Teacher on Spring Break!

So I took the week off last week to relax and spend time with my Family. On Saturday, I got to scrapbook with my sister Lindsey. Then, on Sunday we went to stay with my husbands Memaw so that we could purchase the Atlanta City Pass.

Monday we visited the World of Coke and my daughter was enthralled with the Coca-Cola Polar Bear!

Tuesday we met up with my mom to go to the Georgia Aquarium. We were all in Awe of everything there was to see! We got to attend two show the Seal Show and the Dolphin show. At the seal show, we had a blast and sat in the splash zone and got a little wet. So when it came time for the Dolphin show we thought hmmm we’ll sit in the splash zone again. Well, that was a mistake because we got SOAKED!! My daughter was crying and for the rest of the day she said: “Dolphin splashed me!”

Wednesday we met up with my Father-in-Law and headed to the Zoo. The favorite of the day was the Gorillas. My daughter did not want to leave their enclosure! We also rode the zoo train and the Carousel four times (My daughter rode a crane, panda, pig and a horse).

Thursday we were able to attend Fernbank. We got to do several interactive exhibits where we flew like pterosaurs, became meteorologists on the news and explored underground caves. My daughters favorite was the outdoor area and the playground. We ended the day with a 3-D movie about Pterosaurs (my daughter fell asleep).

Friday we hung out at our house and had Indian Food.

Saturday we headed to the Lake and celebrated my Mom’s Birthday. This included my daughter jumping in the water and urging me to come in too!

On Sunday – the first day I even looked at stuff for school – we tried to relax and get ready to head back to work.

What a whirlwind of Fun! I feel kinda like I need a break from break, but it was all worth it.

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Star Trek – Astronomy Room Transformation

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I grew up with a dad who loved – LOVED – Star Trek. Now that I am an adult that love of space travel and Star Trek translated over to me. I was ecstatic when the new movies came out and now I frequently watch The Orville (currently have a new episode to watch on my DVR). So, when I started thinking of a transformation to do for Astronomy – STAR TREK was it. I will be honest and say that I was torn between Star Trek, Star Wars and Lost in Space; but in the end, Star Trek won!

The Decor:

I was fortunate to get a Donor’s choose project funded for this transformation. Thus I got a lot of stuff via Amazon to decorate my room. I’ll show you the pictures and then list/link the things I used.

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I set up my desks in a ‘U’ formation -using groups- and I placed my captain’s chair in the middle. If you have seen the show, then you will get my vision. I borrowed some backdrops from our school yearbook staff – they did star wars at the last dance and had a space backdrop.

The scene setters and window backdrops were purchased on Amazon. I made my beam me up Scotty area using cake plates and table cloths from Walmart and the Dollar Store.

Links to Scene Stuff:

What Students Did:

Students were given a crew badge and this assigned them to a group – alpha, beta, charlie or delta. Then they completed a team activity to dock their spacecraft and board the ship. I then allowed them onto the ship with the theme music playing in the background. I showed them some videos of Star Trek missions through the ages (5 minutes max). We then got an alert that we had engine failure. Students had to work through a series of tasks to get the engines back online.  We called it our evasive action plan…

Procedure 1 – Calculate Gravity (Gravity and Inertia)

Procedure 2 – Identity which planet is most similar to… (Planets in our Solar System)

Procedure 3 – Identify the space objects headed to the planet (Asteroids, Meteors, and Comets)

Procedure 4 – Rocket Vocabulary Codes and Phet Lunar Lander (Astronomy Vocabulary)

If you are a Star Trek Geek like me you may want to try something like this with your students. It was very engaging and they really loved using the Phet Lunar Lander!

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Let me know what you do to boost engagement during Astronomy in the comments below! Until my next post…

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CSI – Scientific Method Room Transformation

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I grew up watching CSI with my mom. I remember getting stuff done in my room and hearing the theme song and running to the living room to watch it! So, as I was brainstorming a fun way to review the steps of the scientific method, CSI immediately popped in my head.

The Decor

 

Decorating for this was SUPER-easy and pretty cheap. I asked the custodians for some large trash bags. I cut those open to cover my desks. I purchased a backdrop from Amazon – it is a line-up. You can see it in the photo above. I then used some black paper and caution tape. Then the set that I purchased from TpT had some cute hand scanners and such (so I made all my students scan in).

Links (not affiliate links) to Decorative Items I Purchased:

The Content

When searching for content I actually purchased two separate products from TpT. It’s fun that we are able to find items on Tpt and we don’t have to always make things ourselves. I purchased two products but ultimately went with one of them. I’m going to share them both and then explain why I chose to use one opposed to the other.

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The first one that I purchased was by teacher author EzPz-Science. I ended up not using this one, but I did love the setup. It has questions reviewing scientific method and then as you answer the questions you get clues about a suspect. In the end, you can put all the clues together to solve the case. If you want a less hands-on situation, then I recommend this. It is basically print and go! (click the photo on the right to go to snag this on TpT)

 

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The one that I chose had them go through a series of investigations. They had to complete a shoeprint and fingerprint analysis, a chromatography of pen inks and finally, they had to figure out what an unknown white powder was. The students loved it and were able to see how the steps of the scientific method are used each day in an investigation.

If you would like to see more about the product I used – click the photo below:

CSI Forensics Escape Room

My students loved CSI and so did I. As they came into the Crime lab I played the theme songs and set the tone for the day. I created a crime scene for them to observe and they had a real-life experience using the scientific method.

How do you review the scientific method? Let me know in the comments!

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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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This Year Has Flown By!!

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Where did the time go? At this time last year I was still ferociously searching for a teaching job and now I have just completed one of the best years of my career as an educator. I work at an extremely supportive school and I cannot say enough about how wonderful it is.

This year was not without its stresses and craziness. For the first time in two years I was able to teach science and truly fall in love with that content all over again. It was a challenge getting back into that mindset. Another challenge was having two classrooms, teaching two grade levels on two different halls. Through all the bumps, twists and turns I made it through.

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I taught 8th Grade Physical Science during the afternoon and I had planning with the eighth grade team. They are a spectacular group of people. I was able to experience a field trip with them to Calloway Plantation and The Kettle Creek Battlegrounds. I was also able to experience an OCMS tradition – the 8th grade lock-in. Yes, I stayed up ALL NIGHT with a group of 8th graders. I had more fun than I thought I would despite being very tired for a few days afterward.

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My year would not have been complete without my precious 6th graders. I truly adore sixth grade. They are still new to the middle school and are working hard to figure out what it means to be a middle school student. In the sixth grade I taught ELA. We completed many activitites, but my favorite was an oldie – the body biography project. We created character projects for the novel The Cay by Theodore Taylor. As our end of the year project, students wrote scripts for Asian Stories, created puppets and performed puppet shows. Both projects were lots of fun and thought provoking for my students!

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What a wonderful year! I cannot wait for next year after a much needed summer break 🙂