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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Teacher on Spring Break!

So I took the week off last week to relax and spend time with my Family. On Saturday, I got to scrapbook with my sister Lindsey. Then, on Sunday we went to stay with my husbands Memaw so that we could purchase the Atlanta City Pass.

Monday we visited the World of Coke and my daughter was enthralled with the Coca-Cola Polar Bear!

Tuesday we met up with my mom to go to the Georgia Aquarium. We were all in Awe of everything there was to see! We got to attend two show the Seal Show and the Dolphin show. At the seal show, we had a blast and sat in the splash zone and got a little wet. So when it came time for the Dolphin show we thought hmmm we’ll sit in the splash zone again. Well, that was a mistake because we got SOAKED!! My daughter was crying and for the rest of the day she said: “Dolphin splashed me!”

Wednesday we met up with my Father-in-Law and headed to the Zoo. The favorite of the day was the Gorillas. My daughter did not want to leave their enclosure! We also rode the zoo train and the Carousel four times (My daughter rode a crane, panda, pig and a horse).

Thursday we were able to attend Fernbank. We got to do several interactive exhibits where we flew like pterosaurs, became meteorologists on the news and explored underground caves. My daughters favorite was the outdoor area and the playground. We ended the day with a 3-D movie about Pterosaurs (my daughter fell asleep).

Friday we hung out at our house and had Indian Food.

Saturday we headed to the Lake and celebrated my Mom’s Birthday. This included my daughter jumping in the water and urging me to come in too!

On Sunday – the first day I even looked at stuff for school – we tried to relax and get ready to head back to work.

What a whirlwind of Fun! I feel kinda like I need a break from break, but it was all worth it.

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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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Rubber Ducky You’re the One – Ocean Currents Investigation

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?

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* Update! Check out my product on TpT!

Rubber Ducky You're the One - Ocean Current Investigation

March Madness!

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!

Trashketball Game Template | EDITABLE

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.

Free STEM Challenge: Basketball Tower

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.

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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!

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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?

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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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Meteorology Glow Games Transformation

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Let’s be honest – there are only so many Kahoots that you can do to review for tests (don’t get me wrong – I do love me some Kahoot!). When it came time to review for my Meteorology unit, I knew I wanted to try glow games. I had read about this idea on elementary shenanigans, and so I dove in!

The Decor

Now I will admit that this one cost a bit more than I anticipated. FOr glow games I needed black lights. Guys, black lights cost some major bucks. I remember when I was in high school you could purchase them at the dollar tree – well that is not the case anymore. The LED version will set you back about $8-9 at Lowes or Home Depot. That was my major purchase to make things glow. The other main purchase was items for the games (water bottles, glow sticks, spoons, and cones). I asked parents to donate glow-sticks and I borrowed some lamps from different family members.

The Content

Students entered the room and rotated between four different games to review for our test. They had a recording sheet to use as their study guide and they had to complete the study guide in order to play the game.

The Games:

  • Spoons – Find out how to play this card game here– students were able to match four of a kind using our meteorology vocabulary.
  • Jenga – Students answer a question under a color category and then pull that color from the Jenga Tower. The same Jenga rules apply, but you add content questions.
  • Ring Toss – In order to get a turn students to answer review questions.
  • Bowling – In order to get a turn students to answer review questions.

My Product!

I thought that this worked very well, so I made a product that you could use with your students to review meteorology. Check it out by clicking the photo below:

Meteorology Glow Games

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