Friday, June 29, 2012

Teaching the Scientific Method

First week of lessons are officially ready to G.O. Check. In the BAG.  I am super-duper ahead of myself and guess what?! -- it's very liberating!!

My year kicks off with an in-depth look at what the Scientific Method entails. It's very simple to understand, but I think it's extremely important for my scientists to understand WHY it's necessary to develop your own logical and pensive hypotheses and then follow through with the rest of the process. It's also beneficial to see that this scientific method isn't just "more work and writing" for them to do. Because it's REALLY not.

And what better way to kick off the school year than to show the Scientific Method in authentic form?! {Que MythBusters music}. Yes. MythBusters. They are hysterical guys that definitely define the Scientific Method in each and every hilarious episode. I love that show! And I will be playing a portion of one of the episodes for my 5th graders the second day of school. [Note: sometimes, these guys have to be censored for their whoopsies, but you can still show the meat of the episode. Just skip over the whoopsies and play the portion of the episode that shows the question, the hypothesis and then the experiment. MOST episodes don't get crazy until after the experiment is over and then they go berzerk. Those guys!! Ha! Here's a clip from the Mentos and Coke myth.

So you see - they're pretty good to use to demonstrate the Scientific Method. I also created a worksheet that can basically be used for any MythBusters episode. Click right here to download it for yourself.

Just wanted to share because I really thought using a MythBusters episode was a terrific way to show kids the Scientific Method in action. Hope you find it useful!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Daily Discovery

Still getting geared up for my very first classroom! I'm so excited because this weekend - it's going D.O.W.N. I finally get to get in there and start putting up some of the stuff that I've made. I cannot wait to see how it all looks once it's up!! Here's sneak peek:

These are the contents of two bulletin boards, actually. And it's only a small fraction of them. I really can't wait to see what they are going to end up looking like. {Probably like NOTHING I had in mind, but the effort is the thing that really counts...}

Moving on! I have been working on the first day of school stuff. You know, the getting the kiddos acclimated to my obsessive-compulsive requirements, showing them around the room, and scaring the bee-gee-zees out of them with all of my rules and warnings.  I'm trying to thing of cute activities to do with them {or have them do together as groups}. I've found a few things, but I really love the Saving Fred activity. Have you seen this? Too cute! AND they get a candy snack on the first day. Who's their new favorite teacher? That's right. I am. I stumbled upon this blog and found the activity, though I have NO IDEA how the heck I found it. I do that a lot. I actually had to dig into the search history of my computer to find something just tonight that I could not re-find if my life had depended upon it. It took about 45 minutes, but I found it. And now I've forgotten what it was all over again. Good thing I Pinned it. Sheesh.

Speaking of StumbleUpon - have you been there yet? DON'T DO IT. It's like Pinterest, but worse. Once you're sucked into the abyss of that mess, you'll never make it out. The other night I was on my iPad and it had a full 100% charge when I started. By the time I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer (some 5 hours later) - my poor iPad had 11% battery left. And let me just say that I only charge my iPad about once every week and a half, normally. Steer clear of it, friends. It's like a drug.

I'll leave you with this spectacular idea that I thought was my own creation. Incidentally, lots of teachers out there like to start their day with already having something for the kiddos to do when they barge into their quiet haven at 7:45 in the morning. Who'd a thunk it?! It's like "morning work"...only not. It's for "grown up" kids. Introducing my take on morning work...Daily Discovery! Kiddos will answer trivia questions that will require more thought than trying to solve a simple math or science problem. These will just be brain busters, and sometimes they will be related to science, but mostly it will be a "brain break" for them that won't have anything to do with anything. I'll put it on the projector every morning {and throughout the day, since I'm departmentalized} and there will be something different each day. I have the first five days set up already! Woo!! Here they are, in case you want to see the format. I got the trivia questions here. EXCELLENT resource!! I've also found SO MANY new and extremely useful resources over the past few weeks. Go to my Pinterest board called "Science Wizards." You'll be so glad you did!!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Template Time

OK, so I have been known to totally and completely spazz out when it comes to lesson plans and how to organize them and where to keep them, blah, blah, blah. Last semester I went through 30,000 different ways to keep myself "organized". It was a disaster. So, I am vowing right here and now to come up with a simple plan, follow it, and stick to it throughout the year. {Talk to me in May 2013 and see how that went for me...}

Anyway, so as a first year teacher, I know that I will need a set of weekly plans to use as a gauge and I know myself well enough to know that I will also need to use some sort of detailed planner for the first month or so, until I get my bearings.  Below are what I have developed for myself. The weekly one is so simple, I didn't think I needed to include the download of it, but if you want it, leave a comment and I'll send you a link. Here is the more detailed plan. Just change the information to yours, obviously. Hope it helps!

Share what you use to organize your weekly lessons! I always love ideas.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Science Journals

My little wizards are going to actually be scientists this school year. They won't be just doing things scientists do - they will actually be scientists. The only difference will be that they won't be getting paid. Unless you consider knowledge payment. Which I do. So, actually there is no difference.

Because my wizards {by the way, I am calling my students wizards because 1. the word wizard is awesome and can be used as an adjective or a noun and 2. I associate science with Mr. Wizard, who was a fantastic science man that had a super fun show called "Mr. Wizard's World" when I was growing up. And I just showed my age. So that's why I call them wizards. They are wizard scientists. Note the adjective use of the word here.} Anyway, because my wizards are scientists, they will have science journals. Real science journals that they will record hypotheses, experiment successes and failures, results, doodles, and ideas.

I am serious about making sure I incorporate writing, reading, and math in my science classroom. I know that these journals will aid in making sure that incorporation is authentic. I have some criterion in mind and with the help of, I was able to put together a plan for what my science journals will actually look like.  I've also come across an actual Science Notebooking blog! I used that, too for inspiration on developing the perfect science journal. Here is the informal criterion that I am toying with.

1. Each journal will be decorated/designed by the student. They will have the freedom to be creative in adding their own personal touches on them.

2. Each journal will have a table of contents.  New units, experiments, foldables/handouts, and vocabulary will be recorded on the table of contents for simple organization.

3. Pages will be numbered about 10 pages at a time, ONLY on the lower right-hand page. It will just be easier to organize that way.

4. Students will record some experimental data in their notebooks, while other experimental data will be recorded on sheets to be turned in. This will be to my discretion and will be based on the experiment. Students will also be encouraged to take notes, draw mind maps, and doodle ideas for future experiments in their notebooks.

5. Vocabulary will be kept on index cards and taped inside. Students will write the word on the lower portion of the index card so that the word can always be seen, no matter how many vocabulary words there are. Definitions should be in their own words and will be printed on the flip side so that they can be read once taped in and flipped.

6. Journals will be kept in green crates in the classroom. They will be reviewed every Friday to check for participate, organization and accuracy of facts.

That's really all I have for now. I'm sure lots of things will change as I continue developing lesson plans and adding criteria for the journals. I just love the idea of keeping students accountable for what they learn. More importantly, I really think that students will be able to use these notebooks as a studying tool. This way, whatever we learn in September will be able to be recalled in January, if need be.

I am making my own science journal as I type this. I just finished planning the first two weeks of school and I am creating some foldables and "mind maps" for the first unit, which is the Scientific Method. Pictures of the first examples to come.

I heart science journaling!!! 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Project Get Room Ready Part 2

Here I am on a Thursday afternoon. I feel like I have gotten NOTHING done and I've been in this office of mine ALL DAY. I never realized how involved getting a classroom together REALLY IS!!! I guess that's because I've never had my own classroom......

I have a long, long list of things to do/make/buy. This is what it looks like:

It seems like I have all of these great ideas and then when I start to create what I have in mind, it ends up being very stupid and not at all what I had envisioned in my brain. And unfortunately, because I am still a Graphic Designer at heart, I REFUSE to buy pre-made bulletin board letters and accents. I just have to make them myself. Silly me.

I DID manage to layout/design my first bulletin board. I can't get in my room until next week because they are waxing the floors. So, I'm improvising. I measured out the dimensions of one of my smaller boards and taped off an area on my floor in my home office to use as a guide so that I could set up all of my stuff. Here's a pic of it in the early, early stages: {VERY early. It will be much cuter once it's done.}

The idea came from Mrs. Heather Renz's Mastery Club. It's to curb the "I'm done" epidemic with something other than "Read a book!" I will post LOTS of details about it, including pictures of the completed wall once I get it up and running. Should be later next week.

I also created a set of posters that I am having printed at Vista Print for my cabinets:

Found this idea on Pinterest. Love.

And what lab is complete without Lab Rules? For my fifth graders, I had to make them less juvenile and more sarcastic. Maybe they will actually follow them!!

 So, okay. Maybe I actually have done a lot today. It just seems like I can't get out of this "I don't know where to start" rut. So much to do and definitely so little time!! August 20th will be here before I even know it!! Stay tuned. Lots more fun stuff to come!