After a bought of sickness, I am back in my classroom. And I cannot believe that it is already MAY. I survived testing and jury duty and now there are only 17.5 days left including weekends!
I only have a few weeks left to share with my sixth graders. May is always a bit bittersweet for me. My students are moving on and I will have a brand new set of students next year! At this time of the year I try to finish strong, but I cannot help to look forward to things I want to do next year.
Lucky for me and the other teachers in the United States that around this time we have Teacher Appreciation Week! Tomorrow TpT will have its annual sale and I cannot wait to stock up on some goodies for next year!
Some of the Items on My Wishlist:
I already use the doodle notes from this teacher-author about the seasons. I think this would be great to use at the beginning of the year because it hits some key ideas that are a pinnacle of our learning throughout the year.
I purchased these a couple of years ago. I love using them to update my syllabus. If you don’t have a great template check these out!
One of my weaker lessons is talking about Gravity and Inertia. I would like to look at this set and see if it would add to what I already use.
My classroom has a cactus & succulent theme. I love these posters for my classroom. I am looking for some easy ways to spruce up the room without re-doing everything (which is what I have done every year I have taught!).
What kinds of stuff will you be shopping for?
When it comes to writing in science, sometimes my students get confused or don’t know where to begin. I like to give them a tool to use in the beginning to help them form sentences. It is a simple page with sentence starters to help them form good/complete sentences.
Sentence Starters for Science
I introduce them to the starters and explain some of the terminologies. I then give them some simple practice questions to try. As the year progresses this is a tool they can use whenever we have a written assignment. It is nice because I don’t have to constantly formulate ideas and I can point them back to this as a tool.
What tools do you use for writing in science?
Earlier in the year as I was looking on TeachersPayTeachers for scientific method resources, I came across EzPz-Science. She has some really cute stuff that later I found my self coming back to again and again.
On her main page she says that her goal is to increase student engagement with fun and creative lessons for middle school science. I personally think she is doing a phenomenal job.
The first resource that I ever used from her was a seek and find. It is a picture that contains key vocabulary words. Read more about them here in a blog post by EzPz Science!
Check out this freebie (a.k.a my first resource from her)
I really want to try out her seek and sorts as well. You can find all her amazing resources along with more information at https://ezpz-science.com/
Whenever I first present the idea of creating questions to students they are most of the time apprehensive. We go over the question words (who, what, when, where, why and how). We also talk about what makes a good question.
I also provide them with the following tool – Discussion Question Stems. Feel free to print it to use with your students!
Discussion Question Stems for Science
I love having a scientific conversation in my room. However, I want to hold everyone accountable and contribute to the discussion. As I was researching ways to hold students accountable I came across an awesome Kagan Strategy called Talking chips.
So basically you give students discussion chips and each time they talk they place their chip in the middle. If they run out then they have to wait until everyone has run out of chips. This works great for small groups and with the correct set up the entire class.
I usually set a specific topic of discussion. Then, I use poker chips as discussion chips, but any math manipulative would work. How do you regulate discussion in your classroom?
When I taught ELA, I used Socratic seminar a lot. It was a way to have student-generated discussions and it was something that I learned during student teaching. In this post, I am going to give you some information and tips for using this in science class!
What is Socratic seminar?
It is a method of discussion inspired by Socrates. Socrates believed in order to teach people you would not give them answers. Rather you would ask questions and help them arrive at answers on their own.
So how does it work?
For ELA I had students prepare questions and evidence for something that we had read. This is a viable option for Science as well, however, I think it could also work to discuss a phenomenon or an experiment completed in class. This is where science Socratic seminar would be different. It would not be entirely literary based.
Before you try to implement a Socratic seminar, I think it would be very important to explain what evidence is in science. I have found this is the most tricky part for my students.
I would also go over the following guidelines and explicitly explain what will happen and how things will work.
Student Guidelines for Socratic Seminar:
1. Come prepared having read the required reading or completed the activity for discussion, and with some questions or topics to discuss.
2. Be an active listener and speaker. Contribute to the discussion.
3. One Voice – only one person can speak at one time.
4. Be respectful (even if you do not agree).
5. Use evidence or examples from your reading or activity.
6. Explain your answers – a simple yes or no is not acceptable you must explain.
Role of Student and Teacher
As a teacher, you will simply be a facilitator of the discussion. Students will be expected to generate the discussion. I usually have a checklist ready and I explain to my students that they must contribute to the discussion a set number of times. Then I just check off when they contribute.
Want to try it?
I am excited to try this in my classes and I hope you will try it too. Below is a resource to help you further (I created it for ELA teachers, but I think it is helpful for science too).
At the end of last year, I discovered collaborative posters, and they are amazing! In the push to fit in research projects, these were a lifesaver. Students love them because it is a group project that holds each group member accountable. It also gives them a chance to be creative!
What are Collaborative Posters?
Collaborative posters are posters students create in a group. Each person gets a piece of the poster to work on. Then, once everyone has filled in their information (and colored their piece), they come together to put their poster together. Sometimes students will discuss color schemes before coloring or wait until it is glued together to color. What I really like about it is the process and the fact that they are working together.
Another cool thing is you can have different pieces to posters scattered through the class so they have to find their group in order to form their puzzle. This gets students working with people they may not have worked with in the past.
Lastly, students research, but it doesn’t take three days. You can give them a time limit and hold them to it. Usually, for my students, it only takes about 45 minutes or less to complete their poster.
Are you ready to try?
I have completed two collaborative posters with my students. One about the planets and another about types of rocks. If you would like to check those out click the photos below:
I created a set of collaborative posters over Types of Rocks. FLASH SALE — Regular Price $4.50 — During Spring Break 4/1-4/5 this product will be on sale for $2.25!!
This one is by Tied to Teaching and costs $5.25
Pennant Flags are a Twist on the Poster Idea – I thought about using this for the beginning of the year next year- $2.40
Thanks so much for reading this post! I hope you gained some great ideas and if you need help making collaborative posters let me know in the comments below.