First Classroom Transformation! – Beach Day

To end our study of the ocean floor and the creatures that lie therein I decided to try a classroom transformation (this is where you make your classroom into a new place i.e. a beach, Jurassic Park, etc). At first I was a bit skeptical, because I had seen things like this done of youtube and on teacher blogs. However, I never thought I would buy into this “madness.” Especially to go through all the work for only one or two days! Ugh!

After trying classroom transformation – I am a firm believer that this brings magic into the classroom and definitely increases student engagement! If you want to see some of the awesome transformations that have inspired some of mine head over to Elementary Shenanigans!

Here’s what I did to transform my room into Isle de OCMS!

First, I told my students to bring a towel on the day of the transformation. I would not tell them why. I just told them to bring a towel. This automatically sparked their interest (Quicknote: if you are ever interested in doing this you may want to specify – BEACH towel or else you end up getting dish towels and so forth).

Next, I gathered all of my beach stuff from my house – beach umbrella, boogie boards, spare beach towels, sand buckets etc.

Then I set out to transform the room. I moved all of my desks behind my back lab table and then set to decorate everything.

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On my board I wrote “Welcome to Isle de OCCCMEEESS” and I explained to the students what to do. As they came in I had ocean waves and beach music playing. It is amazing what sound can do to create an ambiance.

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Students then traveled around to several beach themed stations to go over information about the ocean floor!

The first station was called BEACHED! – For this station students had to dig in the sand to find different ocean creatures that had washed ashore. They then had to put them back in the zone where they belonged.

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The next station was called SEA CREATURE FEATURE. At this station students investigated different sea creatures and had to think of adjectives that would describe them. I had mollusks, sea horses, sea urchins and other preserved creatures for them to look at and feel.

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CUP CASTLES was the third stations. This is where students had the opportunity to build sand castles. Each cup had either a word, definition or picture on it. Students had to match the word to its definition and picture in order to build each castle.

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Students then had the opportunity to relax on the READING BEACH and read about their chosen sea creature.

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The last station was the BOOM GAME. This is an awesome game you can use with any set of task cards. It can be found on Teachers Pay Teachers by Rachel Lynnette  – BOOM GAME FREEBIE!

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This was an amazing day for me and my students. They were 100% engaged in the activities, even students who normally cause issues did great! If you are apprehensive, I suggest trying it at least once!! Here are a few pics of my students in action:

 

 

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!!