Saturday, May 25, 2013

TED Publishes My Video on TED-Ed!

I haven't had a chance to post about the video production process much, but here is basically how it went down:

  1. A friend nominated me on the TED-Ed website.  You can nominate your friends, too (or yourself!) by clicking the "Get Involved" link.
  2. Jordan Reeves, head of TED Ed, sent me an email to set up a time to talk on the phone about possibilities.  At this point, they make it pretty clear that the whole thing is completely exploratory--no guarantees.
  3. I agreed to try to write a script for a three minute video.  
  4. Discovered that writing a script for a good three minute video is really, really challenging.
  5. Sent the script to the editorial team.  Bit my nails for several weeks.
  6. The editorial team decided that they liked the script!  Hooray!  I made it to round three.  This one's easy--all I have to do is take a look at their suggested edits and check for scientific accuracy.  
  7. I have decided that all writers should have professional editors:  I am not a writer, but their editing added a certain je ne sais quoi to the wording in my script.  Definitely better than it was when I sent it.
  8. Round Four:  record the voiceover.  Since I live close to New York City, and I was on vacation at the time, I made the trip down to the TED Ed offices in Chelsea to use their cute little recording booth.  Rose, the science journalist and voiceover editor, directed me through the recording. I did not have to go down to the office--if you live far away, they send you a 'portable recording studio'.
  9. Then, I have to wait.  And bite nails more.  They send the voiceover and script out to a group of selected professional animators and wait until an animator chooses a voiceover.  If you don't get chosen, that's the end of that.  The reason the animators have the choice is because they often put in many MANY hours to put the videos together--and these are real professional who are volunteering their work hours (kind of like the teachers that put the lessons together).  Some of these guys/gals work for places like Pixar and Dreamworks.  Others just rock on their own.
  10. Marc Christoforidis picks my script!  WOW!  I am so excited.  Here is his professional reel on Vimeo.
  11. Then, we work together...emailing back and forth for weeks.  He sends me animated sketches (animatics) and stills to get my feedback and so I can check for accuracy.  He did an amazing job of interpreting some difficult places in the script.  I never even saw what he looked like until his picture was posted on the TED site!  He's got cool hair.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Edible Science Model Projects, Part 6: 2nd Annual Periodic Table of Cupcakes

Our Second Annual Periodic Table of Cupcakes was a success!

If you want to do this sort of project these are things to keep in mind:

  1. Give students plenty of time to plan the project, shop for materials (parents don't like last minute requests) and to make the items that need to be made ahead of time (cupcakes/fondant icing).  We have used a full period to plan it two weeks in advance.  This gives you plenty of time to send a notice home, and plenty of time for parents and kids to shop and make things.
  2. This year, it took a little longer to build the table.  I underestimated the difference in construction time that 4 fewer students would make--keep that in mind when you're doing this sort of project in your classroom.  I use our 90 minute block period for table construction (with the cupcakes and fondant icing already made).  Last year, with 11 students we finished it with time to take pictures and clean up.  This year, with 8, it took two hours, PLUS clean up time.  If you have a group of 20 students, with good planning you should be able to get it done in one class period.  
  3. Make sure you have one copy of the periodic table per student.  If you want the names of the "newest" elements, check online.  Unununium has a new name now, and so do a few of the others!  Mendelevium, Livermorium and Copernicium are a few.
  4. I suggest doing this project towards the end of a unit on the periodic table.  A great way to introduce the periodic table is by explaining why Dmitri Mendeleev's creation was so extraordinary...use this TED-Ed Video to start it off right!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

TED-Ed Invitation! The Lesson of My Life!

I am amazed!  I can't believe it!  Someone nominated me to do a TED-Ed Lesson and my nomination was chosen!

I was nominated to do a lesson on the "Reasons for the Seasons".  I am so excited that I can't even finish this post.


This is AMAZING! My 7th grade students loved this TED talk...

I recommend showing this TED talk to all of your middle school students.  Amy Cuddy discusses how to change your life by changing the position of your body for 2 minutes!  My seventh graders absolutely loved this video:  they had a quiz in French class right after their science class, so we spent the final three minutes of our class in a POWER POSE to lower cortisol levels and elevate testosterone!

Photo from Amy Cuddy's TED Talk showing an example of the POWER POSE that we used in class.

I also liked this video because it tells the story of how personal experience shaped Dr. Cuddy's research and the problem that she investigated.  For those teachers who are focusing on teaching the scientific method, she clearly shows a slide that is her Problem Statement and discusses her hypothesis, as well as details on her experimental methods.  She also displays graphs of her experimental measurements (hormone levels).


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Public Opportunity to Comment on the Next Generation Science Standards Ends on January 29, 2013!

The Next Generation Science Standards | Next Generation Science Standards

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Teaching Tools Series: Cell Cycle Game for Middle School from

This is a great game!

Requires Flash 5 browser plug-in.

From the Nobel Prize site:

"Control of the Cell Cycle Game

- What happens during ordinary cell division - mitosis?
- What happens when a cell dies inside our body?
- How does the body know when to make new cells?
- What are the different phases in mitosis?
- In what order does cell division occur and what ensures that nothing wrong happens?
- How can a cancer tumor be formed?"


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Teaching Tools Series: Quizlet Flash Card Set for Mitosis

I love Quizlet!  My students love Quizlet even more.  I copied someone else's set on Quizlet, and made this new set--added a few images and Voila!  Flashcards for you.

My students especially like that you can print out flash cards or an alphabetized list...and the GAMES!  Their favorite on the SMARTboard is the Scatter game.  It's a fun way to study.