It’s Gonna be May! (a little late)

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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!

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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?

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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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Teacher Feature: EzPz-Science

EzPz-Science

Earlier in the year as I was looking on TeachersPayTeachers for scientific method resources, I came across EzPz-Science. She has some really cute stuff that later I found my self coming back to again and again.

On her main page she says that her goal is to increase student engagement with fun and creative lessons for middle school science. I personally think she is doing a phenomenal job.

The first resource that I ever used from her was a seek and find. It is a picture that contains key vocabulary words. Read more about them here in a blog post by EzPz Science!

Check out this freebie (a.k.a my first resource from her)

Scientific Method Seek and Find Science Doodle Page

I really want to try out her seek and sorts as well. You can find all her amazing resources along with more information at https://ezpz-science.com/ 

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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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!

SCOOT

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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Star Trek – Astronomy Room Transformation

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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.

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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…

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