Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pet Peeves - Pencil, Erasers, Names, and Feet

All teachers have those little things that drive you INSANE during the course of the school year. Initially for me it was the constant need to get up and use the pencil sharpener...ugh! (or worse yet...not having a pencil...nothing slows down notebooking more). I made my peace with that years ago by having a pencil loaner bin filled with the cheap plastic pencil sharpeners (that catch shavings). I buy those at Staples during their penny sale and as a teacher you can get more then the "four per customer" rule. I did not buy enough for this years class and made a mental note to get more. Make sure you put your name on it with permanent marker THEN put a piece of clear tape over it. That has kept them from disappearing and is an easy way to tell the difference between yours and a student.

Of course my next little pet peeve is that students will not take a pencil if it doesn't have an eraser so that leads to a 5 minute search through the pencil loaner bin for one that does. Sigh... To deal with that I bought a bunch of the pink erasers, cut them in thirds, and put my initial "H" on it (all over it). Sure some of them got lost, misplaced, taken but I put them on my Christmas "wish list" and I got a bunch for gifts this year.

So now that I have made my peace (sort of) with pencils and erasers I jumped to obsessing about no names on papers. I'm sure that there are many teachers out there who know what I mean. You start grading a stack full of papers and sure enough there are 3 or 4 students who have not put there name on something. Well when you are notebooking there are times where you can't pre-glue something in because students need to have the ability to open something wide to work on (foldables or booklets). To combat that I do several things...first I say, "Don't start anything, everyone turn your booklet/foldable over and put your first name...give me a thumbs up when that is done." Of course you have the handful of students not listening and they give you the "thumbs up" sign just because everyone else is doing it. Another thing I try is to appoint one person at the table to check that everyone has their name on the assignment and only that person gives me a thumbs up. Ultimately (and this is the one that I use the most) I circulate around the room and do a name check at each table as students are working independently. I am always surprised when I do these "name checks" how many student STILL don't have their name on their work.

My current pet peeve has NOTHING to do with notebooking and it is completely new to this is the shuffling of feet while walking down the hall. We have fine sand/dirt that gets tracked in since I am on a "main hall" where most of the foot traffic order to get to the library, recess, gym, computers, etc. Students are not picking up their feet but are sliding their feet and when you get the sand underneath it makes a horrible sound. My current line I say to students is, "Pick up your feet you are not 100 years old." This works momentarily but I still have the dedicated shufflers who either just love the sand sound...or just want to annoy me :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Our Week

Monday - Students received study guides and teamed up with clock partners to fill in. Reviewed the answers. Watched Bill Nye Electric Currents.
Tuesday - Spent half the day in the computer lab playing a great British electrical circuits game called Silicon Spies. The game takes about 30 minutes to play (counting logging in). Spent the other half of the day testing out our electric circuit boxes (see pictures above). I borrowed these boxes from one of our teachers in the school who was an ex-science lab teacher from another school. They look pretty easy to make and that make my summer "to do" list.

Wednesday - Brought in light bulbs (old clear type with filament and the new CFL's). Passed around for students to see. We watched a short video on YouTube about CFL's (very good) and then watched a show I downloaded from Discovery Streamline - Animated Classics Thomas Edison Invents the Light Bulb. Played vocabulary Bingo.

Thursday - End of unit exam. I gave the students some activity sheets I found online that they worked on quietly after the exam to give me time to grade. Grading is my least favorite activity and I tend to procrastinate. This gave me a chance to get quite a few graded, and as an added bonus I was able to show students their scores immediately.

Friday - Valentines Day we were a little less focused. I was going to have students start their title page for their next unit but went with a video about Coral Reefs as an introduction to several things were are going to learn about in our new unit (Organisms and their Environments). The movie is very good, about 45 minutes long and focuses on life in a coral reef and why reefs are dying. I created a link to Amazon about the video but you might want to try out Netfix if you don't want to purchase it and you have a subscription or if you want to purchase it (often times cheaper then amazon...just factor in the shipping and handling). I am not sure how much the students got out of it...since most of them were going to town with their Valentine's Day candy :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Conductor and Insulator Tester

Here are pictures of our circuit testers that we made using the instructions in the Tops Science Electricity book. The students loved making them because they used everyday household items (aluminum foil, battery, and a light bulb). I had several students who made them at home and came back to tell me about it (which is always music to a teachers ears :)
The lesson had students teamed up to test various objects around the classroom and record as either a conductor or insulator.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Week in Review

Monday - Not a very inspired lesson. Much shorter then I thought it was going to be, which left me with some time I had to "fill". Basically we moved into electricity and I was going over the parts of a circuit. We watched a 20 minute Electricity video from streamline and a Brainpop on the subject. It was a sort of blah lesson. I did get to show students a series circuit in action and told them they would making them this week...which pepped up the room. Students read their LH assignment in the notebook and drew circuit symbols and an open and closed circuit on the RH side.

Tuesday - Conductors and insulators activity in notebook. See post regarding the inexpensive tester we made for this activity.

Wednesday - Was lucky to be able to "borrow" a student intern in our school to help us make series circuits. Students had to follow the diagram I had written on the board to create a series circuit and then one with a switch. Student "desk partnered" it up with the person sitting next to them for that activity and then they had to team with the other group at the desk to start different combos on the circuit - one bulb, two battery and two bulbs....etc. In hindsight I should have had a lab sheet for them to write their observations as they ran through various combinations of their series circuit. We just "played" with the circuits and at the end of the class we discussed our observations.

Thursday - Reviewed the series circuit - particularly what happens if one bulb goes out in the series and how bulbs are affected when other things are added or taken away from the circuit. Watched a short YouTube video about series verses parallel circuits. Constructed one for the class to see....then had groups work on their own.

Friday - Quiz on circuits. Watched Magic School Bus Gets Energized (the Valentines Day episode).