Thursday, July 6, 2017

Science Workshop Series #1: Elements of Workshop

I am currently reading the book "Science Workshop Reading, Writing and Thinking Like a Scientist" By Wendy Saul in hopes to prepare for using in my classroom in the fall and teaching with the new NGSS Standards.  Has your school switched over yet?  Where are you in the process?  We spent a lot of time on Marzano's Scales this year, and we've adjusted what we're teaching in each grade level.  Next year for me I'll have some of the same curriculum and some new things.

Reading the first chapter of this book, gave me a lot of great hope.  The book puts emphasis on what a teacher does know about science and the scientific process vs what they do not know.  As science teachers I think we often assume that we need to know it all, this book focuses on looking at science through a lens of scientific processes and giving that perspective to students.  It's okay to start with what's in front of you vs. what you do not know, engaging in the same process that students do and take the time to reflect or "upack" what you've learned.  

With that thought in mind there are three elements of Science Workshop:
1. Science Workshop is authentic to the thinking of a scientist:
- Think about how do scientist ask questions?
-Explore Phenomena
- Speculate about why certain things happen
-Arrive at convincing and reasonable answers
-Look at content
- Students help to determine the path of learning and inquiry

2. Science Workshop has autonomy
SOP's (Standard Operating Procedures)
  - how will I go about my work?
  - who do I work with?
  - how do I know if I'm good a my job?
  - what do I do next?
Think about the purpose
  - help students become more adept at learning on their own
  - "Students are more able to engage in sustained and focused thought."
Think about the time use (combine subjects)
  - students benefit from doing things over and over... repeat standards in multiple subjects

3. Science Workshop creates community
- teachers and students work together as a community of thinkers
- teachers and children need to be aware of resources available in each other
- results are presented and evaluated by peers
- cooperative learning strategies are used
- make time for sharing and celebration time. 

Creating a workshop environment allows students to classify evidence, generate questions and answers and face challenges of science without fear.

Do you have science workshop in your classroom?... what kind of elements are a must in your science workshop?  Are there things you think need to be added to the list above?  Let me know in the comments below. 

Thinking Deeply about Science and Learning, 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Supply Caddies and Two Freebies

I've always struggled with managing supplies, but this year I decided to create these caddies at each work station (table group).  In my classroom I have 12 work stations each with 4 desks.  In the middle of each station is the caddy with all the supplies.

Each caddy is numbered and all of the supplies in it have that same number.

The caddy contains 4 rulers, 2 Calculators, 4 pencils, 4 pairs of scissors, 1 tape, 1 stapler, 1 box of crayons, 2 CD's, 4 dry erase markers, 12 colored pencils, bottle or glue, and 11 colorful ink pens. Outside the caddy is a glue sponge, a tidy tub and 4 white boards. Clipped to the top of the caddy is a station number. (I've linked some of these supplies to the Dollar Tree because it's a great place to get items in bulk)

A few ideas for the caddies came from Pinterest and other bloggers:

★ Rowdy in Room 300 has a great post on Tidy Tubs - she even offers a free label.  For mine I just made sure the station number was on it.  These containers also came from the Dollar Tree: four for $1.

★ Teach Junkie has collected all the Glue Sponge Tutorials you'd want.  Again I got my items for this at the dollar store.  This has save me so much even with my 7th graders - and they love them.

Everyday with the Jays has a nice tutorial on putting pom-poms on the dry erase markers.  This saved me a step and an extra supply in the caddy.  They do need to be replace every so often though, depending on how much you use your dry erase boards in class. P.S. My dry erase boards are shower board cut in to squares from Home Depot.

★ One of the freebies I'm offering today through my TpT store is the station numbers that I put on the top of the caddies.  These have helped me to keep supplies straight... when there is a pen on the floor and it's labeled it's easier to put it back in the correct spot.  I've also noticed that when my supplies have traveled that other teachers will bring them back to me as well because they know it belongs to me.

★ A benefit of these stations has been the colored pens.  Students have made their notebooks and classroom work a lot more colorful.  This has given opportunity for great note taking, and added bonuses when they need to correct a paper.

I do a few things to keep this whole process in check.

1. I do have a "Supply Monster" come once a week - the kids don't know when, and that table group will get a prize if their supplies are all there, neat and their tidy tub is neat.  The second freebie is a Supply Monster Cards that I leave on students desks.  I have student exchange the card for a treat; usually a mint, smarter, or pencil.  My seventh graders love the supply monster and never let me go a week without awarding a work station.

2. I also have a poster (picture to come soon) in my classroom so students know what supplies are in the caddies and how they are organized.

I hope this helps you with your supply management!
Happy Work Stations!


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Assessing the NGSS Standards

I have been working on some new assessments for my classroom and decided to put them on TpT store so I could share them all with you.

Our school has just officially embraced standards based grading.  We have been using 4-1 (Exceeds, Meets, Partially Meeting, and Does not Meet the standard) for a while, but also gave a corresponding letter grade to go with standards based grades.  The letter grades made it so that no one fully embraced "meeting the standard."  This year we got rid of the letter grades and are changing the mindset of our students, teachers and community.

That is a huge task, even if you're on board.

So I've started slow with the NGSS standards that I am currently teaching.  I've use a template of Marzano's scale and the NGSS standard to create an assessment.

Hope you find this helpful!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Clipart freebie

A passion turned into a resources I can use.... how exciting!

So I love to draw!!! But now I've found a way to take those drawing and incorporate them into my teaching resources digitally.  That's AWESOME!

So, here's what I've been up to:
1. I found this great blog "A Turn to Learn," which gives you direction in how to turn your drawings into clipart.
2. Drawing!  I do this anyway...
So with the combination of the two... I created some clipart... because it's the first (hopefully of many) that I've created I am giving it to you for free.

Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Top 5 Reason Why You Should Do Dissection in Your Classroom (and a Freebie)

Whew what a busy week!  It's nice to be back after April vacation but it's always the longest week.  Before break we were dissecting frogs as a culminating activity on the human body.  If you're not sold on dissecting... here are the top 5 reason on why you should do dissection in your classroom.

#5 Hands-on Learning!  
This is the obvious one... students can apply what they learn about the human body and see it first hand on the frog!

#4 The Smell! 
I know... I know this one doesn't seem like a reason to convince you!  However... if you did any dissection in high school or in the middle school years you remember how horrible the smell was.  However, now you can order frogs that are not kept in formaldehyde... so the smell isn't so bad.  The activity is worth the minor smell for a few days!


#3 The Curiosity that Comes Alive!
My rule for dissection is that students don't have to be the ones to cut, but they do have to observe.  I tell them that if they don't want to cut they need to find a willing buddy to do the dissecting part.  It's amazing because by the end of class every students is involved and curious about the dissection.  This year I used a paper frog first, which generated a ton of curiosity with students.  The one I used is from Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy, it was easy and the kids LOVED it!  The picture below shows the kids dissecting with their science notebooks open to the paper frog they had made before hand.

#2 This can be done as a large group or in small groups
There are few lessons where you get to choose large group or small groups and still have every students focus and engaged.  In my classroom we are able to get enough frogs so that students can choose to be in groups of two to four.  Most of my students picked to be in groups of twos or threes.  However, this activity could lend itself to do it as a large group.  You could purchase one frog and dissect it under a document camera.  I would still allow students that wanted to do the dissecting, that way it still gives them some hands on experience with the frog.  Another bonus to whole group means it can still be done even if you don't have funding for every two to three kids to have their own frog.
#1 It aligns so well with the Human Body!
And here is where my freebie comes in... Dissection Organization at it's best!  I did two days of dissection and the first day I didn't use this sheet... For the second day I found this idea on Pinterest,  there was no link just a picture, so I created a sheet my kiddos could use.  Check it out in my TpT Store.  It gave the space for the kids to find all of the organs and allowed me to do a quick assessment that they were able to see it all.  At the end of the day were were able to do a gallery walk and see everyones dissections and how the organs differed in different sexes, as well as different specimens.

I am hoping this helps you and that you'll be willing to try dissection in your classroom.
Let me know in the comments if you have any great tips when you're dissecting.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Racing Through Physics!

Are you teaching force and motion in your classroom?  I've been teaching at the Maine School of Science and Mathematics STEM Educator's camp this past week and this is my powerpoint from my class.

This powerpoint includes resources for friction, potential and kinetic energy, Newton's Laws, simple machines and more.  Each topic/slide includes multiple resources and videos to use in the classroom.
At the end I've even included a force and motion car building project.

Hope this helps in your classroom!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Applied Learning Project and Capacity Matrix

This is my first year teaching 7th grade and I'm in a fabulous place where I can grow and learn as a teacher.  One of the things we are doing to engage our students is to have our students applying their learning.  I start with a capacity matrix and end with a project to apply students learning.  The first project that my team is doing is a film festival.  Students are learning about both science and social studies concepts and have to make a 10 minute film to show their learning.

I'm not sure if you've used capacity matrix but it's awesome and really allows the learners in my classroom to be independent and direct their learning.  It also allows students to each have a different learning path. This school has some example of capacity matrix.  In our classroom we are doing it a little different.

We have four columns: 1. Learning Target (this is what we want the students to be able to do). 2. Input Resources - these are what information the students needs to receive in order to understand a concept. These input resources can be a teacher lesson, a video, a prezi - anything where students are getting the information. 3. Evidence - this is an activity, worksheet or exercise which students are able to practice and improve their skills and show proficiency.  With the evidence there is a place for students to correct their work.  If students are stuck their should be an opportunity in this column for extra practice.  This is also where the teacher can check in and provide mini-lessons for students that are stuck.  4. The last column is the check in.  This is a mini "quiz" where students are showing that they have mastered the skill.  Students do this and then check in with the teacher.  If their check-in is correct they can move onto the next standard.

This is part of our capacity matrix for the standards we have in our applied learning project:
(I have taken some of the links off because they are attached to my school google drive for my students) So I would normally have all of these section filled in.  This particular matrix has six learning targets.
Use these to get information when you are working ahead or when you need to review a skill or concept.
Do these activities and practice exercises to improve your skills and show proficiency.
Do these to show you have mastered a skill.  These should be printed and then check in with a teacher.
7BE.2 I know the various resources which organisms compete for in different biomes.

7BE.2a I can name 7 major biomes and generally locate them on the map.
Biomes Map - make sure you read about the map too!

Biome MAPS - make sure you read about the map too! Click on a section to see where your specific biome is.

Must Do
Map - print and correct

More Practice
Map - print and correct

One of the activities I've created for students is a sorting activity to go with biomes.
Check it out here!

Hope you find this helpful and have a Happy Thanksgiving.