Sunday, September 26, 2010

Labels

I went through my posts and added some labels to make searching for items a bit easier. I added the units that I teach and if the post has something to do with that unit I labled it as either:

Inquiry
Weather
Astronomy
Light/Electricity/Magnets
Animals/Plants

Hope that makes searching easier!

Labels are located to the right of the screen ------------------->

How to Make - Wind Vane























When making these I highly recommend using white card stock for the fin and tail. I trace the shapes on card stock and have the students cut them out. If a student is done early you can have them decorate the nose and fin. I try to get students to make a compass rose on their plates (they learned how to in Social Studies so this is a great tie in).
Check your science kits (across grade levels) for the modeling clay but you can purchase from Walmart (approx. $4).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Weather Tools - Other Schools







These are pictures I took in another fourth grade class (not at my school). I really liked the wind vanes (some of her students got creative and added some flair to the top of their projects). I found out that they came from the Delta Science Kit for weather (which we don't have at our school...need to follow up on that :)

The kit only came with supplies to do 15 wind vanes so she broke the class in half with one group making wind vanes and the other making anemometers.

Those windvanes are much sturdier then the ones my students make since they are mounted on a dowel with a ball and a macroma (sp?) pin.

I like how she had the students color the cups for the anemometer (I only have them put their name on one). She used the paper dixie cups and I use the plastic ones (marker wouldn't take as well on the plastic). She tried my stapling idea but actually felt it dragged down the straws more then taping (which she did last time). I thought maybe I did the taping incorrectly and she promised to show it to me the next time I was in her class.
I don't buy the paper dixie cups only because they always come with designs but when I was looking over her anemometers I thought that the paper ones might be lighter then the plastic (need to get out that scale!), which might work better because I also suffer from straws being dragged down (but I don't stress too much about it). If I had the kids color the cups that would effectively cover up the design.

I ran into another friend who just moved to the fourth grade this year and she said that she made anemometers with her second grade class that required no taping or staples. I'm excited because she promised a quick tutorial that I could post here.

Recycling Paper


This is a copy of an earlier post I did about using recycled paper in the notebook. Since one side is always glued to the book it is a good idea to conserve where you can. My principal is a huge fan of this part of notebooking since it supports his efforts to reduce paper consumption ($$).

During one of our back-to-school meetings where all staff was present I told teachers that I would be recycling paper into our notebooks. I set up a bin (the top lid of a paper box with recycle written all over it) in the copier room and asked teachers if they have messed up a copy to please but it in the box because I can use the back side. It worked out great. Everyone was making back to school copies and I have plenty of material to work with.

Last year I started recycling late and even though I set up a box nobody really contributed or people chucked it. This year I will have plenty of material to work with.
NOTE:
It has been three weeks and I probably should have told folks to make sure the copies are all going in the same direction. Currently when I grab a stack I have the blank side every which way, which is irrating when you are in a hurry and you have to sort the stack so all the blank sides are going the same way. We have a staff meeting this week and I will clarify, which should help. All in all it is going well though.

Spiral Notebooking


A friend of mine is teaching third grade and is notebooking with spiral bound notebooks. On the day I visited her classroom her children were doing an experiment with "mock rocks" based on an activity in either the Foss or Delta science kit.

She choose to use spiral notebooks because it allowed for more space with glueing and writing. I think the intent is that she would use one for each of her units (so they were the small spiral notebooks - 70 page count I think). I did see that some of the pages had started ripping out just by the way the students were handling them. I think that will improve with time as they move into their next unit/book.

Hallway WOW - Wonderful Outstanding Work


The fifth grade teachers put up these displays this year for their classes that I thought were kind of fun. I caught two of my former fourth graders adding work and took pictures.

The displays are made with file folders in the first few days of school. Students completed an "about me" sheet that was attached to the first part of the file folder. The entire file folder was then laminated. A gallon sized storage bag was added to the bottom part of the file folder. As students complete work they can add them to their bags. In this case students were adding brochures they had done on matter for science class.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Random Idea - Listening to Speeches


Tomorrow President Obama is giving his Back-t0-School Speech. Many teachers across the nation will be showing the event live in their classroom. Unfortunately while teachers are tuning in students may tune out. Here is an idea I got from another teacher about how to engage students while listening to speeches and public addresses.

Prior to the speech ask students what kinds of words they think might come up in the President's speech on the topic of back-to-school. Brainstorm 10-20 words and then make a list (i.e. school, education, future, etc.). Have them try and think like the President. What might he say to try to motivate students from all levels and backgrounds? Have students copy that list on a piece of paper. During the speech have them listen carefully and put a check next to any word that the President uses that is on the list. If he uses it it more then once the word gets checked again. Note any words that seem to come up a lot that you didn't list. After the speech compare your results and discuss why they thought some words were mentioned and others were not. Did the words used help convey his overall message? Could they summarize his speech using words on the list?

I did this with the President's inauguration and it worked like a charm. All the students were keyed in and checking their word list. The discussion afterward was certainly more engaging then if the event had been strictly passive on the student's end. This is one of those ideas that could be used from elementary to high school.



YouTube Downloader



I use a YouTube Downloader quite a bit to download songs or snippets of video related to the subject I am teaching.

There are several kinds of YouTube Downloaders but I like the one found here.

We (the teachers) have access to YouTube at school however it is dicey at best to try to stream from YouTube. If there isn't enough broadband width the video will pause and try to catch up with itself. Sometimes the advertising bar along the bottom pops up with inappropriate ads for the classroom (alcohol, condoms, etc.). The YouTube Downloader eliminates this and is easy to use.

I always use it from home, since my internet is faster. Above is a screen shot of the icon on my desktop and what it looks like when I open it up. I simply copy and paste the address of the video I want to use and tell it where to copy on my computer. It will download it as an MP4 file. I can play an MP4 at school but most time I convert it to a WMV (Windows Media Video) so I can embed the video in my Promethean flip charts. To convert it you would use the same YouTube Downloader and tell it to convert the video (look at the screen shot above - under "what do you want to do?" you have two choices "download" or "convert").

Most recently I downloaded several songs from YouTube that were made up to teach the scientific method. I had taught my version of the scientific method (with fun hand gestures) andthen showed students all the other versions I had found. They had to compare my version with those from other teachers. It was great to show that students all over the country and in different grade levels are learning the scientific method.

Here are links to the songs I used:



Friday, September 10, 2010

How To - Make An Anemometer











The first time I made these anemometers was when I was teaching sixth grade and the instructions said to tape the cups to the straw. That was a disaster and I was running around like a mad woman with the only stapler I had trying to quickly staple 96 cups to straws. Oh the memories :)
I wised up when I moved to fourth grade. What I do now is pre-staple everything. If I was a rich teacher with unlimited resources and time I would purchase 24 staplers and let the kids make these from scratch but the reality is I don't. NOTE - Try to find straws that aren't flexible. You can use the flexible straws but the cup tends to drag those down. Look for supplies at The Dollar Store, Dollar General, or Big Lots to save money.
I usually pre-staple at home, while watching tv, with a large trash bag next to me, as I finish a set I put it in the bag. Last year I had to make well over 80 (I got very good at it). NOTE - Make about 15-20 more then you actually need. Sometimes the staples come out or the child does something to destroy it and it is easier to hand a child an extra then it is to try to fix or lecture the student.
I give each student a set and then I model how to make one up front in case they want to try it at home (you could have children come up and try the stapling part). The students are then responsible for putting the pin in, getting it into the eraser, and decorating a cup with their name. While this sounds fairly simple it always takes a surprisingly long amount of time (which is fine....just an interesting observation). I then take them outside to test them (great photo op by the way). As irony would have it the day we test them the wind is never blowing. I make them hold them up in the air anyway and time for one minute and we generally all conclude that the wind is blowing at 0 miles per hour. Then the fun begins...
We have several outside vents around our school and I then let students see how fast they can get their anemometer to spin at these vents. This makes everyone happy.
Students get to take them home with them. One year one of our second grade teachers saw us out there and asked one of my classes to come in and teach her students how to make them (they study weather as well). That was a fun lesson as we buddied up a fourth grade student with a second grade student to do this. I was seriously impressed at how kind my fourth graders were with those second graders.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Notebooking with Early Elementary




I know a first grade teacher who wants to start notebooking with her little guys. She has enough experience to know that a normal compostion book will not work. She asked her group of students to purchase a primary composition book that has a large space for pictures on top and young child friendly lines below.

The problem she ran into was that the local stores don't stock them in the quantity that she needed and none of her parents could find them.

She ended up having to purchase through the internet. This can get pricy...I saw them from anywhere from $4+ to $2+ (depending on how many you ordered). I believe that she got the funds approved through her principal (she is at a title one school) and is currently waiting for the shipment to come through.

I am excited to see how she will incorporate notebooking in this young grade.

Social Studies Notebooking


I ran into a fourth grade team in another school who have started notebooking in social studies and I liked the activity they were doing the day I was in their classroom. They were using the textbook whole group to answer questions in their notebook. The teacher had used the left hand of the sheet to give them the specific (key) questions they had to focus on and the right hand side was used for the students to answer.
I thought this showed how you could still use the textbook in the classroom and notebooking. By having students focus on specific standard related questions you've given them a purpose to their reading and the material becomes more engaging.

Random Idea - Magnet Board




I saw this in a first grade class and liked the idea. The teacher said she purchased it at Walmart for $9. She said to go to the automotive section and ask for a mechanics drip pan.

She backs her behavior sticks with magnets and the students move them around but I could see it being used in a variety of different ways. You can make your own magnetic poetry and have students use it in a center. You could use it put the unit vocabulary word of the day on it. I really thought someone could get creative with its use.