Saturday, March 29, 2014

Newsela

I like trying to bring science current events into my classroom but I want the students to be able to read the articles I give them.

I found this website after a lot of googling. 

Newsela.com is what I found. It takes articles from different newspapers and lets you change the reading level on it. Here is the same article in 8th and 4th grade reading levels. 


I've seen it go down to 3rd grade reading level. Some of the articles have short quizzes that go with it to. There are several categories. I have used the Science most often. It is a great way to make what we are learning in science seem more real life. 
So after a night of googling, I found I great resource to use the the classroom. What are some things you have found scouring the internet?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Anchor Charts

I have been making Anchor Charts this weekend. I realize that it might me a little late in the year, but I can always use them again. I tried to make them a bit interactive. It might help the students think a bit while looking at them. 







I have a Pinterest board called Anchor Charts where I've been collecting example for a while. You can check it out here.




Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sharing Links Help

I need suggestions.

I have a bunch of links to online interactive science games that I would like my students to have access to. Ideally, I would like them to be able to go to a website, click on a topic and then see all the games/videos/websites available for that topic.

Does anyone have a suggestion for something that I can use. If I knew HTML and more about blogger (my goal for the summer) then I could probably add it to this blog. But I want my students to have access to it this month as we review for our STAAR test.

Thanks for any suggestions!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Quilt Squares

Back when we were learning about colonial geography and industries, my students completed a project where they connected the two topics.

The instructions were to create a quilt square depicting a colonial industry. Once they had created the quilt square, they had to write a paragraph describing how the colonial industry was related to the geography of the region.

These were some of the quilt squares I got.





Monday, March 17, 2014

Metamorphosis Research

Last week, I shared the beginning of our metamorphosis unit. In the years past, the first lesson was writing down vocabulary and taking notes on each type of insect life cycle. I wanted to do something a bit different.

I am lucky to have some Window 8 tablets in my classroom. It isn't enough for every student, but I allowed them to bring their own tablets to use so we would have enough.

The task was to discover what the steps to complete and incomplete metamorphosis are. I found this website which another teacher put together. The students were to find two insects that go through complete metamorphosis and two insects that go through incomplete metamorphosis. As they found the life cycle of their insects, they needed to draw and label the stages.





As the students worked, I walked around asking them to describe their insects life cycle. Most were able to and it allowed me to see who still wasn't sure about it. Afterwards, they wrote a story about one insect and what its life is like, as it goes through each stage in the life cycle. This is where I need to fix my instructions. I wanted the students to be creative, but most just wrote an expository essay. Which is okay, just not the intent.

The next day, the students talked in groups to each other about life cycles and answered some multiple choice questions together. The goal of this activity was to have students talk to each other without looking to me for approval.

I was happy to see that double the amount of students passed this science test compared to the last one!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Pictures, in the classroom!

I have been trying to figure out ways to get students to take pictures of science and share them with me.

I thought setting up and email where students would email me their pictures.

I show them pictures in class and they answer the questions "Where is the science?"

The day before spring break, I gave each pair of students a tablet. We went around the school, inside and out, and took pictures of things that reminded them of something we learned about in science. Afterwards they shared one picture with the class and explained where the science was.

Last week I was reading Life is Better Messy Anyway and she had a brilliant idea of using Instagram in the classroom.

So this is what I am trying.



My kids are on the Instagrams so I am hoping they will be excited (grudgingly excited?) about this. 

I'll see how they take to this. I might have to offer some kind of incentives. If they took pictures and properly explained the science in the pictures, I would be willing to offer a few extra test points or homework passes. 

So, follow me! Hopefully it works!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Mealworms and Beetles! Oh My!

I am trying to incorporate my inquiry-based learning in my classroom this year. It is a really fun way to teach and the students usually have more fun. However, this type of instruction is new to them, so we are working on having fun while learning. 

In 5th grade in Texas, Students need to describe the differences between complete and incomplete metamorphosis. To begin this lesson, I dumped a cup on every group's desk containing mealworms and pupae. I asked students that if they knew anything about the insects, that they were not to say anything to take away someone else's discovery. (We talk about this often throughout the year. It isn't fair to take away someone else's learning opportunity. This frustrates the kids who know everything and really want to tell everyone else.) Students were also reminded that these were living creatures no matter how small and need to be treated with respect. 

After dumping out the cups, there were squeals and screams.  Some students refused to get close to the insects, others got their nose right in there. 


As the were observing the insects, the students were asked to write down any observation they had. This is where I have a lot of students ask "Is this okay?" or "Can I write this down?"It is hard to get them to understand, that most of the times, if they think it, it is okay to write it down.

Then we shared our observations. This was my favorite part. Getting students to communicate can be difficult, but with a bit of probing, they are getting better at it. Some of their observations (and inferences) were:

  • They look dead. (It is still and doesn't move when touched)
  • It looks pregnant. (It is swollen in one place, like a pregnant person)
  • It has 6 legs. (So it could be an insect)
  • It has a hard outside.
  • Some are brown, some are white.
  • It looks like it is in a shell.
Sometimes, I had to press students to explain what they meant. At the beginning of the year, I would get shrugs when they were asked to explain more. Now they are using more adjectives and describing more. I am glad that they are now talking more. 

I was careful not to give any terms or vocabulary. But some students predicted that the mealworm turned into the pupae and then into a beetle. Others thought it was the other way around. I kept the mealworms and pupa in the classroom all week and I had some beetles in another container that we continued to observe. The next day, a pupa started "hatching" from the pupa. The students were excited to see a life cycle in work!