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.
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.
What are your plans for the first day or week of school? Let me know in the comments below!
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?
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?
* Update! Check out my product on TpT!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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?
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?
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!
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.
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!
Let me know what you do to boost engagement during Astronomy in the comments below! Until my next post…
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!
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:
- What grade do you teach? I teach 8th-grade science in Texas! I have been teaching for five years.
- What science standards do you use? We use TEKS, but my products align easily to the NGSS and other similar state standards.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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!