Parents and students had a wonderful time problem solving and designing together at our NOV8…INNOVATE event! πŸ˜€

The use of the character cards, and open design challenge cards were perfect for our time frame and goal. If you want to read more about the organization and setup of the event, please see my past posts: NOV8…INNOVATE and NOV8…INNOVATE: Character and Design Cards.Β 

Family teams used their background knowledge, problem solving skills, and creativity to innovate together! (Such a beautiful thing!) After each family team was done designing, I had them create a short video about their problem and designed solution on Flipgrid. If you haven’t used Flipgrid in your classroom yet…please consider it. It is new to me and I find it user friendly and great for communicating process (great EL tech tool). Also, even though I didn’t use it this way today, Flipgrid also can be used collaboratively, and be used to give and receive feedback.Β 

So happy with the results of today. I loved the conversations, the results, and the connections. See some of those results below:Β 

Huge shout out to my science team, admin team, instructional coach, media specialist, and amazing office staff for supporting my event and helping make it possible!

Happy Innovating!


NOV8…INNOVATE: Character and Design Cards

Yesterday I shared my NOV8…INNOVATE family events ideas.

Well, after some think time, and some discussion with my amazing colleagues, I have decided on using character and design cards (which is sort of a combination of my ideas):

Please click HERE to access the PDF and see all the cards I plan on having available for parents and students tomorrow. I plan on cutting them out and gluing them onto cardstock, so they last the day (and hopefully longer).

Note: The end of page one is blank…but there are more on page 2. I just needed to create a space so that it makes the cards print properly.

To read more about this event, please see my November 6th blog post.

Design results coming soon!

Happy Innovating!



How do you plan on celebrating NOV8/INNOVATE day, as part of National STEM/STEAM month? Me…I am still trying to figure out those last minute details, but here’s what I have figured out:

At my middle school, we are going to try something new. We are inviting parents (or a family member) to come to innovate with their son or daughter during the time that they have science class.

Click HERE for the link to see the entire PDF (which also includes a Spanish translation).

This means that students will only be missing the period they have science…but in many ways, not really missing science, because they will be engaging in some of the science practices during their innovate time.

For all my fellow visual learners, here is what I am picturing: parents will come to the office, check-in, and come down to the media center (library). This is where I will be with helpful TA’s and call slips. Once there, I will send for their son/daughter/nephew/niece/etc. to come down to the media center. Once together they will engage in an innovation challenge.

Now…the question is…what is that challenge???

This is what I am still contemplating. So far I have 3 ideas:

ONE: Start with a picture book!

Click HERE to purchase this book on Amazon

I could start by reading (but not finishing) this story and then have family teams brainstorm and design what their “magnificent thing” would be.

To read more about this book from a past blog post, please click HERE.

TWO: Have character cards that family teams can work together to problem solve by using the design process. I have to do some digging to relocate the ones I have created in the past, but an example would be:

“Meet Sally. Sally is a middle school teacher. She works at a school that has students use technology and paper based tools to learn…however, Sally’s student desks are only large enough for a few supplies. Students are constantly struggling to organize their tools so that they either fit or are easily accessible. This includes their pencil, marker, etc. With no pencil groove on the desk, the pencils are easily pushed aside and rolling on the floor. Could you help Sally, by designing a pencil/marker solution for her student desks, that doesn’t take up any precious desktop space?”

THREE: Theme Challenge

Similar to a 3D printing challenge I have had in the past, I could give family teams a theme…like: Transportation. Together they would need to brainstorm a community based transportation problem, and design a possible solution.

Hmmmm…three good choices, right?

TBA on which I select and how it goes.

Happy Innovating!


Native American History and Experience

Today I want to share another book resource with you…Brightly. Brightly’s mission is to help all of us raise (or teach) kids who love to read. Isn’t that wonderful!

One of the many book lists and shares that they have is one that highlights Native American history and experience, an excellent resource all year, and especially during this month, which is not only National Picture Book Month, National STEM/STEAM Month, but also Native American Heritage Month.

The link/resource that I am providing you today takes you to their list of preK-young adult reads:

See this link for the full list.

Among their list of books, one that I especially want to highlight is:

See this link to purchase through Amazon

This is not only a powerful history connection for your students, but one that lets you explore a powerful discussion and a series of explorations around codes.

Please see my past post about some of the activities I have done with my 2nd grade class.

Additionally, I found a picture book that features a similar story. Granted I haven’t had the chance to read it, but has received high reviews.

See this link to purchase on Amazon

Happy Reading!


“The Sun is Kind of a BIG DEAL”

Buy this book from Amazon.

And it is!

This book makes me smile! The illustrations are inviting and the title is not only fun, but so accurate. I love the personification (great ELA connection!) that Nick Seluk used as the foundation of this fact-based informative picture book about the planets, seasons, and all the important jobs/needs the sun provides us.

There are so many different reasons to read this book to your class and to add it to your classroom library:

ELA Connections: personification, dialogue, speech bubbles, story boards, writing to a specific audience, informative writing, etc.

Science Connections: Earth, sun, moon; seasons, day/night, needs of living things, etc.

One of the recent lessons this book reminded me of, was one of the culminating projects we asked our 8th grade students to complete to show their knowledge of the earth, sun, moon concepts…to complete a comic.

Here are some of their results:

I was really impressed with their creative thinking and their ability to display their knowledge toward a target audience and through a specific format. Future picture book authors! πŸ™‚

Enjoy checking out “The Sun is Kind of a Big Deal” and finding unique connections to your class. Also, be sure to check out the other amazing titles by Nick Seluk!

Happy Reading!


Happy Picture Book Month!

Picture of a bulletin board, featuring different picture books each day.

How do you plan on celebrating this AMAZING month?

The picture above is one of the ways that I celebrated last year, when I worked at an elementary school. I transformed one of the hallway bulletin boards into one that highlights some of my all-time favorite picture books.

You can read a bit about some of the ways I celebrated this month, from last year’s National Picture Book Month post, by clicking HERE.

I am still processing through how I plan on celebrating this year, now that I am at the middle school (so more news to come about that)…BUT…one of my website goals, it is share about a different science-themed picture book, at least every workday.

So…let’s get started!

Photo from Amazon. Visit Amazon to read more and order this amazing book!

If you are anything like me, then you watched “Hidden Figures“, and read (and bought) all the connecting books, like:

“Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13” by Helaine Becker (illustrated by Dow Phumiruk), focuses on a different part of Katherine’s epic career–when, on April 11, 1970, the 3rd day of Apollo 13’s voyage, an explosion crippled the spaceship, followed by that famous line:

“Houston, we have a problem” by Jim Lovell

Katherine worked hard and fast on her calculations, and to communicate them to the team, to safely get the astronauts home. Her knowledge, problem-solving skills, focus, drive, communication, and so many additional skills and talents provide us with a multitude of life lessons, including inspiration.

Please consider adding this to your classroom (or school) library, for not only the science in the story, but the scientist story.

And before I go, a couple resources:

The movie Apollo 13 (one of my favorite movies!)

Katherine Johnson Documentary by Olivia Meyer a student completing her National History Day project.

Happy Reading and Happy Picture Book Month!


“Moon! Earth’s Best Friend”

Simply just take a look at this book cover!

Don’t you just want to pick it up and read it! 😍

I did, and so did many of my 8th graders, when I displayed it. So just imagine the K-5 audience!

Well, if you do pick it up…you won’t be disappointed. The moon, our natural satellite, shares all the features of its friendship with Earth and what makes it Earth’s BFF: like being dependable with its rotation and revolution.

Image result for moon, earth's best friend

Lunar phases, size comparison with other moons, the affect of its gravitational pull on the earth, and additional cause and effect connections are explored through this kid-catching artwork, causing them to be hooked, to learn, and to wonder. Great job illustrator Stevie Lewis! πŸ‘Š

One of my favorite features of this book is more than just the content, but how the content can be shared. The well spaced and well sized illustrations and larger text, make it perfect for a whole class read aloud, small group read aloud, and as an individual choice read. The careful attention to factual content, also make it worthy of a resource for student or class research. My mind is now flooding with the visuals of KWL charts (personally renamed: Know-Wonder-Learned), Wonder Walls, and students picking up this book again and again to revisit certain pages for the content shared. πŸ˜ƒ

Oh…and the K-2 audience will love the pages that dispel the idea that the cow jumped over the moon! πŸ˜‚ (or maybe the adults will…not sure how much that nursery rhyme is still shared…but I loved those pages.)

This book simply makes me happy!

So much so, that I wasn’t surprised to see that it is from the same author as “Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years”, a book I thought I have shared, but when I searched my own site…I don’t think I have yet. Ok, be on the lookout for that share!

Happy Reading! ❀️ Kalynda

“On Earth” by G. Brian Karas

This past summer I posted about the amazing children’s books I found about all things space, when I visited the McCall Public Library. For the next few weeks, I hope to share with you some of those treasures. “On Earth” by G. Brian Karas is one of those treasures.

With its broad sweeping art, this book appeals to preK-2, however its contents reach far beyond, to that of 3rd-5th (and even to some of my 8th graders who struggle with the sun, moon, earth standards and need some supporting background knowledge). While it doesn’t have the full features to support 5-ESS1-2 Earth’s Place in the Universe, it can start a discussion toward that standard, help you assess background knowledge, identify any misconceptions, and be a book of choice that you add to your display of content area books.

Starting with a beautiful sunny day, arms open wide to feel the wind glide across the valley, it starts: “On earth we go for a giant ride in space, spinning like a merry-go-round.” When you turn the page, you turn towards understanding the why. As you continue, you notice this repeating pattern of everyday aspect of life on earth (sun warming our face, to shadows), to a few pages explaining the why…the “what’s happening” to cause this, for its target reading audience.

I love the personal aspect G. Brian Karas threads throughout this informative story.

It helps students relate to a daily occurrence, for us all, and sets them up to wonder and question to learn more about our miraculous days “On Earth”.

–Happy Reading and Wondering! ❀️Kalynda

Cultural Fabric: Class Building Activity

Being of Hispanic Heritage, and being an ELL (English Language Learner) Specialist, I look forward to National Hispanic Heritage Month! This September 15th-October 15th time, is a time of honoring the influential Hispanics in our nation’s history, across the globe, and within our own lives.

For my own school, team, and classroom, I wanted to create an activity that not only honors the Hispanics in our school (for which there is a high percentage), but also the cultural background that is in all of us. Something individual, but yet something that helps to bind us all.

As I thought and thought, my mind kept going back to the idea of a quilt and the multiple threads that are used to create a beautiful masterpiece. The idea of how we each have our own Cultural Fabric was a powerful image for me. I created a possible quilt square that individuals could reflect on and complete, to be later placed side-by-side for a classroom quilt, team quilt, or even a school quilt. The PDF of what I created and my own individual square are below:

You can access the FREE PDF HERE to see the details a bit better. 😍

Notice that one of my suggestions is to get more science involved. πŸ˜ƒ I thought that would also be fun twist.

Want to see a picture of multiple student created ones together in a Cultural Fabric quilt??? Me, too! I presented this idea to my principal, and he had me present it to the leadership team. To my happy surprise…they loved it, and want to devote a week to it, to take the time to have the needed discussions and connections. We will be sharing it with our Advisory classes early in October, as we had other amazing events already on the calendar. This also allows teams to decide to go with my 16 prompts, use some of my suggestions, or create some of their own. In addition, I did share with the team my why, and about National Hispanic Heritage Month. It is also part of the plan to share this event with our classes, as part of the discussion.

I cannot wait for these conversations and end quilt result. I do know that they decided to go with larger squares than I suggested: 8 1/2 x 8 1/2, to be able to use the paper better, printing the “key” on the unused portion as a student reference…great thinking! πŸ‘Š

I will post pictures of our end result in October. I hope you get the chance to share this idea with your team.

Additionally, check out my additional Facebook Page, Science Sites for Education today, and next week for links to sites that provide you with information about impactful Hispanic scientists.

Happy Reflecting, Discussing, and Creating!

❀️ Kalynda

Resource Share: Booksource

Have you gotten so many books that you struggle to remember what you own? Also, if you lend them out, do you struggle to remember who has it?

I do…so much so that I have, on occasion, bought an already owned book. Yikes (but makes for a great future gift). Enter…Booksource.

Booksource offers discounts on books, information on reading levels, AND…Their Classroom Organizer! It is a feature I have just started using. I created an account and am inputting the ISBNs of my collection. My main reason for this is for keeping track, and keeping organized, for my own knowledge and use…but as a bonus, they also provide you the opportunity to add students and have them check-out books from your library (so great!). πŸ˜ƒ #books #classroomlibrary

If you are so inclined, you can also input the reading level (or lexile level or AR level), and depending on the book, that information gets automatically generated.

Also, I am just getting started in Booksource, but I already love their “Library Lens” feature, that provides you with achievements, suggestions, and issues (like right now my library only has 3 books…I better get to inputting those IBSNs). πŸ˜ƒ

The Dashboard also provides a quick view of your library balance:

Have I mentioned that this is free to use? I should have started there. 😍

Happy Classroom Library Building, Organizing, and Sharing!