NewsELA (not just for ELA)

When I transitioned into the science classroom from ELA several years ago, I was very surprised how many science teachers didn’t know about NewsELA. It was a resource that I used at least weekly with my ELA classes. Naturally that did not change when I became a science teacher. I started pulling articles relevant to our topic of study, and found that students were very engaged with the current-ness of the articles.

How to find articles and What to do with them?

  1. Go to newsela.com
  2. Type in your topic (in my example below I looked for fossils)
  3. Find an article that may work for your group.
  4. Print it with the additional resources OR save the url to share with your students (there is also a pro version where you can create classes and assign articles)

Here is an example of the search and what comes up after you search:

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What I really like about newsELA is the ability to differentiate. You can give the same article but change the reading level. One thing that I do is ask for my students reading level when they take their reading level assessment (STAR or MAP) from my English department. That way I can pinpoint what level students need for their articles.

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Another cool thing is that, if you use BrainPop, NewsELA is now linked to Brain Pop!! Yay! That means it automatically pulls in targeted articles based on the topic of the brain pop.

So, if you have not explored NewsELA I highly recommend that you do so. You can pull in some close reading strategies and really engage students with real-world content! Let me know if you use NewsELA or try it out in the comments below!

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Close Reading Task Cards

If you are new to close reading be sure to go back and read my previous post – Close Reading in Science.

In my previous post I mentioned the different steps that I teach my students for close reading. Close reading could also be called annotation, but in essence you are reading more than one time and taking notes around your article. It is very interactive.

Sometimes it is hard for my students to remember all the steps or simply what step they are on. So, I created some annotation task cards.

Currently I have printed out 12 sets on card stock and laminated. I also put them on a book ring. With that number I have enough for one set per pair. Students then have a quick reference for close reading and I also know what step they are on as I cruise around the room.

It is simple to make the task cards and the steps are on my previous post. However, if you would like mine, you can find them by clicking the image below and going to my TpT store.

 

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Thanks for visiting. How do you use annotation or close reading with your students? I would love to hear your ideas in the comments below!

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Close Reading in Science

Everyone is a reading teacher. This is an idea that I don’t think I understood in my early days as a teacher. Before I taught science, I majored in ELA and never thought about hos the strategies that I used in ELA were actually valuable tools for my colleagues in other content areas.

However, now that I’m in my eighth year of teaching, I realize that we are all reading teachers in some way, shape or form. Reading is the key to our content and we cannot teach without it.

A few years back I realized that my students needed a way to comprehend text. They would read an article and get to the end of it without knowing what they read. After a lot of research I found the close reading strategy, and it is a strategy that now frequents my classroom.

What is close reading? 

Close reading is a way of breaking down the text into bite sized chunks and then adding annotations to the side. The steps to close reading differ from person to person. Here are the steps that I teach my students.

  1. Circle the Title and make a prediction about what the article will be about.
  2. Chunk the Text and number your Chunks.
  3. Underline or Highlight key words (could be words you don’t know or vocabulary words)
  4. In the Right Margin – write the main idea of each chunk
  5. In the Left Margin – make connections (what does this remind you of, do you have a question about this chunk, etc)
  6. Central Idea – at the end of the article tell what the article was about in 1-2 sentences.

Now, I don’t just give my students the steps and let them loose. Usually I model this process several times before allowing them to do it on their own. Check out these pictures of what articles look like after close reading:

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When I finally let my students try this on their own we read the article once as a whole class and then they go through the article with annotation task cards. The more students interact with a text – the more they comprehend!!

Want more help with close reading? 

FREEBIE – this is my quick guide to help you launch close reading in your classroom. Includes an example, the steps mentioned above and a foldable to use with any article!

Close Reading in Science Quickstart

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Thanks so much for visiting my blog! What are some strategies that you use in your classroom to aid in comprehension? Leave your ideas below!

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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!!

A Merry Merry Un-birthday to You!!

Krystal Mills of Lessons From The Middle is celebrating her FIRST Blog Birthday in a big way.

There are close to 100 teachers who have donated their fabulous products/gift certificates for her giveaway. There are prize packages for grades K-3, 4-6 and 7-9 – so there’s something for almost everyone! Be sure to make your way over to Lessons From The Middle Feb. 8th – 11th to enter.

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I have donated my Post-It Notes Reading and Writing Workshop as a prize in the Give-away! You can view it by visiting my TpT Store 🙂