Develop age appropriate reading comprehension questions (Who
were the main characters? List a character trait they possessed and give an example from the
story/book that supports it. What was the story’s main conflict? How was the
conflict solved? Summarize the story in 25 words. Etc…). FYI – I attached a list of
Character Traits for Kids that I got for free from TeachersPayTeachers in the picture above.
Upper grade levels can add the movie to Edmodo (free and protected social networking site for educators and their classes) and have
students watch it on their own (in a center, computer lab, or at home for
homework) and give them an assignment (also in Edmodo) where they have to
answer questions about the story (if you Google “The Polar Express thematic
unit” or “Polar Express Worksheet” you can find LOTS of questions J).
Younger grade levels can create a flipbook – beginning,
middle, and end. Have them summarize under the flap and draw a picture to
represent the action in the book.
On the eight day I sent out a Promethean flipchart to all the teachers in my school that featured a crackling fireplace. The idea was to play it on the board while reading some favorite holiday picture books.
They have to
identify the location (famous places and monuments) where indicated. A couple
of the places require that the students go to the street view and move around
to find the monument. For example #12 will take the students pretty darn close
to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. To get to the street view click on the “A” listed
on the map as the location and then click on “street view” (see picture above). Location #6 (Big
Ben) will also need a street view (upward rather than around).
I am not going to lie...this is probably one of my least favorite Christmas songs (it goes on FOREVER) but I liked the math lesson. I've been booked to do this with a third grade class next week but instead of doing the tech integration below (with an Excel spreadsheet) we are going to be using calculators. The teacher and I think that introducing Excel to 3rd graders with this project would be a little difficult.
They will fill out the GIST template after they have read it
(may need to model it whole group before having students do it on their own).
You can teach students how to use the “snap screen” feature
so that they can view the article and the template side-by-side without having
to toggle between screens to fill in the information (see picture below and 1 minute video above explaining how it works). Have students print or save their
work for grading.
Today's tech tip is to try using www.spellingcity.com to post holiday spelling words. Spelling City is free (basic membership). Student's can look up your lists at home or at school and practice their spelling in a fun online environment with games and quizzes. This is a great center activity for ELA.
Most readers know that I have been working as a Technology Coach for the past couple of years. I still work with teachers who are notebooking but my focused has shifted work wise. This is more of a "tech" post then "notebooking" post so I apologize (but I hope you find it useful!)
This month at work I decided to focus on the 12 Tech Days Before Christmas Break giving teachers 12 useable tech ideas that they could implement in the days leading up to the holiday break (or after).
We get out December 20th so the twelve days started on December 5th for us. I am currently up to day three of my tips and thought I would share what I have passed on so far.
Record a holiday readers theater podcast using Audacity
(have children develop sound effects that go with the story).
Have students create a Christmas rebus letter in Microsoft
Word. In my sample above I wrote a letter to my teacher telling her what I did
on my made up holiday break. Students can share them with the class and decide
which letter is the most creative. Students can use clipart or google images.
Create a winter/holiday picture book trailer using
Photostory3 or Movie Maker Live (see sample above).
This is a two day ELA project. Day one students would
find/read their picture book and come up with their script. Day 2 they would find the pictures they need
and put together the trailer using Photostory3 or Movie Maker Live.
In one of my schools fourth graders are working with a local Audubon club to explore birds (as part of their Organisms and their Environment unit). This week they are working on dissecting owl pellets.
I put together this short (6 minute) video about owl pellets for the children to watch prior to the activity so they would have some frame of reference going into it. Basically I found several YouTube videos and downloaded them. I put them together using Windows Movie Maker Live into one longer video for the kids.
I am curious to see how the video and virtual experience will compare to the actual owl pellet dissection (having never done it myself!). I'm going to ask students to compare the two and tell me if they felt that the pre-activities helped them with the actual activity.
The teachers I am working with are looking forward to this activity because it helps incorporate the use of technology into their lesson, we get to "teach" the lesson jointly (so no lesson planning on their part :), and all children will be engaged (at least for one hour in the computer lab :)
The fact that I have never done an owl dissection lab with my students got me thinking this would make a great grant write up. Owl dissection kits can be ordered from Carolina Biological at this site - Owl Pellet Kit.
Looking to have a little fun with your students just before Halloween? Try taking a break from your regular science class (or you can even do this in your ELA block if you can't go "off task" in your science class) and introduce them to the wonderful world of bats.
In ELA you can read the story Stellaluna or, if you want, show it on your Interactive White Board. The website Storyline Online has a member of the Screen Actor's Guild reading it aloud. You can actually download the video of it from YouTube with your YouTube Downloader (you can get the downloader from this site - CLICK HERE). After the story have students write down some facts they learned about bats.
Next show the video The Magic School Bus: Going Batty. The full episode can be found on YouTube and can be downloaded using the YouTube downloader. Please watch the entire video (22 minutes) before showing it to your class. I show Magic School Bus videos from Discovery Streamline Education so I don't need to worry but I always proceed with extra caution when showing videos from YouTube.
During the video have students write more facts about bats.
Next have students make a popup bat booklet using the template from Robert Sabuda's (popup guru) site. Once students have completed the booklet they then decorate the cover and write their bat facts inside the booklet (either in bullet form or full paragraph form depending on your timeframe and the skill level of your students).
You can easily make this a three day activity (three days leading up to Halloween).
Day 1 - Read/watch Stellaluna book. Maybe do a visit to the library to check out other bat facts using the computers, books, and reference material. Let your media specialist know ahead of time and she can create a little bat fact center for the kids to explore and write down their findings (I suggest they have a minimum of 10 facts).
Day 2 - Watch the Magic School Bus Going Batty video. Have students add their facts and get them started writing a solid paragraph or two about bats using the facts they have collected.
Day 3 - Make the Bat Pop Up book. Write their paragraphs or bullets in the booklet. Color and decorate.
Continuing on the topic of windmills I thought I would do a quick post of where you can buy a "fairly" inexpensive windmill kit. The kit featured here is from Pitsco Education and has been used by Mrs. Parker's fourth grade class for several years (see bottom two pictures). She teaches in a STEM school so they have money, that alot of classroom teachers don't have, to puchase these kits.
Last year I had the opportunity to help, as an extra pair of hands, in her classroom while the fourth graders put the kit together. I'm glad I had the opportunity. I normally don't do well with kits but Mrs. Parker and the kids made it look very doable. If I were to purchase these windmills I would probably buy the DVD that goes with it to help explain how the kit gets put together (an extra $25).
I most likely would look for some kind of grant to offset the price. We have several in our district and I am hoping I am not too late to apply for them!
In a graduate class that I am taking about teaching physical science to children we have to present a lesson plan to our peers. Yesterday one of my classmates (thank you Marianne Blake!) presented a lesson on energy conversion. She shared the book The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind and the YouTube video I have embedded.
She had also presented another video about William Kamkwamba fom Amazon (6 minutes long) - HERE.
She teaches in school with a very high poverty rate and felt her kids would be able to relate to the true life story and tie into what they are learning about energy transformation.
The story is very touching and both videos and the book could easily be incorporated into a science lesson (or in an integrated ELA lesson) . I have another friend who has children build windmills with her fourth grade class and I'm going to be passing on these resources for her to use in preparation of that lesson (Mrs. Parker this is for you!).
I have also included another book that I found in our school library about a Danish island of Samso whose residents worked together for energy independence.
A friend showed this video in my graduate class the other day and I thought it was completely doable with a group of students as a project. The parts might have to be purchased through a grant though. I'm going to try and convince one of my fourth grade teachers to do this during her light, electricity and magnet unit. It actually fits our sixth grade standards the best but we can squeeze it into the fourth grade as well!
Today I had an awesome lesson with third graders in the computer lab. The idea came from a pintrest post (see the first picture). I thought that that would make a great integrated tech project in ELA where student's learn about nonfiction text features. I got one of my willing third grade teachers to let me try it with her group during her ELA block.
I created a template (see second picture) made up of text boxes. Initially I had made it like the first picture but found that third graders would take forever typing information in some of the text heavy boxes and so I deleted them.
They came to the computer lab with their science textbooks and I had them find examples of big and little text, highlight text, bullets, etc. I explained how these textbook features make information easy to find. I then had them create a document that had all these features. The idea was that would print it out and and add to their ELA binder (or you could even add it to a science notebook!).
The kids and I had a great time. They learned how to do a lot of things in Word (i.e. highlight, change the color of text, make bullets, etc.) while applying that knowledge to their textbook.
I picked third grade because it is really textbook heavy year for our students and becoming familiar with these features might help them (they are also mature enough to follow directions in the computer lab :)
I am repeating this lesson with three other third grade classes this week and I learned a lot during our lesson today (i.e. get rid of some of the text boxes). I'm hoping those classes go as smoothly as the one today!
In some hindsight I might do this lesson in the first month of school next year when students are becoming familiarized with their textbooks but certainly think it won't hurt them to get it now :)
A teacher friend of mine passed on this site and I love it! There are lots of linked interactive sites in various subject areas that can be used by students at home, in the classroom, or in the computer lab.
I use to like taking my students to the computer lab a couple of times during a unit to engage in science reviews via games and websites I had found. The children enjoyed the break and so did I :) Many of the students would play the games at home as well.
I explored the science section and it has a lot of great student friendly sites.
I saw this on line and while it is suppose to be used with Versatiles (can't say I am familiar with them) I thought the worksheet would make a pretty handy dandy Friday quiz. You could also use it whole group on the interactive white board (with student response systems if you have them) or add to the examples and make a Scoot review game.
I came across this free lesson plan on TeachersPayTeachers that I thought would be a fun way to integrate ELA into science (specifically a weather unit). Most of our fourth grade teachers are teaching weather in the first nine weeks so I plan to pass it on.
Here is the authors write up of the unit - These are 25 common English idioms that have a weather connection, along with their definitions. Students first study and discuss these with classmates and the teacher using the provided discussion guide. This is followed by a set of 25 context sentences where students must use the correct idiom to demonstrate mastery. Answers provided. At the end is a list if five extension activities to take your students further in the study of idioms.
The lesson plan is easy to follow and not complicated. It is definitely something I would do in the classroom.
Using the same concept in the post below the professor had solar powered fans that he purchased from Radio Shack (see second picture packaging). One was taped at the equator and one was taped at the north pole.
He took us outside and covered up the solar panels. He made a big deal of finding the most direct source of light from the sun and tilting the globe so that the equator was getting the most direct light. He released his hands from both locations and the fan at the equator was going full tilt but the one at the pole was going very slow (because it was getting less light).
This was a great demonstration of how certain parts of the earth receive more or less of the suns energy at different times of the year (causing our seasons).
I have been taking a physical science class as part of my graduate studies and our professor showed us this neat experiement that demonstrates how angles affect energy (specifically energy from the sun in relation to seasons).
Next to the two notecards with the thermometers he also has two metal plates that he painted black and put one on an angle using clay.
First off let me start by apologizing for such a long absence from this blog. Budget cuts hit my department this year and instead of working between two school I now have four. I underestimated how much work it was going to be to get all four schools up and running at the start of the year and I final have room to breath!
This is a cute seating idea that I ran across in one of my new schools. She uses balls instead of chairs. I liked the idea so much that I thought it would make a great grant request. There is a lot of research supporting the use of balls to sit on from strengthing your core to help establish balance (plus it helps get the wiggles out).
The teacher has a lot of rules and goes over ball procedures at the start of the school year. Anyone breaking the procedures gets a chair for the rest of the day. She says that most children want to sit on the balls so rule breaking is minimal. Students who break or bust their ball must replace it (parents are told this as well). She said that she has had three students who jabbed their balls with a sharp pencil and deflated them beyond repair. She tells the parents to make the child earn the money to replace the balls and until they do they sit in a chair.
If anyone is looking for a cute grant idea this would be perfect.
I was admiring these student portaits outside a first grade classroom the other day and the teacher said that she has students create them within the first week of school. She says the pictures help her initally identify student skill level.
She pointed out that the higher readers/thinkers tend to put a lot of detail in their pictures. In the examples above Estralla has eyelashes, lipstick, hair in pigtails and flowers on her shirt. In Janasia's picture, next to her, you can see details are sparse. In the second set of pictures you can see that Daryl has added teeth, full eyes, necklace, and hands to his picture where Keion doesn't have as much detail.
She uses the pictures to help baseline her incoming students into appropriate groups until testing gets started.
I thought this was an interesting way to help identify student needs at the beginning of the year. Who knew that a picture could tell so much about a child!
This is a short 3 minute video on how I've incorporated movement into a science classroom. Hopefully it will spark some ideas on how you can get your students moving in class to help them remember some concepts with movement.
NOTE - When I show the Xylum/Phloem movement I forgot to add the the half jumping jack creates an X (which is what the word Xylum starts with to help students remember).
Prior to class starting you should have your science textbook on each table (or make sure each child brings their copy of the textbook).
Pass out notebooks . See if students can remember any of your rules (review). Show them the instruction booklet you glued in the day before. Have them turn to the instructions about title pages and have them make their first title page next to the page you glued the inquiry standards on.
I make a sample title page on the Interative White Board (IWB) and we go through what could be drawn in each block (this is a nice classroom discussion and gives you an idea of what students already know about science). Block 1 is generally something about safety, block 2 is some kind of tool a scientist might use, block 3 is a graph of some kind, block 4 I have them draw the five senses (this is where I teach them the interactive definition of observation - see video above. This gets them up and moving. Students can copy what you drew on the IWB or they can draw any of the suggestions called out for that block. Give them about 10 minutes to complete and color (some kids will be done with the drawing but not the coloring but don't stress - they can complete that another time). Walk around and give a grade for the title page on your clipboard - 100 complete, 95 complete except for coloring, 85 complete but with unreasonable amount of refocusing needed, 70 not complete at all. (this is just a general grading criteria most students get an easy 100 on this assignment particularly if they know you are grading and it is their first grade in the science notebook).
Pick up a textbook and ask them what kinds of things they think they might find in it (you can do whole group or you can have them make a list of five things as a table group and then share). Have them open their textbook and start working on the scavenger hunt. They can help each other. If they are done before the time is up have them go back and finish coloring their title page. If they are done that as well see if they can help any student who is struggling with their scavenger hunt.
Walk around and give a grade as students finish the scavenger hunt - 100 complete, 95 done but with a moderate amount of refocusing, 85 complete but with an excessive amount of refocusing needed, 70 not complete at all. Again this is a general grading scale and most students will work hard to get that second 100 in the grade book.
When grading I find students respond positively to immediate feedback. If they see they are successful in science right away they are more inclined to think positively about the class and their future success in it.
Here is what would be my rough plan for the first day in my science classroom:
(DISCLAIMER - As many of my readers know I took an Instructional Technology Coach position last year and will be doing the same this coming year. Although my main job in the schools I serve....four this year....is to help teachers integrate technology into the classroom I still help out with teachers who want to implement notebooking in the classroom. Floating between four schools also gives me the opportunity to see great teaching ideas and share among schools and this blog!).
- This is usually collecting supplies, going over classrooom rules (everything from bathroom procedures to tucking in chairs - I usually act out the behaviors I don't want to see and the behaviors I do want to see...which usually cracks up the students). Show them where you keep things in the classroom (particularly the Plan of the Day). I have students practice a fire drill so they know where to go when they are in my classroom, an earthquake drill, and a tornado drill (this is a great way to introduce what we will be learning in weather). They love practicing these things because it gets them moving in my classrom! I have my camera ready to take pictures so I have something to put on my classroom website for the first day of school. I show students the science notebook and explain how it is going to be used. I pass out labels to put in the upper right hand corner of the notebook and have sharpies so they can write their first name on it (those can be put on lab trays so the supplies are ready to go). If you have time left you can have the class as a group number the first 25 pages in their composition book (don't let them go ahead of 25 or they will mess up the count!). Collect the compostion books (purchase extra composition books so if a student doesn't have one you can give them one of yours and they would just owe you one when they bring it in).
I recently went to a training with a friend of mine who teaches fourth grade (all subjects). It was the kind of training where somethings were useful but then there were large pockets of time where we were doodling, writing our "to do" list, and generally not paying attention. During that time I put together a rough plan of how I would spend the first few weeks in science and the rough timing for the rest of the school year. I'm posting it in case readers might find it helpful during the planning phase of summer (I am trying to develop an entire unit plan for my Teachers Pay Teachers site but I'm not sure I can get it done quickly enough).
The first weeks in science is dedicated to our inquiry standards. The general understanding is that our inquiry standards are introduced in those first few weeks and then many of the concepts are woven into our other standards (Weather, Organisms, etc.).
The problem with our inquiry standards is that they can easily eat up the first three weeks of school (particularly if you have under 40 minutes to teach science!). A lot of teachers do not want to spend that long in that unit and are often pushing to get to the first "real" unit of science. I would say two to three weeks is fair amount of time to introduce the basics of science after which all the other units would be anywhere from six to seven weeks long - which would take us up to our state testing dates and allow for a review period before our PASS test (each state is different - this is what would work for me in South Carolina).
This is my very unscientific formula I use for calculating my unit lengths:
180 days of school. Subtract 10 days for Inquiry/first days of school. Subtract 10 days for PASS review. We are left with 160 days of school. Subtract 20 days after PASS testing and you are left with 140 teachable days before our state testing. Divide that by 4 weeks in a month and you are left with 35 weeks in the school year. Divide that by 5 days of the week and you have roughly 7 weeks for each unit with some wiggle room.
Some teachers look at the amount of indicators they have with each standard and then adjust accordingly (i.e. some standards have more content then others). Whatever best works for you and your team you should do but I thought I would share how I calculate my general "lengths of unit."
I saw this in June/July 2012 issue of Family Fun Magazine and I thought was kind of fun. I definitely would have used it when my son was younger because somehow he could never get his dirty clothes into the hamper (all around it but never in it). I solved my problem by only washing the clothes that made it into the hamper and after a few washings he got the general drift. This poster would have been a lot more fun. The parent in question would tear off the bottom strips each time clothes were left on the floor. Each strip was worth extra TV time for her children.
I thought this could be used in a classroom with the tear off strips on the bottom worth extra recess time (5 minutes for each tab left on Friday). It could be made to gauge classroom behavior for the day or (in my case) were all papers turned in with names on it (my pet peeve).
It is possible to reverse it so instead of tearing off strips for the infraction you could add strips if the class was good (positive versus negative reinforcement). The poster can be laminated and you can use velcro tabs for the bottom "tear off" portion so you can reuse it each week.
I've had a lot of requests for the copy of the interactive notebook book guidelines that students get at the beginning of the year. This something I did not create. It was given to me when I first started notebooking. I have since tweaked it a bit and modified it so it could be printed in booklet form (which made it easier to glue to the front cover of the composition book).
I told a friend of mine that I was saving to purchase a Vitamix blender (my mother got me into drinking green smoothies on a recent trip home - unfortunately those blenders run $500!!!!). I am currently making them in my regular blender (so far so good) but I still would like to get a Vitamix.
My friend suggested that I make templates for some of the things that I post on my blog and put them out on Teachers Pay Teachers. I thought I would give it a try.
I visited my family this past week and took my neice (age 7) to Zion National Park in Utah to work on her Junior Ranger Badge. As part of the requirements she had to attend a ranger led program and we opted for the Amazing Animals talk about bears.
I got a little nervous when Ranger Colton put the vocabulary words on the board (see first picture) but I thought he did a great job of explaining what each of them meant and getting input from the children. I also liked his graph representing the diet of the black bear - shading in 70% for plants, 20% for water creatures, and 10% for large game (see the board in the last picture). He had a bear skin and talked about the adaptations they had for being successful in their environment - claws, fur, and teeth that were both flat and pointed for grinding plants and chewing meat.
The program was 45 minutes long and he had children go outside to participate in an activity where they became black bears and had to get resources in order to go into torpor. The resources were different colored poker chips on the ground which were worth a certain number of points (parents...or in my case Aunts held a plastic dixie cup while the kids had 1 minute to collect their resources - one at a time and drop them in the cup. Then the children (with or without the parents help) had to calculate the points they earned gathering resources. If they earned at least 60 points they were ready to go into torpor (most of the kids were successful). Next he had all the kids become wounded bears and they repeated the activity but they had to hop on one leg to collect their resources (only a few children got the necessary points for torpor).
I thought this was an excellent lesson for many reasons -
- He had an actual animal carcass the kids could handle
- He started with a true story of a black bear encounter in the park (and held up laminated pictures while he told the story to capture children's interest)
- He had a graph on the board plus the vocabulary words he was going to use
- The activity involved children going outside and being active
- There was a math componet with the graphing and points calculation
My neice just turned seven so her attention span and retention ability is not the strongest but she was able to recall some of what she learned (bears have 2-3 cubs, they have five fingers and toes, they eat plants and meat). The age group (and nationality) of the children ranged from 12 to 4 (which made the teaching challenging but children got out of it what their age allowed - older kids retained the vocabulary better while younger kids were more apt to remember feeling the claws on the bear carcass).
I definitely filed that lesson away for use in grades that talk about animal adaptations (in our case third grade).
I have been exposed to "mind maps" before but I've never used them in the notebooks. I saw this pin on Pinterest (see first picture) which got me thinking about how they can be used in notebooks.
Using my trusty craft supplies I created two mind maps in my practice notebook. The first had to do with the water cycle and the second I was thinking of using it as an end of unit review.
Here were some of my thoughts as I was creating them.
1. Student would need some serious modeling when introducing "mind maps". You can not just show them a sample and say "go". It probably would be best to do it as a group and then have students copy it into their notebook a couple of times so they get the general idea of how it works.
2. I think this would only appeal to the artistic children. I don't think it would damage the non-artistic children to go through the process of creating a mind map but when I was doing it I was thinking that you might need to give those children a choice of assignments rather then just saying "Mind map and nothing else!".
3. A larger scale version of a mind map (see last picture) is time consuming. I would allot at least two class periods to finish.
4. Definitely would need a class supply of colored pencils. In the second picture I used crayons and I wasn't too happy with that. I didn't have colored pencils in the house so I used thin markers for the last mind map (I don't like markers in the notebooks because the colors bleed through on the previous and next pages).
I would definitely try it out with children and see how it goes and add it to my list of possible "right hand assignment" ideas.
At the request of some of my readers I have now added an email widget where you input your email and you get notified of updates to this blog via email (which is WAY easier then having to check back every so often to see if I posted anything :)
I started this blog many years ago as a classroom science teacher with the express purpose of sharing notebooking ideas with other educators. I have since moved into a technology coach position within our district so this site has morphed into a general teaching blog. Basically anything that I see or do in schools that I think is pretty cool gets highlighted here. If you are visiting to find notebooking information please look at my earlier posts. I have tried to label all my posts so information is easier to find...so, when in doubt look at the labels. As always, if you have any question please feel free to email me and I will do my best to help!