Thursday, September 17, 2015

Inside the Fish Bowl - Aquarium Set Up

Today we begin our journey as aquarists.  You are receiving the aquarium you will be working on for the remainder of the school year this morning and learning how to complete the setup of your aquatic ecosystem.  Use this slideshow to find the answers to questions 1-15.  Once your group has completed these answers, you may begin working on your tank.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Inside the FishBowl

I've decided to title my updates to this blog "Inside the FishBowl." The idea came to me when somebody pointed out to me that my classroom is just like one giant aquarium. The more I thought about this, the more it made perfect sense.  People walk by our windows and look inside, sometimes they wave, and sometimes they will tap the glass, just like many of us have done when we have visited an aquarium.  I don't encourage this because it does stress the wildlife inside the glass.  This analogy may be one of the most perfect descriptions of a classroom that has ever been uttered.  Thank you to the person that gifted me this, I will be claiming it as my own from this point forward.

So far we have covered our first topic of the year with Oceans, Continents, and Maps.  I feel we've been successful in concepts we have learned about the world from previous classes and adding new knowledge.  I have enjoyed reading your adventures around the world and I hope you enjoyed locating places you may visit one day on Google Earth.

The main thing everyone really wants to know more about is the aquariums.  It is the most frequently stated reason why you signed up for the class.  We have had a couple of group discussions about the project and I believe we are ready to start getting our hands dirty.  I want to make aquarium assignments tomorrow so you can get to work on seeing your plans to fruition.  

We are still seeing some changes in our classes that will change up our groups.  Just remember one of my classroom guidelines: Be Flexible!  We will make the best of it and do great things together this year if you can be flexible and understanding that circumstances change.  I am looking forward to seeing what you do with the tanks.  Hopefully someone finally follows through with their grandiose ideas and we get some small sharks in here!

Speaking of aquariums, I would like to remind you of the guidelines for the assignment:
  • 4-5 tanks per class (until we get more)
  • EVERYONE participates!
  • You will get a little dirty
  • 1 daily grade per week
  • 1 major grade per 9 weeks
  • Keep a fish tank blog
  • Lots of fun building and caring for your fish!
  • Everyone will have at least 1 fish in their tank all year.
  • Food - varies for fish type (ask what they eat)
  • Decorations -provided by Coach Fisher, but you are welcome to buy your own

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Ready, Set, Go!

A new and exciting school year is beginning! Welcome to Aquatic Science and also into my family of students.  I look forward to the year as each of us get to know each other, work collaboratively, and have numerous memorable moments together all year long.  This is your senior year, your last year of high school, and what a year it will be!  Take time to sit back and appreciate all that has happened in your life and education to get you to this point, because your time is about to go straight to ludicrous speed!

Your senior year can get crazy and I'm so glad that you chose to make my class an important part of it.  We have a lot of ground water to cover this year and I want to make sure that when you leave my class you have some tools in your toolbox to help you be successful after high school. We will have fun, we will learn, we will laugh, and by the end of the year you may even cry.  That's alright, because I will be right there guiding you through as much as I can. 

I am excited because this is the first year since my first year at Ridge Point that I really don't know a lot of you entering my classroom.  This is exciting to me because I have the opportunity to add a lot of new faces to my family of students.  I love my students and I am here to help you in class and in life.  I can't wait to meet you and see where you are going.  

We do have a little bit of business to take care of with classroom procedures, safety, and Ridge Point investment days filling up our week.  We will talk about the aquariums as well and hopefully get you excited about this unique opportunity to build and care for an aquatic ecosystem.  You can preview the course syllabus to read what we will cover this year.  

I look forward to tomorrow as you enter my class and we begin the 2015-2016 school year together.  If you've ever ridden a rollercoaster, this week is like the rise to the top of the first drop, so make sure you're ready for it and have fun the rest of the way.  Here we go!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Spring 2015 Final Exam Review

For those of you are taking the final, here is the review for you to study

Final Exam Review

Good luck!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Marine Mammal Project

Groups of 5 Due May 15

1. Choose your Marine Mammal
2. Discover basic facts about the mammal:
  1. What makes it a mammal?
  2. Family it belongs to and its scientific name
  3. Adaptations
  4. Habitat
  5. What do they eat?
3. How have these mammals been exploited for human use?
  1. population change over time
  2. your opinion on how they have been treated
  3. lessons learned
4. Current Threats
  1. Humans
  2. Conservation attempts
  3. Health of their habitat
5. Special Investigations
  1. Important research performed in the past or currently
  2. Whale FM - help tag whale songs and journal it
  3. Beluga whale webcam - watch and journal behavior...3 days, at least 10 minutes each day
6. Create a representation
  1. poster size picture
  2. model (scaled down)
  3. website
  4. arts and crafts type stuff

Monday, April 20, 2015

What's On My MInd (Nothing to Do With Sharks)

As I begin this, I believe I have at least four other essays that I have attempted to start waiting in my folder on Drive.  Maybe they are good ideas, maybe they’re not.  Maybe I did not give them the proper attention when the topic initially crossed my mind.  I have not been able to write as much as I had hoped lately, and I hope that my ability to develop a thought into words on a page is not going away.  I hope this is just rustiness that needs to be removed by increasing the use of my brain and my fingers to pour my thoughts into my keyboard and onto this page.

I also wonder what my plans are with my writing?  I didn’t begin this with any plan, course of action, or intended outcome.  I just felt that I needed to start writing.  I felt that with what I have done, what I do, and what I will do that writing would be an amazing experience for me. I may not be writing poetry, although I have tried, but I do feel that writing puts me in touch with humanity.  It gives me insight into my own perception of the world while I verbalize the experiences I have with people throughout each day.  I have had quite a bit on my mind lately and I desperately need to write.

A prominent thing on my mind has been the Twitter chat I created and curate, #txhsfbchat.  It has grown more and reached farther than I could have imagined when I first had this idea.  It has opened up relationships with people across the nation and provided an opportunity for me to grow professionally that I honestly haven’t put much effort into previously.  I have always enjoyed learning, but I have never invested as much time into learning more about what I do than I have now.  It is exciting and I wish I would have done this years ago.  I can easily say it has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in my career and I can’t wait to see the impact of it on the field and in my classroom each day.  

I have also been flooded with thoughts of my future and how my son’s college choice may impact it.  Depending on where he ends up (in three years) could impact where I’m living, what I’m doing, and a whole host of other things that I haven’t considered.  I would love for him to attend a university somewhere West, preferably in or very near the mountains.  This would force our hand into moving to where my wife and I have set as our goal of moving to for our eventual retirement.  I would love for this to happen, as it would fulfill my heart’s desire of being in a place that is absolutely beautiful to me.  The mountains have been calling me for years, and I have not given them the full answer I feel they deserve.

Did I mention that I teach seniors?  Working with them as they approach their impending graduation requires a special level of commitment and understanding.  With over a month remaining in their high school lives, there is so much I still have left to teach them with so little time.  Less than half of what I want them to learn from me involves the inhabitants of our oceans.  I want them to learn to finish what they started, and to finish strong.  That even if you don’t like what you are asked to do, that it is still worth giving your best effort when the task is a requirement.  And even if you think you’re done, and you feel you’ve taken everything you can take from this school and the teachers you’ve had, that there is a reason I choose to teach seniors and I have more to offer you even after you leave.  
With all of this on my mind, I still manage to find the time to be with my family and give them the love and support they deserve.  I also manage to find time to fulfill my Netflix and Game of Thrones addiction.  It is important to have your daily escapes. Whether you enjoy this or not, read this or not, I have fulfilled part of my need to write some words and express some thoughts.  Now I must figure out what to write next…..

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Mastering the Task at Hand

This week we begin our shark dissections.  This is a time of year that seniors are not interested in doing much, but still have much to do.  In our case, we have a spiny dogfish to examine, poke, prod, manipulate, and memorize.  You will learn how an aquatic organism compares to our own bodies in structure and function.  You will also learn about why their organs have evolved and adapted to allow these animals to survive in the water.  

All of these things you will learn about the shark are interesting (at least to me), but the main lesson I really hope you come away with is the experience of overcoming your fears, your self doubt, or whatever it is that holds you back from trying something new. Sure its smelly, and slimy, and kinda gross at the beginning, but you are about to venture off to college on your own and you will be able to tell people you meet that you dissected a shark! Believe me, not everybody can say that.  I've had students come back to me and tell me how dissecting a shark made them seem more interesting to potential dates! I can't think of a more appropriate use of this knowledge I am providing you then using it to gain attention from the opposite sex!  

The shark is temporary.  The unit will end in about two weeks.  As you progress in life, there will be challenges, assignments, etc that you will have to deal with for a longer period of time than one hour a day for two weeks.  Start building up your tolerance for such things now and embrace the shark.  I have never said you have to enjoy it, but it is an assignment you must complete.  As a professional, take it from me, there is always an assignment that you don't enjoy but still must complete.  I wish I could tell you that if you pick the right profession that you will enjoy everything about it and never experience the dread of performing certain tasks, but I can't.  There are professional athletes who are receiving millions of dollars a year playing a game for their profession that don't like some part of their job.  It seems crazy, but that is part of going to work.

Your uneasiness about the shark will dissipate.  Its just a small shark that is the next job on the list.  It is not something that can hurt you.  It cannot make you feel inferior.  Believe me, it will not be coming back to life anytime soon to exact revenge on you either.  You are bigger than this job and can do this because all it is is the next job on the list.  

So lets cross this off our list and build up our toolbox to conquer the next big job that you don't want to do.  

Monday, April 6, 2015


Its Shark Week in Aquatics! This is truly one of my favorites times of the year as we learn about sharks and how important they are to the ocean environment.  My goal is for each of you to come out of this with a greater appreciation for sharks, and less fear of these amazing animals.  

In order to understand them, we must first be able to identify them.  Right now we know of 450 different types of shark that swim in our oceans around the world!  That is an amazing number for an animal whose gene pool has been around for millions of years and survived 4 extinction events that wiped out dinosaurs and other organisms.  In our local waters of the Gulf of Mexico there at least 49 different types of shark that call the gulf home.  If we know what type of shark lives in a certain area it helps us understand what they need for survival and what we need to do to protect that environment.  For example, the whale shark is a beautiful creature that migrates through the gulf every year.  In the past there have been 80-100 sightings a year of these giant fish swimming in our waters.  After the BP oil spill, that number reduced to 35.  I wish we had policy in place that required the guarantee of the safety of the natural habitat and the animals within before we just drill without any care of remorse.  

We will spend time this week also learning about shark behaviors and what is being done to protect them.  Fortunately we are learning about sharks during a time when they have fascinated enough people and scientists to bring much needed positive attention their way.  Thanks to organizations like OCEARCH, led by my favorite shark scientist Chris Fischer (no relation), and also to the social media educator David Shiffman , people are learning more about the positive impact sharks have on the ocean ecosystem, and what needs to be done to protect them.  

I hope you enjoy this week as much as I do.  This will also lead us into one of the best times of year, where we really get to "dive in" to the shark and dissect a spiny dogfish.  So get ready and hopefully what we learn impacts you and leads to helping protect these beautiful fish!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fishing Project

Your assignment is to go fishing! Find a rod, a reel, some bait, and a fishing hole and attempt to catch the big one!  Seriously, that's your assignment....

You will create the presentation style of your choice (video, slideshow, etc) to share these facts about your trip:

  • The equipment you used (what type of rod, type of bait, etc)
  • Where did you go?
  • All the details about your fishing trip....every good fishing trip has a story
  • Pictures, pictures, pictures, pictures, pictures (or videos)
  • The type of fish you caught (common name, and scientific name)
  • Details about the characteristics of the fish (habitat, etc)
You can only make a 100 if you catch a fish.  You can earn 10 bonus points for kissing your fish

You can go fishing wherever you want, fresh or salt water...Your project is due April 7.

Have fun and good luck!

Monday, March 2, 2015

From One Thing to Another

There is a saying that life is just one thing after another, implying that things just keep piling up, keep happening, and never slows down to let you catch your breath.  This may be true to some extent, but what you do with yourself as those things occur is what makes the difference in how you handle life.  
Are you going to let it overrun you? Just let life keep going while you complain about the pace and the growing complexity of things as all of it passes you by?

Or are you going to be the change? Be the person that evolves into something that has adapted to their surroundings and has the capability to thrive in a variety of systems?  

There is more opportunity available today than ever before to become whatever you want to be.  If you are not taking that opportunity, then you are the organism that felt this whole walking thing and breathing air thing was just a passing fad.  You are an unevolved life-form that is destined to lose its viability and become an afterthought of time.

You can study whatever you want today, whether you go to college or not.  If you don't or can't attend college, so what? Go online and learn for free from a MOOC, teach yourself how to code, just do something to keep yourself learning, to keep yourself changing, and evolve into your next existence.  

I get questions all the time from students who snicker and ask about the TweetChats I participate in and the one I created.  This is something that I do to keep learning from a community of people who I have a shared experience of teaching and coaching.  I am learning something new by reading their thoughts and interacting with them to understand what they do that makes their existence and their contribution to this world amazing.  And by taking in what they say and applying the ideas that I feel will be rewarding to you and to me I am evolving.  I am becoming the teacher, the coach, and the person I want to be.  I am becoming more than what I was.

That is the definition of evolution.  Going from one thing to another.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Adding Value

I recently read a blog from a former football coach concerning his advice for creating opportunity for you in whatever you pursue.  His message was simple.  Add value.  Make each interaction you have with somebody count for something.  Add value.  Whether its applying for college, applying for a job, meeting someone, or even talking to the boy/girl of your (current) dreams do something that separates you from the herd.  Add value.

You add value by bringing the things that make you a spectacular person to each encounter.  Think about the positive characteristics that you and other people love about you and be that person all the time.  

You add value by going the extra mile.  Everybody that applies to college fills out pretty much the same form that you completed.  So do something more to make yours stand out.  Be excellent academically.  With your essay, include a picture of you in that school's t-shirt.  Do more than what everybody else is willing to do, and you will add value to what you bring to the table.

The same goes for adding value to your own life.  Look for opportunities to become better at what you do and who you want to be.  Last week for genius hour I had you find five people who are experts of your topic.  I also had you find a way to contact them.  What are you going to do to make that contact worthwhile?  Add value.  Make them want to engage with you and help you in your pursuits.  

When they do, think about the value that will be added to your life because you began a conversation with someone considered to the best at what they do.  It could be life changing, mind-blowing, or world-rocking! The worst thing that will happen is they say no, or don't reply at all.  That doesn't mean you stop, it means you keep looking for that opportunity to add value to your life.  

I can't wait to see how each of you use genius hour and this opportunity to add value to your life.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Year, New Beginnings

One of the great things about being a teacher includes the Christmas and New Year's holiday break.  I admit that I do enjoy the opportunity to have this extra time planned in to my work year that I don't have to request off.  I also admit that I use this time for almost entirely selfish reasons so that I may relax and enjoy the time away from my classroom.  I use this time to watch movies, to read, to spend time with my family, and to just sit around and not worry about anything.  My breaks are usually pretty glorious.

The start of the New Year always makes me reflect on my accomplishments and actions from the past year, and what I want to do differently or improve on for the next year.  This year I am proud of the strides and attempts I have made to write more.  Writing is something that I have always felt I could do, but never really put pen to paper and started actually doing it.  If not for discovering the site Medium, I still might be sitting around just thinking about it.  I am always proud of the amount of time and energy I put into being with my family, and I also look for ways to do more with them to be a better father and husband every day.  Of all the things I do, those are the most important to me.

I also reflect on my professional life as an educator to evaluate what I thought went well in my classroom and what crashed and burned.  I have been working with a digital classroom over the past year with varied success and failure.  Whether I thought it was successful and my students thought it was a failure is sometimes a blurred line.  Nevertheless, I do believe that the digital classroom is a positive feature and will continue to look for ways to enhance learning with technology.  I also enjoyed the writing and blogging I introduced to my class this fall, but I do recognize that I need to make it a bigger focus each week and stay committed to writing in class.  

I also had plans to implement a genius hour in class to allow the students the freedom to research and learn about topics that interest them and create something worth sharing with others.  Due to some problems with equipment and such, this plan was delayed.  After looking over the year, this probably couldn't have worked out better for my class.  It takes about a semester to get in a good groove with our aquariums, so the Spring provides more freedom to work with the time provided in class.  Genius Hour will be an activity we do each week in class this Spring.  I cannot wait to see the work my students are able to produce when their mind is given the freedom to wander.  

I look forward to this Spring semester because it gives me this opportunity to alter and enhance my original plans to finish the school year strong.  Everything I do is to (hopefully) benefit my students and help them be successful after leaving my class.  Not many professions give you the opportunity to have a fresh start twice during the year, but the education profession does.  Take advantage of this to learn from your mistakes and build on your successes in order to make the second half of your year the best ever.