Sunday, January 27, 2013

Process Skills Test Prep and a Giveaway

This morning, I saw that I hit 4 digits on the number of followers at my TpT Store!  Whoa!
So, I'm giving away $30 worth of Science Penguin products (your choice!) to one lucky winner/ follower.  It begins January 28 and runs to February 2.  Just follow the directions below--there are just a couple of ways to enter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Process Skills
I've been working for a while on Science Process Skills.  It's a collection of higher order thinking questions that can be used as test prep materials.
Each question comes with a large teacher page and then a black/white page with 4 questions on each for students.  It's half off for the first day (1/27).
A reminder for you...I've been known to put things on sale the first day a product is posted.  If I do, I post on Facebook with that info.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Ready for Some Water Cycle Fun?

Next week, my class will be learning about the water cycle.  Because this is something they are usually pretty familiar with by 4th, we are focusing on a few vocabulary words, doing some observations, a super fun simulation game, and a journal activity.
I absolutely adore the water cycle simulation game.  There are several free versions of this on the web, but my favorite is from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  You put up signs in different parts of your room for lake, soil, river, plants, ocean, etc.  Each station has a cube to roll.  Students travel through the water cycle as a drop of water.

I draw out a pretty amateur map of the classroom with where each station is and have the students draw a line from station to station.  For example, if they go from lake to clouds to glacier then glacier, then ocean, they draw a line from lake to clouds to glacier, then draw a tally mark for glacier, then draw a line to ocean.  
I've also had them fill out a chart with the reasons they traveled from place to place.  There's many ways to record it, but I think it's important that they record where they traveled in order to make generalizations.
After the activity, I have them look for any patterns or things they noticed and record it.  Then, they look for patterns in their groups.
We talk about the patterns as a class to form generalizations (e.g. you may stay in a glacier a long time because the water stays frozen OR you may never visit plants because the drop of water spends more time in clouds and the ocean.)
Write about it!
You can print off station signs and cubes for free here.

We are using the cut-outs from my Earth Science Interactive Notebook for a journal entry.  Students will also describe the terms in their own words.  There's a Magic School Bus for the Water Cycle, too!

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Rainbow Reading Challenge

I invite you to join me in a Rainbow Reading Challenge!  I saw a post from Second Grade with Mrs. Wade and was inspired.  Her students were working on stamina and she used a chain to record and celebrate their progress.  Each student has a chain in the room.

{Ahem...I realize this is not exactly science-related, but if the kiddos are reading more science nonfiction, it is!}

My fourth graders have decent stamina when it comes to reading, but I want to encourage them to read more, try more nonfiction, and track the types of books they are reading.  I also want to celebrate my awesome readers!

So, an hour ago, I came up with the Rainbow Reading Challenge...
Tomorrow, I will introduce this to the kiddos and get all of the materials together!  Below is the key for how this is going to work.  Students get a chain link to complete when they have a particular accomplishment.  The chain link is the color shown.  

Green = 1 fiction chapter book read
Orange = 1 nonfiction book read
Yellow = Book over 250 Pages-- Extra link given for any book over 250 pages
Blue = Reading Log-- As much as I don't like reading logs, I want a link for students who complete their at-home reading log for the week.
Pink = Awesome Reader-- This can be given for anything that's awesome.  Maybe a kiddo does a fantastic job on their Reader's Response Journal.  Maybe they go a great job in small group.  Who knows?  It's available for any situation that comes up that makes a kiddo and AWESOME reader.

What do they get, you may ask?  Well, they get the joy of reading!  I want to keep it all about reading!
I'm thinking this--I'll have a giveaway for some books and students will get an entry for each link on their chain.  I won't tell them this until later on though.  Shhhh...don't tell!

Here's the link I'll have them fill out for each book.  For Awesome Reader, I'll have them write what makes them an awesome reader on the pink chain link!  Just run these off on the different colors, cut, and voila!

Here's a pic of it set up in my room with the chains ready to go!  
If you would like a PDF of the pages above to join me in the challenge, please leave me a little comment and grab it at my Google Docs.

Monday, January 7, 2013

5 Fun Ways to Spice Up Science Vocab Review

Looking for fun ways to review science vocabulary?
Even if you aren't in a testing grade, it's still important to make sure your students remember concepts and vocabulary later in the year.  I'm working on that now that I am no longer in a testing grade for science.  I know the students will need to know those terms next year for STAAR.  And I'm nice enough to try to make it easier on their 5th grade science teacher.  ;)

Whole Class Match Me
Give each student an index card and assign them either a science vocab word or a definition (this saves you some work!).  Then, have students walk around to find the person with the card that matches theirs.  Then, have students switch up their cards and find the person that matches their new card.  Continue until you have completed the activity 8-10 times (or until you are tired of it).

"Crossword" Puzzles
So, it's not technically a crossword.  I love crosswords and I love my NYT crossword app.  Anyway, I think it's called a criss-cross.  The one below is for earth science.  You can click the pic to download it for free from GoogleDocs.  It even has an answer key!  Whoa baby!
If you're nice to me, I may create more of these puzzles and give to you.  So be nice!

Vocab in a Flash
Got 3 minutes to spare?  Do Vocab in a Flash!  When I taught more than one class of science, I made this a competition between the classes, but you could do other things to make the game more cutthroat.  

I had a stack of 20ish cards with vocabulary words on them.  I would describe the word on the card and the students would have to say the word.  Then, I'd move onto the next one until I got through the stack. I timed them to see how long it took to go through all of them then wrote the time on the board.  I talked super duper fast and if ANYONE said ANYTHING before I finished describing the word, I would describe the next word reeeeeaaaalllllyyyyy slooooowwwwwlllyyyyy.  Needless to say, someone only called out on occasion that way.  

~You can switch out  the words and add more, but still bring up those words from the beginning of the year.  I think it's important to describe the words differently each time so they aren't just memorizing the words you say.

Students can make Bingo cards using vocabulary words, then you read off definitions and they mark the space on their card. {Shameless Plug Alert!} I actually have pre-made cards for Bingo (physical, earth, life, or a bundle).  They each come with 24 different cards, vocabulary cards to read off, and markers.
Click the pic to check them out!
Draw a Term
Assign each student a vocabulary term (on a post-it or index card).  Give them 5 minutes to illustrate the  term without using any words.  Then, you can show the pictures and see if the class can guess the word, have students show their groups the picture and see if the group can guess it, or have students walk around the room and see how many people can guess their term just by looking at the picture.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Testing...Testing: State Test Pinning

While I was sick yesterday, I wrote out my plans for intervention up to Spring Break for math and reading.  I refuse to get stressed about STAAR (the Texas test) and the best way to stay relaxed for me is to have a plan in place.
I've found some awesome ideas and bought some great resources from teachers out there and I'm pinning them all on my new boards!

I've created 4 new Pinterest boards to pin testing specific items that I find, use, or love!  They are not necessarily grade specific, but will have resources for just 3-5.
Please make sure you follow!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Input...Output for your Science Notebooks

While hands-on experiences in science are certainly important, we as teachers must remember to provide our students with time to reflect on their experiences.

I've posted before about science journaling {see my posts}, but I have been reflecting on my teaching and want to improve the type of output ideas my students form.  Input consists of notes, foldables, data from experiments, and observations during an investigation.
When starting out with science notebook output ideas, I think it's important to teach the different options to your students. This could take many weeks to teach all of the possibilities.  After each lab activity, you can take 10 minutes to model a strategy, then allow your students to try the strategy in their notebooks.  Before you know it, they will be able to choose these on their own!

Because I'm in a new grade level this year, I got a little behind in teaching output ideas, so I'm still working my way through them with my class.  Here are my suggestions for starting out with output ideas in your journal. although you can certainly go in any order you feel comfortable.
Eventually, students will be able to choose the appropriate output ideas that work for them after completing an activity.  It's easy to rush to clean up a science experiment and move on, but please remember that students need time to reflect on the activity.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Out of This World Science Stations

Hey, y'all!  After creating the mini-guide for Out of This World Science Small Groups, I decided to create one for science stations! You know I'm the queen of science stations.  I love 'em and so do my kiddos.

If you've already read Out of This World Science Small Groups, you may be thinking, "great, but what are the rest of them doing, hanging from the ceilings?!?"  Well, here's your answer!

The great thing about science stations is they are flexible in allowing you to work with the students needing more assistance, challenge your higher kids, and reinforce ideas with the rest of your class all at the same time.
Like I said a couple of days ago, I'm uploading more freebies to GoogleDocs that you can only access through my blog, so make sure you are following and checking in with me.

Click the pic to see the mini-guide!
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