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April 2017 Tech/PBL Teacher



     Ms. Deena Tetzlaff, 6th grade science teacher at Newman Middle School, has been selected as one of the Tech/PBL teachers for the month of April. 

     This is Ms. Tetzlaff’s second year of teaching. She graduated from United High School in Laredo, TX in 2007 and in 2011 she graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio.  Ms. Tetzlaff is extremely thankful for her fellow science teachers at NMS, Natalie Garcia and George Martinez, as they welcomed her into the science department with open arms. 

     During the 5th six weeks, Ms. Tetzlaff’s students have been working on a NASA PBL. This PBL is actually two PBL’s in one. The two Driving Questions are:  1) “How can we, as authors, create a children’s book of a journey through the solar system that will teach the students of Ramirez Burks Elementary School about each planet and celestial object in our galaxy?”    2) “How can we, as future NASA scientists, construct an accurate scaled model representation of the sun and planets using real world distance and diameter measurements?” 

     For the children's book, all class periods created different grade level books about the planets, sun, asteroids, meteors, comets and Galilean moons. Each class period was assigned a different grade level and a different topic. The students created either fiction or non-fiction books while incorporating educational components about the solar system. Once the rough drafts are completed, the students will use Story Jumper, a website for creating story books, to create a final copy of their book.  

     The NASA project was a separate project for Ms. Tetzlaff’s Pre-AP class. For this project the students had to create a google sheets document using information from the NASA website. The students scaled two things:  1) The distance from the Sun  2) The diameter of the Sun and planets.  They started off with the distance from the Sun and diameters in kilometers from the NASA website and using google sheets conversions to convert the numbers into miles and scaled miles. In addition, they found the scaled diameter of the planets in feet.  The scale was 1 mile on Earth = 1,000,000 miles in space.  From there, the students used their scaled miles and found cities in the United States where the planets would be located.  Cotulla, TX served as the Sun.  They also found a real world object (in feet) to represent the diameter of the planet. For example, if Cotulla was the Sun, Mercury would be located 26 miles from the Sun (or 36 million miles in space).  Therefore, North from Cotulla to North Pearsall represents the distance from the Sun to Mercury and the female anaconda represents the diameter of the planet.  Each group did this with their planet. From that point, the students collaborated on 1 google slides document and created a slide/poster about their scaled project. 

     Both of these projects included cross curricular components to include math, reading, writing, geography, and of course, science! 



     Ms. Jacquelynn Smith, Pre-K teacher at Encinal Elementary, has also been chosen as Tech/PBL teacher for the month of April. Ms. Smith has been teaching at Encinal Elementary for the past three years. Before coming to CISD she worked as a paraprofessional for Brackett ISD.

     Ms. Smith’s Pre-K students recently completed a PBL titled, “Community Helper.” The Driving Questions were:  1) “Why are community helpers important?”   2) What community helper do you want to be when you grow up?” 

     Each day students researched different community helpers. Once the research was completed students then chose which helper they wanted to be when they grew up. 

     Students were interviewed by Ms. Smith and had to explain which community helper they chose and why they chose that particular helper.



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