Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Made It!

I love linking up with Tara from 4th Grade Frolics for several reasons. One, I get to see {and steal} lots of awesome, creative ideas from literally hundreds of teachers. I love this. Second, I get to be a part of a linky party, which I love. Next, it makes me look forward to Mondays and I've never really been able to say that! And finally, I get to show off some of the stuff I've done. It's just so much fun to share, inspire, and be inspired and I'm so thankful to Tara for hosting these each Monday!

Each of my Monday Made Its are school related this time. I've been crazy busy frantically putting together the small things that will ultimately pull my classroom together!

This is my before and after shelf project. And that's chalkboard paint you see there in the final pic! {the black, not the obnoxious green} I plan on letting the kiddos draw on it or maybe label the stuff I will put on it. We'll see!

I made this absentee folder so that students can take responsibility for what they miss. We do have class jobs and one of those is "substitute". It's their job to fill out the "While You Were Out" form and help out their absent classmates upon their return. {Of course, I do a quick check to make sure that the folder has all materials that they need. But it's mainly up to the students!}

Last, I created my own bulletin board border from my background on this blog. It didn't turn out as cute as I thought, but I still thought I'd share it. :)

So go ahead and link up with Tara on this Monday Made It!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Which Diaper Holds the Most Liquid?

I have been working hard on coming up with simple consumer product tests that my students can do in the classroom. It's harder than you'd think! I thought up a lot of them that can be done over a period of time, but I'm specifically trying to develop experiments that they can do in 1 or 2 days max so that they can practice following through with the Scientific Process and get some practice recording their data in their science journals. Below is a list of tests that you could do in the classroom {with just collecting a few household items - or asking parents to send with their child}.

I'm demonstrating my own test that I conducted using different chewing gum brands. I wanted to see which gum holds its flavor the longest. I will record all of my info in my journal and show it to the students, just as I expect them to do throughout the year as we conduct awesome experiments. Here's an example of how students could record their data {in "Scientific Method" format.}

From the top, here is the critical information that students need to make sure they are recording as they conduct experiments:
Title of the experiment
Question that is being tested
A brief description of the experiment
Data, in chart form if applicable

Communication is not pictured, but implied. Students will always present their results in class.{informally or formally, depending on the format of the experiment and the required assignment}

As the year moves forward,  I will explain to students that to make this a more fair experiment, I would want to do this same experiment at least 3 times and collect the average flavor times. However, this activity is primarily focused on getting students used to the idea of recording their experiment data in an organized way and following through with the scientific process. The following week, I will introduce the concepts of controlled experiments and variables. Students will understand the differences between the types of variables (controlled, independent and dependent} and will know to include this information in their recordings of later controlled experiments. {This information would be placed under Data}

Here is the list of consumer science experiments that you could use in your classroom during the first few weeks of school to get them used to the idea of asking more investigative questions and get them practicing with recording their experiment data.

1. Does bubble gum really produce bigger bubbles than chewing gum?
2. Which carpet cleaner cleans Kool-Aid stains the best?
3. Which stain stick cleans Kool-Aid stains best?
4. Which popcorn brand produces the most popped kernels in X amount of time?
5. Do different brands of bubble gum produce the same size bubbles?
6. Which chocolate tastes better - generic or Hershey's? (This would be a survey experiment)
7. Which permanent markers are the best?
8. Which hairspray holds stronger against wind?
9. Which brand of glue has the strongest bond?
10. Which diaper holds the most liquid?

There are so many more experiments like these that could be conducted over a period of time - such as which freezer bags prevent freezer burn the best? Or which tooth whiteners are the best? And which batteries last the longest? But in order for my students to just practice with coming up with good, testable experiments that are quick - the above work just as well!

If you teach solely science like I do, you could also invite students to continue this trend of thinking and create their own long-term experiment on their own time. Then set aside certain days of the month to allow students to present their findings. I call this "Mad Scientists" in my classroom and hope that my students will take advantage of it throughout the year!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

First Week of School

Ok teachers! It's officially getting down to the wire. It's time to start planning those back to school activities! I love these types of activities, personally, and I am thrilled to be already planning them.

I posted earlier about my Daily Discovery that I will be using everyday as a tool to get my students to come in and get focused. The Daily Discovery tasks will be anything from trivia questions to logic to common sense to just plain silliness. However, during the first week of school, these tasks will be focused on procedures, getting to know each other, and general back-to-school stuff. I just wanted to share these ice-breaker type activities in case some of you out there are struggling to find something awesome and engaging to do during the first few days back.

In addition to the Word Scramble that I mentioned in my earlier post {listed below}, I also plan to have a "Snowball Fight". What?! A snowball fight in August? Yep! Students will write down three things about themselves on a piece of paper that they think is interesting. Then, they'll wad them up and once everyone is ready, we'll throw them around the room in snowball-fight fashion! After a few minutes (or seconds...) students will pick up the "snowball" that's closest to them and introduce that person to the class. Of course, Mrs. Brown will participate in ALL get-to-know-you activities of the week!

Since the first day will be devoted to introducing procedures, the second day will be the day that we make sure everyone understands what's expected of them in my science lab. Hence, the "Around the Room" questionnaire. Day two will also be the first day of real instruction. We don't mess around at BWF Elementary!

By today, we're hopefully on a roll and we understand the way our little science world works. Now it's time to get to know our new friends! The snowball fight provided a mini-intro for each student, but now we want to know lots more about each other. And we'll do that with a Human Scavenger Hunt! This isn't a new concept, but I really like it and think it is appropriate for fifth graders.

Okay, today will be the first "real" Daily Discovery question. But I threw in a little something about myself to make it a little more fun. This task involves putting dogs in order by weight, according to the clues. But the dogs just so happen to be characters from Mrs. Brown's real life! Layla is my dog, Foxie, Sammie and Roscoe are my momma's dogs, and Otter is my little sister's dog. Of course, I will introduce this fun fact after the students have completed the task.

Week wrap-up! By this time, I will be thanking my lucky stars that I survived the week! But I also want to give students the opportunity to reflect on everything that has just been thrown at them. What are the excited about? Nervous about? Want to learn more about? This is the perfect opportunity to implement a "Dear Me" letter. Each student will write a little to himself/herself that will outline any or all of these things, plus anything else they want their future self to know about. I will collect and save these letters and at the end of the school year, I will pass them back out. It will be important for students to have tangible evidence of how much they will have changed by the end of the year! And even though I teach science, I still strive to incorporate all subjects, especially writing. And yes, Mrs. Brown will definitely be writing a letter to herself, too!

I hope these have given you some ideas that you can use during the first few days of school! I would love to hear any new ideas as well! It's never too late to go back and change my plans or incorporate another activity!!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday Made It!

I'm linking up with Tara from 4th Grade Frolics to share my "made it" this fine Monday morning. I have two Monday Made Its and one is very much non-classroom related. I already posted about my bulletin board, but I love, love, love it so much that I wanted to share it again, with the hopes of inspiriting another science teacher out there! So here it is. My Scientific Method Bulletin Board! I used cardboard scraps to cut out and paint the large shapes - the lightbulb, question mark, eye and the beaker. Then I just used t-pins to give them a 3D effect on my board. I plan on keeping this up all year! {Unless I get tired of looking at it...but the kids will use this process all year, so I thought it would be fitting to keep it up.} Anyway, I just think it's so much fun. AND it's my very first bulletin board EVER in life. {I am going into my very first year as a teacher this fall!! HOORAY!}

My second Monday Made It is a Home Monday Made It. It's my necklace hanger/organizer thingy! I love it! I just bought a piece of a 2x1 (or some derivative of that size), spray painted it with a bronzish/browinsh color that had the hammered texture {Hobby Lobby} and then bought some little drawer knobs. I LOVE the way they turned out!! (I made two since my necklace collection is ridiculous.} Thanks, Pinterest!! Love it.


So head on over to Tara's blog and link up with her infamous Monday Made It!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Wizard Challenge

I have finally completed my Wizard Challenge! I have to admit that this was a challenge even for ME! I had to look up a ton of science stuff and then I had to determine which questions should fit into each level and THEN I had to make sure I knew the answers to my own Challenge Questions!! Ha!!

I mentioned this Wizard Challenge in previous post. This Challenge was adopted and adapted from Mrs. Heather Renz - a teacher in Oregon who implements a "Mastery Club" in her classroom. I love the idea of this and wanted to use it in my science classroom for those students that find themselves wanting more of a challenge. Our Wizard Challenge is a collection of questions that are categorized into three labels: Junior Wizard • Wizard • Senior Wizard. Each level has 25 questions, all of which get progressively more difficult. Students that wish to participate in the Wizard Challenge will be allowed to do so on their own time. Students will be quizzed either at recess or lunch, or any time that the class is not involved in other projects or instruction.

I plan on allowing students to decide whether or not they want to participate in the Challenge. There will not be a grade for this, but it is a great tool to use for those students that finish early and announce "I'm Done!" I will have this along with other options (which I will post about as the year moves on) to cure the "I'm Done" epidemic in my classroom.

So without further adieu, here are the Challenge questions! I hope this may provide some inspiration for you!

Ohh! One more thing. I started my very first Wiki. Check it out here! It will soon be moving to my school system's domain, but hopefully, you can still get some good ideas from it while it's floating around in public land for now.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bulletin Boards Galore!

I finished the three main bulletin boards that are in my classroom over the weekend! I am so happy with the way they turned out.

My first one is the Scientific Method bulletin board. I wanted to put something up that would remain permanent throughout at least the first half of the school year. This is something that the kids will use daily in my science classroom. I took some cardboard and cut out the shapes (well, my buddy Deanna did...) and then we painted them with just acrylic paint. I used t-pins to stick them up to the board to give them a 3D effect.

Next is my Let's Talk Science (Word Wall). Incidentally, I'm teaching The Scientific Method the first 2 weeks of school - so I've placed the unit title in the middle. I will change that page out as we go through our different units of study. I am going to pin up the words by just writing them on oversized index cards and using regular push pins. This way, I won't have to change out the background (unless I get tired of it halfway through the year.)

Finally, my Wizard Challenge Wall. It's missing the Challenge Rules there on the left where that black page is - but they will be posted soon. Then I will stick the challenges in those blue folders. I will be writing a whole post that will be devoted to explaining {and sharing the contents} of this challenge wall. I mentioned it in an earlier post, but it's similar to Heather Renz's "Mastery Club". 

Hope you find some inspiration in these!