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!

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End of Summer Panic!

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So, I can now clearly see the end of summer! We go back to school for pre-planning on August 1st! Why do summers fly by so fast?

I will say that around my house we were a lot more productive, but I am still having that end of summer moment where I’m just flabbergasted that it is almost over! How are you feeling right now?

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Sentence Stems for Writing in Science

When it comes to writing in science, sometimes my students get confused or don’t know where to begin. I like to give them a tool to use in the beginning to help them form sentences. It is a simple page with sentence starters to help them form good/complete sentences.

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Sentence Starters for Science

I introduce them to the starters and explain some of the terminologies. I then give them some simple practice questions to try. As the year progresses this is a tool they can use whenever we have a written assignment. It is nice because I don’t have to constantly formulate ideas and I can point them back to this as a tool.

What tools do you use for writing in science?

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Using Discussion Chips for Science Discussions

I love having a scientific conversation in my room. However, I want to hold everyone accountable and contribute to the discussion. As I was researching ways to hold students accountable I came across an awesome Kagan Strategy called Talking chips.

From kaganonline.com

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So basically you give students discussion chips and each time they talk they place their chip in the middle. If they run out then they have to wait until everyone has run out of chips. This works great for small groups and with the correct set up the entire class.

I usually set a specific topic of discussion. Then, I use poker chips as discussion chips, but any math manipulative would work. How do you regulate discussion in your classroom?

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April Showers Bring May Flowers (and spring fever!)

I don’t know about you, but April always seems to be a crazy month. It is filled with Spring Break, Prep for Testing, Testing and a plethora of other events. We are getting close to the end of the year, but school is not over. Sometimes it is hard to keep my students in that mindset!

I like to change things up at this time and I am sure to add interactive activities. Here are a couple of the ideas coming up in my classroom to try and avoid spring fever!

  • TASK CARD Egg Hunt: Basically regular task cards hidden in eggs around the room!
  • Jenga Review: What a great way to review key concepts with an intense game 🙂
  • Brain Breaks – to break up the monotony! We use dance breaks with baby shark and the cha cha slide. We also play quick games shake it out and Gorilla, Man, Gun!

Something that I have seen other teachers do for test review is a carnival! Check out this youtube video:

What kinds of activities do you do to avoid spring fever?

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How I Taught – THE WATER CYCLE

I would venture to say that of all the science topics that I teach the water cycle has the MOST resources. If you search for the water cycle on TpT- HUNDREDS of resources will come up at all different levels. This year, I truly believe that I have finally found peace with the way that I teach the water cycle. So many times I think we second guess ourselves (or at least I do) and the way that we present certain topics. However, this year I am very happy with how my lesson on the water cycle turned out.

How I Started the Lesson

I am a huge fan of scavenger hunts and I especially like to introduce a topic using these. The one I have used for the past three years for this topic is great. It has all the key information and a secret code for students to figure out.

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At the beginning of class, I gave the students the scavenger hunt paper and then explained that the cards were all around the room (even under chairs and so forth). I had a prize for the student who found all the information first. Then, once everyone understood the goal I set them loose to run around the room. They had a BLAST!!

Once everyone finished gathering the information, I passed out highlighters and explained we would be using the information they just gathered as our notes. We then read through the information and highlighted key vocabulary. I did have to add a note about groundwater and how that led to infiltration because it is a keyword in our Georgia Standards.

Reader’s Theater

To further expose students to the key vocabulary and how the water cycle works we quickly read through a reader’s theater. I don’t know about you, but my kids HATE reading from the book. However, if I pull out a reader’s theater they volunteer like crazy. Almost every student wants a part!

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Doodle Notes – OF COURSE!! 

After we read through the notes and found out information about key vocabulary. Students completed a set of doodle notes. They had information to fill-in using their notes and a color code to follow.

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At the End of Class – Day #1

At the end of this class period, students completed an exit ticket. It was an old one from what my partner teacher called “The Good Book.” It is an Earth Science book by Carson-Delossa.

LAB DAY!!

Now my lab is a bit different. Instead of making a cloud in the bottle or something like that I have my students go through the water cycle.

First, we read a book together as a class. The book we read is called Drop Around the World. I give each student a different page to look at. They have to tell where the drop journeyed, what step of the water cycle he went through and evidence for how they knew. The cool thing about this book is on every page the drop is hidden somewhere in the picture. It is a big hit!

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After we discuss the book student receive their journey paper and I explain they will now be taking a journey as a water droplet.

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Around the room, I set up stations for different stops along the water cycle. Students start at one point and roll the dice to journey to the next stop. Sometimes they get stuck in one place and sometimes they go to twelve different places. This experience helps students to see that the cycle is not always in three perfect steps (Students collect beads at each location and make a bracelet to represent their journey – totally optional).

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When their journey ends students write the story of their journey. These are always super-fun to read.

Around the Room Circuit

This year to end the lab day students completed an around the room circuit about the water cycle. They did great on this assignment!

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Basically, students start with any question in the room and each answer leads them to a new question. At the end, they should end up back where they started. It is great because students can check themselves based on the path they take.

All in all, I loved my lesson and I really think my students learned the information in a fun and interactive way! Do you want to use some of the ideas I mentioned? If so, just click on any image to be linked to that resource! Happy Teaching!!

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