Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Circuits Intervention-Science STAAR Review-TEKS 5.6B

Ya'll. It's that time of year again.

STAAR Review Time--closer to summer and no alarm clocks and pool time!

This 4-day Easter weekend was just enough to give me the taste of summer.

STAAR review is not my favorite time of year because it can be so boring. By the end of our 2-3 STAAR review weeks, I am ready for the students to take the test and just get it over with already.

So, I refuse to just do 2-3 weeks of practicing test questions. There needs to be variety, students talking, excitement, etc.

I've had this idea that a multiple test is basically full of true/false statements. Students just need to identify the true statements and easy-peasy! (Of course I realize it is more complicated than that.) But for some students, it might be a way to chunk the questions and make them more manageable.

I have an activity to share that focuses on electrical circuits. In the activity, students analyze a circuit and 7 statements about it. They will need to determine if the statements are true or false.

I used this in an activity in small group yesterday. We analyzed the circuits together--talked about the path the electricity traveled, found areas where the circuit was open or closed, and traced the path with a dry erase marker. Then I gave each student one of the cards to determine if the statement was true or false. After they figured it out, they shared their answers and we talked about it. 

If you want to try out this FREE Resource, click the here to download it. 

I also have these Circuit Task Cards available in my store. 

Let me know how this intervention goes for you!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

2019 Books So Far

I saw a tweet back in December where someone asked for suggestions for books they couldn't stop reading. That kickstarted my reading hobby which has been suffering since having my first baby in 2013. This year I have read/listened to 21 books! And there have been some great ones. If you want to follow me on Goodreads, where I keep track of my reads, you can click here.

I want to share some of my favorite reads of the year here.

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1. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sรกnez

This is the most beautiful story I have ever read. I cannot stop thinking about it. It ended up on my to-read list because the audiobook is read by Lin Manuel Miranda, and I'm so glad I found it! Its about two boys growing up and finding their place in the world in El Paso in the '80s. 

2. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

This is nonfiction. Stevenson is a lawyer who found the Equal Justice Initiative. He works with inmates on death row, those who were sentence to life in prison as a juvenile. He has argued and won cases in front the Supreme Court. His book was truly eye-opening for how the justice system in the United States is not completely just to all our citizens. There is also a young adult version of his book. 

3. Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

This needs to be listened to. Music is such an important part of the story and the audiobook uses music to tell parts of the story. The book follows a harmonica as it travels from a boy living in Nazi Germany, to orphans living in New York City, to a girl and her family living in California during World War II.  

4. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

This is a book of essays where the author is writing to his son about race in America. I don't feel like I have words to describe how critical it is for White Americans to read this book, but White Americans should read this book. Toni Morrison calls is "required reading." It is eye-opening to read how life can be so different for someone who lives in the same country as me. Read it. (I listened to it and it is read by the author.)

5. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

This is another book that was a great audiobook. There are different voice actors for the characters which makes the story come to life. In this book, a toddler escapes to a graveyard after his family is murdered in the middle of the night. The residents of the graveyard agree to raise him and the story follows him as he grows. 

Do you have any books you can recommend? I am adding to my constantly growing to-read list.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Rock Cycle Resources

Teaching the rock cycle can be fun. Even though it is a real-life process that takes millions of years to observe, there are many ways to model the rock cycle.

This lab uses chocolate, butterscotch, and white chocolate chips to model sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rock formation.

If you have some broken crayons (what teacher doesn't), this lab uses crayons to model the three types of rock formation.

Love starburst? This lab uses starburst to model the processes.

(I did not create any of these lab. I just found them on the web.)

Types of Rocks Foldable

Digital Types of Rock Sort on Google Drive

This interactive webpage overviews types of rocks and the formation. There is also a little quiz at the end. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Teacher Self-Care

This is a buzz word in teaching right now.

Treat Yo Self, right? However, no amount of manicures, massages, Netflix binge, or sleeping in will help if you aren't setting limits for yourself at work.

Teaching is a stressful job. Teachers plan a lesson, and then differentiate for their students it. These are ways that I have found to practice self-care myself.

1. Say No or Don't Volunteer

It is extremely hard for me to say no OR to even sit in a meeting where someone is asking for volunteers and to not speak up. But! I am not Wonder Women! I cannot do it all, and I am more and more willing to realize when my plate is full and pass when I need to.

2. Don't reinvent the wheel

There are lots of resources out there just waiting for you to use them! Now, best practice is to not just find activities to fill the time you have with students. The things you plan for your students need to have a purpose and truly help your students meet their learning targets.

Where to find resources? My favorite place? Twitter--especially if you are a math teacher. The #mtbos or #iteachmath community has lots of helpful teachers from all over the country. Another place? The teacher down the hall. If you have other teachers at your school teaching the same subject and grade level, you should be planning together. It should make both your lives easier.

3. Focus on a few things a year to work on

I know I start every year with a long list of things I want to learn and conquer. It never works out that I can do it all. And when November hits, I just feel guilty that I haven't done better. Instead, pick 1-3 things you can improve on in a year.

4. Ask for help

Again--that teacher down the hall, twitter, your team leader, your spouse, your friend, your are teaching the future! Everyone should pitch in. In addition to this, stop spending your money! Unless it truly bring you joy to spend your money, find ways to get things donated, ask your principal, use Donors Choose, or don't buy it. There is probably a free way to do what you are trying to do.

5. Don't take it personally

My first year, I took every misbehavior so personally. I came home physically and mentally exhausted. I remember coming home, sitting on the couch, and not moving until it was time to go to bed.

My second year I realized that these little people were still learning how to treat others and were developing their personalities. Looking at it from this point of view, I didn't take their misbehavior personally and instead saw it as an opportunity to teach them. I also got much better at establishing procedures and expectations in my classroom.

6. Find the thing that reduces your stress

My thing? Laying on the floor and letting my kids hug me and climb all over me. Instant stress reducer. Also a good nap.

Your thing might be chocolate bar, a night out with friends, a massage, or a long run. These things shouldn't be the only way to practice self-care, but can be part of your plan!

7. Speak up for yourself

I added this one last after a particularly bad day. I haven't completed this step yet, because this is the hardest for me. We have to be willing to speak up for ourselves and say when something isn't right (or illegal), or causing us stress when it doesn't need to be. In my case, I have a responsibility that is causing me stress and anxiety. It is something that can probably be fixed but....I have to speak up for myself. This risks me looking whiny, ungrateful, not a team player, etc. In fact, I have spoken up in the past at other campuses and it not gone well initially. So I have decided to speak up, or stay silent and hope it changes next year.

All those teachers that have gone on strike have practiced this bit of self-care. They are willing to fight for public education and for better working conditions and pay and speak up for themselves and their colleagues.

How do you practice self-care? Anything I missed?

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Best Ted-Ed Videos

I love Ted Ed videos. They are beautifully done and explain topics in a unique way. I want to share some that cover topics we might teach in math or science.

The videos are not meant to teach an entire concept to students, but rather a way to understand the concept in a more real-world situation.

To be honest, it would be nice if teachers had more time to teach mathematical and scientific concepts in the actually situations and money for better tools. Like the soccer one, how cool would a lesson on force, velocity, and friction be where students figure out the best way to do the impossible kick and take measurements as they go?!

Why can't you divide by zero?
Topics covered: Division, Multiplication, Properties of Operations, and Zero

Why do airlines sell too many tickets?
Topics covered: Statistics (binomial distribution), probability

Football Physics: The impossible free kick
Topics Covered: Newton's 1st Law, Velocity, Force

The weird and wonderful metamorphosis of the Butterfly
Topics: Metamorphosis

Pangaea Pop Up
Topics: Plate Tectonics

What happens when continents collide?
Topics: Plate Tectonics, Plant and Animal Migration, Fossils as Evidence

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

New Page--Free Resources--Taking Requests

Check out my new page underneath the header --Free Resources--

Anything I post something free on my blog, I will post it there as well so you can see everything in one spot.

Is there anything that you wish you had for your classroom? I'll add it to my to-do list.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Fraction Decimal Percent--Equivalent Numbers Practice Freebies

I feel like it takes students all school year and then some to remember how to convert between fractions, decimals and percents.

In Texas, we start with generating equivalent numbers in 6th grade: the time when some teachers and students think math manipulatives and models are no longer needed. I strongly disagree. I struggled with math in school (which I believe is what makes me love teaching math now) and I don't ever remember working with math manipulatives or math models. No fraction models, algebra tiles, cuisenaire rods, etc. When I started teaching and understood the models myself, I understood the concepts so much better. The first time I saw dividing fractions modeled with cuisenaire rodes in grad school, I was blown away!

All this to say, don't think 6th graders (or older) are too old for models and manipulatives. Some students may not need them and other will. But don't make that call for them.

When it comes to generating equivalent forms of fractions, decimals, and percents, students have a hard time understanding that the numbers really are equivalent. They are different ways to tell the same story. So I always start with models.

At this point students have worked with fractions and decimals and have probably heard to percents, but don't understand what they are. I start with a mini presentation to get the conversation going about what percents are. (Click the link to make a copy to your Google Drive)

And we practice. Over and over and over again. I use notebook pages like this that students can refer to as they practice.

Practice starts simple. I write fraction, decimals, and percent on index cards, pull students to work in small group, give them so dry erase markers and start converting. They work the problems on the small group table and I get to see where students are running into problems.

Fraction Decimal and Percent conversion is a skill that students revisit all year long, so I need lots of different ways to keep students practicing. Download this sheet here  for more practice. 

Other Fraction, Decimal, Percent Resources


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