Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Catch Up Grading

Another grading technique I use for the notebooks is assigning a "catch up" day (usually a Friday and in conjunction with a quiz). As students are finished their quiz they get their notebook and work on completing the required pages. Then they come to me to get their notebook checked. I have a spread sheet and I mark off that we met and what grade they received. I can do a lot of grading quickly that way. I am usually left with a handful that I still have to get after class to grade but it is less cumbersome. This is a great way to get the coloring done, which is the one thing that tends to get pushed to the side if we are running out of time.

If you periodically grade this way it is important to have something for students to do when they are finished. For forth grade that is can have them make a poster of some topic you have been studying to put up in the classroom, you can let them check out the nonfiction section of your bookshelf and read up on any topic they are interested, you can make word searches or crossword puzzles to work on (if you have taught students how to make them they can go onto the computer and make them on their own). I have even found some science themed coloring sheets online and used that. As long as they are engaged and not bothering other students I am generally happy :)

This is a great way to get stragglers finished with their work.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lesson Plans - Astronomy Unit

Monday - Showed a PowerPoint I made comparing and contrasting the characteristics of the Earth and Moon and discussed with students. Showed an excellent ETV streamline video (A Closer Look at Space - The Moon. Approximately 20 minutes.) on the subject. No notebooking activity.

Tuesday - Read the left hand information reviewing characteristics of the Earth and Moon. Showed Brainpop on both the Earth and Moon. Worked on Earth/Moon popup books (I made the books and students colored and cut the moon and Earth gluing it in the popup location. Students had to list five ways the moon was different from the Earth and five ways the Earth was different from the moon. They also had to trace a path from the moon around the Earth in the popup and note the number of days it took to go around).

Wednesday - Lesson - Why do we see different phases of the moon? Right hand assignment was to start a moon calendar, which we will update daily until Christmas break. I made the calendar full page size and shrunk it to 76% on the copier.

Thursday - Reviewed the moon, Earth, and phases. Watched Bill Nye Moon video and had students take a quiz to go with it. Finished pop up books.

Friday - Students took quiz then cut out phases of the moon for match up game (which didn't turn out as I hoped...pieces too small. I made a larger set, which we played with on the board with plans to make 5 sets for students to work at with their table grouping).


Monday - Reviewed upcoming science fair requirements. Had early turn ins present. Reviewed phases of moon. Had students put them in order. Reviewed lyrics to the Sun, Earth, Moon rap song, which is in their notebook, and played several times.

Tuesday - Last day before the holiday break combined with a going away party for our student interns. Managed to get computer lab for two out of the three classes. Taught students basics of how to use Photostory and let them play with recording their voices, adding music and changing font with intention of giving them a project to do in science hopefully before the Christmas break. No notebook activity but my back up plan...had the computer lab fallen through...was to catch up any missing work and "on the spot" grade as students finished (which is a good grading technique).

Unfinished Projects - Astronomy

I had quite a few students who did not use their time wisely while working on their planet accordion project. I could not dedicate any more class time to finishing so what I did was seal an envelope and cut it in half. I glued it into the notebook and put their cards inside of the envelope. On the outside of the envelope I gave them their grade, based on amount of work completed, and listed everything that was incomplete. I am giving students until we break for the holidays to complete for a better grade on their own (giving them the opportunity to come into class early, work on it during homeroom, or stay in for recess to complete if they wanted). The completed project will then be glued over the envelope once complete.

So far I have only had three students take me up on the offer.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lesson Plans - Astronomy (Planets)

Whew...this week was one of those topsy turvy weeks that threw us off schedule slightly. We had H1N1 shots administered Monday, a field trip Tuesday, no school on Wednesday.....looking forward to a "normal" week :)

Monday - Showed students the International Year of Astronomy Trailer on YouTube and explained how 400 years ago Galileo used his telescope for the first time. Played the song "On the Shoulder of Giants" for students (video with the song can be found on my website - my students last year LOVED the song and had it memorized!). Showed a PowerPoint I made about the planets in order (had students line up as planets with smaller ones being the rocky inner planets and the taller students being the gas giants - threw some students in there to be the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. I picked a student wearing red to be Mars and I lucked out with twins in one of my classes so I made them Venus and Earth). Students got to practice trying to say the planets in order (My Very Energetic Mother Just Served Us Nachos). Showed students the accordion project (which I talked about in an earlier post) they will be making this week with notecards and I went through how to share resources (planet books I checked out of the local and school library) and how to use nonfiction reading strategies to find the information they are looking for.

Tuesday - No science classes due to field trip. Made an adorable video of our trip using (which is free to teachers) and posted it on my classroom blog. Teachers met with their reading and ELA groups.

Wednesday - No school. Veterans day.

Thursday - Students worked on their planet accordion project independently (I have a checklist for grading and I take points off for excessive teacher intervention if I continually have to refocus students...which didn't happen too much...I isolated my easily distractable students and they worked fine). I was very pleased at how well all the classes worked on this project. I told students that all the facts and pictures needed to be done by Friday, which meant five cards each day needed to be done. I sat at the front of the class with papers I was grading and just looked around in awe at how the students were borrowing books from each other, staying focused and on task, following directions, etc. I wasn't feeling that well (ended up going to the doctor that evening for a sore throat I thought might be strep...which thank goodness it wasn't!) so it was nice that all the students were working so wonderfully.

Friday - Students continued to work on their planet accordion project. They needed to get the final five cards done (most met the deadline). Monday they will finish coloring and tape them together. I have a handful (three to four students) done in each of my classes who will be helping the other students finish up and tape. I will have to have some extra work for those completely finished students to do. If I have time left over in class I will show a Bill Nye video.


I have several resources students in my classes and I just have them look for two facts per planet (and the sun) instead of the five the other students are required to find. You could even drop this down to one fact (I have a child that writes incredibly large so he only had to find one good fact per planet).

If you teach GT or are adapting this project for an upper grade level you can have them write out a paragraph about their planet incorporating three to five facts about it and citing their source (just keep in mind how small 3x5 index cards are).


This is a really cute project idea (thanks to Mrs. Tressler who shared it with me). It could easily be adapted to other subject areas (report on various presidents, timeline of something in social studies, book report, etc.). My students in my writing class will make one for Mother's Day spelling out the word MOTHER with one letter per card and writing a little note on the back of each card having to do with the letter, example M - "Makes wonderful pancakes" on one side and then a short note on the other - Thanks mom for taking the time to make pancakes on the weekend for us. They are yummy and I love them!).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lesson Plan - Start of Astronomy Unit

We just got back after a week long fall break and it was a short week for me. I attended and presented at the South Carolina Science Council Convention in Myrtle Beach Thursday and Friday (notebooking and blogging) so there was sub work for the students.

This is what we did in the notebooks this week.

Monday - Put together the astronomy title page and reviewed the standards for the unit. I also went over the vocabulary for the unit with a Promethean slide show and, as I was reviewing the vocabulary, students were filling out their bingo boards for the unit.

Tuesday - We started with information about the sun and its importance to Earth. We did a fun activity that I had done at space camp last summer (with a sheet, a bowling ball, tennis ball, and ping pong ball) showing how the mass and gravity of the sun cause planets to rotate around it. We read our left hand sheet about the sun and watched a Brain Pop on the subject. On the right hand side of the notebook students had to list four ways that the sun is important to us and illustrate/color it.

Wednesday - I designated this our science fair review day (the requirements for our upcoming science fair went home with students on this day). I went over the scientific method and what makes a good science fair project as well as the board layout. We watched a Brain Pop on the subject of science fairs and I also showed an episode of Food Detectives pausing the show to ask what part of the scientific method were they engaged in, identify the variables, etc. I referred back to the notebooks and the three mini science fair boards we had done earlier in the year.

Thursday - Put together a sub astronomy packet (using the catalog feature in Publisher), that will be graded and glued into the notebooks, using the text book to review vocabulary and information about the sun and preliminary information about the planets, which we start next week.

Friday - Continued and finished the sub astronomy packets. Classes that were done watched a Magic School Bus on Gravity.