Sunday, December 14, 2014

STEAM, Social Studies, and Language Arts! Oh, My!

In January, I will be teaching a series of Saturday Enrichment Program classes.  Teachers get to pick the topic of their class, and I chose STEM.  I also love art, so STEAM was my inspiration.  It was from this inspiration that my "Solve Architectural Problems in a Science Lab!" unit was born.  It's a 5-part unit that's designed to be taught in 2-hour increments.

The first lesson introduces students to what technology really is.  I call this one the "Paper Bag Technology" experiment.  A lot of students think technology is only things that require electricity.  This lesson shows that anything that is designed to solve a problem is technology.

The second lesson focuses on the concepts of team-building and engineering.  I call this one the "Build an Index Card Tower" experiment.  It is the first experiment in the unit in which they fill out the "STEAM Planning and Report Sheet" that follows the five steps of the Engineering Design Process.

The 3rd lesson is the "Build a Longhouse" experiment in which students work together to build a scaled longhouse.

The 4th lesson has the students building a scaled covered wagon in the "Build a Covered Wagon" experiment.

The 5th lesson has the students building a bridge of manila folders in the "Build a Bridge" experiment.

Each lesson has enrichment questions and/or activities.  All of them include research suggestions and reading titles.

I'm so excited to use this for the SEP!

You can pick up a copy by clicking here.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Shout Out Sunday: Ecosystems and Biomes

In a recent forum, it was suggested that we test out and give a shout out to other bloggers/TpT sellers that have products we love.  I, naturally, was all for it!

In this particular shout out, I want to thank Julie Smith from The Techie Teacher!  First, because she incorporates technology into almost every lesson.  Secondly, because her webquests for biomes, habitats, and ecosystems are great!  As soon as I saw them, I knew I wanted to use them this year as a lab/research project!  Last, but not least, her products are VERY reasonably priced.  This is always appealing to me.

Julie's Biome/Habitat Webquest

Julie's Ecosystem/Habitat Webquest

Thank you Julie for making science and technology blend so easily!

I was inspired to add on to this with an activity that extends Julie's concepts to include abiotic and biotic factors of the ecosystems, habitats, and biomes.

In this part of the activity, students are taking a nature walk around their neighborhood/school to find abiotic and biotic factors.

This part of the activity asks students to name the factors as well as to draw food chains and webs, and name the ecosystem and biome.

This editable PowerPoint includes:
Standards of Learning for this activity:
LS.6: c, d
LS.8: a, b
LS.9: a, b

~Teacher directions page for prerequisite learning, differentiation suggestions, and technology differentiations
~2 sets of student instructions, depending on whether you choose to use paper copies or use technology
~1 slide of a marine/beach ecosystem
~1 slide of a pond ecosystem
~Student answer sheets that ask students to identify the following:
The food chain, food web, ecosystem, biome, abiotic factors, and biotic factors.
~A Nature Walk activity that has students looking for abiotic and biotic factors around their neighborhood and school
~answer keys for the ecosystem student answer sheets

You can pick up a copy by clicking here.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cyber Monday Sale!

Tomorrow is the huge Cyber Monday on TpT!  I'm so excited!  I am participating in the sale.  I am offering 15% off my products and TpT will give you a code to increase that discount to 25%!  So come grab some already cheap stuff for even cheaper on December 1st and 2nd!

Click here to go to my store.

I already have things on my wish list that I want to purchase.  Do you?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

It's Time for a Sale!

I am a lover of all things on sale.  As such, I thought I'd share with you that TpT is having their big Back to School sale December 1st (Monday) and 2nd (Tuesday).  I will definitely be buying things to help in my new curriculum!

So in the spirit of Beg, Borrow, and Teach!, I am participating in the sale.  I am offering 15% off my products and TpT will give you a code to increase that discount to 25%!  So come grab some already cheap stuff for even cheaper on December 1st and 2nd! 

Click here to go to my store.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Nonfiction Close Reading and Early Finishers

So, I'm settling into my middle school science home rather nicely.  I'm really loving this age group and this curriculum!  In the past few weeks, I've learned many new things about how the students think and learn.  Here are three that I decided needed addressing right away:

1.  Many students don't seem to want to "mix" reading and science.  They see them as two separate subjects that don't have anything to do with each other.  Uh, oh.  

2.  Students don't want to support their answers with the text or use it to do research.  Once again, doh!

3.  If students finish assignments early and others are still working, they want to distract the students that are still working.  Well, that one is the same for any grade level.

So.... I found some articles and books that are content-related that I will display in my classroom.  To go with them, I made some Nonfiction Close Reading Bookmarks.

The idea is to put page protectors over the text and annotate, then go back and clarify terms and ideas.  Finally, the student gives a one-sentence summary.

These bookmarks are part of an editable PowerPoint that includes:
~Directions on how to annotate the text using a page protector and dry-erase marker
~Directions that guide the student to read and reread the text 3 times
~Directions that guide the student to use a dictionary and/or ask for help with clarifying unknown terms and content
~Directions on how to summarize the text

I'm hoping this will encourage use of these strategies while we are reading the textbook, but also will enrich the students needing a challenge with additional text.

I'd love to hear how you keep your students engaged and ready to learn in science class!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Interactive Science Notebooks (ISN)

I've done my research and updating to my ISNs, and I'm finally ready to share the finished product!

Interactive Science Notebook Pack

I took some of my stations from my Language Arts blocks and included them in the notebooking experience.

I plan to use station activities on catch-up days.  This will be an opportunity for me to meet with small groups to catch them up on their ISN or enrich others.

I also brought back the Textmapping that helped out so much in my Social Studies class.

I included note-taking teacher "input" examples and student "output" examples (above).

I'm really proud of the how it turned out!

This 23-page editable PowerPoint includes:
~Materials suggestions
~Teacher planning sheets
~Suggested station activities
~Table of Contents pages
~How to make bookmarks
~Input activities: 
~Note Taking Strategies (PLAN and Cornell)
~Output activities:
~Thinking Stems
~Concept Map
~Compare and Contrast
~Vocabulary template

If you'd like a copy, click here.

How do you use Interactive Notebooks?  Do you use them in Science?  I'd love to hear your ideas!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Helping Students Recognize and Manage Distractions

At a recent PBIS meeting, we discussed methods of helping students get back on track when they are distracted.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized this process needs to start with the student recognizing what distracts them.

So, I came up with a quiz that differentiates between external and internal distractions and asks students to come up with plans of action to combat their distractions.

This editable PowerPoint includes:
~14 True/False questions that help students determine if their distractions are internal or external
~An answer key that has students create a plan to combat their distractions and get back on track when they are distracted

If you'd like to pick up a copy, click here.

I will be using this with my middle-schoolers the first week as a get to know you activity, but I think it's could be used at any time of the year.  Do you have anything you use to help students combat their distractions?