Teacher WebChat March 31
Eileen Bendixsen: Hello Cathy!
Eileen Bendixsen: Great!!! :-)
Cathy McQuone: Hi, I am glad to be here!
Eileen Bendixsen: Hi Sheri!
Sheri: Hi! This is Sheri Edwards from Nespelem, Washington.
Cathy McQuone: I have been one of the silent readers. Because of unforeseen changes in our school schedule, I am just starting Live from the Sun now. I have been enjoying seeing the discussion and activities going on.
Sheri: Cathy--I have just started also--we've done the pre-test and tomorrow start "Billions and Billions."
Cathy McQuone: Eileen--I was wondering if comments on specific activities are collected and put by the activities as they are posted on the website. It would be nice to see comments on activities all in the same place. I am on overload trying to keep track of the many messages on discuss I get each day.
Eileen Bendixsen: There are only a few activities being placed on the website. I do like your idea. Even if the activity is not on the website the tips could be placed there. I will pass the suggestion along.
Sheri: I've been printing out my messages and sorting them. Your web browser can sort by subject.
Cathy McQuone: Sheri--good idea. I now have them by date.
Cathy McQuone: Sheri--how did your students do on the pre-test? How old are the students?
Sheri: Most of my students are not too knowledgeable. I have eighth graders.
Eileen Bendixsen: Sheri--you will find that they don't have to have a great deal of previous knowledge. My students usually do not have much background information on the subject, but they are definitely surprised at how much they have learned when we finish.
Cathy McQuone: Mine are all 9th graders. I am disappointed with how little they know.
Sheri: I know; it does stimulate their interest, which is hard to do with this group.
Cathy McQuone: How do you plan to compare the pre- and post-test? I have 180 students--a nightmare for grading.
Eileen Bendixsen: When I've used pre-/post-tests before, I've corrected both and found a percent for each time. When we used them for building objectives, we had to find the number of students who answered each question correctly and compare.
Sheri: I used all three pre/post activities, so adding to pictures and their KWL chart will show much.
Cathy McQuone: Sheri--since we are both starting about now, would you be interested in having our students share ideas?
Sheri: Yes, Cathy, we could share ideas. Do you have a school website?
Cathy McQuone: Sheri--my site is:
Sheri: Our school site is http://www.nsd.wednet.edu and go to grade eight. I'm trying to load in pictures of the student pre-drawings they created on
a paint program.
Where is the "Solar Monument" activity located?
Eileen Bendixsen: The "Solar Monument" activity is in the fourth section of the Teacher's Guide. I believe there is also a student worksheet that explains the activity. My students loved the activity. If you are going to do it in class I would recommend large groups and do it over a short period of time. I've had them in my room for four months.
Hi Sue! We are having an open discussion tonight. Feel free to jump in with questions or anything you need.
Sue: Hello all.
Eileen Bendixsen: Sheri--any questions about "Billions and Billions"?
Sheri: No, that one is pretty clear.
Sue: I teach 7th grade at McNabb Middle School. There are 3 teachers who are working on LIVE FROM THE SUN.
Eileen Bendixsen: Sue--I also teach seventh grade. What have the three of you done so far?
Sue: One teacher has used "Billions and Billions" and two of us have used "Simulating Fusion."
How is everyone implementing the project? Our original plan was to use LFSUN as an ongoing supplemental project.
Eileen Bendixsen: Sue--I used Live from Mars as a supplemental unit. I mainly used the collaborative projects. At the end of the year I felt they had missed too much. I now use the project as a complete unit. I can teach so many of the standards that I have no problem justifying the time.
Sheri: I was especially thankful for the input from others and the video which clarified my questions.
Cathy McQuone: Ironically, my school district downloaded the last telecast. It is being aired tonight on our local school cable channel so I can tape it.
Sue: We have not seen the video yet since we were unable to receive the live feed. We have ordered the video.
Sheri: The order form says 2 videos--does that mean the two broadcasts?
Eileen Bendixsen: Yes--the 2 videos are the broadcasts.
Sue: After looking over the entire unit we have realized how much is actually available.
Eileen Bendixsen: Sue--I know what you mean. I spend two months and even then cannot cover it all.
Sue: Our problem at this time of year is trying to implement the entire program along with our state mandated program of studies when state testing is in two weeks.
Do the Passport to Knowledge programs come out at the same time every year?
Eileen Bendixsen: They are usually active during March, April and May. This project will continue next year along with a new project. I'm not sure when the major interactions will be next year. The new project, LIVE FROM THE STORM, will probably be in the spring because we need time to put the broadcasts, Teacher's Guide and the website together.
Sue: Our plan was to "get our feet wet" this year and keep the project ongoing next year.
Laura Bashlor: Live from the Storm... How exciting!!!
Sue: Is there any advance information on the new project? That fits right with our program of studies.
Eileen Bendixsen: We are still in the thick of LFSUN. We won't really begin planning until LFSUN is finished for this year. One of the reasons the projects end up in the spring is that we actually put the projects together over a series of weeks. We spent two hours a week on telecons for LFSUN.
Sue: I appreciate all of the work that goes into these programs. The quality is great!!!
Eileen Bendixsen: There is a great deal of teacher input, which is why we constantly ask for feedback. Believe me Geoff and Erna do listen and they usually have ideas that are better than any we can imagine.
Laura Bashlor: The 8th grade has shown Twister on the school TVs. That should work well with the project.
Cathy McQuone: I am soooo glad that this one will be repeated. I will feel more confident and there won't be as much preparation.
Eileen Bendixsen: Sue--I think that sounds like a good idea and Cathy I agree it is nice to repeat, although I like the excitement of the new projects.
Sheri: Yes, and the seventh graders I have will be glad for their turn!
Sue: Currently, I am only using the program with one class until I get more familiar with it.
Laura Bashlor: Tim--thanks for all the great tips on managing the activities.
Tim McCollum: Laura--happy to help :)
Sheri: Has anyone completed the "Real Stars in Real Space" activity?
Eileen Bendixsen: Sheri--I have. I assigned it as a project and the kids did a terrific job.
Sheri: Did the listed site have enough info on color, distance, etc.?
Eileen Bendixsen: The sites listed were very good. Dibonsmith was a great site, but the kids had difficulty finding surface temperature. I'm going to substitute luminosity next time.
Laura Bashlor: I am just setting up for Real Stars. I am using the program that came with my Celestron Telescope.
Sheri: Laura--What is the program that came with your telescope?
Laura Bashlor: The CD is called "The Sky" created especially for Celestron, so it says on the cover. We enter our Long./Lat. coordinates and the time we expect to view. Then we can move it about to match where and how we are viewing. Cool thing is having it outside with us on my notebook computer.
Cathy McQuone: Laura--neat--WOW the right technology can really add to learning.
Laura Bashlor: I can hardly wait for the Storm program. You had to tell us!!!
Eileen Bendixsen: Sorry Laura, but I believe we will be posting it soon anyway.
Sue: I am looking forward to the new program. I will restructure my units to make them fit the timing of the new program.
Cathy McQuone: Sue--I need to do a better job of planning next year so that my unit coincides with the timing of the project also.
Cathy McQuone: Laura--where are you from? Sheri is in Washington and I am in Florida.
Laura Bashlor: I am in Michigan.
Sheri: Cathy--when you do the color filter activity, be sure to check the pens, filters, and construction paper first to get the best results. I have my filters we made with cellophane from Live from Hubble.
Eileen Bendixsen: Sheri--how did the activity work for you? This is one I'm not doing until after vacation.
Sheri: I haven't done the activity yet--just trying to get prepared. The colored filter with the materials didn't match the pens and paper I had.
Laura Bashlor: Oh... I am using lighting gels from the high school auditorium.
Cathy McQuone: It is so neat to talk simultaneously with teachers from such different and varied parts of the country.
Laura Bashlor: Sorry to chat and run, but I am still living in someone else's house while mine is being repaired.
Eileen Bendixsen: Bye Laura!
Cathy McQuone: Laura--good to chat with you. Looking forward to more email on discuss-sun.
Sheri: Hmmm, what are "lighting gels'???
Eileen Bendixsen: Sheri--I think they are the filters they put over lights for high school plays.
Sheri: I found all the green, red, and blue pens I could and tried them all. Then I dug out my LHST stuff and found the bag with pens, construction paper, and the student made filters still in the box.
Tim McCollum: Regardless of your degree of color match, be sure to follow up with
Cathy McQuone: I guess I need to reread that activity.
Sheri: It's a fun activity. Thanks, Tim for ALL your advice.
Eileen Bendixsen: The idea about putting the tips for the activities was a great idea. Any other suggestions that you feel would be helpful?
Sheri: What about an optional materials kit of all extra materials for all activities, like prisms, magnets, filings, etc? Our school has nothing.
Cathy McQuone: Or include a list of supplementary materials and a source for buying.
Eileen Bendixsen: Sheri--we did talk about that, but thought most schools had the materials. I know a few years ago I did not. It has taken us seven years to build up our materials.
Tim McCollum: Sheri--good idea. However, we tried to keep the Kit cost down and thought many of those items would already be in schools. I borrowed most of the magnets from our local university.
Sheri: We live in the middle of nowhere and supplies are hard to find.
Cathy McQuone: Does anyone use NIH image (image processing)? Last year we set our scale by the diameter of the Sun then measured sunspots and compared them to the size of Earth? Got a Wow from my students.
Sheri: Wow would come from me too. I think I've got NIH.
Cathy McQuone: Sheri--Image can be downloaded free from the Internet. If you do not have it let me know and I can give you the site and the lesson.
Tim McCollum: Cathy--we did the NIH Image activity you described at the suggestion of Charlie Lindgren. Great lesson! Next try outlining the sunspot with the rectangle tool and make a surface plot. Really cool results suggesting forces moving into and out of the Sun.
Eileen Bendixsen: Tim--one of the websites is doing something similar. I saw it again at NSTA, but right now I can't remember which one.
Sheri: Is NIH imaging Mac or Windows?
Tim McCollum: Sheri--NIH Image is Mac... Scion Image is Windows.
Cathy McQuone: Image is both formats. Go to my website http://www.leon.leon.k12.fl.us/mcquone/InvestUniv/ImageProcess.html lessons and sites are included see "Measuring Sunspots."
Sheri: Good, thanks.
Sue: Thanks, Cathy!
Cathy McQuone: Tim--I do not know of anyone else using it. I would
appreciate your sharing more with me.
Tim McCollum: Cathy--have you made surface plots with NIH? We used the NIH surface plot feature to render 3D computer images of our MOLA shoe boxes in LFM. Great results.
Cathy McQuone: Tim--can you suggest a good site for acquiring tiff images of the Sun.
Eileen Bendixsen: Cathy--I think Charlie is using the magnetogram images from the SOHO current images website for the work he is doing.
Cathy McQuone: In my course, that might have been suggested but I did not know the meaning of the results. With an online class, we did plenty of experimenting on our own. Without a demonstration, learning was very difficult.
Tim McCollum: Cathy--go to http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/explore/ and then to "Use Real SOHO Data"
Eileen Bendixsen: Sue--Do you have any questions about LFSUN?
Sue: My mind is loaded with all of these activities everyone is doing. WOW!
Eileen Bendixsen: Sue--how can we help? We forget how overwhelming it can
be at first.
Sheri: Does anyone have any new tips for the fusion activity?
Eileen Bendixsen: The feedback I've received on that activity is to do it on your own before doing it with the kids and to show them several times before they do it themselves.
Sue: We did the fusion activity and I found it helpful to add a container for "changed particles" so that students were not confused about conservation of matter. I used overhead color chips to demonstrate the fusion as the students were using the M&M's.
One point... don't use Skittles... there are only 5 colors in a package.
Eileen Bendixsen: Thanks Sue for the reminder. I have a student who is highly allergic to peanuts, so I've been substituting Skittles for M&M's this year.
Sue: We used Skittles as well, but I had to add brown M&M's. It worked out fine, but just be aware ahead of time.
Marg: Hi everyone, I just have to get the Teachers Guide. I haven't a clue as to what is going on.
Sheri: Hi, Marg---it does seem that way, but dive in anyway!
Sue: Eileen--I think I will be able to get a better handle on the program after we finish state testing and I can devote more time to the program.
Eileen Bendixsen: Sue--I think you are right. I know I've found it much easier to do when there aren't interruptions. This week has been one of those weeks with plenty of interruptions.
Marg: Well, I think the solar ovens were a great success even though the candy didn't melt well. Try not to use your solar ovens on a windy day the kids will get frustrated.
Sheri: Thanks, I just added those ideas to my Teacher's Guide.
Tim McCollum: I gave my kids the choice of five activities for April, due May 3rd--our designated Sun Day. The cooker was the most popular, followed by the sundial.
Eileen Bendixsen: When my students did the sundials they were so shocked it worked. They couldn't believe people actually used them.
Cathy McQuone: Eileen--how long will DISCUSS-SUN and active participation of this project continue?
Eileen Bendixsen: Cathy--the project will remain active until the end of May. DISCUSS-SUN will continue even through the summer if we do what we did last year. It will become active again in Sept.
Sue: This is my first time with a PTK program. Now I know what to expect and can plan around the next program so I can devote more time to it.
Cathy McQuone: I am so glad that I logged in tonight. I got some good ideas. However, my family needs me so I have to leave. Thanks to all of you for your knowledge and inspiration.
Sheri: someone gave their kids a tray of items for which various activities were conducted. Are those lesson plans available?
Eileen Bendixsen: Sheri--the tray activity came from Ginny. It sounded like she combined Newton's Rainbow and Making Waves and a couple of the other Electromagnetic Spectrum activities.
Sheri: Ok, thanks again--that's the barcode lesson activities, right?
Eileen Bendixsen: Yes, it is on the website under the TEACHERS section called "Barcode of the Cosmos."
Sue: Great talking with you Cathy.
Tim McCollum: Bye Cathy!
Sheri: Bye, Cathy--thanks for your ideas.
Cathy McQuone: Great, I will start full time on the project after spring break next week. So on April 12 until the end of May we will be full time LFSUN. Thanks for your help. I will be more active in discuss.
Eileen Bendixsen: Bye Cathy!
Marg: Although everyone has probably already done so remind your kids how Easter is set each year. It really helps make the equinox and tonight's Blue Moon mean a lot.
Cathy McQuone: Bye, all. OOPS Marg, I cannot leave until I hear your explanation for the date for Easter.
Sheri: My husband just walked in and said, "I have always wondered how Easter was set."
Marg: Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. Cool, yes!!!
Sue: Thanks Marg. Good reminder.
Marg: If we weren't going to be in the computer lab tomorrow, I might have had my Astronomy students dye Equinox eggs.
Eileen Bendixsen: I'm putting together the Equinox data. Does anyone have any more to send?
Sheri: Yes, we did do that last week and this week. I'll try to get that to you tomorrow. I have the forms--you did say we didn't need to be exactly on the equinox?
Eileen Bendixsen: No problem Sheri. I will continue to update as I receive more data. They are going to link the LFSUN site to mine, so I can update it more easily. There were so many people on spring break that everyone chose different days.
Marg: I am going to have my students graph weather info next week and compare weather to sunspots to see if there is any pattern. Does anyone else do that?
Tim McCollum: Other commitments calling tonight--need to run. Great session and really enjoyed chatting with you all.
Sheri: Yes, everyone is calling for dinner here, including the cats. Thanks for all the help everyone!
Eileen Bendixsen: Bye Sheri! Hope you can join us again. Is Wednesday better than Tuesday for most of you?
Sue: Sheri, Bye--nice talking with you.
Sheri: Tuesday or Wednesday is fine.
Sue: Wednesday works for me (this semester).
Sheri: Bye all, and I hope we have another chat.
Eileen Bendixsen: They will continue to be weekly.
Sue: Great...the chat tonight has helped.
Eileen Bendixsen: Sue--since this is your first project what support could we provide that we aren't already?
Sue: I am just trying to organize it all. The incoming information is
Eileen Bendixsen: I know what you mean. I first started by using the collaborative activities, so it was easier to focus. Then I realized how great the rest of the project is and how much my students were missing.
Sue: I am trying to fit in the activities that support or extend what I have been studying in class. It is hard right now to find the time since I am "under the gun" to get ready for testing.
Right after testing I am planning to devote a majority of my class time to the project. There is so much I want to do.
Eileen Bendixsen: Our statewide testing is in eighth grade and I teach seventh, but I know what you mean. We have CAT's after vacation and there have been too many interruptions for the past couple of weeks to accomplish what I want to accomplish.
I've been working on the project since the beginning of March and I know I'm a week behind where I want to be. I haven't even shown the broadcast yet and it was so good I don't want them to miss it.
By the time you start there should be plenty of tips available as well.
Sue: How do you incorporate student to student interaction? I had hoped for more "online" time for students to actually be involved in the online projects. So far, the "online" times have not been at a time when my students could take part.
Eileen Bendixsen: We will be doing student to student interaction with the collaborative project. We are setting up the list now. We try to keep the discuss list for teachers. We have a separate list for students. We tried groups last year, but they never got off the ground.
Sue: Collaborative project?
Eileen Bendixsen: In the past our collaborative projects have been student debates where the students put the activity together. They have been great. The best collaborative activities I've done.
LFSUN is going to be a collaborative project where we look over the shoulders of the scientists as they observe a CME coming toward Earth.
Sue: How will I sign my students up on a list?
Eileen Bendixsen: You can sign-up on the website, but we need to change the list name, or by sending a message to email@example.com. The name of the list is going to be follow-sun and the project is called "FOLLOW THE SUN". The list should become active right after the spring break next week. We were planning to do the activity this week or next, but too many schools are not in session.
What is nice is you won't have to have a set time to talk.
Sue: Thanks, I will look into that. If we have not completed a majority of the project, will my students still be able to participate?
Eileen Bendixsen: Definitely! You are going to want them to have some background information, but you don't have to complete all of the activities. I know I won't have them finished and I'm sure there are others just starting.
Sue: That will be a big advantage. I really want to involve my students in a "global" project. That is why we tried LFSUN.
Eileen Bendixsen: Teachers are still trying to get their feet wet, so sometimes you don't realize how many classes are involved. It is like most lists. Only a few people post, but I often hear from teachers who talk about how much they learn from the list and I didn't even realize they were participating.
Sue: We have spring break next week followed by testing. So, we won't be 100% active for a few weeks. That has been true for me. I have only responded once, but I try to read all of the discussions.
Eileen Bendixsen: What has kept me using the project is the fact that it is definitely based in science content. With eighth grade testing for science I have to follow the standards.
Sue: I agree with you about the standards. I appreciate the basis of the program is National Standards.
Eileen Bendixsen: We also try to keep the project flexible for exactly the reasons you said - spring break and testing. You can really do the project at any time, but the live interactions are only available for a certain period. PTK would like to have the interactions available all year.
Sue: Next year I will know to get started earlier and have it planned into my curriculum.
Eileen Bendixsen: I can teach 50% of the NJ standards in LFSUN. The strong science content and the connection to standards is something upon which both Geoff and Erna, the project developers, insist.
It took me two years to realize I needed to set aside two months to do the projects the way I wanted. The kids love spending so much time on one thing.
Sue: How long next year will LFSUN be operating? I know some of the information I read earlier said it would be ongoing, but I am not sure how long.
Eileen Bendixsen: I don't think the actual dates have been set yet. I think at least one broadcast will be scheduled and some interactions with scientists. It might be more flexible to do at any time of the year, but I'm not sure. Next year I will have to find a way to juggle the new project and LFSUN.
Sue: My problem is having way too much to teach. Our Kentucky Program of Studies is so broad and tries to include too much for the students to really "learn" in one year.
Eileen Bendixsen: Are the topics all grade specific? We have a curriculum, but it was written before the standards were adopted. The focus right now is on the standards. That is also happening across the country. I've stopped using other projects because they were not as standards based.
Sue: Our Program of Studies is somewhat flexible across 5, 6 and 7, but the testing is in 7th and the teachers, not the students, are held accountable for the test scores. Our state has been undergoing education reform for the last 9 years. The problem is every year there are changes as to what the state expects and what they are testing.
Marg: Thanks Sue, In my district, we are rewriting the whole curriculum. We decided that setting a few objectives is best. But who knows what 2000 will bring when we implement.
We are in the process of setting exit standards for our 8th graders before they can leave middle school.
Sue: That sounds great Marg. I wish our state would lean more toward student accountability. Our current testing has absolutely no bearing on the student's grades or advancement.
Marg: In our district, we are beginning to set our own standards according to the standards of our community.
Eileen Bendixsen: We piloted the science portion of the test in March of this year. In October I asked the top science person in the state what was going to happen. We were only able to find out they were going to pilot the test.
Sue: At least you were forewarned, Eileen. We found out this week the percentage make-up of the test that our students will be taking in two weeks.
Eileen Bendixsen: They took it last week, but I've been so busy I didn't get a chance to look at it. I did hear it was easier than they thought, but that doesn't mean it will be next year.
Marg: We have both HP and Micron in Boise so the standards are high and the students will be held accountable. Meridian has also written their own test and we are asking to be released from testing using standardized testing.
Eileen Bendixsen: We are trying to get to the point where we no longer give the CAT's. They are very different from the format of our state testing. It isn't fair to expect the eighth grade teachers to do everything.
Sue: Our state does not use standardized testing. They use a test of open responses and compare the results of one year's students to the students the following year in order to assess the success level of the school (not the students).
Marg: What are the CATS. Is that anything like ITBS?
Eileen Bendixsen: It is like the IOWAs or the other standardized testing that is provided all over the country.
Sue: You are right about spreading the test out. One thing we do is test part of the content areas in 7th and the rest in 8th. We also use a writing portfolio as part of the assessment. However, true science technical writing is not accepted as part of the portfolio.
Marg: Why isn't science technical writing not allowed.
Sue: It is not listed as an "approved" entry. The entries are supposed to be "real life" writing and technical writing was not seen as "real life."
Marg: Pretty typical though of legislators I'd say. In Idaho, speech is a core subject, but science is not.
Sue: Our testing years are 4th and 5th; 7th and 8th; and 10th and 11th. The first year is always reading, science, and the writing portfolio. The second year is math, social studies, practical living, and humanities.
Eileen Bendixsen: The same subjects will be tested in 4th, 8th and 11th. 4th and 8th are to see if they need extra help to pass 11th. They must pass the 11th grade test to graduate.
Sue: At least the students are held responsible.
Eileen Bendixsen: Yes they are responsible.
Marg: Idaho has been blessed with the Albertson's Foundation that has made contributions of many millions of dollars to help education improve in the
Eileen Bendixsen: Our eighth grade testing includes English, math and writing. They added literature, speech and science as pilots this year. They count next. Then other subjects will be added each year.
Marg: What science class do 8th graders take in your states?
Eileen Bendixsen: We started an Integrated curriculum two years ago.
Sue: Most science classes in middle school in Kentucky are integrated. We teach physical, earth, and life every year.
Marg: In my district 8th graders take physical science, 7th grade life science and 6th grade general science.
Sue: This session has been the most helpful for me. With so much information, I could not seem to find the time to "digest" it all.
Eileen Bendixsen: Sue--I'm glad it was helpful. We thought we would try something like this to help support people. I have to say I learn something each time.
Marg: I hate to leave but I have parent teacher conferences tomorrow and I have a bit more preparing to do. Talk with you all next week.
Sue: Ladies, I have learned a lot and not just about LFSUN. It has been a pleasure, but I really must go.
Eileen, thank you so much. You have been a great help.
Eileen Bendixsen: Sue--you are welcome. Join us again.
Sue: See you next week.
Eileen Bendixsen: Hello Cathy!
Eileen Bendixsen: Great!!! :-)