Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween Activity - Bats

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.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Making Windmills - Grant Idea


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!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Energy - Windmills

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.

Make Your Own Generator - Grant Idea

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!

I'll post pictures if we do it :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Water Cycle Video

I like the simplicity of this video. I would like to get my students to make a video like this!

Textbook Features Activity

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 :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Interactive Websites

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.