Sunday, February 26, 2017

And time marches on...Semester 2, Week 8!

We are rapidly approaching the end of the 3rd quarter which means parent-teacher conferences are coming soon. Sophomores will be meeting with Mrs. Stockard and Mrs. Mortensen while freshmen will be meeting with Mr. Hubbard and Mr. Martin. Look for an email coming soon about from sign-up genius about available times--the scheduled week currently is the week after spring break. Physics students will be having a midterm while Biology students will just be finishing a project on Henrietta Lacks and then starting up our evolution unit.

This week, I will not be meeting with the Sophomores on Tuesday as they will be taking the PSAT that morning. We are anticipating the exam going until lunchtime. Best of luck to all sophomores!

This week in biology, the freshmen are finishing up their Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks ABC book, this is due Thursday! In physics, the sophomores will be will developing and teaching a 3-5 minute presentation about an important sub-topic of Fluid Dynamics.  This is also due Thursday. I'm excited to see what the students create!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Debates & Roller coasters--Great topics for the week of "love"!

The Biology students finished up their debates this week. For first period, the students voted the For GMO side as the winners and for 4th period, the votes said the Against GMO sides were the winners. I will be putting together video and posting a private link so that parents and students can view the performances.  This week on Thursday we will have a unit exam on Chapters 7-9.

Physics students are wrapping up their work and energy unit learning about roller coasters with today being our design, build, test day. Overall, the students did an AWESOME job. Tomorrow we have a test on this unit, then we will start a new unit on Thursday. 

In honor of Valentine's Day, enjoy these stellar Valentine's thanks to!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

GMOs, Roller Coasters, and Local Government?

This week, the biology students will participate in a debate on the pros and cons of GMOs and then develop their own opinion using supporting factual evidence from their research. We will be reviewing the history of agriculture as well as the role of GMOs in agriculture in present day. We are continuing our reading of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, whose cells were actually some of the first human cell GMOs back in the 60s-70s. If you haven't yet, pick up a copy of this book! It is AWESOME. 

The physics students will be describing the different types of energy and how energy transfers from potential to kinetic by designing a marble roller coaster. We will build the roller coasters on Monday! This week, 3rd period will be gone both Wednesday and Thursday for the accuplacer testing at WNC, therefore a lot of this week's activities can be completed independently. All information has been posted in Google classroom for the students to access at their convenience. 

The high school student council was the focus of this week for me as we were able to take a field trip to the opening day of the assembly as guest of our Assemblywoman Robin Titus of District 38 (covering all of Churchill County and Lyon County except of the Dayton area). The students learned about how a bill becomes a law, how many bills an assemblyman/woman is allowed to introduce, how bills make it through committees, and the funding for these bills. A huge thank you to Dr. Titus's attache`, Stephen Wood, for making our experience run so smoothly from printed certificates with student names, to having a "goodie bag" for the students, and assigned seats! Monday was a historical day for the Nevada Assembly as they elected their first African American speaker and we learned that Nevada has the most diverse legislature in the 50 states! So proud to be a Nevadan!

Monday, January 30, 2017

“For me, it's writing a book and telling people about this story.” ― Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

I am delayed in writing this post because much did not change from last week, I hope no one was too disappointed. :) We are still working through new information, but the majority of time spent for the freshmen was reading the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. We have made it through the story of her life including the autopsy and immediate medical uses of her cells. The students are really enjoying the story and we have had incredible academic discussions from it. I've been very impressed with their insight. We are a 1/3 of the way through the book and I anticipate us finishing within the next few weeks. Ask your son or daughter to explain why we now have informed consent as patients! Medical history is fascinating! We moved in to transcription and translation (protein synthesis) and will then work through genetic mutations, and gel electrophoresis (I'm hoping this is a LIVE lab)!

Physics students are powering through their bridges, learning the hard way about precision and the adage "measure twice cut once". Within the bridge project, students are also learning about balancing forces, friction, and Newton's laws. We will have a test this Wednesday covering these concepts and then will break their bridges on Thursday. Photos will be posted soon! Students may say they are not getting enough time to work on their bridges, but in fact they have been given over an hour four days a week and I extended the deadline for the bridge to be completed by Tuesday at 4:00 pm. I have given up my lunches, along with Mrs. Rosario three of the days so that students can work through lunch. Students also may come in during study-hall if they have a study hall.

I want to remind parents and students that we are COLLEGE PREP, which means we are prepping the students for college, which with Oasis students starts their junior year of high school. Two things I noticed from this weekend are that students are not reviewing their notes and following up with concepts in the text. To be successful in college, students should be doing this daily. Another observation I have had is that students give up on challenging questions/homework without collaborating with each other or going to their text and or notes for examples. Often in college, there is not a grace period on turning in assignments and done means done. We need to work together to teach our students how to be better students in that they develop more self-efficacy and self-sufficiency when completing their work.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Bridges, discussion, and immortality...oh my!

Welcome to the second week of the 2nd semester!

We are working our way swiftly through the book the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, about the HeLa cells and their contribution to science as well as the story of the woman, Henrietta Lacks, whom the cells came from as well as her family. This book is a non-fiction trade book and highly recommended for freshmen level biology classes. Random House does have it listed at being at a 9th grade reading level. That being said, due to the subject matter, some of the more controversial topics and language will be bypassed or assigned for home reading. When I send home reading, I will let parents know first so that you can either choose to read the book with your child or preview it first then decide on its appropriateness for your family. We also developed today with both biology classes the habits of mature scientific discussion which we will be referring to throughout the semester. Tomorrow we will extract DNA from strawberries, learn about the structure of DNA, analyze some chromosomes, then Thursday we will analyze a karyotype.

For Physics, we worked through the PBS documentary Building Big: Bridges. I highly recommend asking your child tonight over dinner what they learned from the film. Some topics include Caisson's disease (also known as the Bends), the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, as well as the history of the Golden Gate Bridge. Tomorrow the students will learn about the engineering concepts surrounding bridges then begin their blue-print for their bridge. I'm hoping we will start construction on our bridges Thursday, but for sure Monday.

I also wanted to share a webpage for Parents and Students who are preparing for college placement exams such as the ACT who own a Texas Instruments (TI) graphing calculator. TI has excelled resources to help make students more efficient and proficient at using their calculator during times assessments.     Texas Instruments: Student and Parent Resource Center

Monday, January 9, 2017

"Henrietta's cells weren't merely surviving, they were growing with mythological intensity." from The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Hello Parents & Students! Welcome back to OACP High School Science for the start of the second semester! We have a busy week for our students, so I wanted to make sure that everyone knows what they need by Thursday to be successful in my class this semester. Students will need a new composition notebook (not spiral, not a three-ring binder) and a pocket folder. Students also really need to have their own calculator (especially for physics), their own scissors, a glue stick if possible, and coloring utensils.

This week in biology, we started reading the science non-fiction trade book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. This book is incredible and promises to lead the students through genetics, cell biology, medical research, as well as medical ethics. It is a great story and I encourage you to read it along with  your son or daughter this quarter. Aside from the book, direct instruction will help students describe the connection between chromosomes and phenotype, define complex patterns of inheritance, review gene linkage and mapping, and analyze human genetics and pedigrees through direct instruction, independent practice, and lab.

For physics, students will find the direction & magnitude of normal forces & describe different types of friction through direct instruction, lecture, and lab. This will also require a review of vector addition and leads up into our bridge project!

Homework will be posted under the respective class page.

I also wanted to thank all of the parents and students who helped with my Christmas stocking this year, it was filled with a beautiful flannel shirt and a wool stocking cap, as well as all of the homemade goodies, teas, and Starbucks cards that showed up on my desk! I loved everything! I was feeling very appreciated and oh so thankful for everything! The students know me well if they said I need chocolate and Starbucks! :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

As the semester comes to an end...

*This post is taken from an email I wrote to all parents grades 9 and 10 that was sent this evening. I thought it would also be worth posting on my blog. I wish all of you the best time off to enjoy your families! It takes a village, right? 

Hello Parents,

As we wrap up the end of the fall semester, many of you may be noticing scores may be changing daily as I enter all final grades and assignments. Many of my "final exam" grades have been entered, but this does not mean that will be their final grade for this assessment. I am constantly analyzing and reviewing assignments to make sure the student scores as a whole are reflective of learning or if a concept needs to be revisited.

Final grades are not due until our return from winter break, so no need to press that panic button. Just a reminder, our semester grading is as follows: Q1 and Q2 are each worth 40% of the semester grade with the final exam being worth 20%. This is the first time many of our freshmen have even taken a final. The college prep curriculum finals for their freshmen year may look very different than the middle school assessment process. 

If your child sees grades they have questions about, I encourage you to have your child come talk to me directly or have them email me with those specific questions so I can ensure consistent learning and evaluation throughout the class. 

Just a reminder, we will start back on January 9th full force! I encourage all students arrive ready to begin full steam ahead. I am recommending students bring in a new composition notebook and a folder for all handouts, as well as a good scientific calculator to start off the spring semester. 

Thank you so much and happy holidays!

Mrs. Mortensen