Thursday, February 28, 2013

Read Across America - Dr. Suess and Science

 
 
 
Tomorrow is Read Across America Day and I have been asked to be a guest reader in two schools.
 
The first school I will be reading in a second grade class and the second school I will be a reading in an open time slot in their gym.
 
Because tomorrow is Friday, I can wear jeans and my Dr. Seuss shirt, I thought I would have a little fun. I choose to read Bartholomew and the Oobleck with the second graders. They study weather and the book can be tied to weather as the King in the story becomes sick of the normal things that fall from the sky and asks for something different. Then I asked the teacher if we could make oobleck afterward and tie it into what they had learned about solids and liquids. The teacher was pretty agreeable. I think that is mainly because most of the teachers have given up on tomorrow because, on top of guest readers and various reading events, everyone is wearing their PJ's (note to self - find Dr. Seuss PJ's!). The science teacher in me is happy that I can tie literacy into science tomorrow. As a tech teacher (now) I have also downloaded the YouTube video above (Steve Spangler on Ellen) to show the kids and I plan to video tape the kids making and playing with the oobleck for the teacher's webpage.
 
 
 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

"How to Make a Poster" Poster




I made this poster a few year ago from book I got from my mother-in-law (who found it at a garage sale). Here is a link to the book on AMAZON and better yet (!) a link to the FREE PDF of the book.

UPDATE - Apparently the PDF site is down. Luckily I downloaded it before it went down and I have it uploaded HERE.

I copied some of the templates from the book and made a "How to Make a Poster" poster (the kids think that is the funniest thing!).

I left it up on the wall and earlier finishers were directed to the poster to pick a layout to make a poster for the classroom on whatever topic we were covering at the time. This could also be used as a guide for a right hand poster assignment.

It currently resides in a friends classroom and she is using it in a similar fashion.

Social Studies, Art, ELA, and Paul Revere



I saw this in one of the hallways at a school I work in and I really liked the concept. The art teacher tied in learning about people in the American Revolution, jobs/apprenticeships, and art all in one activity.

I thought this would make a good "right hand" assignment in a notebook. The left hand side could contain the poem "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (YouTube has a pretty good dramatic reading of the poem - HERE). The poem could be introduced in an ELA class in relation to poets, stanzas, and rhyming schemes. The children would then make "silver" teapots for the right hand side of the notebook.

"Cell" Phone - Student Samples


I would like to thank Mrs. Johnson who allowed me to try out the "cell" phone activity in her 5th grade class. It went pretty well. It turned into a two day activity. I was hoping it could be done in one class period but with a "cell" intro and cutting out all the little pieces it ran into a second day (to finish cutting, matching, and gluing). The "cell" phone was a plant cell because of its shape.

Mrs. Johnson had another cell cut out activity for an animal cell and had students do it for their left hand assignment.

We listened to this cell rap song on YouTube, which the kids LOVED. I was thinking that the lyrics (which are listed in the "about" section of the song) could go on the right hand side with the phone going on the left.

Probably the best moment was when we were half way through the activity a 5th grader blurted out that he finally got why it was called a "cell" phone. Ha!


Monday, February 4, 2013

Rock Cycle Activity






Today I got to spend the day with a 3rd grade science teacher doing a rock cycle activity.

She had asked for help a couple of weekends ago to find some engaging rock cycle activities for her students. I quickly did a Pinterest search and came up with a link to a middle school blog where they featured a fun looking rock cycle station activity. That website took me to the originating activity site - Illinois State Museum Geology Online and their Ride the Rock Cycle activity.

I read through it and felt it was doable for third graders (although I was a little nervous about the cartooning). I offered my help and we put together the activity.

The kids did it WONDERFULLY. It was one of those lesson you wish was observed (but of course never is :) They are on an alternating science schedule so she only had two of the four classes today but it was a good sampling of children. She had one class that had a high portion of struggling learners and the second class had a high portion of gifted and talented children (so the lesson was completed across the spectrum and every child did wonderfully).

The children rotated between seven stations (see first picture - my printer was running out of ink!). The pictures aren't included in the activity but I thought they would be helpful for kids as they rotated. I printed out two copies of the cubes for each station and that was a GOOD idea (in fact I might recommend three copies of the cube - I color coded the stations and cubes with dots so that I could match the cubes to the right station - another GOOD idea). Some stations got a lot of kids and we had to wait awhile as they rolled and wrote down what happened to them (as a rock) at that station.

Once they were done I had five volunteers (individually) go to their first station, tell us as a group what happened, and we had to guess where they went (example: the child is at the volcanic station and told us that he became volcanic dust and went into the atmosphere and we guessed where he would go next). That is not in the instructions but worked as a review for us.

I modified the cartoon page in the activity to fit in the notebook (right hand activity - see bottom two pictures where they illustrated what happened to them in the rock cycle). Then I gave them lyrics to this song I found on YouTube - which we watched twice...once for viewing and the second time for participation to put on the other side of the notebook (the lyrics were put on the left hand side of the notebook - see fourth picture). I modified the song using Movie Maker Live to cut out the annoying bit in the beginning and end (which would have distracted the students I was working with).

The teacher, students, and myself all had a good time (learning) and the teacher is going to do it unassisted with her other two groups tomorrow.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Research Project - Illustrated Rubrics








As most readers know I am in a program getting my second master's degree in education from the University of South Carolina. This degree is focusing on elementary science education and I am in the last semester (insert happy dance!).

One of the big assignments I have to do is an action research project focusing on science. I decided to do my research on student self assessment and the impact of rubrics on notebook work. Mentally I have been playing around with the idea for a couple of years but since I left the classroom there was no real "push" for me. This project gave me the "push" I needed to implement.

Since I don't have a regular classroom this year I am using a friends classroom. I developed illustrated rubrics for five typical notebook assignments, each scored from a level of 1 (not great) to 4 (being the best work) - see bottom four pictures. I introduced the rubrics to her students and gave them an opportunity to grade pre-collected work samples from the class based on the rubrics (see pre-collected work samples in pictures 2 and 3). We discussed what the difference was between a piece of work scored at one and another scored at a four (children discussed the differences).

I put the rubrics in a bulletin board display (see first picture) for them to reference. For the next five weeks I will be teaching her Wednesday science class and giving them notebook assignments based on the five I have posted to see how they approach the work. I am giving them the opportunity to grade their work before turning it in on the posted scale of 1-4. I'm curious to see if discussing self assessment and giving them models will impact their effort, in turn impacting their material retention, in turn impacting their assessments.

Ideally  I would like to see students take more ownership of their learning and to identify that they are responsible for their grades.

I've taught one lesson and was impressed that all the students were working hard to get a 4. One child, who graded himself on his pre-collected work (foldable) at a 1 turned around and graded himself at a 4 on the next foldable he did (and it was a solid 3.5/4 work when I graded it).

I went with illustrated rubics because this is a low income school with many struggling readers. In the future I would like to put all these rubrics in a brochure that they reference in their notebook but I am not there yet (one day!).