Saturday, December 31, 2011

Quick Checks for formative assessment...

I am on another vacation this weekend..this time to celebrate the wedding of my fourth grade colleague Joe Curtin! So, I peeked back through my posts and picked an oldie but a goodie that I posted back in December.  Enjoy!

I am all about authentic assessments. I want to peer into the child's mind and see what she or he really understands about a concept that I have taught.  However, one of the drawbacks to this is TIME.  It takes time to check work and make comments and provide appropriate feedback.  Right?

This fall I was introduced to a new element of formative instruction that will be implemented in all the FOSS 3rd edition NEW units.  I sat with my jaw wide open as I thought...this is what I've been waiting for. So let me tell you how it's done!

Step one:  When you are teaching a lesson, pick out one or two main concepts that you want them to understand.  Write them on the sheet I have provided for FREE in google docs. (right under the Teachers Pay Teachers link)

Step two: Design in your lesson a way for the students to explain what they learned at the end of the day.  Suggestions include:  answer the focus question based on what you learned today, do a 3,2,1 reflection, a reflection such as Today I learned.... (make sure you tell them to write about the concept you are checking) or a simple Quick Write to explain the concept.

Step Three:  After teaching the lesson, have the students turn in their science notebooks open to the page they were working on.  Research has shown that this saves 25 minutes of teacher time - looking for the correct page to check! I also make sure that I have all journals turned in before I grade.  This is important for the next step.

Step Four: Read the reflection pieces.  If the student "gets it", then you only need to mark with a check. If they do not get it, then you write down what they made an error on so that you can get in touch with them tomorrow and clear up the misunderstanding.

The Formative Assessment sheet will look like this:

Quick check Assessment for Science Notebooks


A force can be a push or a pull
Got it!
Needs support
Brian – forces can only be a push
Cindy – pushes cause the force

I absolutely love this formative assessment technique because it keeps me on track.  I am able to check in with kids who may not understand a lesson quickly instead of waiting until the final test to see they didn't get it at all. 

I have used this technique in Math, Reading, and Social Studies as well.  It is a great way to keep track of your student's learning in all subjects.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Clouds in the sky...oh my!

Product DetailsI just love to look at the clouds....laying on my back and staring overhead for hours at the shapes in the sky....One of my favorite books is It Looked Like Spilt Milk  .  This book take the imagination route of looking at white shapes and imagining they are a birthday cake, a tree, a bunny...but all in all they are just a cloud in the sky.  This book is a great hook at any age!

With my Seeds of Science Weather and Water unit, we spend a lot of time looking at cloud cover and analyzing what type of precipitation they create.  We learn where these cloud form in the sky and how much humidity is involved in each one.

But eventually, we need to learn the official names of the clouds for our Virginia SOLS.  So I created a matching game where the kids have to match the picture and name to the description of the cloud.

You can download it for FREE in the Google Docs page.

Also, one of my "fans" took the what do you wonder about weather and turned it into a PowerPoint.  You can also download it for FREE in the Google Docs Page on the side.

To find the Google Docs - it is on the side bar....scroll down....Under the Teacher's Pay Teachers link and above Education Journey. Good luck!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thinking about Humidity....

Have I said lately how much I love Seeds of Science?  We have been exploring weather in our classroom using this module for weeks now.  One of my favorite investigations is exploring humidity.  We set up five stations with humidity strips to test for humidity in the air.  Humidity is the measure of water vapor and is a major indicator of precipitation and cloud coverage. 

We place strips on the roof of a closed system with water in it... and with out water in the system.  If there is humidity in the air, the strips will turn pink or purple.

Next, we put humidity strips on a tray and wave it with a cardboard fan.  A real fan works better, but I didn't have one available. We also put humidity strips on the closed system of a plastic bag - that the students breathe into.  Yes, water vapor from the!
Our last investigation involves putting strips on a pencil that hangs over a cup of hot water that we have warmed in a kettle.  That was immediate and a lot of fun to see.
The students were able to record their data on a chart to see that they were able to get a positive result for humidity over warm water, in the closed system with water and in the closed system with breath in a bag.  The students them were able to understand why meteorologists measure humidity in order to predict precipitation. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

If you are wondering where I have been lately, well I am recovering at home from surgery. Today is the first day I have felt like looking at my blog and it is killing me that I have let it go "dormant" for the past few weeks. I decided to repost this from earlier in the year, because exit cards are always a great informational tool to use any time during the year. Enjoy!

Today I am posting a little resource I put together on Exit cards. I am calling it "Exit Cards 101" and it is geared to science classrooms...although it can be adapted for any subject.

It is available for FREE for all you guys out there to use and share with your colleagues.

These card are great to do with an assesment that I hope to share tomorrow for Quick Sorting. Stop by and check it out again...
Thanks guys!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

What's going on in my classroom now???

We are working on WEATHER!  This is one of my favorite units because I use a unit from Seeds of Science called "Weather and Water". 
This unit is so super cool because it takes children on an adventure through weather using excellent books as well as great hands-on experiences.   I can't give away all the "secrets"... I can only showcase a few moments from my classroom...

One thing we do during this unit is observe water as it evaporates in the classroom.  Such an easy experiment to do - just set it up and watch the water disappear!

We also keep track of the daily weather on a class chart and in our science notebooks.

Another cool thing...we keep track of the clouds by making sky observations... Real photos help the children key in on the weather terms so that we can not only learn the scientific names of the clouds, but the types of weather that they create.

And of course, DON'T FORGET THE WORD WALL...pocket charts are awesome!
This is just a peek into my classroom right now...I hope to share some literacy strategies with you this week using the books we are reading in class.  Our focus is on Text Features, using transition words in writing and taking notes based on reading a "section" of the book.