Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sentence starters....

Sentence starters are an important part of helping students learn how to write in science notebooks.  I use them in my science notebooks everyday. I have always written them on a chart or put them on cards in my pocket chart so I could carry them around the room when I am talking about the words.

I was going to type these up this year with a "cute font", but while searching Pinterest I found that
Frogs and Cupcakes had created a great resource for FREE already!  So why recreate the wheel at this point in the summer?  Instead, why not use what she alread created? So I decided to share this resource with you all today....and go outside and enjoy one of the last days of summer!



Friday, August 24, 2012

Children's literature that connects to science...

In keeping with thinking about the start of the year, I thought I'd post a few of my favorite science books as well.

Here are a few of my favorite books to start off the year -

  • Monday with a Mad Genius by Mary Pope Osburn is a Jack and Annie tale where they travel back in time to meet Leonardo Da Vinci. That in itself is a cool idea - but what makes this book special is that they follow him throughout his day and see his ups and downs. The book shows that even Leonardo made mistakes and yet he kept on investigating and learning. The book also talks about combining drawing with science and even talks about his SCIENCE NOTEBOOKS. It is a wonderful story and a great start to the year.

  • Boy Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs: This is another great book for the start of the year because it talks about how scientists have changed their thinking over the years. It talks about theories that were once univerally accepted that are no longer true! Great book!

  • I love just about any book from Seeds of Science Roots of Reading...but my favorite is definately Why Do Scientists Diagree? I love this book on so many levels - first, it shows scientists in all forms - old, young, women, men, African American, Indian, Caucasian, Hispanic and Asian...second, it talks about how scientists must talk through their ideas together. Sometimes they disagree and sometimes they even get mad. I also love this books because it is a story within a story - on one side it shows the historical conflict between Galileo and his colleagues and on the other side it shows modern scientists disagreeing.
Another great Seeds book is Drinking Cleopatra's Tears. This book explains the Water Cycle in a question and answer format that is fun to read and informative too. It is also a little gross - like the part where we may be drinking a dinosaur's sweat. Kids love it!

Oh I could go on and on with this post...but will stop for now. I like the idea of showcasing books used in a unit. Our next unit is on Ecosystems: Plants and Animal Adaptations. If you would like, I can try to highlight the books we are using in class.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Exit Cards

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.   This is not a new resource, some of you may have already seen it.  But for those of you who have not seen it is.

Why use exit cards?

One of the biggest indicators as to whether students actually "got" what we taught can be determined by using a reflective piece at the end of a lesson.  Exit cards allow you to see if the students have any questions, misconceptions or have a solid understanding.  They allow you to spot teach, review or go on with no worries! 

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

Thanks guys!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Thinking about using Science Notebooks this year?

     There are so many different approaches to science notebooking and my approach is based on the method developed by FOSS and the Lawrence Hall of Science. I have been to a week long training with them at the NSTA conference in Philly as well as a few other sessions in St. Louis. I have seen a sneak peek into the new 3rd Edition of the FOSS kits and know that notebooking will be embedded in each and every lesson!

But, I also know that science notebooks can be used with any kind of inquiry approach to teaching science. Inquiry is all about questions...which is why we start with Focus Questions for each lesson. But what comes next?

Science Notebooks should be broken into four main components:
  1. Planning the Investigation (includes Focus question, predictions, planning and procedures)
  2. Data Acquisition and Organization - narratives, drawings, charts and tables, artifacts, or graphs
  3. Making Sense of Data - frames and prompts, claims and evidence, conclusions and predictions, and I wonder statements
  4. Reflection and Self-Assessment - teacher feedback, self-assessment and lines of learning
I highly recommend that you read the science notebook folio from FOSS for more information.

For example...what about data? I used to think data was always numbers - graphs, charts, equations, etc... But I have since learned that data is a way to show your thinking and keep track of your observations. We all learn in different ways and so we need to make sure that we give our kids different methods of recording.

Let's talk about DIAGRAMS! Ever since I was a little girl I have loved to draw. Back when I was in school, we never had hands-on experience with science, but if we had...I would have loved drawing scientific diagrams. Perhaps then I wouldn't have had to take Physics twice, Coach Hoy! Anyway, FOSS has developed an acronym that I use to teach my kids about the expectations for diagrams and that is ABCD.

A Accurate
B Big
C Colorful
D Detailed

I have found these suggestions to be super kid friendly and also specific and clear for my students. I'd like to share some samples from former students:

I think all three of these samples show how drawing can take your explanations to another level. By the way, the sticky note on the first example shows an assessment of improvement...but assessment is for another blog!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Science Centers

Okay, now we have our essential student supplies and teacher materials.  Now what??? Let's start thinking about centers.

There are many ways to incorporate centers or stations into your classroom. 
  •     Rotations - where you set out five or six stations and the students rotate from station to station in one class period.  Many people incorporate this into the day on Fridays as a great way to end the week.  I like to do this occasionally throughout the year!

  • Stationary Spot - I have a Science Spot in my classroom where I put out a center for students to go to during "free time" - like after school bus call, in the morning during "check in" or if they finish work early.  The activities that I include have a structured page with background/content information as well as step by step directions.  
What should they look like? 

       No matter which structure you use for your centers ther are a few things that will help make these centers successful. 
  1. Trays or Tubs to contain materials is essential! 
  2. Task cards - with visual/written directions of what to do.
  3. Recording sheet - to record and reflect what you learned.
If you decide to "grade" or assess the work that they do make sure you include a rubric!

To get a FREE example of a Science Spot that I use at the beginning of the year with beach artifacts click here.

Sunday, August 12, 2012 what's next?

Awards EmblemI need to ask for some support from my followers...I am nominated for a great award. This award is for the most fascinating blog of 2012 - Science Teacher.  The voting takes place Aug 13-Aug 20th (and actually includes a prize!)  If you like my blog, please take some time and vote for me this week!  Just click here and follow the directions!

Now, on to the work at hand...

Organization...has never been my strongest suit....However, I know that without a carefully crafted plan, my classroom will fall apart.  (The same is true for my home by the way...but with two boys and dog and a husband I can NOT keep it together to save my life. That's a whole 'nother story!)

I talked about the need for TUBS and TRAYS.  So what do you do with those tubs and trays?

At the end of school each day, I review my lessons for the next day.  I PREP the materials ahead of time (yes, I did just say ahead of time!) - putting the supplies they will need for the lesson in a plastic bag with their group number on it. 

When it is time for science the children get into their designated science groups
I have pre-selected students for groups.  These groups are heterogeneous in nature - two boys and two girls if possible.  I usually have 6 groups total (6 X 4 = 24 kids). 
Each child in the group is assigned a color - red, yellow, green or blue. 

These colors are matched to cooperative group jobs - Getter 1 (they get the materials), Getter 2 (they put the materials away), Starter (they are the first to start the activity) and Reporter (they will share out with the group).  The best part of this system is that the jobs rotate daily. So, everyone gets a chance to do the various jobs often.

  Trust me it really helps to be prepared (PREP is the first part of prepared!) and planned.  The 20 minutes you put in the end of the day, makes the lesson itself run smoothly....

Friday, August 10, 2012

What do I need to start the year?

As I have blogged about earlier, Space is going to be my first big unit of instruction in my science class.  I promised you all some center based activities for space....and trust me they are coming.

However, we still have a few weeks before school starts and as I start to think about the beginning of the year, I know that I can't just head straight into instruction.  Can you imagine starting the first day of school with a lesson on moon phases? No way....

So instead I want to walk you through the thinking processes in my mind as I start to plan for the year.

What will my students need for science education this year?

1. My students each need a composition notebook...that will be transformed into a world class science notebook. I will make each student a label to put on the cover that says "Science Notebook".  We will also write in a sharpie on the side the words: Science.
That makes it easier to find when it is inside the desk! 

2.  My students will also need pencils, glue sticks (for the occasional xeroxed paper to be glued in) as well as colored pencils for adding details.

3.  I ask parents to send in some other supplies which are used in all curriculum areas but especially science:  snack bags, gallon sized bags and paper towels.  These are essential for organizing and clean up.

What do I need to collect for science education this year?

1.  TUBS....I have several large tubs from the FOSS units we use. However, if you don't have FOSS, you can still find large tubs.  Rubbermaid and others have similar sized tubs that you can use to store large materials on a table that you designate for science.

I also have other smaller tubs (I like the kind that have no holes in the sides) for group materials.  I usually have six groups of 4 students (24 kids).  These small tubs are great for carrying materials back and forth.  Types of tubs that work well - Rubbermaid tubs with tops or plain old plastic shoe boxes from the $1 store. 

My teacher friends and I were just discussing our "tub issue"....because, there is more!  I have small tubs for planting, sorting, holding center materials, shaking solutions, etc... 

Yes, I think I do have a Tub Problem....
2.  The second material I couldn't live with out....TRAYS....

These blue trays can with a science kit that I use (Seeds of Science) but you can find these in various places as well.  I have seen them as platters at Walmart or the Dollar Tree.  You can use those for lots of things - including group work and center spots.

How do I store these materials?

I buy a large blue Tub (ha ha) that I keep
materials in when I am not using them.  This is a great tub because it is solid (you can't see the crap instructional materials inside.  It also fits nicely under a student desk that can be covered with a table cloth. 

More organization tips to come....

Monday, August 6, 2012

Space....time to switch gears!

All summer I have been working on science centers based on animals.  I have created or tweaked ideas using owls, eagles, bears, raccoons, as well as deer.   Now I am ready to switch gears and start getting ready for the school year.  This year I am starting with SPACE! 

Cover PhotoWhy? It is engaging, it is interesting and it is in the NEWS.  Last night, the NASA Curiosity mission made a successful landing of a Mars Rover on Mars.  How cool is that?? Real scientists using real tools to learn something new....Wow...

 Truthfully...I had no idea this was going on.  However, my friends at FOSS put an update on their facebook status.  With a little research, I was able to find out a few things.  Looking for a great clip to show your students about the landing?  Here it is....

Now looking for a fun clip?  Here's one to "Call me Maybe....".  Yes..everyone is doing it!  Even NASA!

And then if you are looking for uptodate and real photographs, you can always check out NASA's website!

This week I will be working on some ideas for science inquiry centers based on the planets and the moon.  Keep checking in...

Friday, August 3, 2012

Bear Update and You Tube Clips....

I was having trouble when I posted my bear PDF yesterday...I have gotten many "requests to share" from my Google Doc.  I think I have now switched it to a public account so that now anyone can download it.  So sorry for the mess up!! 

In other news....I found a great YouTube video about Black Bears.  This video clip is from the BBC (they always do a great job with wild life videos)!  This clip is quiet (which is always nice) and shows what the black bears do before hibernation.

Living with Black Bears in Virginia is a great clip put out by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries about what to do when black bears end up in your neighborhood.  For my area, this is a real thing that happens every year in the late summer / early fal.  This clip is great to use as a real world problem - great connections to our real life 

Hope you enjoy and use these in your classroom!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bears! Hibernation...

  There is something about black bears that makes me happy.  Maybe it is the many hours spent reading Blueberries for Sal as a child with my Grandmother and Mom...Maybe it is the story of the Three Bears (although I think they were Grizzlies) or the Little Bear I Can Read stories...

I created another Science Center for exploring the effects of Cold Temperatures and how body coverings can help keep animals warm.  This one I "tweaked" from National Geographic's Inquiry book (comes with their new science text book). 

This science center is a great one because it allows for students to choose which type of covering they would like to test!

Unfortunately, I have had some trouble with my PDF changeover.   I used a font that changed when converting to PDF and for some reason, I can't fix it!  Please feel free to copy it and change it if you like!

You can get it for FREE here...