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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Growth Mindset Activity: Learning Style Quiz and Hemispheres of theBrain

Would you like to get to know your students on a deeper level and discover their learning styles all at once?  How about a way to teach your students their learning style strengths while teaching them realistic ways to practice with the opposite learning styles.  Then this post is for you!

Growth Mindset Activity: Learning Style Quiz and Hemispheres of theBrain

We've been using Mindsets in the Classroom: Building a Culture of Success and Student Achievement in Schools by Mary Cay Ricci in our county.

One of my favorite activities I did in college was to learn if I was "right-brained" or "left-brained".  We've all heard the talk about how we are either one or the other. Turns out, most of the successful people in the world have more balance between the two hemispheres. So, I wanted to create an activity that would not only gauge students' learning style, but also give them strategies to create the balance that successful people have. 

First, we took a learning and personality style quiz. This consists of series of paired statements from which students had to choose the statement that sounded more like them. For example, 

Left-Brain/Right-Brain Learning Style Quiz

As the students answered the questions, they colored in the appropriate circle to indicate their answer choice. 

Chart for answering the left-brain/right-brain learning style quiz

After all questions were answered and circles were filled in, we discussed the patterns we saw. For example, were there more left or right circles filled in?  Were there equal amounts filled in on each side?  If there were more circles colored in on the left, that showed a tendency toward left-brain "logical" thinking and vice versa for the right side. If equal amounts were colored, that tends  to indicate a person that uses both left- and right-brained approaches, depending on the situation. In other words, this indicates a person that is willing to try things outside their comfort zone if the situation calls for it. 

We then talked about how to strengthen the side (hemisphere) on which there were fewer circles filled in. It basically boils down to trying activities outside your "comfort zone". Below are the examples we talked about for the students who were more "Left-Brained".  I have another list for strengthening the left hemisphere and one to help strengthen both equally. 

Ways to strengthen the two hemispheres/learning styles

If you'd like to pick up a copy of this packet, it includes:
~21 paired statements from which to choose.  The first statement of the set (labeled with A) indicates a tendency toward right-brain thinking.  The second statement of the set (labeled with B) indicate a tendency toward left-brain thinking.
~A "Brain Worksheet" for students to color in their answers to the paired statements
~Tips for strengthening the left and right hemispheres
~Tips for strengthening both hemispheres

Click here to pick up a copy.

We constantly refer to these lists and "stepping outside our comfort zone" when we encounter challenging situations so we can learn and grow. Do you do any activities to encourage students to think about how they learn?  I'd love to hear about them!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Creating Physical Models of Food Chain Models

Anytime we can bust out the art materials   in science class is a good day. This is a simple activity that concretely models the food chain and uses some higher-level vocabulary at the same time.

Creating Physical Models of Food Chain Models

First, we folded our paper into fourths (in half vertically and then in half vertically again).  

Creating Physical Models of Food Chain Models

Creating Physical Models of Food Chain Models

Then, we cut the strips on the folds (each student needs six strips). 

Creating Physical Models of Food Chain Models

Then, we labeled our strips with the levels of the food chain. 

Creating Physical Models of Food Chain Models

Students illustrated the terms. 

Creating Physical Models of Food Chain Models

Creating Physical Models of Food Chain Models

Then we looped the strips together and glued the ends to make a chain.  Each student's decomposers were linked to the next student's sun, thus creating one large food chain/food web. 

Creating Physical Models of Food Chain Models

Creating Physical Models of Food Chain Models

After every student attached their chain, it looped up and around my desk area.  We reference this anytime we are talking about consumers, food chains, or food webs. Since this is many food chains put together, it is actually also representative of a food web. It's a great physical reminder of the concepts. 

Do you have any hands-on activities to demonstrate energy flow in ecosystems?  I'd love to hear about them!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Seasonal Sensory Writing: Winter Bakery

Now that the weather is a bit chillier and coffee shops everywhere are offering flavors only available this time of year, it's time to use those sensory experiences in your writing!

I love reading books with the students and picking out sensory/descriptive words together.  Some of my favorite mentor texts for this time of year:

Winter is the Warmest Season by Lauren Stringer
Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Equally as fun is brainstorming about the yummy holiday foods and decorations available this time of year.  Telling a friend that you had a "richly spicy gingerbread cookie with creamy icing on top while sitting by the crackling fire" really does paint a mental picture!

We also discuss their favorite place to eat. It can be everything from their own kitchen to Panera. I do try to steer them towards a place that offers an atmosphere unique to the season. For example, if their favorite place to eat is Burger King, they are not going to have as much to write about pertaining to the holidays. However, we work with what we get. Even Burger King offers some sensory experiences. 

I present students with my filled-in version of the "5 Senses Organizer" and provide them with a blank copy. 

I created a packet with all the pieces mentioned below.

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

Do you have any great winter mentor texts or writing tricks for winter?  I'd love to hear about them!