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!

signature

Long Range Planning

20190713_1530063403495125285862990.jpg

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?

signature

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?

signature

* Update! Check out my product on TpT!

Rubber Ducky You're the One - Ocean Current Investigation

March Madness!

March madness is upon us in more ways than one! We have the basketball play-offs going on, but also March sometimes feels like the LONGEST month. So, I compiled a list of some of my favorite March Activities for you to take a look at – Maybe it will give you some inspiration for this long month!

Trashketball Game Template | EDITABLE

This is an awesome review game. I remember playing this when I was in school. Of course, back then it was the low-tech version, which is still doable. However, I really like the set up of this game. It is an investment, but worth it because it is editable and you can use it again and again. So, if you are in the basketball mood and need some review – try out this cool game.

Free STEM Challenge: Basketball Tower

If you are in need of a good freebie and quick activity. Try out this stem challenge. It is quick and inexpensive to do. Plus the resources are free on TpT. Click the picture above to download.

Capture

When I was looking for more neat ideas – I came across this website. If you click the picture above it will take you to the four lessons listed. I have used the bouncing balls of energy in my physical science class. These are some pretty solid resources and they are free!

Capture

Of course, the simplest way to have fun this march is to try and make your own bracket!! I started doing this when I first taught in China. One of our math teachers had an optional bracket competition – we would win a Snickers bar if our bracket was the closest (I never got close). It was all in good fun and the students could participate as well. It is great for building some relationships with your students! I highly recommend it!

What ideas do you have for March Madness?

signature

WPATV – A Weather Room Transformation

Picture1

Who didn’t grow up in awe of the weathermen and women on TV in front of a green screen? I was always amazed that they were able to point to certain cities and such. For our meteorology unit, I transformed my room into a news station. Complete with “Craft Services!”

The set up was very easy. I borrowed a green screen from a co-worker (although I have since found out that you can use any green fabric). I then angled my chairs towards the screen for a studio audience. For Craft Services, I made lemonade and asked parents to donate powdered donuts. I made a simple poster of the TV Station logo using one of our local stations as inspiration. Lastly, I played news them songs as the students came in.

What did Students Do?

They researched weather information prior to the transformation. Upon arriving in class they were given a script to fill-in and make cue cards. Then for the first 30 minutes we had production meetings in groups. They met with me and selected their background. Then, the final part of class we filmed the weather reports.

The app I used for filming is called Do Ink – http://www.doink.com

The kids loved completing this project and we had a watch party once I put all the reports together. What do you do during your meteorology unit?

signature

Star Trek – Astronomy Room Transformation

20181009_165553.jpg

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.

20181009_16561720181009_16564420181010_11432220181009_165613

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!

Star Trek Room Transformation - Astronomy

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

signature

Teacher Feature: The Crafty Science Teacher

As I was flipping through Instagram a few weeks ago I came across a resource posted by the Crafty Science Teacher. At the time it was not a topic that I was teaching. Then, last week I got to that topic and remembered that resource. And I am so glad I did!

Plate Boundary Map Task Cards

The resource that I ended up using was a boundary map and task cards for plate boundaries. In the past, I had used a generic map that I had students color-code and then some activities about how far the plates had moved. This map was different because it had all of the convergent, divergent and transform boundaries drawn for the students to color code. Then the task cards asked in-depth questions about the plate movement, type of crust and geological features. It was definitely beyond simple memorization questions. In order to answer the task cards, students had to apply their knowledge.

I recently got to chat with The Crafty Science Teacher Brianne!! She is super kind and had some great insights. Here are some of the questions I asked, followed by her answers:

  1. What grade do you teach?  I teach 8th-grade science in Texas! I have been teaching for five years. 
  2. What science standards do you use? We use TEKS, but my products align easily to the NGSS and other similar state standards. 
  3. What is your favorite thing about teaching science? The one thing I love is every time we go into a new concept my kids have so many questions because they’re curious about things that happen in the real world. I actually we to school to become a meteorologist so I have a fairly good science background and I’m so glad I can answer most of their questions at times.
  4. What is your all-time favorite lesson to teach?  It’s really hard to choose a favorite. The top of my list is anything weather, but anything earth or space science is my favorite. Chemistry is a close second on that list too! It’s really hard to choose.
  5. One fun fact about you or anything else you would like to share 🙂  I think that’s about it! Oh! my husband is also a teacher, a great math teacher, and is wanting to get in on my tpt store. So in the summer we will be collaborating and working on adding some middle school math activities in my store! 

The Crafty Science Teacher

 

Based on this single purchase and chatting with her, I knew that I would be visiting her store for A LOT more! I highly recommend that you visit this new teacher-author.

 

Check out this Freebie from her Store! 

Newton's Second Law Triangle

signature

 

 

 

Jurassic World – Fossil Room Transformation

I have always been one of those people who find fossils and rocks fascinating. When I was younger I really loved Jurassic Park (even though I fast-forwarded or closed my eyes during some scary parts). So, when I was introduced to classroom transformations, I knew that I would transform my room into Jurassic World one day!

When I first started planning this room transformation I looked a lot at Hope King’s Jurassic World room transformation. She had the awesome idea of turning the desks into jeeps, and digging through dinosaur poop. I followed her lead with my transformation.

The Decorations:

  • I painted large and small easter eggs a black/brown color. And I made nests using greenery and moss from the dollar tree.
  • I purchased a set of vines from Amazon for around $15.00 and used those to drape around my lab tables.
  • Using google, I searched for posters and images from the Jurassic World movies. Because the movie was based on a theme park the movie promotion site has free posters. You can find them here.
  • I also found some cute posters like “don’t feed the dinosaurs” etc. that I printed out to hang around the room.
  • Student desks were turned into jeeps using black tablecloths, aluminum foil, and paper plate headlights. I also created some jeep tags using Etsy as my inspiration.

As students came in, I set the mood by playing the Jurassic World soundtrack. I also had the picture of the gate projected onto my smartboard.

The Tasks:

Students were given a ticket for the jeep ride that told them what jeep to board.

After all the students entered the room we had a brief jeep orientation. I really played up “keep all body parts in the vehicle” and so forth. I also played video clips from both movies showing dinosaurs and really getting them into the vibe for the day.

I then explained that as we journeyed through the park they would have several tasks to complete because they were brought in as fossil experts to help with some issues around the park.

Task One: Fossil Sort

Students were given a set of fossils (we had some fossil sets in our lab already, but you could also use pictures). Students then had to figure out which type of fossil that sample belonged to. The categories were mold, cast, trace, preserved remains, coprolite or petrified.

Task Two: Pterodactyl Poop

Students were told that the Pterodactyls had been eating rocks to aid in their digestion. They needed to figure out what types of rocks they had been eating because it was causing them issues. How do you figure this out? You did in their poop 🙂

I also projected the video of dinosaur poop from the original Jurassic Park movie. I edited the video for language.

 

The set-up was brownie mix for the poop and cards with rock type vocabulary on the cards. Students had to dig through to find all the cards and then figure out the rock vocabulary. This was prior knowledge for my students as we start this unit with rocks and minerals.

 

 

 

 

 

Task Three: Trace Fossils

I found some animal footprint tracing plates on Amazon. I explained to the students that local animals had been getting into the dinosaur enclosure. They needed to create rubbings of the footprints to figure out the animal type.

Task Four: Cast and Molds

For this one students used molds “that scientists made of native fossils on the island” and created their own casts.

At the end of the day…

At the end of the day we all had a blast at Jurassic World and my students were asked to do tasks related to their learning. This brought their lessons about fossils to life and not something out of reach. When I was in school we just read about fossils, and I love bringing real experiences to my students! 🙂

Have you ever done a room transformation? Tell me about it in the comments below!

 

signature

Want to bring Jurassic World to your classroom? Grab my complete resource from Teachers Pay Teachers. It includes all the handouts you need, the ppt that I used to guide the lesson, and student badges, tickets and jeep signs. Simply click the image below:

Jurassic Fossil Room Transformation: Fossils and Rocks Stations

 

 

February Finds!

I cannot believe it is already FEBRUARY!!! January flew by in all its winter glory. Here in Georgia we got several threats of snow, but no snow days 😦 I know, I know I shouldn’t even need a snow day yet. However, the longing for snow is more for my two-year-old than anything 🙂

The month of February is going to bring the study of plate tectonics to my classroom. I am excited to try some new tools that I recently found.

The first tool is an interactive map. Students can plot their address and watch as it changes through 750 million years of Earth’s history. Students are actually able to see the plates move and all the changes the land around them has gone through. This is going to make it more real for my students and I cannot wait to use it. (Click the image to check it out yourself)earth-permian.jpg.653x0_q80_crop-smart

I honestly wish that I had used this with my geologic timescale lesson – but I am going to use it for that next year.

The second item I want to share with you is a collaboration. I have collaborated with over twenty other teacher-authors to bring you a bundle of seasonal resources. I cannot wait to use the science resources included in the bundle. Check it out by clicking the image below:

ig pk-5 winter bundle

For some more awesome February Finds, check the Linky List!

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

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.

 

capture

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!

signature