Science and Literacy Activities

This is going to be a short and sweet post! I wanted to share with you all the science and literacy resources I have been working on. Each resource comes with three components:

  1. Reading Passage to annotate
  2. Foldables for Interactive Notebook
  3. Reading Strategy Page
  4. Some of them even tie into the doodle notes I have created – depending on the topic!

I made some of these resources to help out a co-worker who needed some literacy activities for her students. I also, however, created them because I noticed my students didn’t quite grasp how to closely read and find information. They want everything handed to them, but we as adults know that isn’t how it works sometimes.

I encourage you to look through them and try them out for yourself. Thanks so much for reading!

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Inertia Science and Literacy Activities (Newton's 1st Law of Motion)

Newton and Gravity - Science and Literacy Activities

Universe Expansion - Red Shift and Doppler Effect - Science and Lit Activities

Cell Theory Science and Literacy Activities

 

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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Color-by-Numbers (not just for elementary)

Color-by-numbers were one of my favorite activities when I was in elementary school. However, did you know that they are not just for elementary schoolers?

A few years ago, my partner teacher introduced me to color by numbers for science class. What a fun way to change up the hum-drum of questions in a middle school class. Plus the color by number makes grading papers super easy.

How Color By Numbers for Middle School Works

First, students are given a set of multiple choice questions. Each answer choice corresponds with a number. Once the students get all of the questions answered, they use the colors to color a picture.

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Do you want to try these with your class? Here are some FREEBIES from my favorite teacher authors!

Color By Number- States of Matter Metric System - Color by Number - Back to School Science FREE Activity

Have you used Color-by-Numbers with your students? I personally love them because they are engaging and easy to grade 🙂

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Task Card Games for Middle School

In order to not give my students drones of worksheets, I frequently turn to task cards. Basically, task cards allow me to quiz or question my students while getting them up and moving at the same time. It is more engaging, but I still get to see if my students learned key concepts in class.

I wanted to share with you the top ways that I “play” with task cards in my room! 🙂

1 The first way is probably the most used way – SCOOT! For scoot you print off your task cards and attach them to each desk in your classroom. Then, you give each student a recording sheet (or notebook paper). They start where they sit and then every 2-3 minutes you tell them to scoot to the desk question. This continues until they have completed all of them.

Recently, I found an awesome freebie to help out with playing scoot. Rachel Lynette on TpT created some mini-break cards. The mini-break cards can be printed out and used along with whatever task cards you are using. This is great if you have more students than task cards!

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2  The second way that I use quite frequently is the Boom Game. I do a lot of stations in my room. This is a quick game that I can add to stations and the kids really enjoy. You simply place a set of task cards and boom cards in a container. Students take turns drawing and answering questions. The goal is to get the most correct, however, if you draw a boom card you lose all your points!

This was another product that I have used by Rachel Lynette – she is truly a task card guru! It is another FREEBIE!

BOOM! A Game to Play with Task Cards: FREE!

IF digital is more your style – you can use them online with a new website. Click the photo below for more info!

Boom Learning: A Fun and Effective Task Card App for Tablets, Smartphones, and Computers

3 The third way that I have used task cards in my classroom is by creating scavenger hunts. I just hid the cards in random places around the room and have students hunt for them and answer them. Students love this and really race to get the right answers in the shortest amount of time. This is even a way to introduce new content. Also around Easter, I hide cards in Easter eggs. This is super fun and easy.

Capture The last way that I use task cards is through board games. I found some awesome board games on TpT that you can use with any task cards. All you need for most of them is dice, some sort of tokens for students, the game board and task cards. What I have done is made several copies of the game boards and made kits. then when content changes I just throw in a new set of task cards. This is great for test reviews or stations (depending on the amount of time at each station).

Here are links to the game boards I have used (one if free and the more science-y looking ones are for purchase):

Game Boards

Earth Science Themed Board Game - Pre-Written & Editable Cards

You may be wondering at this point where I get all of my task cards. The truth is I find some on TpT, but most of them I make myself. What I have found is sometimes I want different questions than what is asked on the ones that I find. So I searched for a template on TpT and that is what I use to make my own cards. I will link it below if you are interested.

Task Card Templates - FREEBIE

I really hope that you found some great ideas to engage your students! Let me know in the comments below – until next time…

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Rubber Ducky You’re the One – Ocean Currents Investigation

Each year when studying the ocean currents I pull out the rubber ducky phenomena. If you have not heard of it, watch this quick video:

It’s pretty cool that rubber ducks have helped to track ocean currents in the last thirty years! My students absolutely love this activity and it may be the way I present it, but really it grabs their attention regardless.

I start off by giving them a brief paragraph to proofread (pulls in some ELA). The paragraph just tells them simply what happened for the rubber ducks to be in the ocean. We discuss it and then I tell them that NOAA needs their help tracking the data. I give them a link to text messages that have been coming in and they create a data table. Click Here to see the text messages! 

After they have their data table, I give them a map and we review how to plot things on a map using latitude and longitude (plotting points bringing in some math). Once the points are plotted we discuss how the ducks ended up all over the world.

Depending on time, I either give them an article to annotate and discuss with a partner about the ducks. Or I go ahead and give them an ocean currents map to label and color code. I found this awesome map on Layers of Learning! Click the map to get it for your students!

We then go back and look at our duck map and discover which currents the ducks could have taken to make it to certain locations.

To finish out the lesson I have students write a CER response, explaining what they learned during this process. I always get some great answers and patterns of thinking. Depending on my students I provide fill-in-the-blank or graphic organizers to pull in their thinking about Ocean Currents.

All in all, it is one of my favorite lessons to teach! How do you teach ocean currents?

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* Update! Check out my product on TpT!

Rubber Ducky You're the One - Ocean Current Investigation

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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How I Taught Geologic Time Scale

If you have ever been given the task to teach Geologic Time Scale, then you know that sometimes it is not the most interesting lesson. There are tons of large words and abstract time that are hard to fathom. Knowing that this is the first time my students had ever heard of the concept, I set out to make it as interesting and interactive as I could. I pulled from several sources and I think I came up with a good game-plan.

PLEASE NOTE: Now I know that for 5e style lesson plans you are supposed to have an investigation at the beginning and flip the traditional way of teaching. However, for this lesson, in particular, I did not follow that format. 

The Kick-Off

I knew in order to gain some engagement I needed to get the students making connections (other than dangling the ideas of dinosaurs in front of them). So, I came up with a personal timeline competition. I set a timer for fifteen minutes and I gave them directions to make a timeline of their life on register tape. At the end of fifteen minutes students, who are sitting in house groups, voted for the best in their group and that timeline went head-to-head against the other house groups. If their timeline got chosen, they got points for their house (we have a house system that we are kicking off at our school).

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This simple activity gave students a chance to share their lives and experiences, while also making a connection to time. Time for humans is very short, but geologic time is long, to say the least. It went great in all of my classes and the timeline was something that we built/referred to as the lesson continued.

Notes, Activities and Exit Tickets…oh my!

For my notes about the geologic time scale, I turned to Kesler Science. I love Kesler science and the way his stuff is presented. Although some of his labs are a bit too complex for my sixth graders. This resource, however, did not disappoint.

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I purchased the complete 5e lesson plan, but I ended up not using his station activities this time. I simply ran out of time with my pacing guide and had another interesting activity to use instead.

What I did use was his amazing powerpoint. I really like the way his powerpoints are set up. He explains concepts, provides guided questions and then a quick activity to have students complete. It breaks up the monotony of notes and helps to check for understanding as you go.

I did tweak this powerpoint a bit by going through and underlining key words for the provided modified notes. I also created a recording sheet for the quick activities and made the end questions an exit ticket. If you would like that recording sheet to use let me know 🙂

After we took notes I wanted my students to have some visuals for the geologic time scale. I used the chart of the geologic time scale, provided as a homework assignment the Kesler lesson, for the students to color code and put in their notebook.

 

I also created a set of doodle notes to reemphasize the four main eras of geologic time. This was a piece of prior knowledge students needed for our next activity – THE AMAZING RACE.

Final Project – The Amazing Race

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While looking for resources to use for the geologic time scale, I found an awesome idea based on the amazing race. It is basically a research project where students research information about the eras and periods in the geologic time scale. Students are in essence racing through time. As they finish researching each particular period they collect destination flags – similar to the tv show. They also have roadblocks at different times called time travel cards. Once they complete the task, they collect a roaming gnome.

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At first, I was very excited, but nervous about how this would work. My students ended up loving it and were “tricked” into doing some amazing research. I highly recommend this activity as a culminating project.

Of course in true Jessi fashion, I created a powerpoint with a timer. It contained the logo of the amazing race, as well as, the theme song. It really set the stage for students to be excited and focus in on the tasks for the day.

Final Thoughts!

I am so pleased with how this lesson turned out. It is definitely something that I will use in years to come. If you would like more information about any of the products mentioned simply click the images above for that resource. I have hyperlinked all the images to take you to the products.

Do you have any other awesome ideas to use when teaching geologic time? Please let me know in the comments below.


 

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!

 

Top 3 Ways I Use Doodle Notes

Doodle notes are a staple in my classroom. I use them for ALMOST every topic that we cover. They give students access to information in a fun and exciting way (not to mention the retention). In my day to day classroom practice I find myself presenting them to students in three different ways.

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PowerPoint – This is probably the easiest way to incorporate doodle notes, especially if you are just starting out. You can present the information that needs to be filled in on a ppt slide and use it in the same way that you would traditional notes.

I do this quite frequently especially if I have more information other than what is covered on the doodle notes to present. If you want to go the extra mile you can scan in your doodle notes and cover up the information with white text boxes.

Some doodle notes products on TpT also have PowerPoints to accompany the doodle notes, which is super helpful and something to look for when purchasing.

2 Document Camera – One of the ways that I mostly present my doodle notes is by using my document camera. During my first block I will put a blank set of notes under the document camera and fill it/color code them with my students. I teach 6 classes, so for the subsequent classes I add sticky notes over the information and present them a la Vanna White – removing the sticky notes as we discuss each item.

3Written Set of Directions –If students need some independent work to work on or maybe you have presented the information in a different set of notes or even if you have a textbook that might have the information that they need, then you could provide a written set of directions. Let’s face it, there is always that one day when you need something for students to be able to work on by themselves. I have done this when I had an emergency and had to leave some work for a substitute. To write directions I just go through the notes and tell them what to write for each item explicitly or I tell them where they can go to find the information.

I hope that my top three help you think through ways to present doodle notes in your classroom. How do you present your doodle notes? Let me know in the comments below!

I LOVE Doodle Notes!

 

For the past four years I have been using interactive notebooks in my classes. My students glue all of their notes and other classwork type items into their spiral notebook. When I first started I was using tons of foldables and all of those foldables took a TON of time. Don’t get me wrong I love a good foldable, however, now I am more intentional about using them.

Enter the doodle notes. As I  was trying to find a way for my interactive notebooks to not be so time consuming (I wanted time consumed with content and not putting together items), I found doodle notes. Doodle notes are an engaging and visual way to take notes. Sometimes students are asked to draw diagrams with their notes and other times the diagrams are provided for them to color code.

Here is an example of the doodle notes that I used for Eclipses in my classroom. Notice it had fill in the blank portions, but the students also had to add to each diagram about lunar and solar eclipses. If you want to use these in your class – click the image – it is from another TpT author.

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I love doodle notes because they really help my students retain the information. They are writing, color-coding and drawing as they learn new content. This has became a way for students to interact with their notes in an intentional way!

DO you use doodle notes in your classroom? Tell me about it in the comments below, and don’t miss my next post about the three ways I use doodle notes!