Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Weekly Lesson Plans (Water Cycle)

This week in class we have been looking at the water cycle.


Introduced the water cycle with a Promethan Planet flip chart. Taught the steps of the water cycle song (click here to see a TeacherTube video of some of my students from last year singing it with hand motions). Watched a BrainPop on the water cycle. Read a left hand notebooking assignment about the water cycle. Students started working on the right hand assignment which was a flip picture of the water cycle where students had to write which step of the water cycle each flip was and what it does. For a couple of classes I made cut and paste cards that students had to match and glue under the flaps (faster and helped with students who write large).


Reviewed water cycle and water cycle song. Showed short Streamline Video recapping the water cycle (approx. 15 min). Gave students a "fill in the blank" brochure I had made to go with the textbook chapter about the water cycle (the inside flap was vocabulary definitions and the other two flaps were questions that they had to answer reading the text. Back turned in flap was a picture of the water cycle they got to color when they were done. Made it with Microsoft Publisher - brochure option). The brochure got glued into the notebook (I should have glued this to the right hand side of the notebook but accidentally glued it to the left) and lyrics to a water cycle rap song was glued onto the other side.


Students took their mid-unit weather test. Reviewed the lyrics to the water cycle rap and made connections (song has terms that are slightly more advanced then they need to know for this grade level but it is fun and the general idea of the water cycle is conveyed). Played song several times for students. Rest of class was used for catch up work (brochure, water cycle flip, or anything else they need to complete in the notebook).


Set up an evaporation experiment in class that will run through two weeks. We are answering the question "Does salt water evaporate faster then fresh water?". We live by the ocean and I was able to get an empty gallon milk container and fill it with salt water and filled another gallon with fresh. Those went in to containers and we set up our lab paperwork in the notebooks (I learned from my last experiment that I needed to scan my lab paperwork into a Promethean flip chart and save it each time we added data. It is easier for the children to see). We also started the mini science fair boards to go with the experiment (went on left hand side of notebook and we filled in the spots we could) on the right hand side I glued a WEATHER acrostics and had students get with their clock partners to start filling it in.


Picked two volunteers to measure evaporation experiment. Recorded our results We reviewed steps of the water cycle and vocabulary. Sung the water cycle song with hand motions and the rap song. Students took a water cycle quiz. We watched The Magic School Bus Water Cycle video (Wet all Over). Made connections to what we have learned this week after video was over. Students got to finish up acrostic.

NOTES - This week was a bit odd because we had an assembly and the GT students went on an all day field trip another day. All the above got done but necessary in the order I had originally planned. Only one class saw the 15 minute streamline video on the water cycle and because I was missing a lot of students in one class due to the field trip I showed that class a Magic School Bus video about storms (Title - Kicks Up a Storm).

NOTES FOR NEXT YEAR - Need to find a simple water cycle demonstration. Heard of one using blue colored water in a baggie taped to a window. If anyone would like to share I would love to know what works well in the classroom.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Weekly Lesson Plans (Weather Unit)

This week was one of those odd weeks where I happened to be out for three days. Despite some typical "sub behavior" things seemed to go pretty well as far as using the notebooks.


Lesson plan focus was introducing students to different type of severe weather and related safety tips. Students read and discussed a left hand sheet that I had glued into their books before I left. They were encouraged to discuss their own encounters with severe weather. My sub, whom I spoke to before I left, brought in newspaper articles of Hurricane Hugo and was able to contribute to the discussion. For the right hand assignment students had to pull a safety tip out of a bag (I had put together 27 or so that I found on the internet covering lightning, hurricanes, and tornadoes) they had to share the tip they pulled, discuss why it was a good safety tip, and then a draw a poster that went with the tip on the right hand side of their book.


Lesson focus was comparing and contrasting hurricanes and tornadoes. Students read and highlighted information on the left hand side and filled in a venn diagram on the right hand side on their own, using the information they had read on the left. If done they could finish poster from yesterday or complete a weather word search I had put together using a free online weather word search online.


Students watched a Tornadoes video, which actually they were getting into (two classes did not get to finish it and were begging to finish it this week). I came back the next day and during my review they were talking about super cells and the Enhanced Fujita Scale (all learned from the video).


I put together a PowerPoint review of severe weather, safety tips, hurricanes vs. tornadoes, and weather tools and went over it with students. I had them show me their safety posters and their venn diagrams (so I knew which classes needed some extra time to finish). I had them set up their weather bingo boards (see earlier post on the subject), which we won't play until closer to the end of the unit when all vocabulary has been introduced but it was a "low impact" activity that required some focus (and most importantly quiet :)


Students took a quiz after which was "make up day" for all classes. I really try to start and end the week with all three of my science classes on the same page so to speak. My first class (which has a longer time with me then the other three) is completely caught up. They will cut out their BINGO cards and glue in their books. I have a hurricane video they will watch. The second class is the one that needs some "extra love" they need to finish up their weather accordion books from last week and do their BINGO cards. The third class also needs to finish their weather accordion books and cut and paste their BINGO cards in the notebook. If I am very very lucky everyone will be caught up today and we can start the water cycle next week.

Colored Pencil/Crayon Problem (Solution)

I allow both colored pencils and crayons in the notebook and students started becoming sloppy using the crayons. I decided I wanted colored pencils ONLY. So I purchased five plastic shoe boxes from the local dollar store (one for each table grouping) and loaded them up with the colored pencils I had purchased this past summer when they went on sale for .25 a pack. Luckily I had asked for donations of colored pencils at the end of last year and got a TON (thank you Ms. Musgrave for that suggestion) and divided those up among the five boxes. I then added hand held sharpeners to each box (the ones that catch the shavings). Those were on sale at Staples this past summer for a penny each and I should have bought more. Ideally I would have three sharpeners per box but at the moment it is one (maybe two). Because there are so many colored pencils in the box I have not experienced any whining ("So and so has the only black pencil!") there has been some fighting for the pencil sharpeners but I think I will take care of that this weekend with a trip to Staples.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Weekly Lesson Plans


We kicked off our weather unit with a lesson on the layers of the atmosphere. Not technically a fourth grade standard in weather I still introduced it because the atmosphere comes up in our Astronomy unit. On the left hand side was a cloze note sheet that went along with a PowerPoint I made about the different layers. Students had to fill in as I went through the presentation. Students then watched a BrainPop on the subject. On the right hand side I had made a flip book for students to make and illustrate about the layers.


We discussed weather tools and their uses. On the left hand side there was a fact sheet about the basic tools that we read. I had a flipchart to go with it with plenty of pictures. I had samples in the class to pass around. On the right hand side students filled out an accordion foldable where they had to list the tool, give its use, and draw a picture (to make the accordion foldable click on the "video" label on the right hand side menu. I did not have students make since it is a little complicated but I was able to make 70 or so in front of the tv over a couple of days. One teacher got a parent to make them at another school).


We made anemometers and wind vanes in class. We went outside and used them (with the wind vanes they got to use some compasses as well). Students got to take them home. Students worked on finishing up their weather tool accordion foldable.


Students took a weather tool quiz, made rain gauges and then watched a "Nature's Fury" video. Student who were not done with their foldable had to finish it during the video.

PICTURES - Accordion Foldable, Anemometers, Wind Vanes, Rain Gauges

Friday, September 11, 2009

Weekly Lesson Plans

This was a short week because we had Monday off for Labor Day and I had a substitute because I was selected for jury duty on Tuesday (and we all know how we just love making sub plans...ha!...luckily it was only for the one day).

This is what we did for the week.

Monday (with substitute) - They started a mini science fair board in their notebook for an experiment that we did involving soda and different types of coozies (this is an example of how I abandon the right hand/left hand rule....I glued mini science fair boards on both the right and left hand side because we had done two experiments).

Tuesday - Group review of everything we had learned to date (lab safety, observations / inferences / predictions, qualitative and quantitative observations, scientific method, and variables). I explained that while we had filled out lab data sheets for our experiments we still needed to present our information in a more user friendly format (hence the mini science fair boards - I was trying to show how easy it is to put together a science fair board since they have to do one in a couple of months). I let them work independently on finishing up the soda and coozie board. I put Big Band music on in the background to control the noise....if I can't hear the music it is too loud.

Wednesday - We had not finished filling out the lab sheet for a button experiment we had done last week so we did that. The experiment was to see who adapts faster to having their thumbs taped down - boys, girls or adults? All groups had their thumbs taped down and had to button five buttons on a shirt and were timed. This was my first time with this experiment and I would change some things next year but the students enjoyed it. When we went over the information I had students isolate the variables, review hypothesis, and we discussed how scientific data is graphed on the x and y axis (used "dry mix" to help them out), etc. They then worked independently on finishing up the coozie and coke mini board and started the button up board. Again played music and circulated around the room to make sure students were on task.

Thursday - Gave them the day to finish up both science fair boards. I am grading this weekend. Students who were done were to work on a lab safety poster for the classroom. Students who were done that were given a scientific method puzzle to work on. I had two hard charging girls compete everything with time to spare and set them up making a title for where I was putting the safety posters. They did a cute job and I was spared from having to do it!

Friday - We are starting our weather unit next week so we did our title page in our notebook (one block had a weather tool, one block had a picture of severe weather, the third block had a weather safety tip, and the last block had a pictures of a weather map symbols). I asked students to tell me some tools that you would use to measure the weather, what kinds of severe weather people experience, what are some good weather safety tips, and then we looked at the weather map on and made observations about the symbols. This is a great activity for informally pre-assessing what students know. I then reviewed the standards for the unit (in kid friendly terms). Discussed what we will be learning. Showed off some of the weather tools they will be making and took them out to our weather station.

PICTURES - Top - A look inside one of our mini science fair boards. Middle - A weather title page complete. Bottom - A look at the outside of the mini science fair boards in the notebook.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Weekly Lesson Plans

Last week we have been focusing on the steps of the scientific method and identifying variables in an experiment.

Notebook Activities


Left Hand Side - Steps of the scientific method in order with explanation of each step. Whole group instruction.

Right Hand Side Activity - Students created a poster of the scientific method with steps, pictures, and color.

Day 2

Left and Right Side - Lab paperwork (see picture above). We were testing out the effectiveness of different coozies. Students took the temperature of their soda in the coozie every 5 minutes for 20 min. Students watched a taped episode of Food Detectives - How To Cool Your Mouth After Eating Spicy Foods (scientists mention the scientific method during the part where they test the 5 second rule for food dropped on the floor) in between the timing of the soda. Reviewed the steps of the scientific method before and during the experiment and during the TV Show.

Day 3

Reviewed scientific method (we had it down as a chant by this day). Introduced the identification of variables in an experiment.

Right Hand - Fill in the blank sheet about variables. Variable song lyrics on the bottom (students listened to and sang). Song came from Sing Science CD (I use about three songs off the CD - definitely geared for elementary).

I showed variable PowerPoint with ten examples of experiments where students had to isolate the independent and dependent variable (control and constant if in the example). Students called on randomly using "call on me" sticks to answer.

Left Hand - Students got into their clock partners and together answered five questions where they had to isolate the independent and dependant variables. Regrouped after 10 minutes and went over the answers.

Day 4 - Button Experiment

Right and Left Hand - Lab Paperwork (see above). In one of our examples from the day before on the PowerPoint they talked about buttoning shirts with your fingers taped. The students wanted to try it so I set up an experiment. My question was, "Who would adapt better to having their fingers taped down boys, girls or the teacher." It was fun and while I choose the boys for their hand/eye coordination I actually won all rounds (students thought because I was "older" I would be slower :) It wasn't a true experiment because I rotated boys and girls but it worked to illustrate the steps of the scientific method. If you do - have one child button, have another child stand as a mannequin, another child time, and another child make sure there is no cheating. I was able to engage 8 students at a time and then switched them out for the next two rounds using the call on me sticks.

Day 5

Students took a quiz and I gave them time to catch up on their notebook (coloring, getting missing information, etc.). I was grading over the weekend. If they were done early they could work on their lab safety poster or work on a scientific method words search (found online).