How I Taught – THE WATER CYCLE

I would venture to say that of all the science topics that I teach the water cycle has the MOST resources. If you search for the water cycle on TpT- HUNDREDS of resources will come up at all different levels. This year, I truly believe that I have finally found peace with the way that I teach the water cycle. So many times I think we second guess ourselves (or at least I do) and the way that we present certain topics. However, this year I am very happy with how my lesson on the water cycle turned out.

How I Started the Lesson

I am a huge fan of scavenger hunts and I especially like to introduce a topic using these. The one I have used for the past three years for this topic is great. It has all the key information and a secret code for students to figure out.

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At the beginning of class, I gave the students the scavenger hunt paper and then explained that the cards were all around the room (even under chairs and so forth). I had a prize for the student who found all the information first. Then, once everyone understood the goal I set them loose to run around the room. They had a BLAST!!

Once everyone finished gathering the information, I passed out highlighters and explained we would be using the information they just gathered as our notes. We then read through the information and highlighted key vocabulary. I did have to add a note about groundwater and how that led to infiltration because it is a keyword in our Georgia Standards.

Reader’s Theater

To further expose students to the key vocabulary and how the water cycle works we quickly read through a reader’s theater. I don’t know about you, but my kids HATE reading from the book. However, if I pull out a reader’s theater they volunteer like crazy. Almost every student wants a part!

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Doodle Notes – OF COURSE!! 

After we read through the notes and found out information about key vocabulary. Students completed a set of doodle notes. They had information to fill-in using their notes and a color code to follow.

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At the End of Class – Day #1

At the end of this class period, students completed an exit ticket. It was an old one from what my partner teacher called “The Good Book.” It is an Earth Science book by Carson-Delossa.

LAB DAY!!

Now my lab is a bit different. Instead of making a cloud in the bottle or something like that I have my students go through the water cycle.

First, we read a book together as a class. The book we read is called Drop Around the World. I give each student a different page to look at. They have to tell where the drop journeyed, what step of the water cycle he went through and evidence for how they knew. The cool thing about this book is on every page the drop is hidden somewhere in the picture. It is a big hit!

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After we discuss the book student receive their journey paper and I explain they will now be taking a journey as a water droplet.

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Around the room, I set up stations for different stops along the water cycle. Students start at one point and roll the dice to journey to the next stop. Sometimes they get stuck in one place and sometimes they go to twelve different places. This experience helps students to see that the cycle is not always in three perfect steps (Students collect beads at each location and make a bracelet to represent their journey – totally optional).

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When their journey ends students write the story of their journey. These are always super-fun to read.

Around the Room Circuit

This year to end the lab day students completed an around the room circuit about the water cycle. They did great on this assignment!

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Basically, students start with any question in the room and each answer leads them to a new question. At the end, they should end up back where they started. It is great because students can check themselves based on the path they take.

All in all, I loved my lesson and I really think my students learned the information in a fun and interactive way! Do you want to use some of the ideas I mentioned? If so, just click on any image to be linked to that resource! Happy Teaching!!

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WPATV – A Weather Room Transformation

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Who didn’t grow up in awe of the weathermen and women on TV in front of a green screen? I was always amazed that they were able to point to certain cities and such. For our meteorology unit, I transformed my room into a news station. Complete with “Craft Services!”

The set up was very easy. I borrowed a green screen from a co-worker (although I have since found out that you can use any green fabric). I then angled my chairs towards the screen for a studio audience. For Craft Services, I made lemonade and asked parents to donate powdered donuts. I made a simple poster of the TV Station logo using one of our local stations as inspiration. Lastly, I played news them songs as the students came in.

What did Students Do?

They researched weather information prior to the transformation. Upon arriving in class they were given a script to fill-in and make cue cards. Then for the first 30 minutes we had production meetings in groups. They met with me and selected their background. Then, the final part of class we filmed the weather reports.

The app I used for filming is called Do Ink – http://www.doink.com

The kids loved completing this project and we had a watch party once I put all the reports together. What do you do during your meteorology unit?

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GSTA 2019!

On Wednesday I will be headed to the Georgia Science Teachers Association Conference. I am super excited about going, but also super nervous too!

I will be presenting a session at 8am on Friday over Room Transformations and how to engage students with real-world science. My session will be Amazing Race themed and I even have goodies for all of my participants. If you are attending, please come to my session. I would love to meet you!

Some other sessions I am interested in:

Thursday

First-timers Session – I had the opportunity to attend NSTA last year. However, this is my first GSTA, so I thought it might be helpful.

Incorporating Literacy into Stations – I feel pretty strong in this area. However, I am interested to see what other people are doing in their classroom.

Teaching Guided Science Through Stations – This is something I am very interested in. I would love to incorporate more stations into my day to day lessons.

Time Saving Strategies with Science Notebooks– I love my science notebooks, but I hate how much time I feel is wasted on putting together foldables sometimes. I hope to find some great ideas from this session.

Friday

My Session – eeekkk!! It’s going to be great 🙂 I cannot wait to transform a session room!

Increasing Literacy in 6th Grade Science- Wow a session just for 6th grade. I am thrilled and hope I can make it to this because it is right after my session.

Making Lessons Sticky – Retention is huge and the problem this session is set to help solve.

Quit Teaching, Start Facilitating – This has been one of my goals as well. To have students who could be leaders in their own learning.

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, We love Close Reading and You will Too! – I already love close reading, so I am excited to expand my toolbox.

Saturday

I am unsure about the sessions on Saturday that I want to attend.

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Overall, I am very excited to meet new people, learn new things and share with people! I cannot wait for GSTA!! 🙂

Please comment below if I will see you there!

 

 

 

 

Cornell Notes – What they are and how I use them…

As I was searching through new ways to complete notes with my students I stumbled across cornell notes. I had never used them as a student, but they looked pretty interesting. SO, I decided to give them a try and I love them. For topics when I don’t have doodle notes or I just need to change things up – I pull out cornell notes.

What are Cornell Notes?

Basically it is a way to organize notes into one-two pages of condensed information. On one side you put key vocabulary, questions or things you want to pull out from the main ideas. Then, on the second side – you put your main ideas. At the bottom there is a space for a summary – Yay! Great way to get students to reflect on their learning!

An Example of My Cornell Notes:wp-15420354605574771571906824360260

These are notes that I made to go along with our textbook. We have super old textbooks, but they still have some good information and diagrams. I liked these because I added space for students to draw their own diagrams.

How do I make my Cornell Notes?

I use an awesome template that I found for FREE on TpT. I am adding a photo-link below. It is super easy to use and input your own information! original-2937656-1

I hope you found this helpful! What type of note-taking strategies do you use? Let me know in the comments below!

 

The One Who Holds the Stars…

A while back I wrote a post about why I taught ELA and I cited that it was because of my granny. Every time I enjoy a good book I attribute it to her (and my mom) instilling in me the love of reading. However, For the past two years, and two years in China, I have been teaching science. Science is a new love of mine that has grown over the years.

When I was young I always had a great fascination with the stars and with outer space. I remember watching Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century and wanting with every part of me to live on a space station. My dad also has a love affair with the SciFi channel – which is something I only recently started to appreciate with all of the star trek re-runs! Star Wars and Star Trek were major players in my life and only helped to establish my awe of the stars.

With all of this love of intergalactic things I also had a love for something much bigger than the universe and that was my God, Abba Father! When I was going through a tough time my first year of college a dear friend encouraged me to look at the world around me. She said the beauty of the Earth is like God sending you his love notes. A STARRY NIGHT is like his box of chocolates for you. Wow! This made me look at the world around me differently and suddenly I loved the small glimmers of beauty that maybe others didn’t notice.

Fast-forward a few years to when I learned I was going to be teaching Science in China. My degree was in ELA and I had no idea how or why this was taking place. It turned out to be a God thing for sure. When I started planning my lessons I was reminded of how God is at work in science. From our cells to the black holes to the far reaches of the universe he is interwoven and his fingerprints are imprinted on it all.

Currently, I am teaching Earth Science and it is by far my favorite. Even though I can’t share with my students our awesome creator, I am still encouraged by getting to show them His awesome creation.

To close out this post I want to leave you with an awesome new song by Skillet – Stars!

Teaching Science with Cartoons!

I know that I am an adult, but I have a love for cartoons. I think this love comes from my dad – one of his all time favorite movies is Ice Age. He watches it EVERY time it is on t.v. (of course he also passed on his love of Star Trek, but that is for another post). Anyway, today I want to share some of the videos that I have used throughout this year to introduce or reinforce some concepts.

Ice Age – Continental Drift Scrat

I used this video to introduce the idea of continental drift and the Theory of Plate Tectonics. It is of course not factual, but a very fun way to introduce this idea. We also go back and analyze the video afterwards and replace the fiction from the video with our scientific evidence.

Lava

This has been my most requested repeat video this year. I used this after we studied the ocean floor. It of course shows in slow motion how seamount islands are created.

Finding Nemo – Angler Fish Clip

After learning about the layers of the ocean I used this video to discuss the dark zone in the ocean. We also discussed how animals created their own light using bio-luminescence. Nemo is always a winner with my students.

Finding Nemo – Crush

I didn’t get to use this clip this year, but we did talk about it while we discussed currents. I think it is neat to see what currents might be like inside the ocean.

That’s All Folks!

Those were all the ideas I have so far, but I am sure as the year continues I will have more to add. Do you have any cartoons you have used in your science class?

 

Teaching About Toilets and Thinking Outside the Box

With the beginning of this new semester we have started our unit on hydrology. This unit focuses on all the water found on the Earth and the water cycle.

I feel like as a middle school teacher I am constantly thinking of out of the box ways to pull my students into a lesson. It is something that is becoming more common in the Science classroom as we search for real life inquiry phenomenon to aid our students understanding. Usually some of my out of the ordinary ideas come up in the form of videos – I mean have you realized how many clips from kids movies can contain science??? I’ll share some of those ideas another time.

This past week I was teaching the kids about ocean currents and more specifically the Coriolis Effect. (Just in case you forgot what that is – it is the concept that water rotates clockwise in the northern hemisphere and counter-clockwise in the southern hemisphere) In the middle of class I immediately thought of toilets flushing. I mean as a kid I had always heard that toilets flush one way and another way in Australia. I mentioned this to the kids during our lesson and then set out to find information.

Now many people claim that this is not true. For example in a fact check  I read that this was false because toilets contain such a small amount of water and so forth. Plus with the way toilets are made today it really depends on where the valve is placed inside.

I did not stop there, because there has to be a glimmer of truth behind this tale. My digging proved to be true. On The Guardian – Speculative Science I found many accounts about toilets and their flushing on the equator. One man even said that while in Ecuador he saw an experiment that proved this phenomenon.

Well this was all the encouragement I needed to add this to my science tool belt. I created an info-graphic for my students to color and add to their notebooks.

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You can find this in my TpT store if you are interested. I know that adding a toilet to a handout seems a little weird, but as a middle school teacher the stranger (and sometimes grosser) things are the better!

Happy Teaching!!