So I'm a BIG fan of Andy Weir's The Martian. The book is beyond excellent and because he originally published it chapter-by-chapter, he had many fans and scientists check the science. It's pretty much all correct. As a fan of sci-fi but also TRUE SCIENCE, I appreciate this. Also, he has some clutch JPL and Caltech shout-outs in there, so I have to be a fan. Needless to say, when the movie came out in 2015 I geeked out. Now what does this have to do with teaching and my programming class? Well, there's a very crucial moment when the main character, Mark Watney, must use an ASCII table and decode hex messages from NASA. My students have already learned hexadecimal representations of numbers. It's a quick jump to see the relationship to letters, and after this, we're going to start some more intense cryptography tasks. I wanted to start the new semester off with something fun, so I used The Martian scenario as inspiration.


As you know, programming has quickly become one of my favorite classes to teach. This year I'm reusing many of my materials from last year, so I actually have the time and mental space to fix things, change assignments, and tackle more intense projects. One of those projects is teaching the students some basic graphics with the Zelle textbook's package. Last year we just used Turtle, so this year I had to tinker around with to get to work.


This summer I talked a big talk about creating a scope and sequence, developing your curriculum, and making creative warm-up's. Now it's time to show you how I walk the walk. I want to share this with you to illustrate one main thing: I used to have to spend a LOT of time prepping outside of school hours, but now, in my 7th year of teaching, it doesn't take me as long AND I get to re-use materials I've previously created. PHEW!


I used to dislike the idea of beginning class with a warm-up or "do now," or a "bell ringer," as they're sometimes called. It seemed like a waste of time or a way to force compliance from kids from the first second of class onwards. Then, in my third year of teaching, I had a principal who taught me the magic of a good warm-up. I prefer to call them warm-up's, because that's precisely what they should do for students: set them up for learning today. Since then, I've used warm-up's every single day in a majority of my classes, especially with my younger students.

Digital Physics Labs

This year I'll be teaching two sections of distance learning physics. I LOVE physics - it's been my favorite subject since my sophomore year of high school (hence why I majored in it!). The trickiest part about teaching physics remotely, however, is how to still do labs!? Luckily, I've rounded up a few great digital resources this summer and I'm going to share all of them with you here!


As I'm getting into the nitty gritty of my planning for this fall (TWO WEEKS TO GO AH!), I'm starting to think about what student outcomes I want this year. I already reflected on last year and revisited my teacher "why." Before I think about what I envision for myself professionally this year, I want to decide what to prioritize for my students.