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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Color-by-Numbers (not just for elementary)

Color-by-numbers were one of my favorite activities when I was in elementary school. However, did you know that they are not just for elementary schoolers?

A few years ago, my partner teacher introduced me to color by numbers for science class. What a fun way to change up the hum-drum of questions in a middle school class. Plus the color by number makes grading papers super easy.

How Color By Numbers for Middle School Works

First, students are given a set of multiple choice questions. Each answer choice corresponds with a number. Once the students get all of the questions answered, they use the colors to color a picture.

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Do you want to try these with your class? Here are some FREEBIES from my favorite teacher authors!

Color By Number- States of Matter Metric System - Color by Number - Back to School Science FREE Activity

Have you used Color-by-Numbers with your students? I personally love them because they are engaging and easy to grade 🙂

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Task Card Games for Middle School

In order to not give my students drones of worksheets, I frequently turn to task cards. Basically, task cards allow me to quiz or question my students while getting them up and moving at the same time. It is more engaging, but I still get to see if my students learned key concepts in class.

I wanted to share with you the top ways that I “play” with task cards in my room! 🙂

1 The first way is probably the most used way – SCOOT! For scoot you print off your task cards and attach them to each desk in your classroom. Then, you give each student a recording sheet (or notebook paper). They start where they sit and then every 2-3 minutes you tell them to scoot to the desk question. This continues until they have completed all of them.

Recently, I found an awesome freebie to help out with playing scoot. Rachel Lynette on TpT created some mini-break cards. The mini-break cards can be printed out and used along with whatever task cards you are using. This is great if you have more students than task cards!

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2  The second way that I use quite frequently is the Boom Game. I do a lot of stations in my room. This is a quick game that I can add to stations and the kids really enjoy. You simply place a set of task cards and boom cards in a container. Students take turns drawing and answering questions. The goal is to get the most correct, however, if you draw a boom card you lose all your points!

This was another product that I have used by Rachel Lynette – she is truly a task card guru! It is another FREEBIE!

BOOM! A Game to Play with Task Cards: FREE!

IF digital is more your style – you can use them online with a new website. Click the photo below for more info!

Boom Learning: A Fun and Effective Task Card App for Tablets, Smartphones, and Computers

3 The third way that I have used task cards in my classroom is by creating scavenger hunts. I just hid the cards in random places around the room and have students hunt for them and answer them. Students love this and really race to get the right answers in the shortest amount of time. This is even a way to introduce new content. Also around Easter, I hide cards in Easter eggs. This is super fun and easy.

Capture The last way that I use task cards is through board games. I found some awesome board games on TpT that you can use with any task cards. All you need for most of them is dice, some sort of tokens for students, the game board and task cards. What I have done is made several copies of the game boards and made kits. then when content changes I just throw in a new set of task cards. This is great for test reviews or stations (depending on the amount of time at each station).

Here are links to the game boards I have used (one if free and the more science-y looking ones are for purchase):

Game Boards

Earth Science Themed Board Game - Pre-Written & Editable Cards

You may be wondering at this point where I get all of my task cards. The truth is I find some on TpT, but most of them I make myself. What I have found is sometimes I want different questions than what is asked on the ones that I find. So I searched for a template on TpT and that is what I use to make my own cards. I will link it below if you are interested.

Task Card Templates - FREEBIE

I really hope that you found some great ideas to engage your students! Let me know in the comments below – until next time…

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