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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Teaching About Toilets and Thinking Outside the Box

With the beginning of this new semester we have started our unit on hydrology. This unit focuses on all the water found on the Earth and the water cycle.

I feel like as a middle school teacher I am constantly thinking of out of the box ways to pull my students into a lesson. It is something that is becoming more common in the Science classroom as we search for real life inquiry phenomenon to aid our students understanding. Usually some of my out of the ordinary ideas come up in the form of videos – I mean have you realized how many clips from kids movies can contain science??? I’ll share some of those ideas another time.

This past week I was teaching the kids about ocean currents and more specifically the Coriolis Effect. (Just in case you forgot what that is – it is the concept that water rotates clockwise in the northern hemisphere and counter-clockwise in the southern hemisphere) In the middle of class I immediately thought of toilets flushing. I mean as a kid I had always heard that toilets flush one way and another way in Australia. I mentioned this to the kids during our lesson and then set out to find information.

Now many people claim that this is not true. For example in a fact check  I read that this was false because toilets contain such a small amount of water and so forth. Plus with the way toilets are made today it really depends on where the valve is placed inside.

I did not stop there, because there has to be a glimmer of truth behind this tale. My digging proved to be true. On The Guardian – Speculative Science I found many accounts about toilets and their flushing on the equator. One man even said that while in Ecuador he saw an experiment that proved this phenomenon.

Well this was all the encouragement I needed to add this to my science tool belt. I created an info-graphic for my students to color and add to their notebooks.

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You can find this in my TpT store if you are interested. I know that adding a toilet to a handout seems a little weird, but as a middle school teacher the stranger (and sometimes grosser) things are the better!

Happy Teaching!!