Saturday, August 29, 2009

Refrigerator Papers

The Unit 1 test was a complete success. Most students scored a 90% or better. I encouraged students to take their photos home and put them on the fridge, but they all seem against the idea although no one will tell me why. To solve this problem I have installed a refrigerator door in my classroom for this purpose. Please ask your students how they are doing in class and ask them why they haven't hung their test on the fridge at home.

We have started covering Ecology, a topic the students should be familiar with from biology class and possible ecology class if they have taken it. We started by discussing plankton (floaters), nekton (swimmers), and benthos (bottom dwellers) as important lifestyles and practiced identifying organisms and sorting them into groups.

We have also discussed food chains and webs and practiced identifying carnivores, herbivores, detritavores (scavengers), and producers. Most students are familiar with these terms, though they may not know an ocean inhabitant that fits in this category so they are getting lots of hints.

Monday we will start discussing adaptations, symbiosis, and all the different types of coloration from camouflage to mimicry to sexual dimorphism (where males and females look very different).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

SWAT & Test Day

First period students started with a vocabulary story where Crest tried to defeat the evil Trough (and use all of the unit's vocabulary words).

Students played a review game called SWAT where questions are posed on the wall and students 'swat' the answer with a flexible hand. Two students face off at a time and the person who gets the answer first gets two points, but correct answers get one. Ties mean that both teams get a point. Students progress until all the questions are answered and most students went at least twice. In both classes, students who sit on the right side of the classroom won and received SpongeBob stickers. Students were given independent study time and then given the test.

After the test, students read a National Geographic article about coral reef fish coloration. Check out the photo gallery for some sweet photos.

Tomorrow students start a unit on ecology to remind them of all the underwater interactions that can occur.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Review Day

Students started the day by reading about the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt and how it transfers the water in the ocean all over. Then students observed sand from a couple of places in Hawaii, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Normandy, France!

Students worked on review sheets to prepare for their test tomorrow. Students also completed several matching activities. There was three way matching which involves correctly matching a word, definition, and picture. Most worked in teams of 2-4, but Gunnar accepted the solo challenge. Students also completed a word puzzle which involved manipulating 16 pieces to match concepts from Oceanography.

In fourth period, students also worked on a silly story about a boy named Crest and the Tsunami brothers that incorporates all the vocabulary words for this unit.

Unit 1 Test is tomorrow.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thursday - Sand, Quiz, Google!

Today students discussed sand and where sand comes from. Sounds kind of boring until you think about green sand beaches and pink sand beaches, black sand beaches and more! These are my toes on a black sand beach in Hawaii.

Students looked at a map of the seafloor of the United States and identified shelves, slopes, and trenches and then answered a few questions.

Students took a quiz covering material taught over the week and should expect a Unit 1 test on Tuesday.

Students went to the computer lab to play with Google Maps. (We would use Google Earth, but it's not installed.) Students located the high school, their homes, and then started looking at the oceans. We used the satellite feature to get a plane or bird's eye view of worldly locations. Students answered questions about sea floor features and others about the locations they reviewed. If students were working in a timely manner, then they got the scavenger hunt questions about famous places like the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, the Pyramids of Giza and more.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Light in the Ocean and Bioluminescence

Today students learned about light in the ocean and how far light travels down. The amount of light transmitted depends on the turbidity (clarity) of the water. Different colors of light travel different lengths. Blue travels the farthest, but red, orange and yellow do not travel far. Because red does not travel far, these organisms appear black.

After discussing bioluminescence (organisms that can produce their own light) we looked at brief video clip about it that is a little old and then a TED talk by David Gallo that is more recent. Gallo's talk showed the organisms in more accurate color and in motion. His talk also showed some amazing footage of cephalopods like cuttlefish and octopus performing magical feats of mimicry and camouflage. You should definitely follow the link and watch this video stream.

His talk was based on research by Dr. Widder. We looked at some of her photos and you can learn more about her work and see her presentation here.

We discussed the seafloor and the features that are found there. Many people think the ocean is flat, and eighty percent of it is, but there are ridges and mountains and islands dotting the seafloor.

We finished the day with Blue Planet's The Deep looking at more footage of deep sea creatures - some that bioluminesce and some that don't. First period was fascinated with the gulper eel, a four foot long eel that has a HUGE jaw. It has such a big mouth so that it can eat anything it comes in contact with because in the deep ocean, meals may be far and few between. More information about the gulper eel and other deep sea creatures can be found at Sea & Sky's Website.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Flotsametrics and Pressure

Students started the day with a reading about flotsametrics - the science of floating garbage. Scientists like Curtis Ebbesmeyer study things like Nike sneakers and rubber ducks to see how surface currents work. Students plotted the coordinates of a cargo of rubber ducks that were lost overboard in the nineties and read about some other things that were washed overboard and then used to current studies. Students then listened to part of an NPR podcast of Science Friday where Curtis Ebbesmeyer was interviewed. More about this study can be read at this article.

Students took notes on currents, discussed dissolved oxygen and where it comes from, and then discussed what caused pressure and how it increases with depth. There was a brief discussion about how pressure can adversely affect human divers. Students then did an activity with water and plastic cups demonstrating that pressure increases with depth.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Today students learned about tides, tsunamis, and waves.

Waves are caused by the transfer of energy - in this case ocean energy caused by the wind. We talked about wave parts and how to measure waves.

We discussed tsunamis and how countries around the globe are teaching native peoples to recognize the signs of a tsunami and setting buoys to measure if a tsunami is coming. Students decided that they were glad they didn't live somewhere where the threat of a tsunami is imminent... well except if the Canary Islands fall into the sea.

Last we discussed tides and their causes. Tides are caused by the gravitational tug of the sun and moon on the big wet mass of the oceans. The moon has a larger effect on the tides because it is much closer to the earth.

We finished the day with Blue Planet Tidal Seas. We watched parts one and two to see tides in action and lifestyle of the organisms that live in tidal areas- both on the small scale from a sand bubbler crab's point of view and on a large scale. The Bay of Fundy in Canada has a tidal range from high tide to low tide of one hundred and fifty feet!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday - Schoolyard Report Card

Today we discussed salt and salinity of the oceans. The ocean is about 3.5% salt, similar to the amount of salt in your blood. We measure salinity in science in parts per thousand, so the ocean is 35ppt. The dead sea is over 300ppt!

Students went for a walk around the school property today to get a better idea of the kinds and percent coverage of vegetation. We discussed groundskeeping, cars in the parking lot, runoff and more. After returning to the classroom, students filled out a reportcard for the school concerning how this school could affect the Chesapeake Bay.

Students were surprised to find that our school scores around 100% or higher because of the amount of open space and ground that is not impervious (covered in pavement). We discussed how schools in more urban areas might have a tough time scoring this high.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Safety Test

Today students started with an introductory Brainpop video about oceans and ocean life. Students were given a short quiz about this information to see if they were paying attention and to see if they could familiarize themselves with some tough vocabulary.

Students then reviewed safety concepts and got to know each other a little better playing "Fact or Scat." Safety tests were taken and scored.

An introduction to the world's oceans was started so that students could get an idea of how big the oceans are, where they are, and to familiarize them with the fifth ocean, the Southern Ocean around Antarctica.

Tomorrow we are going to walk around outside and evaluate the school's water issues.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dead Zones and Maps

Today students learned about dead zones by reading a newspaper article and watching a video. Dead zones occur in the Chesapeake Bay. Dead zones are so named because they have very little dissolved oxygen which is bad for fish and other wildlife. We also watched an online video to learn more information.

Students practiced latitude and longitude skills with a world map and then challenged themselves to locate places around the globe that are in the news or that we will be discussing later in the semester.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Who's Who and Safety

Yesterday students filled out a first day survey and today they get to try to identify each other based on the people they drew. Do you know these students?
Yesterday students drew safety cartoons and we reviewed their cartoons on the big screen using the document camera. Check out these cartoons!

Today the students will look at the monster cartoon that I drew to see if they can identify the rights and wrongs as well as the safety rule number in preparation for Thursday's safety test.

We also reviewed the water cycle and how it affects our everyday lives and did an activity called "Who dirtied the water." Everyone participated with Lawrence and Jacob playing excellent tides - swish swish.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday August 10th

Today we learned about new rules and classroom procedures. This will streamline classroom activities to maximize learning. Students filled out a first day survey so I can learn more about them.

We went over safety rules and learned the dangerous spots in class. We also drew safety cartoons and shared them with the class to go over key safety rules. There will be a safety test on Thursday.

Homework - get the syllabus and safety rules signed

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Necessary Paperwork

Greetings students, parents, and guardians.

At Open House or in class, each student will receive a course syllabus, safety rules, and a breakage sheet. Each of these sheets need to be read and signed by both the student and parent guardian.
  1. The course syllabus outlines what the course will be like and what topics will be covered. It also contains contact information.
  2. The safety rules are rules designed to keep the classroom safe and orderly to maximize learning and prevent accidents and injuries. These rules need to be studied because there will be a Safety test on THURSDAY and infractions of these rules can lead to disciplinary action.
  3. A breakage sheet is a contract holding students accountable for the items that are broken if the student is acting a manner that is unsafe for themselves or those around them.
Please have these papers signed and returned by Thursday. Students not returning signed safety rules and breakage sheets will not be able to participate in labs and activities until the contracts are signed and returned.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Welcome to a new school year with Miss Jancaitis! This blog has been set up to connect students, parents, and guardians with the marine ecology class and with marine topics happening around the world.

Computer Lab Etiquette

You are in the computer lab to do work for this class. If you are not doing work, then we will have problems.

Do not pack up early. Work until the bell or until MsJ says.

SAVE OFTEN. And if you save to a key, also save it to your number. If you lose it, you will have to do it again.

If MsJ asks for your attention, stop what you are doing and listen to what she has to say.

You may watch videos about your organism through reliable websites.

You may listen to music through the computer if you have your own headphones. Rule1 MsJ cannot hear it. You get one warning. Rule2 Turn it on and listen – no million clicks and constant changing. Take both ear phones out when MsJ is talking.