Monday, September 23, 2013

Goal Cards for Students & Science Conferring

I started something new this year. I wanted to hold students more accountable for their own learning - so I created Goal Cards. Our Goal Cards are just a list of the "I Can" statements created from the COS Standards that I use while I am creating my lessons. When we start each new unit, I pass out these Goal Cards. We go over each goal to make sure that we understand exactly what we are learning. We talk about the importance of setting goals - (we even made an anchor chart at the beginning of the year) and we talk about how we can improve ourselves through goal-setting. There is also a space for students to create their own goals for science, as well as reflect upon their learning at the end of each unit.

Throughout the unit, I make sure that students know to go back to their goal cards to see how they're doing. Mid-way through our unit I *try* my best to meet with each student to check on them to see how they're coming along with their goals. (This is in addition to any other quick assessments that I am doing throughout the unit.) We go over their goal sheets while we confer and I take notes in a handy-dandy class notebook that I made specifically for mini conferences. I have 4 classes, so I needed a way to organize my notes in a way that is both easy for me to access AND easy for me to quickly see who I haven't met with. I print each class on pages that are side by side so that when I open the notebook, I can see who I've written notes for and who I still need to meet with without having to rummage through pages and pages of a binder. Each class is organized on a large grid and each student has a large space for me to write notes. I have about 9 students per page. It's working very well and I'm actually learning more about my students this year. I just printed it on regular paper and then used cardstock for a quick cover. I just bound it together using black plastic binding. It's going to come in really handy when it's time for 5th grade conferences - a 2-day span of back-to-back conferences with 75+ parents. Whew!

I meet with the students again once we've accomplished all of our class goals and we make sure together that we have everything checked off of our list. It's an easy way to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Peek of goal card:

I'm still struggling with conferences. Science conferences are very difficult to have. The students that I know are doing well - I have a hard time conferring with them. I just don't know what to say. And the ones that are struggling a little - I have to pry out of them what they are struggling with. I'm so inexperienced with conferences since I am a 2nd year teacher - but I think it's more that science is just really difficult to confer about. I can confer all day about writing and reading and math, but science - I'm struggling. Am I the only one? Do you have conferences for science? What are some good starter questions that I could use? Or anything that might help me! 

UPDATED - per request, click here to access all of my goal cards, along with my notes sheet for conferences. :)  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Cell Analogies & a Freebie

Love teaching my cells unit. I think this year if we finish the unit on schedule, I will make an edible cell and have a "cell-a-bration" with the classes. Ha!! I love the idea of edible cells, but I feel like that activity gets students so caught up in the eating part that they forget what the point of the activity is.

We are fortunate enough in my school to have the funds to purchase living organisms to view under the microscopes. We look at blepharisma, volvox, and vinegar eels. The kids LOVE it and I must admit I find these little unicellular creatures pretty cool myself!!

I also do my Cell Organelle Facebook project where the students work in groups to personify the organelles and make them a Facebook page. {Not a real one, a poster - but a real one would be very cool!!} In addition to these activities, this year, I am also including an activity that will hopefully help them remember the cell organelles and their functions. The Facebook project is always a favorite, but I'm afraid the functions of the organelles don't stick like I'd like them to. So, to help that, I am including this new activity. I'm putting this on my TpT store for FREE - so please check it out! I also have a Cells Alive! Packet that includes all of my cell unit activities. I'd love for you to check that out as well! {Click here.} Here's a peek at the freebie that I'm putting up on TpT. I hope it helps!