As the school year comes to a close, it is difficult to say goodbye to another group of students. Knowing next fall that some of my students will move on to High School, while others will be returning next year. I can only imagine how much they will change over the summer... How much I will change.

One of my students at school

All of the students are preparing for the end of year bash/field day party, and the halls are a buzz with the excitement that only comes with summer vacation. I hear students talking about trips they are planning on taking, others are planning sleep overs, joining teams, and still others are just looking forward to playing video games and sleeping in. While the video game thing was never a big thing when I was growing up I guess I can understand the allure of staying in the nice air conditioned house (especially as the temperature rises outside!)!

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Hey and welcome to another fantastic article on my personal blog! As I told you guys in my Welcome to my new blog post I will be reviewing some websites on this blog that I have recently used or will use in the future for school projects that I undertake together with my students. In my previous article I have discussed on how you can find quality websites yourself that provide genuine information that will actually help your students to learn more about the subject matter. Today I will discuss such a website. First I will give a little introduction on the subject that I choose.

I have always wanted to teach my students more about biology and botany. I haven’t studied biology nor botany myself so I’m not entirely capable of teaching them every single thing but I am pretty sure that I have sufficient knowledge of the basics. However, you don’t want to present the human body to 10 year old kids because they will perceive that to be kind of boring, so I decided to go with another approach: something that they can actually do themselves, something they can actually touch and eventually even eat. I thought about growing strawberries or growing potatoes but that is pretty lame and has already been done at least a thousand times in classrooms nationwide. So I decided to come up with something entirely new: learning them to grow their own peanuts!

Growing peanuts

So I started searching the web for quality articles about peanuts, peanut growth and some other unanswered questions. I first came across this website, it’s the website from the University of Purdue and it has a pretty extensive article written on it about peanuts. However, the language is kind of complicated and not really understandable for neither me nor my students. Another interesting website that I found was a page on the Clemson University website. Again this website talks extensively about how peanuts grow, how you can grow your own peanuts and it also tells you more about its origin, the maintenance of the peanut plant and more general information. But again this article is written in a very academic style which is not that easy for my students to read. I needed to find something more accessible, more entertaining and more challenging for my students. I needed articles that actually describe the step by step process of growing your own peanuts, backed up with clear pictures and good informative texts.

I eventually found this website and I love it. It features very comprehensible and easy-to-read articles in general about peanuts, peanut growing, confectionary and even on other nuts such as almonds and pistachios: it’s great. I first read almost every single page, one of the most interesting pages for me is the one where they describe how peanuts grow. I actually learned a lot from this website. Also the page where it is described how you can grow your peanut plant is REALLY helpful, they have made eight easy to follow steps so that kids can easily do it their selves.

Let me just quickly list some facts that I didn’t even know of before. First off all, apparently peanuts don’t grow on trees but on some kind of root on the ground. On the bottom of that root a nice small plant grows that has beautiful yellow flowers. I also didn’t know that there are more than four different types of peanuts, I usually just buy roasted peanuts from the supermarket and I don’t really pay attention to which ones I buy: I just buy ‘em! Something else that surprised me was that almonds have a pretty long history and are not even American! That’s what I always thought, almonds must be a full American product, but they aren’t! They were imported from Spain centuries ago.

Peanuts in bowl

Well as you can see I’m pretty enthusiastic about this particular website. It has great images, great information and on the home page they have a really cute photo of a squirrel that has their website name spelled out using peanuts: the kids absolutely loved it. I eventually ended up learning my students on how peanuts grow and I used the step by step article to let them grow their own peanuts: it’s pretty simple actually. The class project was a great success, some of the kids actually got really nice peanuts from their plants: so the step by step tutorial definitely works like a charm. We ended up drying the nuts and roasting them in the oven: they tasted delicious.

Some kids didn’t want to participate in the peanut growing experiment so we also had some small projects going on where they could learn more about almonds. The website that I mentioned features some amazing information on this subject as well, again with clear images and the language used really appeals to the kids.

If I would have to rate this website, it definitely gets a 9. Now why not a 10? I still think the header (that’s the top image of the website) is kind of boring, they could definitely improve that a bit. Overall, the information is clear, the pictures are amazing and the kids loved their nutty results. I definitely recommend you visit this website if you want to get some nice ideas for future class projects.

PS: here is a nice video about growing peanuts in Georgia.

I did not have the time to write an article yesterday so I'm doing an extra long and in-depth one today. As I shared with you in my first article I'm a teacher at an independent school in the lovely United Kingdom. Since there are a lot of people out there that have virtually no idea what an independent school really is and what it means to teach there, I will try to explain a little more about that here. I will also write a few paragraphs on what I consider to be an informational website, this is so that I can later on in the next few articles, review some websites that I used for different school projects and that really appeal to me and my students.

An example of an independent school

What is an independent school?

Basically in an independent school is a school that receives no finances or monetary advantages from the government. This means that it is totally independent and does not need money from the outside to continue its operations. The money that regular schools get to finance their curriculum usually comes from the government and is paid by taxpayer money. But now I hear you think, how does the independent school even come close to the level of education that the regular schools have? The independent schools are financed by tuitions, donations and other types of financial support from non-governmental institutions.
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My mountainbike!

Hi, hello, wazzaap, gutentag… I’m still not really used to maintaining a blog and I’m not even sure how to start my new post for today. One of the things I do like though is that I am basically forced right now to take some time off and just WRITE, which in some weird way I actually find quite relaxing and perhaps even satisfying. Today I will be writing about well, my day. Not that it was super-exiting but I still think that I need to fill up this blog a little so I might as well share my day-to-day observations on here. ...continue reading

A picture of me: Miranda
A picture of me: Miranda

My name is Miranda and welcome to my new blog! I’m quite new to blogging (as in: I’ve never had one before). I thought you know what, I’m going to set up myself a WordPress website and buy a domain name and just give it a try. On this blog I will be writing down my experiences in LIFE: love, information, funny-ness and extra’s. I know, that’s quite a lame abbreviation but still: it works! I will be writing about my work (as a middle school teacher at an independent school), my holidays to almost everywhere in Europe (to Germany, France and The Netherlands), informative articles (see below) and some funny stuff.

My holidays
Over the past years I’ve been travelling quite a lot: I have been to the United States, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Italy. I always wanted to write about my experiences abroad and it looks like now is the right time. Usually when I go abroad I like to visit cities (I’m not the type of person that lays on the beach all day) and experience the local culture. Cities that I have been to include Berlin, Copenhagen, Leiden, Rome, Venice and Paris. Eating the local cuisine is definitely one of the more awesome things to do abroad than just baking on the beach or stuffing your mouth at the eat-all-you-want buffet!

Informative articles
As a middle school teacher at an independent school I like to teach but I also like to learn, that is why I will be posting various informative articles on my personal blog here. Once in a while I organize a project for my students to learn about a unique subject (for them to show off to their parents and siblings :P). We had various projects, for example about peanuts, honeybees, how paper is made, medieval times, electricity and much more. All of the information for these articles I get from online resources (such as websites and PDF files) and just plain old books. I will be writing some reviews about the websites that I have used in the past for different school projects so that other teacher’s can make use of these resources.

I don’t really have a lot of hobbies, most of my hobbies evolve around my professional life (i.e. my life as a teacher). I like teaching (my favorite subjects are history and geography), cooking (I’m not a great cook but with the proper cookware I can make a pretty delicious dish), biking (I really enjoy mountain biking) and sleeping (duh!).

Well that is it. I hope I will be sticking to this commitment of writing and updating my personal website for as often as possible. I know it will be difficult but it will be my new goal for this year. I’m not really a great writer but I will definitely do my best. If you have any questions, pointers, suggestions or if you just want to say hi you can always send me an e-mail.