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.