The Science School Yard: December 2016

Friday, December 30, 2016

Science School Yard Year In Review

I was reading over some fun year in review articles now that 2016 is nearly over and I thought that it would be fun to look back at the Science School Yard and review this year's checklist.




My goals this year were fairly simple...set up a new classroom instead of being in the teacher's lounge...continue to add STEM and a bit of Makerspace into my science lessons, figure out how to use the Ipads that each of the 400 students that I work with will bring to me each and every hour of my school day!

Not a small task by any means, but one that I was ready to tackle. I also threw in a graduate class on Inquiry Based Science, and Positive Growth Mindset...not to mention our district's new programs such as Itslearning and Explain Everything that they want us to use. I am always up for a challenge! I think I did pretty well!

I look back at how clean and empty the room looks, but I was so excited to get my own room after spending 4 years in a small lounge that we called the science room. I might have had only a week to get it ready, but waiting for "real" science tables and chairs was worth the wait!  Now, the room looks lived in and the counter is filled with activities ready to go!

This one was the hardest at first because it was such a huge learning curve~however we have an amazing library/media specialist that worked out a plan to help us implement apps that we could use in our Encore/Specialist classrooms. We started with Explain Everything. Check out the video to see how to use it! (I made a how to video to show others how to use this great resource!)

What I am most excited about are my Digital Activities that I have been making and using in my room! I am using FOSS and going 1:1 and using all those packets and sheets were killing me. So I created packs that would help my classroom teachers and myself to go digital! Teachers can use them on the Ipads or Chrome books that we have at our school! Want to go digital? Check these out!


I even started making packs that I could use along with my FOSS packs so that I could have my students use their Ipads instead of all of the paper worksheets! The students love them and it is a great way to assess what they know! I have even started using Itslearning to add quizzes, tests, and tickets out the door that are automatically graded and put in a gradebook for me. This is our district's new way of housing all of our plans, tests, sites that we use, but in the end if I have to use it next year I might as well start figuring it out now.

My students LOVE STEM. I use this opportunity in all of my FOSS kits to add some hands on learning opportunities as well as team building! We created pipelines during our first two weeks of our water unit to get the BIG picture as to why we need to study and learn about how important water is!

We even found a way to learn about water and buoyancy by building a boat for the gingerbread man!
 Wanting more STEM for the New Year... I have got you covered! There are so many great ways to add STEM into your school day by integrating them with a great picture book...nursery rhyme...or science fun! Find it here in the Science School Yard!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

STEM Holiday Connections

Find the ELF Pack HERE!
One of my favorite things to do around the holidays is to find a way for all of the 400+ students K-5th grade be able to connect a fun seasonal book to a STEM activity.

Up until this point, we have been able to do some quick Halloween STEM activities, and a few NGSS STEM connections in a few of the classes, however using the FOSS road map that our district has developed is what often drives my theme or lessons. Lucky enough, I have been able to find ways to join some of those lessons together as well as integrate activities using our Ipads...so it allows me some flexibility to add NGSS...STEM...and extra activities that I create that go with our theme.



Find the GINGERBREAD STEM pack HERE!
Here are some tips to integrate any of the fun STEM packs that I have in my TPT store!

Tip 1: Pick a theme

This week's lessons  look like this...

K-weather connections using Three Cheers for Tacky, building a structure for the Penguin to keep him warm using toothpicks and marshmallows and a fun penguin pattern...they sure are Tacky!
1st Grade- How to Catch an Elf...we are learning about size and property words.
2nd Grade-FOSS Solids and Liquids and the Gingerbread Man
3rd Grade-FOSS Water...make a boat to float on water to keep the Gingerbread Man from having to rely on the fox to get across the river
4th Grade-FOSS Human Body and Elf on a Shelf... Mr. Bones style and Elf Traps
5th Grade-FOSS Mixtures and Solutions and Mr. and Mrs. Clause and separating mixtures

 Tip 2: Pick a Picture Book

With the opportunities to integrate some STEM lessons, I always try to find a fun picture book that will help set the tone. Here are some of the books I am using this week.

Tip 3: Find ways to integrate what you are already doing in your classroom...Look at the standards and find a way to incorporate them into a hands-on STEM project! I also challenged my older kiddos to finish something that was in our road map before they could work on a STEM project, and you should see how fast they start to work to get to be able to build!

Looking for some winter or New Year STEM or some Christmas alternatives? Check it out at my TPT STORE. Follow the link HERE.

Hang in there...just a few more days for those of us that have to teach right up until break! Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 5, 2016

How To Catch An Elf and Elf-tacular Giveaway!

It's that time of year...time for laughter time for cheer! Just this Saturday, I had to read at Barnes and Noble for a fund raiser for our school. As I picked several books to read to the little kiddos that were hanging out in the children's section of the book store, I grabbed one that I thought could inspire me to add it to my right before break STEM activity.

You can see where this is going...Time to trap an elf! As I read the story to the kids surrounding me...I was already formulating my own plan to trap some elf trap makers right before the holidays!
Using everyday items such as cardboard boxes, cups, foil...your learners can try to catch an elf, too!
Here are some of my littles and their creations! This activity is good for all ages! Right before the holidays...it is always great to find a way to channel their excitement!
Catch Your Own Elf Pack HERE!

Another way to add a little excitement into your life, join our ELF-TACULAR GIVEAWAY!


 My friend, Nikki, over at Teaching Autism has organized a fun little hop for you to participate in!

Hop on over to each and every blog post within the loop. Gather a new letter at each site. Follow the rafflecopter to enter to win a great TPT Gift Certificate just in time for the holidays! Here is my letter to add to the others...

Now, it's time to click on the picture below to head to the next blog, Scissors and Crayons for another
letter! Thanks for joining me...and good luck!
  

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Saturday, December 3, 2016

Science Rock and Roll

It was that time of year...time to finish our FOSS Earth Materials Stations...Moh's Hardness scale... Calcite Quest...Properties of a Rock...It isn't always the most exciting and at times it loses the kids. The kit can be loooonnnnggggg.

I know I am not alone. We all have units that make it hard for us to keep the kiddos attention. Units that we have to follow because of district initiatives. We follow the plans...we try to add a fun twist...we think "how can we shake it up a bit?"

To finish up on the Rock Cycle lessons that I added, I also mixed it up with a little "ROCK" and roll. QR codes are a great way to get kids actively engaged in concepts such as vocabulary, studying for a test, and reviewing concepts.

Sometimes my students scoot around the room....sometimes they have the cards at a station...other times like this we make it a competition.

Here is how it works...
1, Playing some rock instrumental music sets the mood. I just have it playing in the background lightly.
2. I share with the group that they are going to be rock stars today. Each time they pick a new card, that lead rocker will read the question, working as rock stars to try to figure out the answer.
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Rock Cycle Questions and Record Sheet...my students ROCKED IT!
In a group of 3-4 they take turns reading, having everyone record, checking the qr code for the correct answer, changing it if they are wrong,  and passing it to the number 2, then 3 rocker.... Each leader must also make sure that the same process is followed each time. Read, record, check, correct, pass to next rock star!


3. When each box is filled in with the correct answer, the band of rock stars must come up to me and show me that they rocked it out together. If they are all finished...first...I give them rock candy and a polished rock.
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The Rock Stars LOVED the candy rocks! 
4. We finish up by reviewing the Big Ideas of our FOSS unit and I continue to find other students that are "rockin' it" with sharing what they know about the scratch test...vinegar test, the difference between a rock and a mineral...

Here is a link to your own Rock Star Rock Cycle Review Freebie!
Rock On My Friends...we all can be rock star teachers and get our students to be excited about what we are teaching! Sometimes it's nice to get a little help from your back up band (with a freebie!)