Thursday, July 26, 2012

Arrrrrrr: The 5R Model

Beaker as a pirate
No, I didn't become a pirate.  However, I did just read the summer issue of Science & Children, a publication distributed by the NSTA.  With an NSTA membership, you get your choice of educational journal to have delivered to you each month (highly recommended).  
The article that stood out to me was on vocabulary development for English Language Learners through a science unit.  The authors say, "Through the inquiry-oriented, activity-based science lesson, new language emerges as students discuss the concept being studied."  For a science unit or activity, figure out which words will be new to your students.  Vocabulary can be difficult for all students, especially ELL students.  Thinking about vocabulary instruction through the 5R Model could help.  
Here's the basics from my understanding of the article:
Reveal- Some content vocabulary doesn't have a comparable everyday word.  Reveal the word to your students.
Replace- Replace everyday words or descriptions with the new term.
Reposition- Teach students to use formal science talk rather than informal language through modeling.
Repeat- Throughout the lesson,  repeat the term in context.
Reload- After the lesson, continue to use the new vocabulary term.


Source: Methods and Strategies: A Science Lesson or a Language Lesson?
If you're a member the article is free.  If not, it's 99 cents.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Your Science Block and Integrating Science and Literacy

I've received a lot of questions from teachers on how I structure science instruction. Because I'm going from departmentalized to self-contained this year, I've been thinking a lot about how to integrate science.  When I first started teaching, I was responsible for 2 classes of science in a tested grade.  This was a scary, scary thought because in Texas, science has a tendency to be the low subject area.  Fear not!  Science can be a very exciting subject to teach!
These ideas come from think sessions with some of you, comments and feedback, and trial and error from my personal experience. 

Integrating Science
Science Content Literacy Station
If you use literacy stations... 
Include a Science Content Station. This includes ideas, posters, etc. to set up your Science Content Station with "I can" statements and student choice. 

If you're short on time...
Use Science Weekly Five to teach a variety of material in different ways. It only takes 15 minutes a day with students completing 5 stations on a particular topic during the week. A lot of teachers have told me they are using this to integrate science into their literacy block.

If you have extra computer lab time... 
Have students work on a science blog. Both you and the students can pose questions, answer, and share their knowledge. It's a fun way to incorporate writing and communication skills while integrating science. offers a safe and easy way to set up a classroom blog.

If you want to focus on vocabulary...
Include a variety of explicit vocabulary lessons, as well as authentic opportunities to use the new vocabulary terms. In the past, I have focused on a particular concept for the week with 4-7 vocabulary words that related to the topic.  Last year, I used these vocabulary packets to review at the end of a unit: Life Science and Earth Science.  

If you love picture books...
Use nonfiction and fiction read alouds to teach both science concepts and literacy skills.

If project-based learning (PBL) is your thing...
Science provides many topics to choose from as a driving question. Research skills, library skills, writing, nonfiction text features, science, and technology can all be integrated. 

My Science Block
In Ideal Teaching Land, this is what I would do for my science block in addition to other integration ideas I listed above. BEWARE: I have a problem with being overly structured, but this routine has worked very well in the past.  Some of you may swear by the 5E (or 7E) Model.  I utilize 5E, but sometimes use other activities and modes of instruction instead.  

I created this plan based on roughly 50 minutes of science instruction. 
2 minutes- Weekly Warm-Up 
10 minutes- Introduce new vocabulary 
20 minutes- Engage Activity (hands-on, picture book, video clip, etc.) 
20 minutes- Start new Science Weekly Five 
3 minutes- closing/review 

2 minutes- Weekly Warm-Up 
15 minutes- Science Weekly Five 
30 minutes- Explore activity, lab, or project 
3 minutes- closing/review 

2 minutes- Weekly Warm-Up 
15 minutes- Science Weekly Five 
30 minutes- Explain activity, lab, project, graphic organizer, or group activity 
3 minutes- closing/review 

2 minutes- Weekly Warm-Up 
15 minutes- Science Weekly Five 
30 minutes- Elaborate activity, project, or review 
3 minutes- closing/ review 

2 minutes- Weekly Warm-Up 
20 minutes- Science Weekly Five (finish up) 
15 minutes- short quiz 
15 minutes- activity to show understanding 

I know that many of you (especially if science isn't tested in your grade) don't have 50 minutes a day to teach just science.  In that case, you can do what you can to integrate science with literacy and math and include science activities when you can!  

I hope this answers any questions you may have.  If not, feel free to ask!  :)

Read all New ScienceTeacher posts.  

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Small Group Strategy: Photo Cards

If you're anything like me, you've been all over the Target dollar bins.  I've picked up their cards for space, landforms, and animals.  The cards have a photo on the front and some information on the back.  
Here's some ideas for how to use them:

1. Give each student a card and have them describe the card.  For animals, they might describe the adaptations, inherited traits and learned behaviors, or its classification.  For landforms, they may describe how that landform can be formed.  For space, you might have students describe the picture.

2. Give a pair of students two cards and have them compare and contrast their pictures/terms.

3. As a small group, sort the cards.  For animals, it might be into certain types of adaptations or traits.  For space, it may be by star, planet, or moon.  For landforms, it might be if they are formed constructively, destructively, or both.

4. As a group, look at one of the photo cards and make a list of all the ways you would describe the photo.  Using the list, have studente generate a description that would be great for the back of the card.  Then, compare it to the description on the card.

5. Create a writing prompt based on the photo that calls on students to use their scientific knowledge and what they observe in the photo.

6. Have students write 3 questions based on a photo, then have a partner answer them.

7. Sort the cards into different categories.  See if the students can figure out how they are classified.  Then, have students work together to classify the cards in a different way.

8. Look at a card and come up with a way to create a model to represent the process.  For example, if you have a picture of a canyon, work together to decide how you might model the creation of a canyon.   (Then, you can create the model during the next meeting!)

You can also get cards from Creative Teaching Press, Edupress, or print off photos you find online!
 I will be adding to this list from time to time with more great ideas.  Do you use photo cards?  How do you use them with small groups?

Check out my post on 10 Small Group Ideas!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Science Content Literacy Station :)

Science Content Station Tri-Fold
Do you have a Science Content station as part of your literacy stations?
This school year, I will be self-contained, so I was looking at how to integrate science and literacy.  As part of my literacy work stations, I will have a Science Content Station.  
I wanted to include a variety of activities students can choose from.  On the board I made, I have the "I can" activities so they can be changed out or added to over time as students learn how to do each activity and what is expected.
I've been working very hard and am so excited to offer this Science Content Station Pack!  I know everyone sets up their centers differently, so you can use a bulletin board, Tri-Fold board, or use binder rings to keep these in a small bin or basket.
~Title Card
~"I can" Card
~13 activity cards and 2 blank activity cards
~advice on what to include in each station
~Scientific Method Display Cards
~Physical Science Topics list
~Earth Science Topics list
~Life Science Topics list
~Measurement Tool Chart
~Displaying Data Card (Choosing the appropriate graph)
~Vocabulary Cards sample
~On Your Mural sample
~Blank Our Science Station Procedures Card (for listing your classroom's specific procedures)
~Sample Mini-Lab Card
~Reproducible Student Sheet: Picture Book Planner
~Reproducible Student Sheets: 3 Text Response Sheets
~Reproducible Student Sheet: Front/Back Student Inquiry Guide
You can purchase your Science Content Station Pack at my TpT Store.

Here are the things I am using in my Science Content Station:
A LOT of nonfiction science books (either purchased or from the school library)
Can Do! Science Games (for games)
Comprehension Cards (for answering questions)
supplies for inquiry project
science magazines
science articles printed from the web
white paper, index cards, lined paper, large white paper

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Back to School Welcome Baggies

On the first day of school, I have gallon bags made with everything the students will need for the day to set up supplies, take care of textbooks, get to know each other, etc.  It works very well and the first day is often flawless and organized, setting an appropriate tone for the rest of the year.  

In the Welcome Baggie
~What Good Readers Do bookmark
~name tag
~textbook card to record the book numbers (most times I've done this for  the kids; one time they did either way)
~sharpened Welcome to __ Grade pencil with cap eraser
~enough labels for them to label all folders, spirals, etc.
~Behavior Folder (or however you communicate)
~Take Home Folder (poly folder with labels on it and assignment sheets inside)
~Welcome Packet with coloring pages, word searches, etc. they can do as students arrive and any time you need to gather something or deal with an issue
~Welcome letter to parents
~Classroom Procedures Packet (includes what to do and how to handle pretty much any situation)

They don't have supplies!
Each year has really varied as to how many students brought all/some/no supplies, so I have a lot of things on hand in case they are needed.  As we are labeling, I walk around and check, then give supplies like notebooks and folders as needed.  I usually hold off on giving out supply bags, crayons, and markers because I do provide community supplies and students can use the baggie as a supply bag until they get one.  

Labeling Fun
For labeling folders and spirals with pre-printed labels, I make a baggie for each group that holds how many they need of each one, then hand those out as we are going over it.

Welcome Baggies for New Students
The best part that I started doing 2 years ago is making Welcome Baggies for students who come in later in the year.  After that first day, I gather all the extra baggies (I usually make about 5 extra), labels, folders, and spirals and put together Welcome Baggies.  This makes it super easy when new students come in later that week all the way up until the last week of school!

Do you use a Welcome Baggie or something like it?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Science Freebie! :)

This Science Interest Inventory Freebie is designed for upper elementary grades.  I love using interest inventories to find out my students' attitudes toward science and their preferred methods of instruction. 
While it doesn't affect WHAT is taught, it does affect HOW I teach it.  If no one finds landforms interesting, I know that I will have to find a more engaging way to teach that concept.  If everyone enjoys working in groups, I can use cooperative learning more often.
After I collect the Interest Inventories, I make some notes about what it popular and unpopular and how each student feels about science.  I  try to revisit this information every few months.

Get yours at my Teachers Notebook Store.
Get yours at my TpT Store.  
How do you use interest inventories?
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