Thursday, August 29, 2019

08.29.2019 - Thursday

08.29.2019 – Thursday –

Hi Science and Math students. Today we reviewed the grading policy where we have most of the credit (fifty percent) coming from weekly tests and quizzes. We’ve been together in class for a week now and I waited until now to review the grading policy, as I like getting into routines and teaching right away.  In math and science we touched on area and perimeter.  One thing about sixth grade is that many of us have come from different schools and different science subjects may have been gone into more deeply in some places than others so we’re all getting up to speed on these things together! Enjoy the ride through middle school J

I.  Math:  Area, Perimeter, and Volume - 
            A.  Students were given regular prisms, cylinders, and spheres and were asked to share and look at page 126 from their binder reminders and apply the formula for determining volume. It was an introduction to using volume formula.
            B.  For Pi students were asked to use 3.14.  When Pi is involved in the formula you know you’re dealing with a circle. (Cylinder or sphere today.)
            C.  First period was given a few extra challenges to attempt this evening. (First four on either side of the paper only.)  We didn’t get quite that far in third period. 

II. Science:  Elements and life.
            A.  Students are arriving at Taylor with a range of knowledge on the Periodic Table and elements. While we get into chemistry in depth in seventh and eighth grade, we do introduce the concepts of atoms, elements, and compounds.
            B.  The Periodic Table of Elements list the 92 naturally occurring elements plus other that have been produced in labs. We gave a quick introduction to C, H, O, N, Ca, and P.
            C. Plants make their own food through PHOTOSYNTHESIS.
            D.  Photosynthesis takes water and carbon dioxide and makes sugar while releasing oxygen.
            E. Science LAB:  Observation and inference. “Form follows function.”  Students were asked to observe, draw, and make a rubbing of various leaf samples.
                        1.  Why do you think a leaf has the shape it does?
                        2.  What was the approximate area of the leaf in centimeters squared?
                        3.  Name at least five things that look similar to the veins in a leaf. Example: It looks like a map of a river system.

III. STEAM:  Engineering
            A.   A very brief video clip on building skyscrapers.
            B.  Students were asked to answer a few questions on their paper skyscraper build.
                        1.  Why might we want to build high?
                        2.  How do available materials limit how high we can build?
                        3.  What force is constantly trying to pull down structures?

                        4.  Why is it important to build using a plan?

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

08.28.2019 - Math / Science / STEAM

08.28.2019 – Wednesday –

     Week 2, Day 5

     Hi sixth graders and parents.  We’re five days into the school year and I’ve been trying to arrange to room and plan the curriculum for a year that prepares each student for middle and high school. In math we’re beginning the curriculum with area, perimeter and volume and in science we’ve touched on cells and the scientific method.


I.  Introduction:  A review of perimeter, area, and volume.
     A.  Perimeter: One-dimensional – example – 12 meters
     B.  Area: Two-dimensional – example – 12 meters squared.

     C.  Volume: Like the volume of or classroom from our lab – 324 meters cubed.

II.  Examples of perimeter, area, and volume from construction and building.

III Math lab – We checked out salt – NaCl – and figured that about 20 salt grains fit across one centimeter.
     A.  So, 400 (20 x 20) salt grains would cover one square centimeter.
     B.  And, in once cubic centimeter, you could fit 8000 salt grains. (20 x 20 x 20)

IV. Volume and perimeter homework was collected and, tomorrow, we’ll use the salt math lab to give an example of how we deal with very large numbers in science and math.
No homework in math this evening.


I.  Introduction: Current events. Two notes on weather predictions for the US for this winter.  Notes might include;
     A.  Winter begins on December 21st
     B.  The “Old Farmers Almanac: uses a complicated – and not, particularly scientific, method to predict the weather.

II.  Notes: Elements and living things. We do not get far into the Periodic Table of Elements in sixth grade, but we do need a background on elements to understand some of the concepts in biology. Living things are, mostly, composed of the elements;
     A.  C – Carbon
     B.  H – Hydrogen
     C.  O – Oxygen
     D.  N – Nitrogen
     E.  Ca – Calcium
     F.  P – Phosphorus

III.  Activity:
     A.  Student placed, into their science notebooks, a color-in sheet hat visually represents the percentage of each element in a plant or animal. (By mass, we’re mostly Oxygen!)


I.  In our introduction to engineering we did not add to our paper skyscraper today because of time constraints but we did complete the “Imagineering” video clip and draw a first-draft design of a house. The ultimate goal is to build a small model of a small home. Beginning with plans, estimating costs, and considering materials and aesthetics.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

08.27.2019 - Tuesday -

08.27.2019 – Science / Math / STEAM / Blog

Week 2 – Day 4 –

I.  Math – Perimeter, Area, Volume.
A.  Perimeter:  The distance around a two-dimensional geometric figure.
     B.  Area: Of a square or rectangle – length x width.
     C.  Student worked with their table group and shared strategies for pages seven and eight:  tiling patterns.  A key strategy was to break the pattern into smaller pieces – “simpler” shapes.

II.  Notes – the coordinate system.
     A.  “X” and “Y” Axis.
     B.  The origin – The point (0,0) where the axis’ (two number lines) cross at a right angle.
     C. Quadrants – Four quadrants traditionally written with roman numerals – I, II, III, and IV.

III.  Homework –
     A.  The first three questions on area and perimeter from the worksheet. Remember to use the strategy of breaking the figure into simpler shapes.

I.  Science - Life and current events.
     A.  The Amazon is important for;
          1. Medicines.
          2. Biodiversity
          3. Releasing oxygen and curbing human-caused global climate change.

     B.  Life – Characteristics of;
          1.  Reproduction.
          2. Metabolism.
          3.  Makes / consumes food.

          4.  Responds to stimuli.

Monday, August 26, 2019

08.26.2019 - Monday -

Monday – 08.26.2019 –

    HI sixth graders and welcome to Taylor Middle School.  Thanks for visiting this site where you can find a recap of what we did in class, the assignments, and an outline of our journey so far …

     Middle school is the twenty-seven school months we have to prepare for high school.  I’m privileged to be your teacher and am excited to begin a new school year in the city where I grew up.

     Millbrae is a special place not only for it’s location in the vibrant Bay Area but also as wonderful environment to explore and create and discover your unique interests as we prepare, together, for the adventure of middle and high school.


I.           Introduction: (Daily math review/preview) – Today we reviewer the ideas of SCIENTIFIC NOTATION. 
a.  In out galaxy, there are about 200 billion stars.
b.  Astronomers estimate there are about 200 billion galaxies in or universe.
c.  That means the total number of stars in our universe is about 4.0 x 10^22 – or 40 sextillion. That’s a four with twenty-two zeros after it!

II.        “Math Lab”
a.  In our math lab today we continued with finding the length, width, and average height of this classroom.  (The “average height” is tricky because ceiling is not a uniform height.

III.    Math homework / assignment –
a.  Textbooks were distributed and our homework is page seven and to “flip-a-coin” and chose one of the figures from page eight. No more than one-half hour on the homework please. If it takes longer than that set it aside as we’ll review it in class tomorrow. Homework is meant to be practice, not a burden.


I.  Introduction: Current events:
a.  Two notes on the current fired burring in the Amazon rain forest.
                                           i.     Farmers are setting fires to clear land for cattle.
                                       ii.     About one fifth of the oxygen on our atmosphere comes from the rain forest.

II.        Notes – LIFE
a.  A review of the Viking landers which reached Mars on the 1970’s
                                           i.     Students were in table groups and asked that, if they were on the engineering team for the Mars landers, what TESTS could you do to determine of there was LIFE on Mars.
                                       ii.     In other words, how can we determine of something is ALIVE?

III.    HOMEWORK – (To be completed on notebooks.) – Observation skills –

a.  Image you go back in time 100 years and find yourself among people who believe our Earth is as flat as a pancake.  Assuming you can communicate with them, what evidence could you use to try to show that or EARTH is, really, a sphere?