About the Science Lab
Welcome to MatterMasters! This is a science-focused website intended for the use of my students from TK-5 at my elementary school, Vista Grande, but other children and adults might find the links and information on this page useful as well.
The Science Lab at Vista Grande is for teaching enrichment science to our students. Each class comes to the science lab for only one hour a week, but we make an effort to get the most “bang for our buck” in that one hour. (It is also a time for the classroom teacher to have a student-free prep.) Students keep a science notebook and are expected to maintain that notebook. Even though it is an enrichment class, it is NOT Mad Science. Students do have fun doing experiments and observations, participate in engineering projects, and so forth, but have work to do surrounding those activities. The lessons and activities have components of critical thinking, and they are expected to work in small groups or partners to complete tasks, and to record their results or their thinking. They are building skills for the future.
The Science Lab should not be the only exposure your child is getting to science! I do not teach the state-adopted standards or the district-adopted curriculum!! This is the job of the classroom teacher. The science curriculum for the classroom is quite intense and requires several sessions of science a week in order to fit 3 units (Earth, Physical, and Life) in over the course of the year. There is no way to do this in the science lab and do it justice. Also, many experiments and activities need to continue past an hour, require more writing time/notebooking, or need observations to continue on a daily basis.
There is a new set of standards that are being introduced, called Next Generation Science Standards. They will not make a full roll-out until 2018-2019, but we are going to start transitioning over. This is a new approach to teaching science for many. Fortunately for us in San Diego Unified, the FOSS kits (the currently adopted science curriculum) already teaches close to this way of thinking, but the new standards do step up the game in order to prepare students for an unpredictable job market. Technology, engineering, and science-related jobs will be in demand, yet things move and change so much in this date and age, it is much harder to predict the future of the job market! Our kids need to be prepared for lots of different type of skill demands.
What the Science Lab does do is intensify or revisit some of the standards, cover concepts that aren’t included in the standards, devote time to some engineering activities, and cover a theme. This year, I am following the model and rotation of the teacher at Tierrasanta Elementary. She does a three year rotation of topics, and we got together to do some planning. I decided to try out her cycle of teaching.
I also have experience with students with special needs, 504/IEP accommodations. In our family, we have personal experience with ADHD and anxiety w/high-functioning autism (formerly called Asperger’s). Every child is different, with strengths and weaknesses, and I try very hard to build a relationship with every one of them – all 400+.
I have been an elementary classroom teacher since 2000. I have taught grades 2-5 as a regular classroom teacher, and then TK-5 as the science lab teacher at Vista Grande Elementary in San Diego.
I was born in
Indiana, which is where my family is from, but I also lived in Ohio and Colorado while my father was finishing his education. I moved to San Diego when my father took a teaching position in the business department at San Diego State University just before starting first grade. I have lived in San Diego since the age of 6 and a
ttended Hardy Elementary, Encanto Elementary Math and Science magnet program/seminar, Horace Mann Junior High, and Crawford High School. I am the oldest of three girls.
For college, I have taken classes at several schools, including Grossmont College, City College, Mesa College, University California at Santa Barbara, San Diego State University, and University of Phoenix. I earned my BA in Art, Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, and MA in Education: Curriculum and Instruction all from San Diego State University. In addition to my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, I also have an authorization in both Art and General Science. I have been using technology in my classroom since entering the profession and have completed nearly enough coursework to earn a second MA in Educational Technology – but with five kids, life took over and I never completed my second Masters. I would like to return to college at some point to earn a Ph.D.
I met my husband, Dylan, in San Diego when we were both involved in the mod/scooter scene back in the 1980s. We were married in 1991 and later had fraternal triplet daughters in 1996 (Bethany, Samantha, and Sydney), another daughter in 2001 (Marley), and a son in 2003 (Dakota). All five children attended Vista Grande: the triplets started in their 3rd grade year, while Marley and Dakota started in kindergarten. I spent 10 years with at least one child at Vista Grande, until June 2015 when my youngest promoted to middle school! My son, Dakota, currently goes to DePortola Middle School and is involved in the Robotics Club and loves the Gateway to Technology class – he would encourage all of you to take that.
I have always loved science and art. When I was in the third grade, I was intensely into dinosaurs. I knew all of the dinosaurs names, the categories of dinosaurs, where they were found, etc., and I drew them. I wanted to be a paleontologist. So many new discoveries have been made about dinosaurs, that almost everything that I memorized when I was a kid has changed!
I have also always loved to learn about new things. When I went to college, I took a little longer to get my Bachelor’s Degree, not because I was struggling in school, but because I took a large variety of courses and couldn’t settle on one particularly area. Most of the courses I took were in science or psychology, but I always took an art class, or maybe two. I finally settled on a BA in Art because that is the area I had the most credits in, and I knew I could move on to the multiple subject teaching credential from there. My father was a teacher, and I grew up with that idea in the back of my head also.
I finished my art degree 8 months pregnant with triplets! Yes, you read that correctly. Last class was mid-December. Triplets were born February 14th.
I tend to like a challenge and I like to be involved. At Vista Grande, I have taken on many roles, including the webmaster for www.VistaGrandeElementary.com, I create the yearbook, I am the Science Field Day coach (4/5 science competition team), I am on both SSC and Governance, and I am also on Foundation.
Some personal interests are:
- Road trips and travel
- Anything and everything Harry Potter (any classroom animals have Harry Potter themed names usually)
- other fantasy – Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones
- drawing and lettering
- writing (I would like to write a book some day)
- website graphics and themes