Back to the Future Day!

Back to the Future Logo

Days like today make me reminisce on all of the wild and wacky things I would do in my classroom.  There was the time I played the sound of a heartbeat as students entered the classroom.  Perplexed, they kept asking me, “Ms. Williams, what is that sound?  Is that a heartbeat?”  I kept playing it off, pretending that I heard nothing.  It was amazing watching them squirm and assert that they were not losing their marbles.  When I introduced them to our activity of the day, in which we read Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, it all made sense.  Back to the Future Day, the day in which Michael J. Fox’s character Marty McFly travels in time and discovers a wild future in Back to the Future Part II, is one that would have played so perfectly into classroom excitement.  Since I am no longer a day-to-day classroom teacher, here is what I would have done today if I were a teacher of the following subjects:

  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math):
    • First and foremost, the HOVERBOARD! Imagine the students walking into a room with what looks to be a skateboard with no wheels sitting on the Back-to-the-Future-II-Hoverboardfloor.  It would have wires, magnets, and circuit boards attached to it haphazardly.  After having the students write one paragraph in their STEM notebooks (because, of course they would have notebooks), hypothesizing what it is that lay before them.  Then, I would provide a brief explanation…visually.  I would play a video clip of Marty McFly zipping through the future on his hoverboard before having the students divide up into groups.  Each group would explore the modern attempts made to create a hoveboard by Lexus, Omni, and Hendo.  Each group would first identify their overall thoughts, observed pros, and observed cons of the hoverboard they researched, they would then share their thoughts whole group.  The students would then compare and contrast the examples presented and use that to help them create their own brand of hoverboard.
  • Art:
    • If I were an Art teacher, I would use Back to the Future Day to explore the concept of modernity as it has been shown in art.  The classroom would be set up much like a gallery, but with iPads placed around the room, to showcase the work of artists from the 1950s to today.  After this gallery walk. the students would then watch a short scene from “Back to the Future Part II” and use that, plus one of the artists they observed in the in-class iPad gallery walk, to create their own work.  Their own work could be inspired by the artist they chose in the movie or it could be a rendering of how they imagine the future.
    • An alternate version of this lesson would employ some car design, where the students would learn about the DeLorean Motor Company, its rise, its demise, and its rise to iconic status.  They would then design their own cars that they think could also become iconic.
  • Social Studies:
    • Class would start with the students walking into the classroom decorated to look like it was the Wild West (or the mid-1800s).  With the student desks in groups, each group would feature a metal bucket with rolled up maps placed inside.  Of course, I would not answer a single question about the maps until the right time.
    • In the movie, Marty McFly does not change geographical locations as he and Doc Brown embark on their travels, but in time.  With this in mind, I would have the students watch a brief clip showing when Marty and Doc are transported to two distinct placements in time.  Thereafter, the students would be presented with maps of the school’s community.  They would work in groups to identify which maps were from today, which came from ten years ago, and which came from fifty or one hundred years ago.  They would make observations about these changes and pair this with their prior knowledge to identify potential reasons (other than population growth) for the changes in the community’s layout.
  • Language Arts:
    • I absolutely LOVED teaching English Language Arts because any of the lessons here could be used to teach literacy, grammar, audience, tone, etc., etc., etc.
  • Math:
    • Um, no ma’am.  Math is not in my wheelhouse.  That said, perhaps I would challenge the students to identify places within the film where math would have had to have been used.
  • Film Studies:
    • This film would pair so nicely with others that predict the future such as the “Terminator” films, any “Star Trek” or “Star Wars” film, “Mr. Nobody,” or even the so-called first science-fiction film “Metropolis.”  I would embark upon a whole unit or section of study on films that focus on the future.  The students would be invited to consider the historical context in which the films were made, the genre of films they explored, as well as the features they found made some versions of the future more believeable in some films than others.

Alas, I am no longer in the classroom on a daily basis, but I know many awesome educators who would be willing to create crazy connections to days like today.  If you are such a teacher, please do not hesitate to use the inspiration above to make some classroom magic happen!  If you do, please let me know and I would love to come to see it in action.  If you’re to afraid to do so, I’ll gladly come to your room to co-teach with you for a day (seriously).  While I cannot tell the future, I think its safe to say that ultimately a fun classroom is one where students love being and one in which we educators love working.

To quote the great Doc Brown, “your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one.”

Until next time,

Ms. W.

Summer Reading for Wheeler H.S. 2015-2016

This is, in essence, a re-post from March of this year.

For those students headed to Wheeler High School in August, you must be sure to read the texts outlined in the link below:

Summer Reading 2015-16


From March 2015:

I just received information about the Summer Reading Requirements for the students attending Wheeler HS next school year and have copied and pasted them below.  Please do not hesitate to get these books sooner than later.  Besides, it will make for a more restful summer. 🙂

9th Grade Honors

  1. All students must read and prepare outline (provided on Wheeler’s web site) on The Woman in White by Wilkie
    Collins. ****All students must prepare a TYPED outline for submission to the first week of the semester on this book.

    1. Each heading and subheading must have at least two parts. Do not exceed 2 pages typed using 1”
      margins and Times New Roman 12 point font.
    2. Be consistent. Use either complete sentences or brief phrases, but do not use both.
    3. This outline will be submitted to once information is provided by the teacher at the beginning of class.
    4. Be prepared to discuss this novel and participate in novel-related activities the first two weeks of the
  2. All students will select a second book to read from the On-Level 9th Grade Reading List (see below), then be prepared to write an in-class essay on the novel the first week of the semester.
    • During the essay, students may use one handwritten 4 x 6 index card containing notes on
      characters, plot, setting, etc. The card is NOT required, but if students use a card, it will be
      collected and kept at the end of the essay test. Typed and/or cut and pasted notes are NOT acceptable.

9th Grade Reading List

Should I receive or find information about the summer reading requirements for any of the other Magnet schools, I will be sure to update and republish this post–links and all!

-Ms. W.

Food for Thought (and Discussion)

With the end of the school year mere days away, today’s lesson took a slightly less-structured approach.  With their devices in hand (or through the use of a classroom computer), the students chose from the articles below.  They then got into groups to share what they had read, their thoughts on the article, and how they think those would relate to their lives.  The instructions that were provided to the class are below.

“Food for Thought” Lesson


  1. Choose from the articles below (some of these are available in printed form at the front table) and read it thoroughly.
  2. Next, join your classmates at the pre-determined locations around the room.
  3. You will each take turns to give a three-point synopsis of each of your articles.
  4. Finally, you will conduct a group discussion about the ideas your articles have in common.  Be creative in seeing how the articles relate to one another.


Genius Hour Presentations, Day 2

Yesterday’s scheduled presentations were as follows:
GH Presentations Day 2

Some of the standout presentations included:

Alex D.

Topic: How to Make an Epic Movie Trailer


Harrison M.

Topic: Lost and the Bible



  • Read for 30 minutes
  • Prepare Genius Hour project for presentation.



Genius Hour Presentations, Day 1

Today’s presentations were amazing (as to be expected)!  Below is the schedule of who was slated to present today.GH Presentations Day 1

Some of the most notable presentations came from:

Nicole J.

Topic: Bullying

Adonia R.

Topic: The Jamaican Language

Walter K.

Topic: Creating Electronic Music

I cannot wait to see tomorrow’s presentations!

Ms. W.


  • Read for 30 minutes
  • Prepare Genius Hour Project for presentation.
  • Post presentation on to the Padlet.


  • A generic power point presentation will be used each day this week (excluding Friday).

Sherlock Holmes and Genius Hour

Today, we continued to discuss Sherlock Holmes’ impact on modern crime-solving by watching a short clip from “How Sherlock Changed the World.”

Thereafter, the students took a quick test over both Sherlock Holmes texts (written and video) that we experienced.

In the time remaining, the students were permitted to work on their Genius Hour projects.


  • Read for 60 minutes.
  • Work on Genius Hour project.  Remember to upload these to the GH padlet at least one full school day before you present.  You must also have your rubric with you when you present (that also needs to be with you a day early).


Sherlock Holmes Test and Mystery Activity

Students, this post is for you.

Below, you will find today’s Sherlock Holmes test embedded.  Be sure to complete this, submit it, and do your very best!  Your scores will be entered into Synergy as soon as all students have completed this assignment.

Once you finish the above test, you may work on your Genius Hour project (make sure to be quiet while others finish working).

If you finish your Genius Hour project and want to earn extra credit, you can work on one of the mysteries below:

Comparing and Contrasting two Sherlock Holmes Tales

Over the past week and a half, my students and I have been delving into one of the most notable of Victorian literature in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s Sherlock Holmes stories.  Last week, my students read “A Study in Scarlet,” which was the novella in which the famed detective was first introduced.  We have then been watching the first episode of the BBC show “Sherlock” starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.  This episode, entitled “A Study in Pink,” draws most of its storyline’s influence from Doyle’s work, however writers Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat (of Dr. Who fame) did make some noteworthy differences in their re-telling.

As a result, and in accordance with the following standard, the students compared and contrasted the two stories.

ELACC8RL7: Analyze the extent to which a filmed or live production of a story or drama stays faithful to or departs from the text or script, evaluating the choices made by the director or actors.

The students created a Bubble Map sharing these similarities and differences once they finished viewing the aforementioned episode.

REMINDERS: Genius Hour has returned!  The students will present their projects Monday through Thursday of next week.  Parents, contact me if you are interested in coming to watch your student’s presentation.

STUDENTS: You may start submitting your Genius Hour Projects here.  The must be uploaded to the Padlet page at least one day before you are scheduled to present (remember the Friday, May 8th deadline was to help make sure you were done early).  Your final grade on this project depends upon this aspect.  You must also be sure to have your rubric on hand the day you perform or else you will lose 10 points. (See below if you need another copy)