1st Day of School – What Will I do?

The first day of school is upon us – for me it is officially August 7th! I am both excited and nervous as I always am for the first days of school. I am anxious that I won’t be firm enough on the first day of school (because I have had years like that in the past) and then my whole year is ruined – not really, but it feels that way.

So, what am I going to do to set the stage?

At our school, the very first day is already prescribed for us. In all academic classes, we read through a section of the handbook. ALL. DAY. LONG. – It is one of the necessary parts of teaching. Especially because I have 6th Grade. In order to break up the monotony, I try to plan a light-hearted activity. In the past, I have played two truths and a lie, but this year I think I am going to try something new.

First Day of School Investigate the Teacher Activity

I am going to try an investigative challenge. Students will have to gather clues from items around my room to decide what type of teacher I am. I found this idea on Pinterest – which then lead me to TpT and teacher-author: Write With Ms. G. I am excited to try this out with my students and I will update you with how it works.

As I was perusing her store I also found a set of back to school stations. Stations are a large part of my teaching. I use a lot of Kesler station labs and others that I create myself. I thought this set of stations would be a good way to train my students how stations work, while getting them to look through the syllabus, etc.

First Day of School Activity: Learning Stations - Engage students on Day 1

What are your plans for the first day or week of school? Let me know in the comments below!

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Long Range Planning

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In the past, I have been dependent upon pacing guides and curriculum maps. I knew the units of study at the beginning of the year. Then, I just planned week by week using that as my guide. However, what I found was that I would spend too much time on some topics and gloss over others.

This year I wanted to intentional about long-range planning. So, I looked at each standard and came up with the main topics. Sort of the top five or so for each standard. my plan is to spend one week on each main topic. I am hoping this will help me not to rush through things and also with retention of information.

I’ll give you updates about how my planning is working out as the year progresses. How do you long range plan?

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End of the Year Graffiti Wall

I had this idea to make huge posters for each of my classes and then have them decorate/design them using concepts we learned in science. The idea included using old magazines and markers to add to the posters.

Unfortunately, I was not able to make this a reality this year, but I wanted to share with any of you who may want to use it.

If your school has a poster maker you can use this to make a large poster for each class or even one for each student to reflect on the year.

Writing - 50 things I love

Field Day 2019

 

 

 

Can I just say that I love field day at my school! It is exhausting and I am super tired when I get home – but we have a ton of fun.

We have houses at my school and we team up for field day with a partner house. So, all day field day we are on either the red or the blue team. Then we travel to stations together and compete in water events, volleyball, track and field, soccer and kickball. At the end of the day, the points are tallied up and we competed in relay races to determine the winner of field day!

This year was even better because my team – Moedige/Shauku WON!! 🙂 What are your field day traditions?

Sentence Stems for Writing in Science

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.

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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?

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Using Discussion Chips for Science Discussions

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.

From kaganonline.com

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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?

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Socratic Seminar in Science

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).

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SocraticSeminarStudentandTeacherGuide

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April Showers Bring May Flowers (and spring fever!)

I don’t know about you, but April always seems to be a crazy month. It is filled with Spring Break, Prep for Testing, Testing and a plethora of other events. We are getting close to the end of the year, but school is not over. Sometimes it is hard to keep my students in that mindset!

I like to change things up at this time and I am sure to add interactive activities. Here are a couple of the ideas coming up in my classroom to try and avoid spring fever!

  • TASK CARD Egg Hunt: Basically regular task cards hidden in eggs around the room!
  • Jenga Review: What a great way to review key concepts with an intense game 🙂
  • Brain Breaks – to break up the monotony! We use dance breaks with baby shark and the cha cha slide. We also play quick games shake it out and Gorilla, Man, Gun!

Something that I have seen other teachers do for test review is a carnival! Check out this youtube video:

What kinds of activities do you do to avoid spring fever?

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