The Entanglement of Vines: The Density of Seclusion

It is nefarious and perverse. It can cause anxiety and loneliness. But, worst of all, its vicious depravity, its intentional dive bomb, can lead even the happiest of people, down a dangerous path. Seclusion. Isolation. Division. A confinement of identity. When we feel like we are quarantined and forced on a different trajectory, as those around us, we tend to lash out. Our instinct as humans is to belong. To feel apart of a community. To be accepted by our peers and colleagues. To embrace camaraderie and collaboration. When we feel betrayed or forgotten, we no longer behave like a member of the populace. We become citizens of our own, insulated, abstract, reality and this can cause us to act, in very scary ways.

Quietly or actively, calmly or violently, we react. It may be a disheartening thought nagging us, luring us away from stability. A voice of discomfort and doubt that may linger, a little too long. If we ignore it, it festers. If we attack it, often, a darkness creeps in, makin…

Seeing Past the Score: Looking Out for the Underdog: Snip It #27

There have been many underdog stories, over the last year or so: The Houston Astro's winning the World Series and the Eagles taking the Super Bowl victory, from the Patriot's. It happens all the time, this empowerment that pushes, a team or individual forward, sparking confidence, motivation and drive. The determination that overcomes even the strongest of talents. I see it every day in my classroom. When the soft spoken, understated students, become the leaders of the team, of their own volition. The moment something sinks in and solidifies, and students, who are struggling, get an A on a test. It is a beautiful thing to witness, as an educator and as a fan.

Underdog usually has a connotation, of a weakness or inferiority, in some way. To me though, an underdog has the chops, skills, and mindset, to conquer anyone or anything in their path. All they are lacking is opportunity. Somewhere along the way, they missed a chance, they were overlooked or forgotten. It only takes one …

Dichotomous What? Bernie Botts Every Flavor Beans: Snip It #26

Classification is always a fun unit for me and my students. They come into 7th grade already understanding the six kingdoms and we get to delve more deeply into the levels of taxonomy. We also get to investigate how dichotomous keys are used to classify organisms. Dichotomous keys can be tricky and daunting, depending on the difficulty level. So, I always start out with a straight-forward, tasty one. Well.... tasty or icky, to be precise.
We delve into our first classification lesson, by using Bernie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, from Harry Potter. Each table group gets ten different beans, some yummy, and some not so yummy. I sort them the night before, making sure to have similar colors and patterns, to throw them off. They have one of each, tasty and yucky, for most color patterns. The legend tricks them into thinking they have cherry or watermelon, when actually they have dirt or sausage. 
They won't know which flavor they actually have,  until after they go through the key …

The Zone of Saturation: Breaking Through the Comfort Zone: Snip It #25

A zone of saturation is the level at which water has filled under ground soil and sediment. A zone of demarcation being the border between two areas that are not inclusive, but rather need an area of separation. Residential versus industrial zones, no fly zones, and frigid versus temperate zones. All areas of division, some small in area while others expand over thousands of miles. However, anyway you look at it, they are given areas with certain characteristics that allow it a purpose or use. This territory can be designed to be temporary, fluid, or definitive. But, there always seems to be "the other side." The area viewed from a far, either with envy or dread. Much like a comfort zone, many stay safely behind the walls of the sector while others scale the walls and venture out into the unknown. Which one do you see in your classroom? All of them, right?

Students create this zone through habit, fear, or they can be raised by others through lack of conviction and hesitancy.…

Pots and Pans: Part Two: Snip It #24

Sustenance is a necessity. Cooking has been an honored tradition for a very long time from: A mother, nurturing her children, with a home cooked meal. To chefs concocting the most appetizing meals, for the kings and queens, of ancient times. The art of arranging, planning and preparing meals has become a skill set. Cultivating a palate for great food, either cooking it, or eating it, has become more and more popular, allowing for more visionaries, to step in the arena and show off their talents. The Food Network, The Chew and countless other entertainment venues, have begun to dominate the air waves. I know I watch them. Not necessarily to prepare French cuisine but to gain some strategies that will help me in the kitchen. 

Like in a kitchen, evolution has been taking place, in classrooms all around the globe. Idealistic and noble approaches are being shared on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, just to name a few. Each method, game plan and brainchild, finding a voice of its own. Findi…

Pots and Pans: Part One: Snip It #23

I love to cook, but I rarely have the chance to spend time in the kitchen. I venture into the cookery, a lot, but finding a good chunk of time, to really cook a good meal, is rare for me, during the school year. I only eat well, because my husband, a stay at home dad, is our chef. The first Saturday in months, that I had nothing to do, appeared last weekend. I was elated, I almost didn't know what to do with myself. I took my son to get his band uniform altered and I cooked. I actually spent a few hours in my scullery, tinkering with recipes and honing my rusty, culinary skills.

As I rummaged through my pots and pans, choosing a saute' pan over a sauce pan, a skillet over a stock pot- it dawned on me. There are a lot of different pots and pans. Seriously. There are all of the aforementioned, but then add in: Wok's, griddles and braiser's, baking pans and dutch ovens, roasting pans and pressure cookers. If that's not enough, the materials they are forged from, are j…

A Camouflage Adventure: Snip It #22

During our adaptation unit every year, students learn to identify between the different types of camouflage: discoloration, mimicry etc. A few years ago, I decided that having them watch a slide show, of animals hidden in their habitats, was not effective. I decided that getting students creative and mobile, by having them design a butterfly, with a type of camouflage and hiding it my classroom, might help them feel more connected to the terminology. The concept, these past four years, has been based on empowerment and competitiveness.

Competitiveness is in nature. Camouflage is a result of this. Being able to blend in, hide and survive, is inherent in the behavior, of most organisms. Especially prey. So I incorporated that into an easy, fun, engaging lesson. The butterfly hunt. Every student is given one butterfly and they have to camouflage it. Then they hide it in my classroom- as long as it is in plain sight, from the center of the room- high or low- it is good to go. They have 3…