Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Movement in the Science Classroom

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).

Day 2 in the Science Classroom

Day 2

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.

Day 1 in the Science Classroom

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 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!).

Day 1

- 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).

When students are gone for the day glue in the instruction booklet on the first page or on the front inside cover (see picture on this post - ) as well as the inquiry standards (see picture on this post - and the information about the textbook scavenger hunt - see this post - This will save you a TON of time on Day 2 (you can teach students how to glue their own stuff in later).

Items you will have to create ahead of time - Textbook Scavenger Hunt (one half page for the notebook) for the textbook your students use (see this post -

Length of Units

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."

Monday, July 16, 2012

Classroom Management Idea

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.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lesson Plan Kit - Scientitic Tools and Uses

This is a short (4 minute) video of a lesson plan kit for scientific tools and their uses I put on the Teachers Pay Teachers site. The video gives a description of what you get in the packet and how to use it in your classroom. If you are interested hop on over to my TpT site at -

Free Download at Teachers Pay Teachers

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).

In the interest of "paying it forward" I am adding it to my Teachers Pay Teachers listing as a free download -


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Paper Pull Out Template (Teachers Pay Teachers)

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.

You are required to post your first item for free. The first item I posted was my PowerPoint of a completed student notebook (which I have had posted for free on this blog for the better part of two years). Here is the link if you are interested -
The second item I posted was a cut and paste template for the paper pull out pictured above. I set the cost at $2.00 only because the seller gets about $0.30 on the dollar (after fees to both the TPT site and PayPal). Here is the link if you are interested in that download -

Please do not feel obligated to purchase anything. This is just something I am trying to see if there is an interest in such notebooking items (and to get the Vitamix :)