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Showing posts from January, 2010

Full Moon Crazy

Today was a "full moon" crazy day with the students (and a Friday) know the day where you lost everyone the moment they set foot into the classroom and it just gets worse as the day goes on? In those situations I really try to remember that a sense of humor goes a long way. Of course I had "a lot I wanted the class to accomplish" and it took me part of the day to find my sense of humor....the question is what do you do on a day like that? For me I immediately reduced what I wanted to accomplish for the day to...take a quiz, listen to the lyrics of a magnet song, and play BINGO (I lost the students at the magnet song...behavior wise...but got them back with Bingo). General on my "full moon" crazy days, when everything is going wrong, I can always count on asking students to produce science related posters or drawings (with captions) to put outside in our hallway. Today the kids were too chatty to let them work independantly so Bingo was a good activ…


This week we made electromagnets. We watched a video that I found on a google search on how to make them that I showed it to students (I have made them for several years but I was trying to show students how easy it was and if they forgot they could look it up). We read our RH assignment about electromagnets and their uses and then started to build our electromagnets.
Pictured above is the tray of supplies that each table received. We found that metal paperclips worked better then the plastic coated colored paperclips that I have pictured.
The tape on the fingers was an idea I got one year from another teacher. We have battery holders in our science kit but the clasps were hard for the students to use (discovered last year). The batteries heat up when held and the tape is a way to keep fingers from getting too hot. The students loved putting tape on their fingers and comparing how hot the batteries got (they never got hot enough to worry about...but you know how students over react :)

Student Choice

This week I gave students their first "choice" assignment. They had a choice of one of three activities for their right hand assignment. These were all assignments they had done before so they knew what to do.
This was right after we did our magnet study and students had to choose between an acrostic (Magnet), web, or storyboard. They had to have six (good) magnet facts, illustrations, and color (and it had to be done within the time frame given - 30 minutes).
What was interesting was that a lot of the students choose the acrostic...thinking it was "easy"...when in fact the storyboard and web would have been easier. It was a good lesson for students to learn...looking at the assignment strategically.
I surveyed the students and they liked being given a choice and I liked seeing how students worked within the parameter of choice.

Administrators as Classroom Helpers

In my first year of teaching I had two classes I didn't know what to do with. They were out of control behavior wise and they wound up not doing a lot of the same experiments and activities as the other students because of their behavior. Part of the problem was that I was a new teacher with no experience and another part of the problem was that I wasn't looking for another way to tackle the problem (other then to take away the activity/experiment).
When I moved down to fourth grade the behaviors were not as extreme as in my sixth grade class so everyone pretty much got to do all the activites.
This year, however, I have a group of students (fourth graders) who have behavior issues that had me thinking, "Oh dear, I am going to have to threaten and follow through on taking away an activity." That is when I started thinking outside the box a little. I realized I could do the activity/experiment if I had another set of adult my attention wasn't divided bet…

Rice Round Up Game

This is a fun game that demonstrates that a magnet's field can go through objects. It can be found in the TOPS Magnetism Book ($16) from their website.
I am a huge fan of the TOPS books (I have and use their electricity one as well) because the experiments are simple and use common household items that are not expensive.
It would be worth purchasing the books that would apply to your grade level out of grade level money, asking the media specialist to purchase them for your professional development library, or hitting up your science lab teacher or coach to get them for his/her classroom (then you can borrow without spending your own money). Worse case scenario...and I have done this find teachers in your grade level who would be willing to each buy a different book and then share when they arrive.
This is a fairly simple game but the set up needs to be explained. This is how I did it.
I showed students step-by-step how to set up their board (I had already…

Magnet Lesson

This was a short week. We had Monday off for MLK Day and then Friday off for a teacher professional development day (which equaled an all day meeting...sigh...really could have used the day in the classroom).
We spent three days working with magnets.
Monday - Intro to magnets. Flipchart from Promethean Planet. I embedded video clips from streamline into the presentation. Watched Brain Pop. Read LH notebook page. Students partnered up (clock partners) and tested items in the classroom with magnets and recorded their results on the RH side (last picture above).
Tuesday - We did two experiments today (first and second picture above). The first was making a temporary magnet by stroking a nail with a magnet. We were trying to determine if the number of strokes affected how many paperclips the nail could pick up. Students recorded their results on a lab sheet I made for the LH side of the notebook. After students finished that they created a floating paperclip (idea from the TOPS book Magnets

Newsletter - Another Hallway Idea

This was an idea I got from our fifth grade teachers who all post their newsletters outside their classroom doors.

Hallway Display Idea

This was an idea I got from another teacher and I thought was a great way to display what was going on in the classroom each month.

Weekly Lesson Plans (Light)

This was not an "inspired" week. We had report card grades cut off by Friday (and inputted into our system by Tuesday) so a lot of the activities were designed to either get students caught up or give them extra credit. In order to avoid spending hours grading notebooks I graded on the spot for two days (Thursday/Friday)...which went rather well and I am looking forward to no stress this weekend :)
I have highlighted activities that I thought went well this week and might be worth a read.
Monday - Started off with a ball toss greeting of "good morning" (the rest of the week will be review questions - see earlier post with soccer ball). Today's lesson was on Transparent, Translucent, and Opaque (definition and types of objects). Went through a Promethean Planet flipchart that I had modified on the subject. We read the left hand notebook sheet out loud. Showed the Discover Education Streamline video Out of the Darkness - Intro to Light (approx. 20 min - would not…

Tape - Recommendation

The walls of our school are notoriously hard to get things to stick to. I have tried everything short of a glue gun (which we can't use because the walls are not a high gloss and the glue will take the paint off).
Finally I came across this great 3M painters tape for hard to stick surfaces (it is easily identifiable by its green color). I have not had a problem since. I've tried other painters tape (the blue 3M and Duck brand) but they don't have the sticking power of this green tape.
Most of the teachers at our school use this tape exclusively now to hang things on their wall and showcase student work in the hall. In fact, I ran out and had to run to the store today after school to get some because my left over blue tape was just not working (hence the post).
If you are looking for a good tape for school walls I would highly recommend it (cost with tax is $9.30 a roll).

Secret Messages - How To (Light and Color)

This was fun activity that I got from Roper Mountain Science Institute. They suggested red theater gel to reveal the message, which can get pricy. Another idea I heard was to ask movie theaters to donate left over 3D glasses, which also have a red filter. A guest speaker we had last year said red jello would work. Tried it this week and it worked like a charm. The students thought it was very cool. I found my "attention challenged" students had trouble focusing on making their own secret messages so I was very glad that I had made extra copies of the sheets from the GEMS Color Analyzer book that they could color and then check under the jello.

Ball Toss Review

This is a copy of a comment I left on Mrs. Gannon's Social Studies blog about review games.
When I was in grad school one of the ideas for math was to take a black and white soccer ball and number it 1-12 on the blank white hexagons (pentagons?). Then students tossed it back and forth to each other and had to multiple, divide, add or subtract (depending on the skill level of the students) whatever two numbers their left and right hand thumb was on.
I got the ball from Walmart (the only place that seemed to have the old “black and white” soccer balls) and did this with my math class when I was student interning.
I moved into science and still had the ball so I decided to come up with 24 “must know” science questions for each unit and play the ball toss game that way. I would list 12 questions for the right hand thumb and then 12 questions for the left hand thumb. At the begining of class, for a warm up, I would have students stand and I would toss it to the first student, they would …

Week In Science - Light, Electricity and Magnets

Monday - We started our new unit on Light, Electricity and Magnets with our title page and a sneak peek of our vocabulary for the unit, which we then put together in our BINGO boards. I put together a PowerPoint of the vocabulary with pictures and went through it while students wrote the words on their bingo board. Students became excited for the unit because I was able to show them pictures of things they will be putting together in the unit (electromagnets, series circuits, etc.).

Tuesday - Properties of Light. Revised several Promethean Planet resources into a lesson. Students read their notebook page on the left hand side. We did a couple of in class examples of light traveling in a straight line with a flashlight and how distance affects brightness. I went over how to make a web using information from the left hand side with students. Then students were tasked with making a web on the right hand side using the highlighted key points. I showed the BrainPop video "Rainbows"…