Science Research

As some of you know already, this year a co-worker and I decided to try something different in science this year.

Instead of the traditional method of textbook reading, lecture, vocabulary, study guides, followed by a test- we have left it more open ended and formed research teams.

Our students are grouped into teams of 3-4. We have them create outline, research topics, take notes in outline, write it out. Markus, my co-worker, has done the traditional essay format while I’ve changed it up some with reflections, mini-books, recipes.

Sometimes there’s a topic that I feel should just be considered like a mini topic. Constellations was one of these.

So instead of the entire research process, we read a short informational text to figure out why we see different constellations at different times of the year. We had different opinions in why after reading. SO- I told them to use their textbook to see if they could clarify and then sketch their opinion on the board. This is what that looked like.


All in all it was an energetic science time with lots of reading closely(rereading) and a competitive spirit in the atmosphere.

Will have to do this again!

Partner reading in science

The kids read the science lesson today with a partner. I had given them the guide-o-ramas to use as they read OR they could go back and complete them after they finished reading the lesson. When I gave them out I went over it with them and explained that the objectives that were listed on the sheet would help them focus their reading on what needed to be understood and mastered. The lesson is 4 pages long, and it took them about 35 minutes to finish. Actually most were finished in about 20 minutes, but around 8 of them took longer.

We played bingo with our vocabulary terms-plus I added in a few more words from the lesson. I had them draw their own bingo card on paper with 9 squares. They got to write the vocab terms on any square in any order. After playing one round we added 6 more squares and words and played 2 more times. They were so engaged with it! I even let the winners pick something out of the prize box. πŸ™‚

I gave them a quiz today (10 questions). Out of 26 kids only 1 made a C. All the others made an A-and about 20 of those made a 100!! I couldn’t have been happier!!

I’m loving this science teaching!

I have been keeping up with the time that it is taking us to do each activity so that I will be able to plan accordingly next year. Hopefully! You know me and my planning! I ALWAYS plan too much!

I know that this lesson on the 9 planets was an easier one for them to understand, but I’m hoping that with the interactive and hands on activities that I plan for each lesson, that the kids will be successful in learning the content.

Of course, I already see an obstacle. We have 36 weeks in the school year. Each lesson will take about a week to cover. Guess how many lessons are in our textbook? About 84! Hmmm….I know I’m not the brightest bulb in the pack when it comes to math, but hello?????

AND-this earth science textbook for our 6th graders is an 8th grade book!! Come on people!! Where is the logic in that?

I asked Mr. Brady (who has taught 6th grade science for 8 years) how I’m supposed to cover everything. He told me I wouldn’t be able to. I asked him how high school teachers get it all covered, and he said they assign chapters and probably don’t “guide” the students through each lesson. So this is my thinking:

It’s better to understand a little then remember nothing. I will just have to skip a lot of lessons so that I can make sure they DO understand what I DO teach. πŸ™‚ Or else this is what I would end up doing:

Ahhhh…the joys of teaching!

How do you cover everything in a school year?

Chalk Solar System

Hopefully, you can see this grand solar system art!

This chalk solar system is one of a kind. πŸ™‚

We didn’t get much done today-actually come to think of it we haven’t gotten much done all week! We had high school awards day today, and since I am a PTO officer my bestie and I had to sort out 200 t-shirts. This took about 2 1/2 hours. Gulp.

My homeroom class was able to draw the solar system on the basketball court on the playground (anything to take us outside right now). πŸ™‚

I divided them into groups. Each group was assigned a planet. They had to find it in the science textbook and draw it on its orbit around the sun and label it. We learned a fun way to remember the planets in their order from the sun since that is one of the objectives in our lesson this week.

My Very Educated Mother Just Sold Us Nothing

Poor Pluto. He fell from stardom. I mean planetdom. πŸ™‚

When we went back into the classroom I gave them a little quiz. (I have to keep them on their toes right now!)

They had to list the planets in order, AND they had to sketch the solar system(just like we had done on the playground).

I’m getting hooked on this science teaching! πŸ™‚

On a sidenote: My 18 year old who is graduating next Saturday got a job at Winn-Dixie in the town where she will be going to college in the fall-25 miles from where we live. Woohoo!! Maybe I can afford to start buying books again! πŸ™‚

Do you ever have your students draw something to learn it or to show what they know?

Bio Poems in English

Last week we made “bio” poems about ourselves. Really, I guess they should be called “auto-bio” poems. πŸ™‚

The kids had a writing frame that they had to follow-it was very simple. I got it from Mrs. Gold’s website which is awesome! Here is a link to the bio poem frame on her website:Β

Instead of having my kids put their poem on their silhouettes, I just had them put it on plain white copy paper and decorate around their poem.

Here is a picture of the one that I did to show them as an example.

Β Can you tell I love color? And rainbows?

I took my favorite ones and some of my students put them in the hall today. Now mind you, they are my favorites because of the decoration not the actual poem. I’m a little shallow minded this close to the end of the school year! πŸ™‚

Don’t you love the designs??

So creative!!

We had our elementary awards day today-which by the way threw a kink into our schedule! This time of the year is so crazy!! It makes me crazy! πŸ™‚

Here’s a picture of all the 6th graders who received an award!

I know I said I would let you know all about our science lesson today, and yes I knew about the awards day, but our pe time was different which threw me off schedule, and then we went outside for a rather “long” time today. πŸ™‚

We ended up not switching classes today, but what we did with my homeroom class went very well I thought!

1. We activated our schema by writing on a sticky note anything that we already know about the planets. They put their sticky note on the bulletin board and had to read it aloud to the class. As they did this, I listed their schema in a list on the whiteboard. Each time someone repeated something that another student had already said I just put a check mark beside it instead of writing it again. This is what MOST of the students already know-There are 8 planets, and Pluto is not a planet! There were several students who knew things about the composition of the planets (gases, rings, oxygen, etc.), but not the majority of the class. πŸ™‚ There is work to do! πŸ™‚

2. We watched the National Geographic video (about 3 minutes long) about our solar system. I had the students draw 8 planets on a sheet of paper (randomly-not in order). They had to take notes throughout the video by writing facts down inside or beside the planets. I played the video twice. πŸ™‚

That’s all we got to do. This is what I have learned so far-

1. I am going to have to teach the kids how to listen and take notes “quickly”. I’ll make sure I do this the 1st week of school next year.

2. I am going to have to limit our discussions in science. Boy, do they want to share and ask questions and discuss it all. πŸ™‚ This is a good thing, but I’m going to have to build in a little time each day for this-otherwise I will just stress myself out trying to cover too much!

My best friend who teaches 4th grade brought in a baby bird that her kids found yesterday on the playground. I will post pictures later this week because I am too tired to do it now. πŸ™‚

How do you keep your students from straying too far off the guided path??


Science Guide-O-Rama

I’ll get to the science part in a minute, but first you must listen to this song by Justin Beiber. He’s singing to his mom, and YES it brought tears to my eyes and down my cheeks. πŸ™‚ My daughter played it for me this evening after we got back from her Senior Celebration Dinner hosted by the parents/grandparents of one of her classmates.

Just listen.

Now for the science stuff. I will be teaching 5th and 6th grade science next year instead of reading, and I have to tell you I am very excited! πŸ™‚

I’m so excited that I am going ahead and teaching science for the rest of this year to my current 6th graders so I can figure out what I want to do/time/what engages them, etc. (Always thinking ahead!)

I want to activate their schema about the topic, The Nine Planets. (Yes, this is an older science textbook-aren’t they all???) Actually, it is an 8th grade textbook, but I won’t get on that soapbox tonight. πŸ™‚

I’m going to give them a sticky note to write down 1 piece of schema. We will share it and put it on the board and leave it there for the remainder of the lesson. I guess we can add to it as we learn.

I want to really capture their attention at the beginning of a lesson-you know that “hook”. Of course, I have grand ideas and visions of experiments and such, but seeing as the old pocketbook budget doesn’t allow for much of that πŸ™‚ I will have to resort to video clips and things of that nature.

Here’s one from National Geographic that I am planning on showing them to introduce our lesson:Β

I’m thinking that I will show them the video the 1st time to hook them, and then show it a 2nd time to have them take notes? Not real sure about that.

I created a sort of study guide for them to interact with as they read the lesson. It’s known as a Guide-O-Rama. It’s purpose is to give them a focus as they read AND to help them interact with the text actively instead of just reading/word calling to say they read the lesson. I also added the vocabulary that I want to draw their attention to and understand and the objectives for the lesson as well as a place at the bottom for them to take notes either while they are reading or when they finish.

Science Guide-O-Rama

I’m anxious to see how the lesson goes tomorrow. If there’s anything that I’m truly bad at as a teacher, it is TIME MANAGEMENT!!!!! After 8 years of teaching you would think that I would have improved. No. I have not. I try to estimate how long each activity will last, but never really know until we do it! THAT’S why I’m wanting to try the science lessons out with my class this year to “sort of” have an idea for next year! And the hardest thing is-you guessed it-knowing how long it’s going to take each student to read the lesson. There are so many ranges of readers in each class. AND-as a former kindergarten teacher I feel the need to CONSTANTLY be doing something or saying something-I think I mess up their concentration sometimes and make things last longer because of that! πŸ™‚

I will try to be SILENT tomorrow as they read the lesson. It’s only 4 pages and not full pages. Maybe I will last. πŸ™‚

Tune in tomorrow night to see how it all went. We have Elementary Awards Day in the morning so that will be one kink in our schedule. πŸ™‚

How do you actively engage your students when they are reading informational text?

How do you figure out time management?