Friday, December 17, 2010

Another semester down

As I sit here, supervising my last class taking their last final of the fall semester, I've just realized that I've gone the entire semester without blogging one single time! It's been a fast - and busy - semester, and I think we're all ready for a break!

I started the school year "floating" between 5 different classrooms. It certainly kept me hopping! It was complicated at times, especially on lab days, but it was going just fine and there were no major problems. However, it was definitely an inconvenience, not only for me and my students, but especially for those teachers into whose rooms I floated during their conference periods. In fact, I think I was coping with the situation better than some of them were! At the end of the fourth week of school, my department head came to me with an offer - "we'll let you move into the Science Department computer lab as your regular classroom." Let me tell you, that was an offer I could NOT refuse!

The students and I have enjoyed the new classroom. There are various mismatched tables, chairs, and desks, in addition to the built-in lab tables and computers. My 4th period class has especially enjoyed the access they've had to computers during advocate - in fact, I think they've really gotten spoiled! Some of them have even been coming in here before school during finals to use the computers, since they weren't going to be able to during their class time! We occasionally have to trade classrooms with someone for a couple of days so the computers and their equipment may be used by another class, but it hasn't been too bad so far. On the required-attendance finals, they have kept the non-testing students occupied while the others are testing, which is always a challenge! And it's REALLY nice having a classroom - I'm trying really hard not to take it for granted!

Of course, one of the problems of getting a classroom after the school year starts is getting it organized, and that's where I haven't done a very good job. Since I didn't start out with a room, I didn't have a chance to develop paper-handling routines with the students from the start - things were a little different from classroom to classroom, depending on the situation. The end of the semester found me with huge piles of papers on every horizontal surface - desk, computer table, demo table. I've spent the last couple of days while the students were testing and during my conference period cleaning up, throwing away, and organizing. It looks a LOT better - you can even see surfaces! I hope to start the spring semester with a better system in place and keep up with the piles before they get out of hand!

It hasn't been a bad semester - I think I have only one student who will end up with a failing grade, and that's because she moved here a month ago and transferred in with a failing average. I'm sure there will be some changes and shuffling of students' schedules before the spring semester begins in January - there always are. I know of a few changes to be made here and there, but I feel certain most of them will be back in the same classes with the same core group. At least now they know where to find me before and after school!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Beginning a new school year

Well, it's almost time for another school year to begin. I'm doing my best to be ready, and I think I will be by August 23, but then I start thinking about my schedule this year, and I'm not certain I will be after all! I'm going to be a "floater" this year - I'll be teaching in 5 different classrooms! I haven't floated in a LONG time - not since the school year of 1984-85 - so it's a little bit intimidating to think about doing it again so many years later. But I've known this was going to be my assignment since last spring, so I've had time to think and plan somewhat. My biggest concern right now is making it easy for my students to find me before and after school as they need questions answered, etc. I'm trying to figure out the best plan of action, but I really think it's one of those things that will just have to "evolve" as the school year progresses. I will have a sort of "office" area in the Pre-AP Chemistry lab upstairs, but I don't think I'll be there for students before and after school. I will most likely be in or around Doc Smith's room or Mrs. Weaver's room most of the time, depending on what needs to be done when. But I'll have to work out the best plan of action for being available.

I am looking forwad to another year, though - I've always loved school and enjoy getting to know all my new students and seeing the older ones as they go through their high school years. One reason I enjoy teaching freshmen and sophomores is that after I get to know them early in their high school career, I have 2 or 3 more years to know them and watch them grow up and continue our relationship. So good luck in the new year! Come by and see me often - that is, if you can find me!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Y chromosome evolution?

A recent article in the local newspaper ("Study maps advances in Y chromosome" - Seth Borenstein AP talks about a study comparing the Y chromosomes from humans and chimpanzees. As a result of this study, the authors came to the conclusion that the Y chromosome is evolving faster than the rest of the human genetic code. The study found that the human Y chromosome and that of chimps are about 30 percent different, as opposed to 2 percent for the rest of the genome. Since we were studying chromosomes and genes in biology class at the time, I found the article very interesting and had intended to bring it up in class. However, our fast-paced schedule didn't allow it that day and the article got buried under something else on my desk and I forgot about it for the next few weeks.
I have always joked that the Y chromosome has only a few genes, the ones for hairy ears and channel-surfing being the most prominent. The hairy ears gene isn't a joke -it's really true - but the alleged channel-surfing gene has long been discussed with laughter at our house, as well as at many others. But reading the article made me think about the significance of that little Y chromosome. King Henry VIII notwithstanding, most of us now understand that it's the male who decides the gender of the offspring rather than the female. In genetics when we talk about sex-linked traits, we almost exclusively discuss genes on the X chromosome, since those characteristics (color blindness, hemophilia) are the ones most studied. When we discuss the Y chromosome in terms of those who have more than one of them (XYY), the discussion can become very negative, since those individuals have long been suspected of exhibiting extreme aggression and perhaps violence (FYI - I googled XYY and found an interesting website about the syndrome: Perhaps we need to start putting more positive emphasis on the Y chromosome genes. After all, they're sex-linked, too! Even though those traits can ONLY show up in males, I think the guys might appreciate it if we spent a little more time focusing on that lonely little neglected Y chromosome and its positive impact on those who possess it. Now I just have to find the time to research what they might be before the topic comes up again next year . . .