Geometry Bug Books

For our G21 project this year, the students in my geometry pre-AP classes created insects and other creatures using geometric shapes. They were very creative in naming and describing their creations.

We have collected pictures and descriptions to create a book for each class. The students used a template to produce a page for the book, and I have assembled them as ePub files. Here they are for you to download.

Day 2, Block 4

Day 2, Block 3

Day 2, Block 1


Instructions: From a portable device, click on the link and download the file. Your device should prompt you with instructions to follow in order to view the file. Enjoy!

The 3D Printing Question

I think 3D printing is really cool. The possibilities are endless. I can print my own spare parts, or create my own toys… There have been incredible stories 3D printed bones, or casts to help heal broken bones. There is even a beautiful story about 3D printing helping blind kids “see” their Google search results.

We have 3D printers in Goochland, and I hope to see lots of cool things come out of them. However, I fear 3D printing may turn into a meaningless, routine activity. This would be truly tragic.

Back in early 2012, there were lots of articles about the Smithsonian making 3D-printed replicas of some of its artifacts to lend to other museums. Here is a link to one I read back then. I thought that was really great. I mean, I’d LOVE to see originals in museums, but the practice of displaying replicas of fossils and statues is not new, and 3D printing made this so much more inexpensive and easy. Now there is a new development. The Smithsonian is making the 3D files available for download and printing.

Over the past few days, I’ve seen lots of educators talking about this on Twitter. I know, not everyone has the Smithsonian just 2 hours away like we do. 3D-printed versions of artifacts would be really cool to have. However, once the object is printed, you have to store it. And really, all you did to create it was send the model to the printer. My guess is that it would be a teacher who did this, not a student. So, in addition to transforming printing from “killing trees” to using up resin, how did we improve instruction?

I think it is very generous of the Smithsonian to let us have their 3D models to print in our own classrooms.

I think it would be much more valuable to let students research objects, figure out why they are important, make the case to the class, create their own 3D model, and then print it. In fact, the Smithsonian is already giving us a great starting point with their 100 Objects that Made America. Would your students add any objects? Which of the 100 objects in the book would they replace? Maybe, after researching and deciding as a class, the students could make their own 3D models and have their own museum exhibit. That might be a better learning activity than passing around a piece of plastic.

4th Grade Animal Adaptations Project

Today 4th graders will begin a new research project.  First, they will choose a one of many global climate zones.  Students will use the Interactive Map on National Geographic to choose the climate zone, and a specific location within the climate zone to gather data.  Next, students will track specific weather data in a Google spreadsheet over an extended period.  Then students will research the climate, topography, and vegetation of the area in a Google doc.  Students will also research an animal native to the region.  They will use the information and data they collect to help explain certain behavioral and structural adaptations of the animal.  Finally, students will create a fictional animal that could also survive in the area.  The fictional animal must have behavioral and structural adaptations to survive in the researched climate zone.  Students will learn about elements of nonfiction writing, and will produce a written report about either the real or fictional animal.  The report will describe behavioral and structural adaptations of the fictional animal that help it to survive given the climate, weather, topography, and vegetation of the area.


This image shows the climate zones students will choose from using the interactive map.

Project Based Learning at GHS


Goochland High School requires every senior to complete a “project-based” learning assignment prior to graduation. My graduating ESOL student completed her senior project this past year entitled “Finding the Right Career.”

This is the second time I have helped a graduating ESOL student through the senior project process. We also had community support from my volunteer Ann Casey, who provided step-by-step assistance and valuable contacts.

The steps for this hands-on senior project are the following:

1). The student took an on-line survey to determine her career strengths.

2). The student researched three recommended careers.

3). The student wrote an essay on the qualifications needed for each career.

4). The student interviewed and video-taped three different candidates in each recommended career.

5). The student completed a video project documenting her “quest” for the right career.

6). The student determined which career she wanted to pursue based on this project-based learning assignment.

Attached is a video clip she created documenting the process of her quest-a project-based learning assignment which will potentially impact her for the rest of her life.

Senior Project_2