Management Plan

Class management is one of the not so nice parts of being a teacher. We can plan a perfect lesson and have a terrible experience when we are teaching it if we have behavioral problems in our classroom. Some strategies that can help us with class management are:
• Explain the rules of the classroom and the daily ritual.
• Have the lesson plan: have everything ready and available for the lesson. We also need to be ready to modify the instruction.
• Explain the purpose of the instruction. If we let the students know what we are expecting, we are all in the same track.
• Constantly check for understanding.
• Have many group working activities to promote socialization among the students. Rotating the groups will allow them to know their classmates and will create a nicer teaching environment.

Is better to prevent than to remediate. By preventing difficult situation we are making our behavioral management easier. Some strategies that can help prevent behavioral problems are:
• A good idea is that teachers and student together create a class agreement for instruction and discipline (C.M. Charles, 2000)
• If we create a sense of family in the classroom, few behavioral problems can appear. The class environment is caring an positive. (C.M. Charles, 2000)
• We need to explain the rules and the consequences of breaking those rules, also we need to check that the students understood what we mean by breaking rules and by consequences. (Canter, 1976)
• We can involve students in the classroom, even when we involve them in solving the behavioral problems. (Kohn, 1996)
• If we want our students to act with maturity, we must treat them with dignity. (Mendler, 1983)

We want to promote a good learning environment. This is a concept that needs to be reinforced very often: to go back, check that everything is all right with the students, try to remediate if there is something that disrupts the discipline, and continue from there.
• To support a good learning environment we can include our students in taking some decisions and helping us to solve some problems that arise in their classroom. (Kohn, 1996).
• We need to teach our students that it is OK to make mistakes, we learn a lot from them, and they don’t need to be frustrated if the make one. (Coloroso, 1994)
• We need to give examples of situations and how to solve them. With examples and not with ideas, the students can preserve their dignity and their hope when they are facing a problem. (Mendler, 1983)
• There are three types of misbehavior, if we understand them, we can prevent them and address them accordingly if we have a misbehavior problem: mischief, mistake, and mayhem. (Coloroso, 1994)

But sometimes the things turn difficult, discipline problems arise, and we need to act. We need to address the conflict in a more straightforward way to end with it and to return to our good environment.
• If we have an episode of misbehavior we can have a class meeting to address the situation. (Kohn, 1996).
• When a rule is broken we must try to address that fact immediately and apply the consequence. (Coloroso, 1994)
• When there is a serious infraction we can use strategies as the three R’s: reconciliatory justice, restitution, resolution and reconciliation (Coloroso, 1994)
• Once the class’ routine is established, the teacher should look for the cause of misbehaviors and try to correct it. (C.M. Charles, 2000)
• We should stop the misbehavior as soon as we perceive it (C.M. Charles, 2000)

Based on my teaching philosophy, the Experimentalism or pragmatism my main goal is to promote critical thinking, to learn to analyze, to criticize, and to make a conscious decision based on evidence. Values like democracy and justice are important for me.
 I think that teenagers in general are asking for limits. And we need to establish them and to let them know how far they can go and what are the consequences of their actions. But in order to be fair and democratic we can have the students to decide on some of those limits and the consequences.
I like to promote the concept of them being responsible of their actions and I don’t really like a reward/punishment schema.
I also agree that discipline and respect are key areas of teaching, we are educating people, not just passing knowledge.
But I also believe in dignity, in treating our students with respect, to try to understand them and to help them as best as we can.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Problem Solving Gallery - SDAIE Strategies

8. ASSESSMENT(S) The characteristics of the assessment for my lesson plan are:

Type: Informal – Diagnostic. With open problems.

Purpose: To assess for knowledge and skills.

Implementation: Individual, written. It will be corrected with an Answer Key. 

Feedback Strategies: Teacher’s evaluation

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Lesson Plan - Vocabulary

The word is telling us its meaning (30 minutes)
10th grade Chemistry
3A. STUDENT INFORMATION: English Language Learners
There are 38 students in the classroom. One former ELD student that has been reclassified. Her name is Laura
 1.) Readiness Level
 2.) Learning Profile

  3.) Interest. Chemistry is not a mandatory class. The students choose to be here. They have some kind of motivation
3B. STUDENT INFORMATION: Students w/ Special Needs
      There are no students with IEP or 504 plans

1.) Readiness Level
2.) Learning Profile
3.) Interest
    A. Enduring Understanding.
There are many words that we use in Science in general, and in Chemistry in particular that have Greek or Latin roots, by just looking at those words, and if we know about prefixes and suffixes we can know the meaning of that word or concept.

    B. Essential Questions
What is the word telling us about a concept?
Why knowing the words origins can be useful?

    C. Reason for Instructional Strategies and Student Activities
Trying to integrate a vocabulary lesson in my concept course. The information that we can obtain will help is an enduring understanding

Investigation and Experimentation
Standard d. Formulate explanations by using logic and evidence
Standard l. Analyze situations and solve problems that require combining and applying concepts from more than one area of science
Word Analysis
Cluster 2. Apply knowledge of words parts.
Level (A): Apply knowledge of words relationships such as roots and affixes to derive meaning from literature and
    A. Cognitive

    B. Affective

    C. Psychomotor

    D. Language Development
After the lesson the student will be able to determine if some words have a Greek or Latin roots, will identify its affixes, will infer the meaning of the word and the concept that it represent by analyzing some word.
8. ASSESSMENT(S) (Identify if the assessments are Diagnostic/Entry Level, Formative-Progress Monitoring or Summative)
This lesson is formative, the assessment will be finding the meaning of some words on a worksheet.
Most of the words are new for all the students. The information is going to be presented in a way that there is no need for differentiation, except that for some ELD (if their first language is a Romance Language) the some concepts can be easier to understand
1.)   Content/Based on Readiness, Learning Profile or Interest

2.)   Process/Based on Readiness, Learning Profile or Interest

3.)   Product/Based on Readiness, Learning Profile or Interest
With the use of manipulatives, students will see and deduct the meaning of the words. Students with special needs can work at their own pace
(Describe what the teacher does. Include differentiation strategies.)

a)       Short lesson about prefixes, roots and suffixes (8 min)
b)       The students will be playing words cards (description bellow) (12 min)
c)       Worksheet and conclusion (10 min)
(Describe what the students does. Include differentiation activities.)
a) Taking notes
b) Playing with he cards, taking notes

c) Inferring the meaning of the words. Asking questions.
(Attach any materials needed to implement the lesson, such as a power point presentation, graphic organizer, reading…)
The students will be playing with some words cards. The cards are 2-3 pieces puzzles, one part has the prefix, the second has root and the other has the suffix. On the back there is the meaning of the word’s part.

Cards:                                      Back
A-tom                                      (a )not - (tomos) cut    
Co-valent                                 (com) together - (valentia) strength, capacity
Poly-mer                                  (poly) many - (mere) parts
Cat-ionic                                  (kata) going down - (ienai) to go
An-ionic                                   (ana) going up - (ienai) to go
Bio-logy                                   (bios) life – (logos) learning

Some words tell us its own meaning

Based on the previous activity, what do the following words mean?