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

It’s Gonna be May! (a little late)

Image result for it's gonna be may meme

After a bought of sickness, I am back in my classroom. And I cannot believe that it is already MAY. I survived testing and jury duty and now there are only 17.5 days left including weekends!

I only have a few weeks left to share with my sixth graders. May is always a bit bittersweet for me. My students are moving on and I will have a brand new set of students next year! At this time of the year I try to finish strong, but I cannot help to look forward to things I want to do next year.

Lucky for me and the other teachers in the United States that around this time we have Teacher Appreciation Week! Tomorrow TpT will have its annual sale and I cannot wait to stock up on some goodies for next year!

sale_740_400

Some of the Items on My Wishlist:

Earth's Seasons ALL-IN-ONE Lesson | Astronomy Seasons Lesson

I already use the doodle notes from this teacher-author about the seasons. I think this would be great to use at the beginning of the year because it hits some key ideas that are a pinnacle of our learning throughout the year.

Syllabus Editable {8 Different Editable Syllabus Infographic Templates}

I purchased these a couple of years ago. I love using them to update my syllabus. If you don’t have a great template check these out!

Gravity and Inertia In The Motion of Orbits In Our Solar System Utah SEEd 6.1.2

One of my weaker lessons is talking about Gravity and Inertia. I would like to look at this set and see if it would add to what I already use.

Quotes Posters featuring a Cactus Theme

My classroom has a cactus & succulent theme. I love these posters for my classroom. I am looking for some easy ways to spruce up the room without re-doing everything (which is what I have done every year I have taught!).

What kinds of stuff will you be shopping for?

signature

CSI – Scientific Method Room Transformation

2018-08-29-07-24-45-480

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.

Scientific Method CSI Science

 

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)

 

20180828_09523320180828_122324

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!

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

 

 

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:

153477049727418041856393994088401535401885523834189174139782370

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

capture

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!

signature

 

 

 

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.

1

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!