Monday, April 30, 2012

Science Motivation Mondays: The Gen Y Kid--Part 3

Students these days are so in tune with technology.  They use technology as much as they can in their own spare time, but have limited opportunities at school.  You can incorporate technology into science instruction to motivate these students.
The only technology I have in my classroom is computers, a projector, and an overhead (is that even technology??).  I know those of you with Smartboards LOVE day, one are some things I have done/want to do with technology to reach those techy kiddos!

~ Use a document camera to observe natural objects. 
~ Use to set up Science Blogs.  Check out my How To Guide here.  
~ Make a science music video.  I filmed my classes rapping about rocks and edited it with Movie Maker...soooo fun!
~ Bring in robotics.  Some universities have programs they sponsor to enrich elementary classrooms.  
~ Have students email experts in the field or blog with them.
~ Use online activities like the ones on BBC Science K2 Bitesize.
~ Do projects that involve researching online or creating using Kidpix, Inspiration, Publisher, Power Point, Word, etc.
~ When students have questions you can't answer, have them look up information online.

~ Check the phases of the moon anda weather online.

IF I can ever get access to Smartboards, iPads, and all that other fun stuff, I will certainly add to this list!  :)

What have you done in your science classroom with technology?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Science Motivation Mondays: Part 2

My personal goal is to have every student engaged in what we are doing in science class.  For most students, this is natural.  However, there are other students that are more difficult to reach to have them totally consumed by what you are doing in class.  

Motivating the "I love every other subject, but I hate science!" Kid
This was me as a child.  It was like pulling teeth to get me to learn science... BORING!  These are often your star students, so they will often do what you ask simply because you asked them to, but they need motivation too!  You can integrate other subjects into science to motivate these students.

Ideas to motivate your Star Students that don't like science:
-use a variety of activities each week or day if possible
-learning stations
-show your enthusiasm for science (even if you have none!)
-create a children's book about the topic
-teach a short mini-lesson for younger students
-make a board game about the topic
-conduct research online to extend learning
-integrate social studies by connecting ideas (like natural resources and early settlers)
-cooperative learning (Duh!)
-peer tutoring (Have the student peer tutor a student who is struggling.  Both students will grow!)
-use picture books with scientific concepts that students will enjoy and learn from
-take it outside (involve the natural world in your lesson)
-computer activities (I will include more about this in my post on motivating the Gen-Y kid)

A lot of these ideas may seem obvious, but I think it's nice to have a go-to list of ideas to motivate your students!  What have you tried to do to motivate your "stars who don't like science"?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Science Motivation Mondays: Project-Based Learning- Part 1

For my Action Research class, I studied how project-based learning affects achievement and motivation. My students really surprised me in what they accomplished over the course of the project.  I gave surveys before and after PBL to gauge their thoughts and experiences.  I am going to try PBL again next month after testing.  Here are some hints based on what I learned!

Project-Based Learning is a pedagogy technique developed in the early 1990s and is different from normal classroom projects.  Blumenfeld, Soloway, Marx, Krajcik, Guzdial, & Palincsar (1991) described project-based learning as relatively long-term, problem-focused, and meaningful tasks that emphasize the role of the environment and assign meaning to new ideas.  According to the research, PBL consists of five main components:
1.   A driving question
2.   Investigations
3.   Artifacts
4.   Collaboration
5.   Technological tools

Successful PBL requires the following:
•       Significant teacher preparation
•       Effective classroom management
•       Scaffolding
•       Goals
•       Student choice

For the PBL experience I developed for my students, I did the following things.
1.   I developed a driving question and four possible projects students could complete to answer the question.
2.   I created a hotlist of websites and pulled resources from the library to help students conduct their research.
3.   I assigned groups, had groups choose their project, and assisted students in developing goals for their group.  They shared their goals and I reminded them of those goals throughout the completion of the project.
4.   We developed rules for PBL as a class and identified resources if they needed assistance.
5.   The students got to work on their research and artifacts, which lasted about a week and a half. 
6.   I displayed the projects for the following two weeks.  Many students stopped by to view the students’ work.  

Here is what the students' project sheet looked like.

Rainforest Project
The Amazon Rainforest is in danger and you can help to save it!  You have learned a lot about the rainforest and can use your knowledge to help.   Here are your project choices:
1. Create a poster to encourage others to protect the rainforest.
            Make sure you include the following:
a.     a catchy title or sentence to get people’s attention
b.     visually appealing (colors, neatness, writing, pictures)
c.      include ideas for what people can do to help
d.     explain why it is important to conserve
2. Create a diorama of the rainforest using a small box to educate younger children.
            Make sure you include the following:
a.     signs or labels of important parts of the rainforest (medicinal plants, etc.)
b.     research medicinal plants that can be helpful to people to include
c.      describe some of the animals are endangered and WHY 
3. Write a letter to the president explaining why you think rainforest conservation is important.
            Make sure you include the following:
a.     research what is currently being done to help the rainforest
b.     research what is NOT being done to help the rainforest
c.      explain your research in your letter in your own words
d.     give ideas for what needs to be done and WHY
4. Choose an endangered animal in the rainforest and create a poster or model to educate others about the animal.
            Make sure you include the following:
a.     what has happened to make your animal endangered
b.     what needs to be done to help your animal
c.      the adaptations your animal has to help it survive in the rainforest and WHY it cannot survive in a different habitat
Work in groups of 3 to complete your project.  The project should be completed during class time by using your time wisely.  Use your library time and computer time.   Always stay on task and create a quality project. 
You MUST research your topic before beginning your project.  Be sure that you are showing what you have learned about the rainforest in the project that you turn in.  You will present your project to the class on or after the due date.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I'm on Twitter! And I have an actual personality!

Yesterday, I stated the following:

"I have GOT to take a break from blogging for a bit and write a bunch of papers and plan some presentations so my university will give me my M.A. in 3 weeks!  Booooooo!  I also need to find a place to live and find a teaching job because I am moving to Austin!  I will be back!"

I am a liar just can't stay away.
Anyway, I'm on Twitter now and I plan to actually have a personality on there.  I'm always business business business on my blog, but I really am a real person and I've been told by at least two people (that are not my parents) that I am hilarious.  So, if you want to experience all the wit of The Science Penguin, follow me on Twitter.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Guest Blogging Today!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter...I traveled 1500 miles to see my honey, but I'm back!  And, I passed my comps, so I will have my Masters in just a few weeks!  :)

I am super excited to have my first own guest blogger gig!  Misty from Think, Wonder, & Teach invited me to share some of my science teaching tips with her readers.  Head on over to Think, Wonder, & Teach to read my guest post!

Welcome to the readers of Think, Wonder, & Teach!  I am so excited to have you visit my site and I have a very special gift for you!  I am offering my Science Weekly Five Start-Up Kit for FREE!!!  Get your freebie at The Science Penguin Store!  

Find me on Facebook to stay up to date! :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Science Motivation Mondays!

Isn't it always sometimes difficult to get motivated on Mondays?  Today, I'm starting a five part series of posts focusing on motivation in the science classroom that will come out every Monday for the next month.  How fun is that!?
A lot of students love's full of mystery and excitement.  This first blog post will focus on the different types of students that may not be as motivated or excited when it comes to science. Of course every child is different, but figuring out what interests a student has can help you find ways to motivate them in science!

The "I love every other subject, but I hate science!" Kid
This was me as a child.  These are often your star students, so they will often do what you ask simply because you asked them to, but they need motivation too!  You can integrate other subjects into science to motivate these students.
The "I love art" Kid
I have so many artistically talented students this year that really enjoy the artistic aspects of assignments.  You can include the arts to help motivate these students.
The "Gen Y" Kid
Students these days are so in tune with technology.  They use technology as much as they can in their own spare time, but have limited opportunities at school.  You can incorporate technology into science instruction to motivate these students.
The "Perpetually Bored" Kid
The "perpetually bored" student doesn't really seem to be engaged in any assignment you give.  They may participate, but they don't like it.  They may choose not to participate at all.  You may here muffled noises coming from their direction when you are explaining a project the rest of the class is excited about.  Honestly, I'm STILL trying to figure out what will motivate students who don't like school, so I'll be looking for a lot of input from my teacher bloggers!

I'm hoping that we can all share what we do to motivate these students as I write about motivating students with particular interests and describe successful strategies I have tried.  I'm hoping we can all share some great ideas that will motivate students with particular interests to succeed!

To start off Motivation Mondays, does anyone have any strategies that have worked to motivate students, particularly in science?  I would love to compile a list of ideas and strategies for us all to use!

The Science Penguin
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