Friday, April 13, 2018

Final Thoughts From Our Family

As our family decided to share our experience through a blog post, we had the main goal of providing information. Ultimately, that is what blogging is about. Blogging gives people a chance to share experiences, knowledge, questions, struggles, etc. I'm guessing many people didn't venture out to the rest of my blog, but I typically talk about educational topics that I'm super into, like 3d printing with a purpose in the classroom, using iPads in education, supporting students development of science communication skills,  growing a community of invested learners, and sometimes parenting.

The title of my blog is Conversations: Learning and Growing because that is how I believe people evolve. They converse. They learn. They grow.

This conversation was a tough one. It involved sharing negligence, harassment, ignorance, and some stumbles in parenting. It definitely wasn't the fun blog post in which I share my successes and failures in education.

In respect to the comments that were added to the initial post...

I appreciate the discussion, support, sharing of experiences, and dialogue that occurred.

Some people felt it was important to share their experiences with the establishment. I applaud your courage to write that down. You have taken a step that was probably tough for you. And, I'm sorry. I'm sorry that you were not valued as an employee and fellow human being. You deserve better. Bottom line.

Others felt it necessary to attack with comments of "snowflake" and "trouble-maker". While I didn't appreciate being called names, it did give me an opportunity to do a google search of "snowflake".

Yep...learning all the time.

I also didn't appreciate my daughter being referenced as a trouble-maker. That young lady is strong, kind, hard-working, and more joy for my husband and I than I could have ever hoped for. My son is equally strong, kind, hard-working, and a joy! I love my children with every fiber of my being, as I expect other parents do. I am also as realistic as the next parent. My children are not perfect. But, as a good friend once told me about being a parent and educator, "Never judge a child on their teenage selves. They have so many experiences to come that will shape their hearts and minds." As an educator and parent, I remind myself of that daily.



She was the individual in the situation that did what was right. She informed both her parents and employer of actions that were making her uncomfortable.

End of her story.

She has moved on. have we.

No. We will never frequent the business again.
(Honestly, Pizza House is the ultimate in pizza! #yum)
No. We will never recommend other young adults to work at the business discussed.
No. We will not be embarrassed or fearful for sharing our experience.

For those who want to know more about parenting children entering the workforce, please click on this link:

How to Prepare Your Teen for a First Job

Interested in knowing how to:

Protecting Your Teen From Sexual Harrassment

Interested in knowing some workplace information from OSHA:

Employer Responsibilities for Keeping Young Workers Safe

And, finally, knowing information about Teens at Work, here is a brochure that I found.:

Teens at Work: Facts for Employers, Parents and Teens

Now, those are our thoughts on this experience that we faced.
Unfortunately, we went through it.
Fortunately, we have received support in comments on the blog, direct messages, and phone calls.
Thank you for your voice. Thank you for your offers. And, thank you for being those other human beings that I'm proud to share my learning and growing with.

I'm so sorry that others have experienced this.

Knowledge is power.
Conversation is necessary.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Now Hiring

Please visit HERE for our final thoughts.

Now Hiring…

 I looked at this sign and just laughed. Not a ha ha, funny laugh. No. A disgusted, you’ve got to be kidding me laugh. Of course, this establishment is looking to hire.

 Now, this is mostly my daughter’s story, but it is also mine. This is our experience dealing with an establishment in Huron, Ohio that did everything wrong when it came to dealing with harassment in the workplace. At the end of reading this, you can evaluate my actions as a parent. I should have done this. I should have done that. You can even try to justify the actions of the establishment’s owner. Quite simply, what it comes down to is the complex nature of humans and how an equal rights and respect movement for women can be happening all around us, but it doesn’t mean that those who you cherish the most will always benefit from that movement.

 My daughter had been hired at this establishment at the age of 15. She wanted a phone, and I require my children to pay for those extras. So, after putting applications in around town, my daughter landed a job here. This was convenient because it is right down the street from us, within walking distance. In her work time at this establishment, my daughter wasn’t a perfect worker. She made mistakes here and there, but she was friendly, hardworking, on time, and willing to learn.

 After several months of work, my daughter began to complain about another worker “bothering her”. Initially, she did not give many details. She just said that she was getting tired of it. In my attempt to support her, but also get her to face her problems, I recommended that she talk to the owner, her boss. She did that. When I asked her how it went, she let me know that the owner had gathered all the guys together that worked there and had “a talk” with them.

 Problem solved. I thought.

 My daughter didn’t talk about the problem for awhile. She did get really sensitive about my poking around at her, though. Playfully, at home, I would poke her in her back, side, or butt. This would mainly be when we were in the kitchen and goofing around. My daughter would get frustrated and pretty aggressively tell me to “Stop it”! It was really out of character for her, and I didn’t understand where it was coming from.

 Awhile later, after work, my daughter came home very upset. She said that she worked with “idiots” that “didn’t know how to keep their hands to themselves” and didn’t know when to stop joking around. I asked her more about it, and she said that a particular employee wouldn’t stop touching her. She asked him to stop. She told him to back off. When I asked if the boss had said anything, she said that he told him to stop.

 At this point, my daughter didn’t give too many details on the level of touching, and foolish me...I didn’t ask for more details. I just didn’t. Now...ugh. So disappointed in myself. I really thought this was just maybe a teenage girl being a little over sensitive.

 I did tell my daughter to do the following:
 Tell your boss again about the problem.
 Walk away from the guy.
Avoid him.

 This is one of my ultimate fails. She had already complained to the boss, and the activity did not stop. Honestly, if you have been back in a restaurant kitchen, you know walking away isn’t an easy task in such a small place. At the time, I just didn’t think and act quick enough.

 Fast forward a couple months ago, and one night my daughter came home really upset from work. She complained about inappropriate contact and said that she was done working. She was looking for a new job. This really caught my attention because my daughter doesn’t have many options for jobs in a small town at the age of 15. She also knows that no job means no phone. Knowing that my daughter worked the next night, I told her that if her boss wasn’t going to step in and solve the problem that I would. She needed to call me right away if something happened. Sure enough, I received the phone call the next night.

I quickly walked up to the restaurant and asked to speak to the owner.
 In our conversation, the owner explained:
 He knew that there had been some concerns with inappropriate behavior. He had gathered all the male employees and let them "have it".

He followed that by saying that sometimes, it was the girls with the foul mouths and behavior. When I asked him if my daughter had done anything, shown any behavior that would prompt any of this unwanted attention, he assured me NO. My daughter did not do anything wrong.

 The next statements made me so upset and in awe of this man’s ignorance that it’s hard to even write them. This is the owner’s response to my concerns for my daughter. He is pretty sure that the guy harassing my daughter is gay. So, I shouldn’t be concerned with the touching. It was coming from a gay man. Secondly, this kid comes from a good family. I should even know the man. I had him in class. I didn’t see anything bad from him, right?

 Yes… Let that sink in.

 In the owner's mind, my concerns could be dismissed because he believed that a gay man coming from a good family was doing this, and it didn't mean anything...THIS is the owner’s justification for no immediate action.

 Needless to say, I was really upset.

 I countered his claims with I didn’t care the sexual orientation of the man. He was harassing my daughter in a physical way, and it was ending now. I reminded him that my daughter comes from a good family and that she was a good worker. I explained that my daughter would not be working with this man. I informed the owner that if he needed to drop my daughter down to working only one day a week to keep the man harassing her away, that would be fine with me. He needed to figure out what he was going to do long term. Allowing this to happen was unacceptable. I said that my daughter was leaving right at that moment with me, and he could have some time to figure out this problem.

 At this point, I was reassured that my daughter would not be scheduled with the man and that the owner was going to resolve the problem.

 A week goes by… My daughter is not scheduled to work. Not even one day.

 Another week goes by… My daughter is still not scheduled to work. Not even one day.

 After not being on the schedule at all, my daughter called and asks to talk to the owner.
In the conversation, not only is there no mention of how the owner is handling the situation or his concern for her, but he also gives her the worst option. She is offered a position at his other restaurant in another city. In his words, if she wants any hours, she needs to change locations.

 Now, let that settle in.

 My daughter, who did nothing wrong, is being told that if she wants to keep her job that she needs to change the location of work. The 15-year girl that complained about being touched inappropriately is being told that SHE is the one who has to work elsewhere.

 Time for both mom and dad to get involved.

 My husband and I set up a meeting with the owner the next week.

My husband very plainly asked, “Well, what is going on?”

 The owner proceeded to answer our questions this way.

 Why is nothing being done about the harassment?- He said that he went around to the other female employees and asked them about the man in question. He said that the girls said that they didn’t have a problem with him. The owner also said that the last action this man had done before my daughter had called me was only touching her up on her shoulder.
 Why didn’t you review the video of the night in question?- To do that, he would have had to call someone to come help him. He doesn’t really know how to review that video footage.
 Why is our daughter being asked to move locations and not the man doing the harassing?- The owner’s response was that he couldn’t get someone from his other restaurant to switch places with the man. He would lose a driver by trying to move him. He could at least give my daughter hours at his other location. “This is a business decision.”

 In trying to understand the answers that I was being given, I reminded him of our conversation a couple of weeks ago. He again assured me that my daughter didn’t do anything wrong.

However, when my husband questioned him on how he thought we as parents were supposed to deal with this situation, the owner’s answer set me over the edge. He told us that if it were his daughter, he would tell her to not be so friendly.

 That’s it, everyone. If you want harassment to stop, you just have to be a bitch. You can’t be friendly. And, regardless of how small of a space you are working, you just have to be a bitch, and that will send the message.

 At this point, I realized that the conversation wasn’t going anywhere.
Especially after the owner made the comment, “Don’t get me wrong, I like the gays.”

 Yes. Exact quote.

 We. Are. Done.

 My husband shared with the owner that it wasn’t just a tap on the shoulder that was the concern. This man had touched her on her lower back, sides, hips, butt, under the armpits, around the arms and neck. After repeatedly telling him to stop, he wouldn’t. Regardless of whether she tried to act friendly, angry, avoidance, his actions didn't stop.

 When the owner asked us what we wanted to be done, because he wasn’t firing or moving this individual, I informed him that my daughter wouldn’t be working for him anymore. I didn’t trust his judgment as owner. I said that I understood that my daughter’s welfare would always come second to his business. So, the job was ended. I also said that I felt that she was basically pushed out of a job. Now that she had to look for another job, I wanted him to pay for the days she missed due to being removed from the schedule, for being harassed. I demanded 4 days of pay which he agreed to, but still hasn’t paid her. (This is well over a month after this final conversation. I guess that's another business decision.)

 My daughter has since found employment elsewhere, and she continues to move forward.

 However, my heart is stuck in this place.

I tried to do what was right to show her that we would always face the world with her and for her. But, I know my actions were late. I know that I didn’t ask enough questions about the touching. I minimized the actions. Had I asked more questions, I would have understood that my daughter was trying to be the adult, the bitch, the friendly employee. She was trying to inform her boss.

She was trying everything. Everything. She did what was right.

The adults around her failed.

 A movement isn’t a true movement until it settles into all places, even the small towns of America. It isn’t a movement until all voices are heard.

 So, yes.

I laughed when I saw this sign. This establishment needs more help than one might think.
 Sensitivity training.
 Employee management.
 The list could go on...

Sunday, February 4, 2018

One Lesson, Multiple Standards, and the Coolest Robots and Kids!

I begin my science lesson planning the same way most of the times. I get my sketchnoting action going while reviewing the standards. Four years of teaching 8th-grade science and I still use that workflow!

As I have been planning for our Physical Science unit, I also reviewed my lessons from the year before, my student work samples, my AIR test scores, and my available resources. It is quite the balance to mesh science, technology, and learning goals! 

Combining all these reflections helps me to build the science experience that I hope accomplishes these main goals:
  • deep understanding of the science content
  • ability to apply the science content to the world around them
  • ability to share their science understanding through various formats (#sciencecommunication)

I have been posting many of our activities on our Instagram and Twitter account (@lacrossescience) as well as my own accounts (@llacrosse). Sharing this way has helped develop the conversation between various people. I've been communicating with other science teachers about the processes being used and student understanding. A few technology directors have been reaching out for more depth and definition to the activities. Many interactions on Twitter lead to the email and occasional quick GoogleHangOut call. And, I've even gotten some feedback from @SpheroEdu and @BookCreatorApp on Twitter. So, very cool to have this dialogue about the science, technology, and learning goals happening.

I wanted to share one of our recent lessons in a bit more depth than a picture, video, or quick tweet.

So, here is One Lesson, Multiple Standards, and the Coolest Robots and Kids!

The standards...
Ohio works within our Model Curriculum. The 8th grade science learning is an integrated science class with Earth and Space, Physical Science, and Life Science. We also have the year-long focus on Science Inquiry and Application. Our lessons in class right now are focusing on these standards. (For more in-depth description, the link is above.

One Lesson...
This lesson allowed me to present students with a statement of inquiry in which they designed, conducted, evaluated, and reported on the results of their investigation.

The question, "How does friction affect Sphero's movement?" This is a very open-ended question that students could work in teams to address. The question allowed them to explore concepts of direct contact forces, as well as magnitude and direction. During the intro to the lesson, I identified different areas that Sphero could be tested in the room and hallway. I also reminded students of the location of materials in the room (tape, meter sticks, iPads, floor surfaces, and Sphero robots) and set the timer on the big board. Then, GO! Students worked quickly to group up, set up notebooks and brainstorm procedure, and begin the hunt for materials and space to work.

I know that students have the prior understanding that friction is a force that objects experience when in contact with other objects.
Our standards say, 
"Kinetic friction is a force that occurs when two objects in contact interact by sliding past one another. Drag is a force that opposes the motion of an object when an object moves through a fluid (e.g., gas, liquid). Kinetic friction and drag affect the motion of objects and may even cause moving objects to slow to a stop unless another force is exerted in the direction of motion." 

 So, the investigation allows them to evaluate not only the opposing force of friction on Sphero, but the necessity of friction for the movement of Sphero. I also wanted the students to come to the conclusion that the surfaces they were testing (carpet, foam, tile) had other variables besides friction that impacted the results. This addresses the part of inquiry that asks students to, "Think critically and logically to connect evidence and explanations; • Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and predictions"

Within this lesson, my students were also being asked to:
  • use measuring skills (Metric for the win!)
  • work as a team and communicate ideas and responsibilities
  • identify ways to keep variables controlled
  • record data in a clear and organized manner
  • calculate for speed

For some students, these skills are developed already and the pairing up in teams allowed them to showcase these skills as well as support their peers. So, now the activity allows for peer mentoring and an experience that will probably mean more than having the teacher direct the learning.


I was really impressed with my students. The conversations were right on the content. They were totally focused on controlling as many variables as possible. For example, many groups helped direct struggling groups to "set up a program, don't drive Sphero". They recognized the benefit of using coding to keep the variables constant. I was also happy with how they supported each other in setting up the data charts, using the units of measurement appropriate, and calculating speed. They kept referencing previous lessons, other groups' work, and my discussion at the beginning of class.

By the way...this is all with a robot that some might consider a toy.
Teaching science through play is OK! 

This lesson actually should have had 2 parts. Because our class periods are a short 41 minutes, I should have had students design, conduct, and collect data on the first day. Then, they should have reviewed their results and wrote conclusions on the second day. I think that we would have had more depth in our conversation with that setup. Unfortunately, I rushed the conclusion part of the investigation to be on the day of the lab. Then, I had to backtrack a bit to discuss variables that caused data to be skewed. We also had to do more discussion later about the science of friction (necessity) and the question vagueness itself. While this wasn't a huge problem for the lab, I think more time would have made it even better. #reflectionfornexttime

Do you have any suggestions, comments, or thoughts on science? Definitely, please share! I'm always trying to reflect, improve, and deliver science instruction that helps grow reflective, science communicators. I appreciate any ideas.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

When you are not the smartest person at the table...

This summer has definitely been one of growth and a changed mind set. Each summer, I anticipate a certain level of growth. I deliberately put myself in positions that foster that growth. For example, I try to sign up to share my learning by presenting at various local, state, and national conferences and events. I also use those opportunities to attend other sessions that are in my wheelhouse or way outside of my expertise. Always looking to learn, always looking to grow!

So, this summer was no different. I began my summer learning with a NASA workshop at Glenn Research Facility. This was a perfect way to jumpstart the summer. I found new resources. I shared some of my favorites. And, I just really enjoyed spending time with my pal, Patty Ryan. Sharing stories, brainstorming ideas, and just enjoying learning together.

I followed that awesome experience with local conferences in which I shared electronic book building, 3D printing, and Sphero. I truly enjoyed the small setting and sharing with teachers the success that I've had with my students using some fabulous tools. It was awesome driving with another pal, Jen Telenko. She shared her ideas for the classroom. I shared mine. By the end of the drive and conference, I was again energized by a fellow teacher. From Breakout EDU to flexible seating, we just connected. So many great ideas and plans.

I enjoyed a Drone training through WVIZ. My friend, Mary James and I had a lot of fun there! Just a couple hours working with drones brought awesome ideas for the classroom. We had a fantastic time flying drones together, and again it was all about the sharing of ideas. Conversations that just percolated ideas. The time flew by (literally) and we even left with a drone, curriculum, and extra batteries!!!

From here, I was off...traveling to San Antonio for ISTE and Houston for the ADE Academy and finally the Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia.

Phew! If it sounds exhausting, it was because it was. The flying part is always a little rough. Being away from my kids and husband is super difficult. Even though the kiddos are on their own path, and my husband works throughout the summer, I still miss them terribly when I travel.

What was equally exhausting was the learning...

It was actually at the Boy Scout Jamboree that this summer's biggest learning came to me. As I was sitting around a table, I was listening to a high school Chemistry teacher, a biochemical engineer, a software programmer, and a high altitude ballooning expert talk. I was doing much more listening than talking. The level of conversation was fantastic. The continual excitement and "what if" of the conversation was awesome, but it was also just very humbling to me. I quickly could see that some of what they were speaking about was way over my head, my understanding. I was definitely NOT the smartest person at the table. I was a sponge, absorbing through their conversation. I was learning like crazy...but, I was definitely not the driving force in the conversation.

I reflected back on how many times I felt this way during the summer. It became pretty clear to me that my summer has been filled with moments where I thought I would have all the background knowledge, all the expertise...only to find out that I was not the expert in the group. I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by amazing people that had so much to offer. My local teacher pals, Mary, Patty, and Jen taught me so much just on those car rides. My friend, Jon Jarc, had so much insight and learning to share at ISTE. Rich Perry and Julie Willcott never cease to amaze me with their creative genius. My time at the ADE Academy was FULL of moments where I just had to sit back, absorb, and be amazed by the educators around me.

We call each other our Tribe. We know each person has a strength. We learn. We grow.

This is one of the best parts of the human experience. I believe that if you always put yourself in situations where you are the smartest person at the table, you are missing out. Surrounding myself with much wiser, more creative, and gifted educators allows me to grow so much more than without them.

I know that summer is about relaxing and enjoying time off. That was my Hawaii trip this summer too! It's also about finding the inspiration that you need to continue innovating in the classroom. This growth is what I found as I worked with some brilliant people this summer.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Pitch Your Mars Settlement Plan!

Right now, we are getting into a PBL unit for Mars settlement plans. The 8th graders are getting that excited look of CREATION as we begin!

We began the unit with the NASA game, Marsbound! Mission to the Red Planet Kids LOVED this game. It was a great way to introduce concepts about a budget, mission goals, and available science. Plus, my favorite part...budget cuts! Kids get so invested that they are hilarious when I do this. Printing out these game boards and pieces and laminating them was definitely worth it!

Then, I integrating the movie, The Martian, for some background and inspiration. I have a video viewing guide that we work through that includes various levels of questions and background science. I also have the areas listed to mute and do a quick hide of the screen for questionable material. I have students get a parent release signed even though it is PG13.

Then, students chose to work in teams to design:
    • Rover design (working from the game) and 3D printing- I have 3 printers in the room to work with. We use a super simple app and website for design. The students also have the freedom to integrate Legos, cardboard, recycled products, and more! Whatever they need to pull together to make their design come to life. With so many print jobs, you might wonder how I manage the student requests...Google Form! They have to request a print by filling out a form. 
    • Space suit- Research, design, and drawing on paper or in the Paper53 app on the iPad. LOVE this! The kids are talking about basic human needs, material science, flexibility, function, and more. I will be so excited to share those designs.
    • Crew welfare- Students work to provide for mental and physical needs of the crew while on the 8 month trip to Mars and when on the planet! This entails a lot of students creating Spotify playlists, finding apps on the iPad to create music, designing work out facilities, and more. Having them research the ISS workout plan is a great place to start.
    • Settlement model- Students design a model for what they want the settlement to look like and have in it. This starts with research and watching videos like and Then, students can 3D print, use cardboard, Legos, recycled products, duct tape (more duct tape) to build the structure. Super fun!
    • Food production and distribution- Research, design, and possible model building. This is turning out to be one of the best parts of the project! Students are researching caloric needs and comparing sample diets from around the world. Talk about eye opening. Thinking of raising insects or guinea pigs for food was not the initial idea, but research shows... Also, a great way to get kids talking about sexual and asexual reproduction in plants.
    • Coding- I have a group of students that designed a Martian surface with mountains, craters, and debris using an old Lego competition table (4 ft X 8 ft). They used recycled products, sand, duct tape, garbage bags, cardboard, and more to design a challenging surface mission that other classes will code Sphero and some Lego Mindstorms through. The table is 2 levels of awesome student design!

    • Rocket building- I asked my local Meijer store to donate rockets, and they did. They are level one rockets. So, definitely, very little teacher assistance required. I bought extra charges for multiple launches. This will be fun to have a couple of students launch rockets for each class period. I'm going to require this group to collect video for an iMovie in which they share their settlement mission statements, include the other teams' artifacts of learning, and show the rocket launch. So, basically, this team will become my media team by the end of it.

Now, all of this will come together in a large table for models, videos, and other artifacts in a Shark Tank method of pitching their settlement plan to me, a group of 7th graders, and a retired NASA engineer. The class that has the most developed plan will be "contracted" for the Mars Settlement Mission.

I will definitely be posting updates on our Instagram feed! @lacrossescience