It’s been a while

I haven’t posted on my blog in a while, but I’ve been busy!  With a 1 year old and a 5 year old running around, this is what I’ve been spending my precious few works hours on:


After finishing my huge biology homework bundle (you can see it here!) I started creating a chemistry one.  And as I’m beginning it, I know it’s going to be not only huge, it’s going to be HUGE.  I have a few big plans for it.

  1. Scaffolding: Chemistry is a skills-based subject.  It requires a bunch of specific math and lab skills (factor label method, scientific notation, measurement, metric conversions, etc).  I really want to have specific pages that help teachers really hone in on the specific part of problem solving that a particular student is struggling with.
  2. Workspace: Every page will have room for students to complete their work on the same page as the problem.  You know how when students copy questions out of a textbook, they often copy it wrong?  Or they don’t copy the question and just write their work and the answer, forcing them to have both their notebook and textbook together at all times (or worse, a random loose leaf piece of paper)?  I want all the work and questions on the same page.  I also see students with specific learning needs who struggle with going from one page to the next and being able to work from both at the asme time.
  3. Problem-solving Guidance: To encourage students to WRITE DOWN ALL THE STEPS, I’m building into the practice pages a set of icons.  These icons will be used throughout the pages to tell students to do the following: write what’s given, write what units the answer will be in, write down the conversion factors needed, write down the chemical equation, etc etc.  This will guide students to write down what they need to write down.

If you want to read more about my chemistry homework bundle, you can go here!  I’ll be creating a unit a month for the next 12 months.  If you’d like to get notified when I add new units to the bundle, you can sign up for my email list here!


What would you like to see in my chemistry bundle?  Comment below and let me know!

February 7-8: Teachers Pay Teachers Sale!

Teachers Pay Teachers is having their two day winter sale, starting today, February 7th, and ending February 8th! You can save a whole lot on resources for your science classroom!

When they have a sale, I always put my store on sale for 20% off. That way, when you checkout with TPT’s coupon code LOVETpT, you save an additional 10% off that, which comes to 28% off total. Already discounted bundles are also an additional 28% off!

How it works:

1. Go to my store and fill up your cart!

Here are some key biology teacher resources that you might want to check out:

Biology Homework for a Year Bundle: This bundle took me over 8 months to create and it includes over 100+ unique homework pages that you can use with your students throughout the year to give them practice, review key topics, and challenge them to think! The individual 10 units are also for sale and you can find more information about this bundle here.

*NEW – JUST ADDED* Understanding Phylogenetic Tree Activity: I designed this activity out of a desperate need. There are so few resources online that breakdown exactly how to interpret a phylogenetic tree! In this activity, students will go through 3 separate short readings and diagrams and questions and color trees along the way.

Understanding Genetics with Robots: This activity packet is truly unique. I invented a way for students to connect protein synthesis, mutations, and genetics, all in a fun cut and paste activity where they cut and paste different parts of cute robots together. If you’re teaching genetics soon, you could really help your students understand the “why” and “how” genes work with this activity.

Alien Evolution: How hard is Hardy Weinberg genetics? Sometimes what holds students back is the math. I created this POGIL-esque activity to help students understand Hardy Weinberg conditions and populations, but on a more conceptual basis. The only math involved is calculating allele frequencies (no harder than taking an average!) If you’re teaching evolution right after genetics, this activity is a great connection activity.

2. Go to the checkout and enter the code: LOVETPT

This code will give you an additional 10% off!

With love and many thanks for all that you do for science students around the globe!


Giving Back 2016: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia


I’m joining my friend Erica from Nitty Gritty Science  and I’m fundraising for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  I have a friend with a baby in the NICU there right now.  Each baby there is a miracle, a blessing, and there are nurses and doctors who work hard every day to take care of the little tiny humans.  These nurses and doctors do their very best to give each baby what they need and I want to support them this year.  One hundred percent of my sales will be going to CHOP on Sunday December 11th, 2016.


So make sure you check out my store on December 11th and get some biology and chemistry resources for your classroom and support CHOP at the same time.  


Check out these other stores as well.  They are all donating some or all of their proceeds on December 11th!


science and math with mrs lau

Using Color to Organize the Secondary Classroom


As a secondary classroom teacher, have you ever seen all the wonderfully colorful primary classrooms on pinterest and feel a little jealous? In my years of teaching, I have yet to have a room to really call my own.  I’ve always had to share and I’ve always been the non-senior person sharing that room.  In most of my classrooms, I haven’t had the opportunity to really decorate how I wanted. I hope one day that I’ll have a classroom all to myself that I can decorate with the most awesome science themed color coordinated posters and decor.  But for now, there are still ways that I can brighten my classroom with color in practical ways!


I’m a pragmatist and I’m kind of a teacher-hack-addict.  I love to read about ways to streamline tasks that I have to do each day.  Those top ten lists with ideas for organizing or saving time… Love them!  So here are a few tricks I’ve used over the years that really help me stay organized… with color!



Using Color to Organize Unit and Course Materials

I store everything digitally on my computer (and in dropbox storage) so that I always have it ready to print out for the next year.  I also like to have a paper copy that is easily accessible in case a sub needs it or to share with a colleague (I only share my own materials or materials that I have the right to share, of course).  I like to step binders with the same color for the same course.  When I am assigned to teach a new course, I put together a binder for each unit and put plastic page protectors in with 4 dividers to separate types of materials:

  1. Activities and Labs
  2. Homework Pages
  3. Guided Note Packets
  4. Assessments


As I go through the year, I gather my materials in my binders and by the next year, I have everything already set up and ready to quick edit or copy. I also keep the answer key for each item in the same page protector, so that I don’t have to re-make a key every time!



Using Color to Separate Materials by Class Period


To help me keep my 4, 5, or 6 class period’s materials organized, I like to pick a particular color for each class period and use a turn in bin that is easy accessible to students so they can hand in items. I don’t like them to hand things to me in my hands because I almost always put them down somewhere as I’m talking to someone and then I forget where I put them!


Then I use colored folders or colored binder clips to organize these materials that I collect by class, so I can keep them separate from other classes. I also use the same color to organize materials to hand to them.


Another trick that helps me stay organized: when students are absent, I write their name on the extra handouts or quizzes, using purple pen ink. That way, when that student does come back to school, I have a copy set aside in his or her class folder and I also can keep track of assignments that are late or not handed out yet to a returning student.



Using Color to Organize Assessments

I like to print quizzes and tests on colored paper for two different reasons.


  1.  I like to make different versions of tests (especially tests with a lot of multiple choice).  Using different colors for different versions helps to discourage cheating, because students will see different colors and realize that there is no reason to try to cheat off their neighbor with another color. Sometimes, I don’t even make different versions (who has the time sometimes for that) but I like to STILL print them on separate colors to make students THINK there are separate versions. <heh heh heh>
  2. I asked my instagram followers how they use color in the classroom to stay organized and one reader (mossyrockscience) told me that she likes to print her Friday quizzes on different colors by class period to make them easier to sort, which is also another great idea!  Different color paper is really easy to sort and you know how much time you want to spend sorting as you’re grading a ton of Friday quizzes. (I also love to give a quiz or test on every Friday, to keep kids accountable for what they learned that week, and because kids are crazy on Friday anyway)


How do you use color in your classroom to help you stay organized?  Leave a comment below and let me know!



science and math with mrs lau

How my classroom turned into a giant cell



After the biochemistry unit, it’s pretty traditional to teach about cells next.  During my first year, I struggled teaching this unit, because it feels so full of details with seemingly very little connection to each other.  There is nothing worse than standing in front of a class and listing the organelle names and their functions and their structures and watching every pair of eyes glaze over before I even get to Endoplasmic Reticulum.  This is just not my style.  When my second year came, I decided to do something totally different.  Instead of me teaching them about the organelles, I decided to have THEM teach each other.  I typed up a project description, a rubric, and I told them to bring in materials.  Some students brought in construction paper, but a bunch of students had the the best idea to bring in recyclable materials like old water bottles and cardboard boxes!  I gave them three full class periods in class to work on it with their group of no more than 3 students.  And they did it!  What they came up with was terrific!  They then did an oral presentation for the class and taught their classmates about their organelle.  In their projects, they were required to talk about the organelle’s structure, function, and how it functioned alongside or with at least 2 other organelles.


At the end of their presentations, the students had a better appreciation of how organelles worked TOGETHER in the cell and I had some fantastic organelles to hang all over the classroom!  I left them up all year and my students loved seeing their work and referring to their work throughout the year when their organelle got mentioned.  Here are some pictures of a few of the organelles they created!




You could do this too in your classroom!  I recommend typing up a rubric with a list of things you want all of the students to have in their organelle and in their oral presentations (you can also check out mine here if you want to save yourself the time).    I really think this project helped my students bond together as a class too, early on in the year.  I did this project every year when I had a classroom that allows me to do it!


One year, they loved this project so much, that a couple of them even made me some organelle christmas ornaments a few months later.  I still treasure them and I hang them on my tree at home. 🙂


What kind of projects do your students love?  Let me know in the comments!


science and math with mrs lau