Day 3-Smola

Today, I visited an island that is called Smøla. I believe there are several islands that make up the location with three major villages. Around 2000 people life here, although the population has been declining as their primary industry—fishing—is in decline in the area.

How did we get over there? I am so glad you asked! By Zodiac!
So, so fun getting in the inflatable boat to get to the island.

And, what did I do when I got there?

I went for a hike.

In the wind.

In the cold.

In the rain.

And I loved every minute of it!

This ole trail runner had a blast stomping around the area. Our hike combined the old with the new. We hiked through bogs and spruce trees, down around lakes, up a small peak, and through fields of heather. We also walked across a golf course and a around several turning wind turbines.

I started collecting sounds as well as photos today. I am looking forward to seeing who can guess what things are when I return.  I hope my students enjoy it as well!

We haven’t gotten to an area where there is a ton of wildlife yet.  We did see an eagle being chased by a smaller bird and a snow hare during the hike. There are lots of sea birds and I am trying to learn the names of different ones. I know I’ve seen a gannet and a colony of birds on a cliff of kittiwake. I keep my binoculars near me just in case.

For those wondering about my back, I used a trekking pole and am so thankful I did. It helped me put some weight on the pole as well as have greater stability. My sciatica is still hurting (sad face), but it is manageable. There is a doctor on board who also has asked how I am feeling.

I am looking forward to tonight’s entertainment. A local group, called “The Gubbliners” will be playing for us.  And as I was typing this, they headed through the library lost. I helped them and know the music will be extra special now.

I believe I have caught up on my sleep now.  The sounds and the gentle rocking of the boat make it so easy to just nod off!

I am looking forward to the events to come!

Day 2- Nordfjord

When I woke up this morning and went out on deck, I just giggled. The view on all sides of our ship was simply breathtaking.

The view in Olden

The view in Olden

While we were sleeping, the National Geographic Explorer docked at the village of Olden at the very end of the Nordfjord. Thank you, National Geographic Explorer.

After breakfast we boarded coaches and traveled about 16 miles to see a small arm off the main Jostedalbreen Glacier (Europe’s largest mainland glacier.)

When we got to the Park with the Glacier, I had about a 2-3 mile hike to reach the location. I walked up, up, up the winding path. Of course, I had to stop to check out waterfalls, and brooks, and rocks, and birds… I have no idea how long it actually took me to reach it.

The Briksdal Glacier

The Briksdal Glacier

Along the path were signs.  This is where the glacier was in 1920.  Here was the location in 1970, Here in 2010.  It is so disturbing to see the glacier melting at such a fast pace. I am not sure you will be able to access the glacier with the trail we used within the next twenty years.

I spend some time, wading my fingers in the water of the lake formed by the melting glacier. I hiked around some more.

And then, it was time for my return trip back down the path. This time around, I walked about 1/4 to 1/2 a mile and then got in an electric cart. It zipped me down the hill taking a different path. I felt like I was at an amusement park, just with better scenery!

We had a nice mid-morning tea at the restaurant at the base of the glacier and I got to sit and visit with some of the guests on the ship. Everyone is so interesting! For my science teacher friends, I visited with the guy who started the JASON Project. I have also met a number of teachers!  What are we doing wrong?  Ha!

I love the opportunities to shoot images. I have so many to choose from… Another of my favorites from today is of Olden Lake.


Our evening consisted of a Captain’s Welcome Cocktails and the a Welcome Dinner was served. The food here is amazing! There is open seating so every meal time, I go sit with someone new. I wish we could convince our students of the value of visiting with new people often. You can learn so much about the world just by eating a meal.

Day 1- Arriving in Bergen, Norway

Somebody pinch me!

Bergen, a place to shop.

Bergen, a place to shop.

IMG_4924 IMG_4964

Seriously.  I cannot believe I am on such an incredible adventure. Today, my plane touched down in Bergen, Norway and we were immediately greeted by Lindblad Staff picking up our luggage off the conveyor belts. I didn’t have to worry about my luggage from then on out!

A tour bus took us to a central location where we had about an hour to sight-see on our own.  Leslie and I toured the local shops, enjoying a quick moment to spend some money.  It was also interesting seeing wares that are not as common back in Hobbs, New Mexico. For example, one shop sold animal pelts and skins.  There were stacks of seal skins, arctic fox pelts, Whale skins… even polar bear pelts! I am assuming these were caught in a sustainable way, but it gave me pause.

We quickly discovered a few items about Norway:

Tourism is a huge source of income.

You can purchase a cool sweater at almost every shop.

Trolls are an important part of the history and culture.

As are polar bears and walruses!

After picking up a few souvenirs, we wandered around the fish market sampling a few items. I am pretty sure the guide later in the afternoon said this market had been established in the 1500s. Amazing.

Next, we ate an incredible buffet lunch at the Hotel and were off on a guided bus tour around town. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable. We toured a famous composer’s house. One of the roofs was covered in grass! I wonder what the significance of that is?

Finally, we made it to the dock and boarded the National Geographic Explorer. Our cabin is tiny. We are constantly having to excuse each other as we move from one side to another. However, we are rarely in our rooms to sleep.  The beds are so comfortable! Or, maybe it is the sound of the water lapping along the boat that puts me to sleep immediately. Maybe the jet lag?  For whatever reasons, the room is perfect!

Day One Equals Flying


Not gonna lie… I love to fly!

I started my journey this morning at 6:30am flying out of Hobbs, New Mexico. I arrived in Houston in time to find my next gate and stand in line… I never sat down!

From Houston, I flew to Newark, New Jersey. Currently waiting to fly to Copenhagen. Everything is grand except for the humidity…and my Fellow companion is flying out of Dulles Airport.

A better update will happen tomorrow. Right now, I need to read my Norway books. Have fun stateside!

I am a Grosvenor Teacher Fellow!

Waterproof gloves?


Waterproof pants?


Winter Parka in June?

And Check!

I can’t believe I forgot to SHOUT this from the mountaintops, but I have been selected as a Grosvenor Teacher Fellow for National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions! What does this mean?  It means that out of over 2700 applicants, I was selected as one of only thirty-five teachers to experience a one-in-a-lifetime professional development opportunity.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 9.05.40 PM

Tomorrow, yes, TOMORROW, I will be joining an expedition where we will learn more about Norway’s Fjords and the Arctic Svalbard! With around 150 guests, a myriad of staff and crew, and my compadre Leslie–a 2nd grade teacher from Kitty Hawk, we are about to embark on an epic journey. We will experience fjords, glaciers, amazing wildlife and adventures galore!

So, please keep following this blog as I will be updating it as often as possible over the next 17 days.

Bon voyage to us!

terri and leslie

If You Give a Kid A Problem, She’s Going to Want to Think

Not just any problem.

Not a right there in the textbook kind of question.

But a REAL problem…

earth hurt

One that is relevant to our  lives.

One that needs to be addressed.

One where there is no single right answer.

If you give your students authentic issues to address, then they are going to want to learn.

This is something that I know. But sometimes, in the day to day of planning lessons and grading papers…sometimes… I forget.

Thankfully, I had time to reflect during the winter break on what’s been working and what hasn’t. Below, I’ve outlined my thought processes as I took a good lesson and made it into what I hope is a really good one.

I had developed a lesson prior to break where my students were going to look at the Plastic Bag Ban that happened in Santa Fe, NM. I teach science to middle schoolers in the southeast corner of New Mexico. We were going to look at Santa Fe’s decision to remove plastic bags from grocery stores and the policy’s affect on pollution reduction.  It was a good lesson on several points. It would help the students see how to be better stewards of our environment, learn about our state of New Mexico, and would require the use of research skills. But, the lesson was also a little boring.

With a little bit of poking around on the internet, I noticed several blog posts mentioning students as activists.  Research shows middle school students are far more likely to notice and act on injustices they see in the world as compared to adults. I also recalled the egocentric nature of this age group.

My ah-ha! And that quickly, the lesson shifted. Instead of  focusing on a city few students have visited, we started at home with a set of pictures I had taken around Hobbs, NM. (Click on the link to see them all.)

Looking toward Heizer

Looking toward Heizer







Next, came a discussion about what was the big deal if plastic bags are everywhere. I tweaked this presentation to make it a bit more “middle school” appropriate.

The Plastic Bag Story from Iulian Gulea

After this, we held a discussion how communities have decided to Ban Plastic Bags–Santa Fe last year, Dallas banned bags in January, and the entire state of California will be joining the group this summer. I curated the following resources to get my students thinking about how plastic bags are causing problems for our environment and what different communities are doing about it.

The Plastic Bag Debate (Folder of Resources for my students)

Finally, the challenge. I asked students to study the material I had shared and then to develop a plan that would reduce the environmental impact of plastic bags in our community.

Some of the ideas developed by my students:

  • Ban the Bag in Hobbs or the state of New Mexico–creating presentations to share with city officials to try to ban plastic bags in our community.
  • Presentations and Posters to build awareness surrounding plastic bags.
  • Clean-Up days around the community–or advertising and participating in ones already scheduled.
  • Creating Reusable Bags out of T-Shirts and teaching others how to do it.
  • “Bring Plastic Bags” Wednesday and the top class would receive a free homework pass.
  • Creating Reusable Bags and passing them out to shoppers in the community.
  • Creating a Children’s Story with a Plastic Bag villain.

FullSizeRender-8 FullSizeRender  FullSizeRender-6

I am so pleased with the variety of ideas that the students developed! We reached the learning targets I had in mind and students had the opportunity to do something good for our planet. I had 100% completion of a project of some kind.

Here are a few of the Presentations of students that used Google Presentations. I realize that not all are perfect, but as their teacher, I am pleased with the progress we are making.

Brianna and Marianna

Justin and Brittaney

Haley and Margaret



Connecting our content to authentic learning opportunities builds excitement, a sense of community and learning for all. I’d love to hear what others teachers are doing to present real problems for our students to address. And if you have any questions for me, please ask away!

Artwork thanks: Are We Still Alive by Wasfi Akab at

Teachers Rejuvenate!

Teachers, you are worth melting for!

Teachers, you are worth melting for!






Teachers… We made it!

We made it to the Winter Holidays.

Although I’ve been in the teaching profession for more years than I care to admit, this past month, I caught myself feeling discouraged, wondering if it was all worth it.

I am one of those over-achiever teachers.  I work every weekend, meticulously planning lessons, making sure they tie into state and national standards. I work to make my lessons rigorous yet also engaging. I want what we are learning in science to be relevant to what’s going on in their lives as well as give my students a global perspective. I like to give feedback that makes sense to my students, so I take the time to write out detailed comments to students in their science notebooks.

Day after day, week after week, I work hard to be the best teacher I can be. It isn’t easy, as any teacher will tell you.  But, I want what is best for my students and so I make the time to do these things.

Then one day, as I was getting students ready to start a lab,  a kid mutter under his breath, “I hate this class…”


It was one of this moments when I thought, “This is stupid! Why am I trying so hard if they don’t even care?” It was a discouraging moment. In fact, I couldn’t even start the lab. I had the class put everything away, and they worked out of a science workbook for the day. It was silent. They were busy.  And it was so so easy  for me as a teacher to do.

The students also didn’t learn squat.

I have to be honest.. On this day, I wondered if I should even be teaching any more. If my best isn’t good enough for my kids, then why try?
First-Year Teaching


If you’ve ever seen this graphic, it represents a first year teacher’s feelings toward teaching. I believe any teacher can go through these series of events. Although I’m a veteran teacher, I certainly did this year.  One child’s comment certainly had me questioning what I essentially know good teaching is.

But, the difference between me and a brand new teacher, I KNOW one student’s comment does not mean that is what the entire class thinks. This student just might have had a bad day. He may struggle with reading and writing, and we do a ton of reading and writing in science. And, I do require my students to problem solve and think… some students would rather just sit there with their mind’s off.

So, although I was feeling disillusioned for a bit, the feeling did not last. I know by the questions and comments of my students that most appreciate what I am trying to do for them as a teacher. I know they would rather complete an investigation than answer questions in a workbook.

In fact, as I left for the winter break, one of my bilingual students left me a card, complete with the Olaf Snowman pictured at the beginning of this post. Ignore the run-on sentence, but pay attention to the content…


New teachers…

Discouraged teachers…

Brighter days are ahead.

Although during these dark hours of winter, it is easy to question the teaching profession, please know that your hard work and thoughtful planning is appreciated by a number of your students! So, take this Winter Holiday to rejuvenate for the last half of the school year. Relax, visit loved ones, and know that you are appreciated.

If you need more support, there are a number of places and people!

  • Your colleagues! My teaching friends rock!
  • New Teacher 911-If you’re into reading for advice, this is an excellent resource.
  • Me! Find me, Terri_Science, on Twitter and connect.


Psycho Psummer 20 Miler…Done!

I did it! I did it! 

photo 3-1

This post has been due for quite some time. If you know me at all, you know that I have always been happiest when trail running. Running is my passion. Running.   All.   Day.   Long.

Yet, for the past year and a half, I had not done any real running. I could use the excuse of plantar fasciitis.  I mean,  I went to physical therapy twice! Or, I could say that I moved (which I have) and there are no real trails there (which there aren’t.)  But the truth is, I was in a funk. Everything combined in such a way that I stopped running and started eating.  And, like what usually happens when that combination happens, I gained a lot of weight. And then I was embarrassed to be out running.

Thankfully, I have friends that didn’t really care what I looked like. They convinced me to run, even when I really didn’t feel like it. I agreed to run a 10K even before I could run 5 minutes at a time. And you know what? I liked it. So, I  signed up for the Run Then Wine marathon  for the end of September the very next week. I figured that having a goal when keep me motivated!

And it has! I’ve lost about 25 pounds and am continuing to run. Last Saturday, I ran the Psycho Psummer 20 Mile Race put on by Bad Ben Holmes and  the Trail Nerds.

So, here is the first of hopefully many more race reports for the year!

In a nutshell, it was a wonderful race! I didn’t fall, I stayed well-hydrated, nothing hurt, finished strong, never had any pooping issues and loved visiting with other racers and volunteers. I was happy and I can’t wait to run another trail race!

The pictures by Mile 90 Photography  are amazing! I love how the photos capture the physicality of the race… I love the intense colors and how the pics make me feel like a Bad A$$.

photo 1-1photo 2-1

My only problem is I am still super uncomfortable with my weight.

I don’t like how my belly is too big and don’t get me started on how I look from the behind…

But this race also reminded me that no one else really cared about my belly or my back. Every runner that I met and I mean EVERY runner had some positive comment. Even the super fast 50Kers made the time to tell me to keep going. Trail runners are like that.   My friends at the race never commented about how I looked. They just wanted to know how I was.

These past few months, I’ve found my passion again. I am running again… and smiling more often!

photo 1-2Thank you to my friends and family that continue to show love and support for me and my crazy obsession with running.

I still want to lose weight.

I want to get faster.  I want to be healthier. And I want to look nicer.

Running will help me get there. It’s going to take time, but it will happen.

I’m off for a run.

Care to join me?

Dusting Off My New Year’s Resolutions

I came across this image last night while poking around on Facebook…


The Success Indicator was a nice reminder of traits I would like to emulate to make a happier and more productive me. I realized that it has been over four months since the start of the year and I had not revisited my New Year’s Resolutions. Today seems like a great day to do that.

For those that don’t know, below is my New Year’s Resolution Poster I created for 2013. I took a page from my sister’s book and framed a list and hung it in my bathroom. I made a second copy and it is tacked to the board right in front of my cubicle. That way, I am reminded of my goals several times a day.

Terri’s New Year’s Resolutions from Terri Johnson
I decided to use the app iCardSort to reflect on my progress. If you have an iPad, this is one of my “Top 10″ apps for learning. You could use it like flashcards. But I like how you can add an image as the background. That way, you can label any image or use any type of graphic organizer to differentiate your thinking. I went the quick way and quickly penned a graphic organizer I wanted to use and then imported the Deck.
Side Note:
A nifty trick for iCardSort. If you have a list of words, phrases, or sentences you would like to use as a deck in another application, simply make sure there is a “return” between each line you’d like to use as a card. I used the app Pages since that is where my New Year’s Resolutions were already located. You could use your email or the Notes app as well. Then, “long press” on the list, select all, and copy the text.  When you open iCardSort, double tap the screen with two fingers. A screen will pop up that says “One Card Per Line” and your list already copied there. Select done. And voila, your deck is created!
When I looked at my goals for this year, here is where I’m at as of May 2nd:
Knocked It Out of the Park!
I am really proud of accomplishing a few of my goals.

Goode Food Delivered!

 I participated in the Pound Plunge with my mom, Aunt, and cousin. I lost about 2o pounds. Even better was getting the support from my friends and family.

  1. Recycling isn’t as hard as I thought it would be! I’ve gotten my entire family involved.
  2. Since the first of the year, I have purchased locally grown produce from Goode Food Delivered. It is yummy and I know I have reduced my carbon footprint by doing so.
  3. As a result of not being able to run races, I’ve ended up volunteering almost monthly. I was able to help at the Happy Camper Scamper, Pi River Rotation Half Marathon, and Free State Trail Runs. Last Saturday, my daughter and I helped to paint a Shelter House at Wyandotte County Lake with the Trail Nerds Group. For some non-running events, my mom and I were Red Cross Heroes and I was able to judge at a Science Fair. It feels good to help others!





Fell Flat.

  1. One issue I encountered  was a few of my resolutions were in direct conflict with each other. For example, I am making my feet healthy! Turns out, I have a bone spur that in turn has created plantar fasciitis. I’ve had physical therapy and had to drastically reduce the number of miles I was running. I am slowly returning to running 3-5 times per week, but my goal of running over 31 miles will likely need to wait until 2014. I’m ok with that!
  2. I have not been a good mama when it comes to helping my kids learn to drive. My son, who is 17, has no desire to learn to drive. I’m hoping he will be ready this summer. My daughter, who is 15, I have no excuse. She is ready. Thankfully, my fiance’ has been helping her and I my promise to make sure she has her learner’s permit by the end of May. We can do it!

A Work In Progress…

I like this group of goals. For many of them, they WILL move over to the First Column by the end of the Summer.

This photo has been photoshopped. Ha!

  1. I will fit into my wedding dress. Well, this one is partly, no mainly, my stupidity. I wanted a cheap wedding dress but I also wanted to make sure I lost weight. So, I ordered it too small. Turns out, even if I was skin and bones, I couldn’t fit into the dress. Ha! It is a work in progress since I am losing weight AND I have a fantastic mom who is in the process of altering it. I WILL fit in this dress.
  2. And in less than a month, I will marry the man I have loved for almost seven years! It will be fantastic and fun as we play volleyball and celebrate getting married.
  3. My invitations turned out exactly how I’d hoped! I did not have to learn how to Photoshop because I have a wonderful friend, Melissa, who knew how to do all things creative. I still want to learn how to use Photoshop, but that can wait till July.
  4. I think we could all use time to visit family and friends. I’ve been focused on the wedding all this winter. This summer, I am planning a few day trips to reconnect!
  5. I hope to read more for pleasure when I am out of school. I have been able to read 2 books for fun. That is still an improvement from last year. Yes, a work in progress.


Things I Want to Adjust

  • Instead of saying I will measure what I eat, I want to make it a goal to eat healthier and to reduce the amount of Processed Food in my diet. By doing that, I believe I shouldn’t have to worry so much about measuring what I eat.
  • It wasn’t on my list, but my house that has been for sale for THREE YEARS, has a buyer. I will finally have it sold by the end of May. Yippee!!!
  • I want to make more financially sound decisions. Happy face!  Although my house will be sold, I will have to take out a rather large loan to sell it.  Sad face. My goal will be to have this loan paid off in 15 months.
  • Be happy and secure in my position at work. If you did not know, the position I have held this year as an Instructional Technology Specialist was eliminated by our School Board. I have been very discouraged as this was my dream job! My hope is that I will secure a position that allows me to make a difference in the lives of students and teachers as we prepare them for the future!

I’ve made a dent in my New Year’s Resolutions! When I look at the Success Indicator, I know I operate more on the “Successful Side”. Where do you fall? When you look at the list of Indicators, what can you do to support the younger generations to be more successful? To make ourselves more successful?

If you’re a teacher, did your students ever create goals this year? Have you revisited them recently? If not, take the time to do that.  Remember to model how to reflect on your goals. Feel free to share my example! I’d love to hear how your year in review is going!

May you have joyous occasions awaiting you this summer!


Artwork Thanks: Color in the Gray for my wonderful engagement photos. Maggie Johnson, my daughter, for the artsy photo of our home.

Apps Used: iCardSort, Pic Collage, and Skitch.

Lake Perry Rocks!

Another fantastic Trail Nerds Event… Another 50K Race is in the bag!





Official Time: 7 hours and 16 minutes. I think I’m getting the hang of this.






This past weekend, I had friends racing all around the midwest! There were runners in Des Moines, Kansas City, Saint Louis, and as far away as Detroit running marathons. My Facebook page got notification after notification with race updates. Loved it! Friends were out doing what they loved and staying healthy. I simply  chose to run where I’m happiest…finishing with 36 other ultrarunners on a trail in Kansas.  Oh yeah!

Saturday morning was beautiful! Sunny and cool, just warm enough I didn’t need long sleeves. I’m pretty sure Ben gave some last minute instructions but I was busy visiting with the Mudbabes! Let’s see…thanks for saying hi Bryan and Lisa and Dee and Jen and Mel and Coco and… OK, Bryan isn’t a Mudbabe but he is pretty cool. Anyone else check out the new tat? I look forward to the camaraderie and support from other trail runners almost as much as the run itself.

Oh, but the run… When I recall Lake Perry Rocks, what I remember is… well… the rocks.  Not just rocks, but rocks on top of rocks.. with leaves sprinkled on top. The first loop was wonderful. I enjoyed visiting with lots of the 1/2 Marathon runners. This was actually the first race where I actually talked with people during the race. I liked that! Dee talked about her hiking this summer, I met one of the incredible Psycho Psummer volunteers and thank you aid station  volunteers! Oh, and I stubbed my toes only six or seven times.  ON THE ROCKS!   …and a few tree roots…

  My first loop was pretty fast for me–done in three hours!


I remember getting these pics taken. I told the photographer, “You’re gonna make me run this hill, aren’t you?!?” Thankfully, it wasn’t much of a hill! And yes, this is me, running.


Notice a few things.

1. I’m looking down. It is dangerous to take your eyes off the trail on a technical terrain. Trail runners look where they are going!

2. I’m smiling. See, I may not be the fastest runner, but I am one of the happiest… Usually.

3. No one is around. One of the things I like about longer trail runs is the serenity and the time to think.

4. It’s pretty!!!

To be honest, loop two was a little tougher for me. No, I didn’t get lost. I just got in a funk. I kept stubbing my toes, I was by myself, and I think I needed some calories. The 4.5 miles to the first aid station seemed to take hours. I heard barking for at least fifteen minutes and continued to search for Regis and Luke. I was so thankful when I saw them… that I stayed and visited for probably longer than I needed to. However, I do appreciate getting my water filled, chips eaten, gels pre-opened (since my fingers weren’t working great) and the moral support. Ernst and Luke got me running again. Thank you!

As I continued running, I’d be thinking, “Have I even ran here before?” Now, I know I had. I see the pick ribbons and yellow trail markers. What I had forgotten is there are miles of running with few rocks and even fewer hills. It was simply enjoyable. Made me laugh. I was having fun again!

Have you heard of hubris? It is extreme pride and arrogance. At mile twenty-six–or twenty-seven– I had it. Hubris.  I was so proud of myself. I ran further than a marathon and was doing well. I had not fallen… Ahh…



Dang it…

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. I lay in the leaves being beaten not by a rock, but a tree root. At Lake Perry Rocks… a tree root! Granted, it was the rock to the knee that had the tears in my eyes… but the tree root started it! As I looked up at the trees above me, gingerly checking out my knee, I realized, I couldn’t be done. I had to get out of the woods. So, I got up, dusted off my hands, and started walking.

Albeit, grumbling a bit. But I was moving. I started a power walk.  And pretty soon, I was jogging… then a bit faster… and a bit faster… and my smile returned…

At 3:15pm, I was cresting the hill for the finish line. I did it! 30+ Miles on the books again.

I love to run! Even if it is for one mile or two, won’t you join me?

Happy Trails.

Thanks to SeeKCRun‘s Kristy West and Kevin Gray for the incredible pictures!