Friday, August 16, 2013

Science...but it's only the first week....

I know that the beginning of the year can get bogged down in procedures, but I like to teach a little content too. Don't get me wrong, focus on procedures, practice them, live them. I know it saves you more time later, but I have a couple of activities that I would like to share; that I did with my students in the first two weeks of school (yeah, we've been in school two weeks already!!!)

First up is SAVE FRED. I'm not sure where this idea comes from, but my partner Science teacher (whom is brilliant) told me about it and I am now officially obsessed.
Materials: clear plastic cups, paper clips, gummy life savers, and gummy worms (I used bright crawlers)

Lessons taught: TEAMWORK (it is impossible to do alone), and Scientific Method

Challenge the students must get Fred (the worm), into the life preserver (gummy saver) which is stuck under the upside down cup. The kick is they can only touch the paper clips with their hands or any part of their body. If they drop Fred into the ocean (on the table) he drowns and they have to start over.

Set up: place the gummy saver on the table, turn the cup upside down and place it on top of the gummy saver, and stick the worm on top!

Here are some pictures: My kids loved coming up with hypothesis on how they could save him and testing them. :)

 That was week one, this week we are getting into abiotic (never living) and biotic (living, or has lived) factors of the environment. So we did a school yard search, we took those handy dandy Science notebooks out side and tried to find as many abiotic and biotic factors as we could. Then we came back and made posters. Excuse the spelling (I am trying to focus on whether or not they put the item in the correct place.

Here are some of the all girls class searching (yes I said all girls :), that mean I have an all boys class too :o).

 Now for poster making (this is one of my fifth grade classes). For those of you who are new to my blog I teach two blocks of 6th grade Science, then two blocks of 5th grade Science.
 Here are some of the posters. They turned out cute. Some spelling errors, but almost all were correct and all of my classes are about 80 proficiency on this skill now. Woot!!!!
 Bwah ha ha. Seament and Meatal (God love their little souls)
 Poster from all boys class (very direct not too fancy)

Well I hope you all are having a great start to the school year, and I will be back with more activities and post soon. Thank again for following.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Managing Classroom Behavior

Like all teachers we have our own little tricks of managing classroom behaviors. As many of you know, in the past year I changed schools to teach in an Urban setting, and I will be honest I was struggling at first to keep my spirited kiddos from deterring their own learning. So.......Last year I combined some different things to come up with a system that I felt like might work, and surprisingly it did. In fact it worked wonders.

Okay so here goes on my explanation. I have some of those paint dabbers that Kinder teachers use for art projects (bingo dabbers also work) and I just walk around the room and dot those suckers on note cards. That's it!! I keep it in my pocket or in a tool belt and I say things like, "You should be proud of how you shared that answer!" and then put a dot down on the card. ANYWHERE on the card. If a student breaks a rule I just right down the number of the rule they broke over a dot.

Skeptical, yes I know; I was too when I came up with this hair brain scheme  Well I have to add that they use the dots to buy class coupons, but all of the coupons are things that are free to me. THEY LOVE IT!! They will do just about anything to not lose their dots. This system changed my class from chaos to another world within the school. 
I display them on the board those small paper strips are for prices, which can be changed due to supply or demand. On Fridays, I have one student who runs the dot store and students can trade in for dots (this is during our Fun-Friday Brain Break so it doesn't take up lesson time).  I store the coupons that are being bought in a binder using trading card storage pages. 

Finally, everyone that has started using this system at my school has experienced great results, but everyone always ask me how do you keep up with the cards with multiple blocks without taking class time to pass them out. What I am doing this year is I have a bin that contains each tables Science Notebooks (more on those later) and the dot cards are stored in the notebook in a library card so that they never leave the classroom. Viola!!

Well I hope that you find these tips helpful, and that you have a wonderful year with zero management issues. Talk to you all soon!
Sorry had to post this pick of me and one my co-workers after our PBL project planning meeting with the zoo today!! Oh how exciting (more to come)!! Stay tuned!!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Teacher Crafting Before School Starts

It's a Friday night, and since I love making things I decided to get crafty. Teacher crafty really. I went to a Kagan Cooperate Learning Training (paid for by the district :) ) and they had these useful mats they used for grouping and to help with the structures, called Team Mats. Here is a link if you would like to buy them directly from Kagan and save time, also theirs are two sided for the Fan-n-Pick activity.

I didn't really care for the colors of the mats, and it didn't seem like something I need to purchase because I wanted to buy literally every book they had. So I decided to make my own cute versions to put on my tables.

First I gathered the supplies: Notecards, Markers, Paper Cuter (scissor will work), scrap book paper

 First cut the Notecards so they are square instead of rectangles

 Then simply write 1 - A, 2 - B, 3-A, 4- B
 Arrange the cards like so and tape.
 Cut out into a square.
 And Presto!! I plan to laminate tomorrow, but my lamination pouches are at school. You can see how by doing it like this you could make them match any room theme, and if for some reason you hate your handwriting you always type out the letters print and cut. Note: if you plan on setting them out I would reinforce with poster board before laminating because they will be too flimsy otherwise. I tape mine to the center of my tables to they can't be moved.

In the mist of my creative Kagan haze, I also decided to make cards for my most used structures. I placed magnets on the back so I quickly add them to my daily agenda. I don't know if your schools require you to post an agenda, but mine does. I often find my self writing some of the same things. So I thought magnet cards would save on some time. Here they are below. They are just note cards on scrapbook paper that I will laminate.

 Well that's it for this evening. Hope everyone is having fun getting ready for school because Paul Stanley and I sure are. Isn't he the cutest helper ever!!

Talk to ya'll soon!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

It' been a while....

I know it has been a long time since I posted anything on this blog, I guess I am not the best at managing doing my masters and teaching at a very demanding school at the same time plus BLOGGING. However, since it is spring break I thought I would give you all a couple of post starting with this one.

My classes at Vanderbilt have taught me so much about being a better Science teacher, and teaching at a STEM school has very demanding with grant requirements. When you mix these two things sometimes true MAGIC happens. I would like to show you some pictures of one of the amazing STEM project I did with my kids for our PBL (Project Based Learning) unit the second nine weeks. The unit was on forces and motion. After learning about gravity, speed, potential and kinetic energy and forces the students had one week to create a working marble roller coaster. I am so proud of them because these students had zero templates for these roller coasters, just card stock, an engineering journal, and a lot of tape!!! Each day they would build and test, figure out what worked, then redesign.

I thought this would be a good post to start with so you could see how proud I am of my students and what they can accomplish!!! I will be posting some of the experiments and learning goals they covered throughout my break. I hope everyone is enjoying their year!!!

Thanks a bunch