Saturday, April 21, 2012


       My butterfly is officially a butterfly! I came back from school on Thursday to find that it was out of its chrysalis. Below are some pictures of it. The blue mesh sponge contains sugar water, its food. When its wings are folded up, it would camouflage with bushes very well, but the other of its wings are actually orange!

      My roommate and I let the butterfly go the next morning since its cage was so small. It was fun to watch this small larva grow, turn into a chrysalis, and then become a butterfly. I would definitely love to do this in my class someday. It can teach some many different things, and it would be fun to do a whole unit about butterflies and their life cycles.

    Speaking of units, I am currently still in the process of working on my thematic unit about prosthetics. I'm teaching it to my fifth graders all day on Tuesday, which I am really nervous about. It will be the first day I have taught everything where I wrote all of the lessons. Below is a bulletin board I put up to encourage curiosity. We will be adding more to it this week, but I thought putting the title and some pictures up would get them to start talking and thinking about it. After I teach about it, they will have a project that they have to complete, where they design a model of a prosthetic. I'm still figuring out how to make this manageable for them. In the meantime, have a good week! I will let you know how Tuesday goes as soon as I can, but I have to take the Praxis next Saturday and have a large presentation the next week, so it might be a little while before I can blog about it.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


My larva is now officially a chrysalis (has been for several days actually). Today, my roommate and I moved it from the plastic container she came in to a small cage I got.

Left: The larva on its last crawl to the top. She was so big that even when it was curved, it did not fit across the top of the container! Right: The chrysalis hanging in its container.

     On Tuesday I get to teach a science lesson about arm muscles. The students are going to build a model of an arm, showing the biceps. It's straight from the FOSS curriculum, but I'm very excited to teach it. Unfortunately, I have not seen much science taught because the days that I come always have an extra thing (library and DARE), so science gets left out (it's not on the ISTEP in fifth grade). Have a good week!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


     A few weeks ago, the fifth grade teacher I am working with asked me to teach a lesson practicing plotting ordered pairs on a coordinate graph. She had introduced the new concept the day before, and the students certainly needed more practice. I found this game online that is very similar to the Battleship I grew up playing, except it was adapted for teaching coordinate graphs. This awesome PowerPoint was made by Sarah Grabowski.

     Originally, I was going to change it a little bit so that my students only had to graph positive ordered pairs (that's all the standard asked for), but my teacher said she had taught them to graph positive and negative numbers, so I didn't have to change anything. One additional requirement that I did make was that they had to write on the blank part of their hidden board all of the ordered pairs of the locations of their ships. This allowed me time to walk around and see who was understanding coordinates and who needed more help. I also had them play on the same team as a partner so that they could figure out where the point needed to go together (they still each had to fill out their own board).

    The students loved this game! Unfortunately, it took a little while to get set up, so no one finished it before library time, but my teacher said they would finish it another day. I love math lessons/activities like this where students can practice and have fun with it. Too often I see these students hate math, which I believe is very sad as math was usually my favorite subject.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter! The Lord is risen!

      This Easter, my mom and I tried our first pinterest-inspired recipe, Bird's Nests. I love haystacks, and they have been my favorite Christmas treat for several years. When I saw a picture of this I knew I wanted to make it. Not only are they cute, but Robin's Eggs are my favorite Easter candy, so combining the two is so delicious!

     Also, this weekend I went to Goodwill and found some good children's books to add to my future classroom library including Merry Christmas, Geronimo and The Pigeon Has Feelings, Too. I'm excited to read the Geronimo Stilton as I have liked others I have read, especially since several words on every page are written in a unique font and color. Sometimes, though, I have found words that are probably too hard for the typical transition literature book, but that's probably because these books were written first in Italian and then translated. I love Pigeon books!

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Growing Larva

    The larva (butterfly necklace) I got at the NSTA conference last Friday from Carolina Biological Supply has been growing like weeds! It is three to four times the size it started as. It spends most of its time eating and molting.

         March 30                                          April 2                                                  April 4

     Today, I woke up to discover that my larva is being to form its chrysalis! At first, her webbing was only on the sides, and I started to worry that she would try to hang from the sides. A few hours later, I looked at her again, and the larva was getting closer to hanging from the paper at the top (like the sheet I recieved said she should).

     I'm so excited to see her turn into a butterfly. Hopefully, her chrysalis will be hardened enough for me to be able to safely bring her back to college with me. Also, I still haven't officially picked a name for it, so if you have suggestions, please let me know!

If you have any ideas for my thematic unit about prosthetics or any advice about thematic units in general, I would love to hear them. Have a good weekend! Happy Easter!

Friday, April 6, 2012

First Thematic Unit (Prosthetics) - Please Help

     I'm currently in the process of creating my first thematic unit (well, part of it at least). While my theme that would take several weeks would be the human body, focusing on bones, joints, and muscles, I only have to actually plan at least 5 lessons that I will teach the fifth grade class I am working with. For these lessons, my theme is prosthetics. This set of lessons comes at the end of my class studying the bones, joints, and muscles.

      The theme of prosthetics is based off of the Indiana Academic Standards under Science, Engineering, and Technology. The Core Standard is "Design a prototype that replaces a function of a human body part." Underneath the Core Standard is three other standards:

5.4.1 Investigate technologies that mimic human or animal musculoskeletal systems in order to meet a need.
5.4.2 Investigate the purpose of prototypes and models when designing a solution to a problem and how limitations in cost and design features might affect their construction.
5.4.3 Design solutions to problems in the context of musculoskeletal body systems. Using suitable tools, techniques and materials, draw or build a prototype or model of a proposed design.

    So far, I have brainstormed some ideas but am not sure how well they would work. Ideally, we would do a group project where they actually have to design a prosthetic based off of a problem (perhaps just draw, but actually building would be more fun). First, we would do some research and learn more about prosthetics through books. Then, they would have to determine factors to consider like cost, what function it should have,and how heavy it is. We would also study the history of prosthetics, making a timeline, to help them determine what technology has been used in the past that they might consider. Finally, they would draw designs of their prosthetic (and make, if I can find a way to do that).

    I have also found some books to supplement all of our learning about science. Some are just books about the human body, skeletal system, muscular system, and joints. Others were actual about prosthetics, whether on humans or animals. Some of my favorites were:

Artificial Limbs by Susan Gray
This book gives good information about the history behind artificial limbs/prosthetics. It tells how they had been made and what has spurred on new inventions. Prosthetics had only been designed by doctors in the past, but now a whole team of people designs them . It also discusses how artificial limbs have to be specifically made for the person who is going to use it, and they can be made for specific purposes. Several leading innovators are also featured. Overall, I felt that this picture book gave good information and was an enjoyable read. I would not expect most of my students to want to read the whole thing, but they would definitely be interested in parts, and it is a valuable resource for me.

Gretchen the Bicycle Dog by Anita Heyman
This book tells the story of Gretchen, who was an ordinary dog until one day when she jumped out of a bed. She landed awkwardly and hurt her spine, paralyzing her hind legs. She learned to scoot around using just her front legs. Then, her family got Gretchen her own cart, which gave her wheels for hind legs. On her new bicycle legs, Gretchen learned to get around and play like she always did before. Personally, I really enjoyed this book and think my students would love it, especially since it is about a dog. I'm looking into finding other books about animals with prosthetics such as Winter's Tale and Molly the Pony.

    If you have any ideas to help me with this unit, I would love to hear them! I would also be interested in any advice you have about writing thematic units in general. Let me know what you think.