Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cross Curricular Language Arts Connections

Do you feel like you are running on a hamster wheel?  Do you feel like we are working harder and not smarter?  One of the ideas that I have grasped onto over the past few years is the idea of a "curriculum economy".  We have soooooo many things to teach and so little time.  We try to teach random discrete skills and it is overwhelming to us and confusing to the kids...right???

My FOSS representative, Kip Bisignano introduced me to the concept of infusing my language arts skills into my content area.  After all, our principal wants us to teach reading/language arts for 90 minutes or more at the detriment of our science or social studies instructional time. Guess what happened?  My reading scores went from mid 70% to 94% (three years in a row!).

I have created a new packet of activities that you can use to imbed language into your science class around the topic of weather.  I am charging for this one because it is 27 pages of stuff you can use!  (Besides it took me a long time to create it!)

As part of Cyber Monday, I am offering this packet (along with Kicking Off the Year with Mentos) for 20% off Sunday - Tuesday Nov. 25-27th.

Let me know what you think if you purchase it! I am working on creating more reading passages that correlate with science standards for the future!





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Friday, November 23, 2012

Owl Pellets

Something about the fall makes me want to connect with nature.  You may have seen my previous blog about spiders...today, I'm into Owls...

I love to teach about owls and do so throughout the year.  We always read aloud "Owl in the Shower" by Jean Craighead George to bring to life the plight of the loggers vs. owl lovers in the western states.  It's a great books because it shows both points of view...as well as the point of view of the owl.

Today we watched a few You Tube videos to show owls and owl pellets. This is a great one from http://hookedonscience.org - a nifty little website I stumbled across this weekend.

Next, I introduced how to dissect an owl pellet using the website KidWings.  This is a great place to find instructions, worksheets, etc....as well as a virtual dissection option.

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I passed out the owl pellets and we went to town...notice, a few of my students chose to do it online rather than using the real owl pellets. I personally think it is a good idea to let kids choose which version they are more comfortable with and not make a big deal out of it!


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I have several owl related products available for FREE or cheap on my TPT site.




Barred Owl Non-fiction (costs $1)



Another really cool thing I learned to do this weekend is create a QR code for my blog.  Scan it, and you can get to Science Gal on your Smart Phones!

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Spider Hunt

Boy did I have fun last week with my students in my after school club of "Green Hornets".  This club is for a growing population of students at my school who are "naturalists" at heart.  Have you ever noticed at recess the group of children that would rather look at the clouds, play in the bushes or trees, or simply pick clover? Those are our naturalists and they love the outdoors!

With all the research in the past few years that says that kids no longer want to play in the woods, I started thinking....why not?  Sure, some kids would rather play video games...but I still have a group of kids who would LOVE for us to let them play in the woods surrounding our school at recess.  And then I wonder....what about those kids who play video games??? Have they ever even been in the woods????

So...I asked one of our moms at our school (who is also a master gardener) to come to our recess time on Friday and offer some activities for the kids to participate in.  She has a growing number of kids who help her search for bugs, make leaf prints, create leaf blankets, look at stumps to learn about the weather, etc...


I also have my after school group.  Last week, we learned about spiders. I got my ideas from the  Handbook of Nature Studies blog.  

I started off by having the group eat their snack and watch some videos of spiders spinning their webs.

There are a lot of videos on YouTube with spiders spinning webs...very cool!

Then we looked at four different types of webs...

sheet webs



Filmy dome webs


Orb Web



Funnel Web




Next we went outside and searched for webs....we found some really cool ones!



The kids had their notebooks and were able to draw what they observed...




Then we came back in and listed what we found...we even snuck in the teachers lounge and found some cobwebs! 


We ended the time with big pieces of black paper and white crayons...the kids had a blast drawing what they saw!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Art and Science...hmmmm

Photo: Another vast weekend of fun! Loved hearing dr. Ken wessen teach us about brain connections with art and science!
I have just returned from our State Science Conference where I spent some time thinking and contemplating many things....

First I was able to hear a keynote speaker, Dr. Kenneth Wesson, speak about creativity. He said many things that stuck in my mind...like the fact that multitasking and stress is going to kill us!!!  More importantly he spoke about the connections between art and science.

Did you know that every major scientist has a connection to some type of art - whether it be playing a musical instrument, painting, drawing, even dance or acting??? 

It's a brain connection! 

You may have heard this recently...we are leaving the information age and entering the innovative age. Creativity is back in style!  He said that one of the biggest problems in our society and classrooms is that kids don't play anymore. And...either do adults by the way! If you have been teaching as long as I have you may remember the term purposeful play...guess what? That's back in style!!!

Dr. Wesson told us that the best way to make connections in the brain and retain information is through drawing and creating....which was validating to those of us who encourage the art of drawing in our classrooms.

How can we do this?  Diagrams, representations in our journals, posters, dioramas, etc...

"If I can't picture it, I can't understand....."



Here is how I took notes in my grad school classes....there is a lot to be said for that idea of drawing to help you remember and understand.


I have many other thoughts running through my mind, but this was the most important one that I felt I needed to share. 

Much more to come this week!



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Saturday, November 3, 2012

STEAM math/science night

Have you heard about STEAM? Science Technology Engineering Art and Math... Our school is very excited to implement this idea in our classrooms and so we kicked off our year with a STEAM evening for parents and students alike.

First - check out the bullentin board created by my amazing Art and Music teachers at our school.


Students were thrilled to build, build, build...




 

Future Engineers at play!


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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Show what you know!

Recently we had a chance to "show what we know" about the solar system. It is so important in 4th and 5th grade to give kids the opportunity to choose ways to show what they know. The more often they can show content in a manner that fits their learning style, the more often it will "stick" in their memory.

So here are some choices we gave our students:

1. Create a poster of the Solar System showing the planets in the correct order from the sun
2. Create a song or rap to show what you have learned about the Solar System.
3. Make a model of the planets using playdough. 
4. Pick one planet to do a research project on (worksheet)
5. Go on a Scavenger Hunt around the classroom to answer questions about the solar system.

Some of the activities I created with my colleague and some of them I got from Super Teacher Worksheets.   Do you know that site?  It is amazing! It has a lot of great activities and even smart board resources, too!

Here are some of my students work:




She is doing the Scavenger Hunt!




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