Friday, June 29, 2012


I am excited to share with you my summer focus:  ANIMALS!  I love life science and learning about animals -- especially those found on the East Coast of North America.  Every grade level teaches something about animals - habitats, adaptations, food web, etc...

My plan is to provide resources on individual animals - birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and even insects.  I am going to create these resources for a CHEAP price of $1.00...along with links to youtube videos, suggested children's books to read aloud and of course worksheets for your classroom. I will always offer ONE page for FREE!

The worksheet packets will include:
vocabulary cards
kid-friendly passages
spots to draw or reflect on the concepts taught

My first post is on EAGLES....look for it tomorrow!

PS - I have also dropped the price on all of my resources available on TeachersPayTeachers.  If you follow me, you know MOST of my resources are FREE.  But the few theat I do charge for, I have dropped the prices.  Check it out.... and tell me what you think!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Amazing Science Discovery

     Today I am recommending another resource that you might want to suggest to parents of your students. This resource was designed to help our parents help our students at home.  I think it would be especially good if you have school wide science fairs. 

It helps parents understand exactly what their children will be studying in each grade level.
It teaches parents how to develop in their children an interest and involvement in science depending on the grade level.
It explains, in plain English, specific topics that children will be tackling depending on their grade level.
It gives easy and fun experiments that parents and children can do together and learn from.
And, it helps create a special bond between child and parent by bringing them together through fun scientific activities!

It helps parents understand exactly what their children will be studying in each grade level.
It teaches parents how to develop in their children an interest and involvement in science depending on the grade level.
It explains, in plain English, specific topics that children will be tackling depending on their grade level.
It gives easy and fun experiments that parents and children can do together and learn from.
And, it helps create a special bond between child and parent by bringing them together through fun scientific activities!

To find out more about it, click on this link:  Amazing Science Discovery

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Recommended Resource

I don't know about you...but I am always looking for a GREAT resource. I have found it! Laura Candler's new book Graphic Organizers for Reading. This books is amazing! Even though this is mainly a science blog, I wanted to share this book with you as a GREAT resource for reading across the content area.

Here are a few of my favorite parts of the book:

Graphic Organizers for Reading Book CoverFirst - Most graphic organizer books just give you the worksheets. Not this one...she explains HOW to use them using the "I do....We do...You do..." teaching method. She explains how to model correct usuage of the worksheet with sample lessons - all aligned to the Common Core standards for grades 2-6.

Another feature that I LOVE is that the graphic organizers are divided into two main sections: Multi-purpose and Information Text & Literature.

Wth the Multi-Purpose section she includes HOW to teach kids to choose the BEST graphic organizer, ways to introduce them in "FUN" catchy ways, sample lessons and sample sheets to see how kids might fill them in. These organizers can be used for more than just reading...these are great for SCIENCE too! They are full of T-charts, multi-column charts, Venn diagrams and more.

In the Informational Text and Literature section she suggests texts that would work well with the organizer, gives step-by-step techniques for teaching as well as the targeted reading strategies. We all need to DO science, but we also need to READ about science.  The Informational text is perfect for connecting reading skills to content area books - both trade books and text.

Finally...(I saved the best for last) are Laura's Tips. One of the reasons I love all of Laura Candler's products is because they are VERY TEACHER FRIENDLY. You can tell she is not just a researcher, but one who works with kids. Her tips are always spot on and just what you need to get you through a lesson.

The price is reasonable (under $25) and well worth it. There are enough graphic organizers to keep you busy all year! To learn more about it I recommend you go to this website to see more.

Monday, June 25, 2012

New Resource for K-2 Notebooking

Are you interested in notebooks for K-2 students? How about using notebooks to showcase items from nature?  Those of you who follow my blog know that I am a huge advocate of GETTING KIDS OUTSIDE...

I have created a new resource that is available for purchase here .  It has 18 pages that use notebook sheets from nature to compare, observe, and describe basic properties of objects.  You will also be able to sort items based on size, shape, color, texture and weight.  Another set of resources allow the students to sequence items, measure them using standard and non-standard methods, and classify items as well.

Here are two free samples that you can download for free  here:

Hope you enjoy them!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Do you do magnetism and electricity???

This is my FAVORITE FOSS unit.. My students and I love to create and build circuits that work and challenge us to think of different ways to build.  Today I am going to link you back to the new interactive games as well as the old ones still on-line.

Build an Electromagnet   With this activity, much like the Evaporation one, you will have several variables to manipulate...wire gauge, wire material, number of winds and level of power.  Your challenge is to pick up as many filings as you can. This is a great activity for whole group and individual practice.  Keep in mind, you can (if your population has computers) even assign this for homework!  It is FREE!

This activity is great for the smart board. It include critical competitors - items that look the same, but are made of different materials.  You get to connect the objects to the circuit and see if they are conductors of electricity or not. 

There are so many more...including D-Cell orientation, Lighting a bulb, and turning on the switch...a total of 9 interactive simulations in all.  If you want to explore more...then I suggest you go to the website and play. 

Have fun!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

New FOSS interactive games...

Today my friend and Delta Education sales rep came to my school to show me some new goodies from FOSS.  First, the Smart Board resources are AMAZING....Let me just say, the entire lesson will flow as you use them to guide your lessons.  I CAN NOT wait to use them in the fall and purchase them for my teaching colleagues in my school!

Second:  the freebies!

    FOSS is known for it's interactive games that go with each module on their website.   I would like to showcase a different one for the next few blogs so that you can play with them at home!

This one comes from the new 3rd Edition Unit entitled "WATER".  The game is called Evaporation Station. This game allows you to manipulate variables on two sides of a scale to see which side will evaporate more quickly.  You can manipulate the temperature, the size of the containers holding the water and the cloud cover.  It is a great game that you can introduce whole class on your Smart Board, but the students can practice it individually in the computer lab or at home for homework.  It is fun and really shows how temperature, heat and container size does affect evaporation. 

Go play!

Monday, June 18, 2012

School is over....for now

We had our last day of school on was bittersweet as always.  I had a AMAZING group of students who loved to learn, a terrific group of parents who helped them learn and a fantastic group of team members who I truly love working with.  My wonderful principal is retiring...another sad moment.  She has created a school where the students come first, the teachers like each other (shocker!) and have become a professional learning community, and hard work is actually appreciated.  As we wait for the new leader to be announced, I consider myself blessed to have worked for Cathy Walker for 22 years.  I hope the next 10 or so years will be as wonderful as the first 22!  We will see...

So what are my plans this summer????

I am contemplating writing a book...I am definitely reading some professional books..and I plan to play a bit, too. One of the books that I plan to blog about (it seems like everyone is doing a book study this summer) is  Writing in Science in Action by Betsy Rupp Fulwiler. I highly recommend this book if you are looking for a way to spruce up your science instruction.

Another one of my focuses for the summer will be to create some more lessons to place here on the blog to improve science education in your classrooms.  I am hoping to create a few in depth units for purchase as well as my usual freebies.  As always, they will be student centered and science notebook based.

On another note...when we started cleaning the room on Friday...guess who we found??? yes, Squirtle the Turtle!  He was hiding behind my desk...curled up in the computer cords.  (Very nicely camouflaged if I do say so myself!)

For now...I am taking a break while I clean out my classroom...See you soon!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Squritle is missing!

Last week, I was out for a professional day when I suddenly got a text...did you take squirtle home?  Uh oh!  No...I did not.  Let me back up and tell you...Squirtle is our pet turtle.  He is an African Side Necked turtle and he is about a year old.  He has escaped twice before but was found under a bookshelf and the under a desk.  We always found him within a few minutes.  Not so lucky this time.

This turtle is smart.  The hole he squeezed through was half the size of his shell...I have no idea how he managed it!  We sent the kids looking in the hallways and around the school...but no luck.  Finally, the kids made posters:

Unfortunately, it has been a week now...and still no sign of my turtle.  We end school on Friday and I am fairly certain that we will find him when we pack up the rooms and move furniture.  I hope I can report that he is safe and happy...but the reality is, it may not have a happy ending. I will keep you posted!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Another tip for next year....organizing!

Ah...the dredded prep work....

What makes a science lesson run smoothly or go over like a lead balloon? Whether or not the teacher has her/his materials prepped and ready for the lesson.

I know some teachers complain about the time it takes to get materials ready. I know we are all fried at the end of the day...But if you simply spend 15 minutes making sure you are good to go the next day, the lesson will run 100% smoother. And if the lesson runs smoothly, the kids will learn more.

So let me share a few of my tips and what works for me!

First, I make sure that I have a consistent materials spot. I have two desks pushed together and covered with a vinyl tablecloth (to hide the crap educational materials underneath.)

Second, you need each group to have materials easily accessible. As you see with this unit, I put each groups materials on a tray. Then when I ask the Getters to go get the materials, they simply get their trays and any additional materials.

Sometimes you need to put things in baggies. When I do that for my FOSS Magnetism and Electricity unit, I make sure to put them in a large ziploc and number them by group. So for this lesson each group needs 2 batteries, a switch, 4 wires, 2 light bulbs and a light bulb holder. I put those in the bag and stack the circuit boards next to them. So much easier for the getters to grab and go.

Third - where do you house the materials? In a nicely labeled tub of course! I actually have two tubs side by side right now because we need the bags, the circuit boards and occasionally the balance scales. This makes clean up for getter 2 a breeze. It also makes prep work that night so much easier because I can easily see what needs to be added or removed for the next lesson.

Hope these three tips helped you today!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Writing a book????

My good friend and fellow science nerd, Sherrie, and I are seriously considering writing a book this summer. Our idea is based on this blog as well as my other blog - we want to provide a framework for managing a creative and engaging classroom for the Upper Grades. We are working on our ideas now, but are thinking about these general topics:

Relationship Building
Class Management
Engaging Activities to motivate our preteens
Cross Curriculum ideas and strategies
Notebooking in all subjects

We envision a VERY teacher friendly book - complete with resources. What are some topics you think are important for the Upper Grades???

We would love some suggestions to get our brains going...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thinking about something to improve for next year???

Science Groups

It is time for a repost...I can not stress enough how important it is to have science groups set up for hands-on exploration. Each child NEEDS a job and a responsibility. It makes the lesson run so smoothly.... Take a peek into my Science jobs the FOSS way!

For more information about the curriculum I use, check out

1. GROUPING: FOSS recommends you have your students into groups of 4. I usually group them this way - one high student, one lower student and two average students. I also pay special mind to personalities as well - sensitive, high energy, etc... Laura Candler has a really good resource for cooperative learning where you make cards to help you keep record of who is grouped with who. I recommend you go to her website: and search for more resources under cooperative learning.

2. POSTER WITH NAMES: Once I determine who is in the group, I make a poster that shows the students names and group number. Each child's name is in a certain color - red, green, blue or yellow. That is because the color will denote the job of the day.

3. JOB CHART: Next, I put the four jobs in a pocket chart:

Getter1 - gets materials
Getter 2 - puts materials away
Reporter - reports what they did at the end of the investigation
Starter - starts the investigation first

4. ASSIGN JOBS: Finally, I put a square in the pocket chart next to each job. The squares are red, yellow, green and blue. This way if your name is red, you do the red job today. Each day the squares rotate so that the jobs rotate.

Hope this works for you as well as it works for me!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Wrapping up the science year....

I have officially taught all of my state standards for the year in all subjects!  With only one more state testing to go, we are winding down the rest of the subjects.  It is so easy to just check the list off and say we covered it all and go to the pool.   Instead I want to ensure that what and how I taught has a meaningful impact.  I created this survey to help my students reflect on the year and give me some insight into the next. Use it if you wish!

You can download it here for FREE!

I am sad to see this year end for many reasons...a great class, a great team of teachers that I work with and an AMAZING principal who after 43 years has decided to retire.  On the flip side, I am looking forward to reading and relaxing...creating a few pinterest projects and watching some exactly 9 more days...