The Science School Yard: January 2017

Sunday, January 29, 2017

No Prep Google Is Snow Much Fun!

In the time of the digital age...where everyone of my 400 students that I teach comes to me with an iPad...I needed to figure out how to use them and FAST! Should I use Google Classroom? Does my district expect me to use a certain app. My district's expectations is that I use Explain Everything and put many of my ideas and lessons into itsLearning.

In your own classroom, I can just see it...you might have each child able to use a Chromebook...go to the computer lab...or have their own device for them to work with! The learning curve is HUGE! I have an amazing team of specialists that help each other and so as a team we have been able to figure this out together!

There are lots of great resources to help you with this process. Whether it is unit for science...a reading activity that can be used from Google Classroom...even a great Math interactive for your computers...check out #nogoogleprep on TPT for ideas and products that can help you make this transition easier. 


Check out the many teachers ready to share what they have learned...
Search #noprepgoogle on TPT today!
 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Rocks CAN Rock: 5 Ways to Engage

Do you ever have to teach a unit that might not be your favorite? Did you ever have to pretend to abso-lutely love the topic you are sharing with them? Try to ever make a weak unit EXCITING and AMAZING?

Rocks are one of those topics that I have had to really work at in order to create engaging and fun lessons to get my students engaged.  Well having to teach FOSS Pebbles, Sand, and Silt as well as FOSS Earth Materials was my BIG challenge.

So how do you make science lessons more engaging? 

1. Find hands on activities to get them actively engaged! Hands on fun exploration! Bring in resources, dig around your house for ways to get your kiddos digging in and learning from letting them play with a purpose!


For example, bring in shells and sand from the beach to learn about sand. Let them play in it as a reward for working so hard! Have lots of great samples for them to learn from....rocks, rock! Introduce fossils...volcanoes...and even scavenger hunts around the school looking for how we use rocks!

2. Use digital devices to connect your students to their activities on line!

Not only do we use Explain Everything to upload our activities to our background, our first through 5th graders actually take pictures to include what we are learning about, record their voices to share what they learned, and even make animation!



 I have to say...now that we do this...my students are more engaged and are more excited about the topics.

3. Use resources that are unique to spur excitement.

Lava rocks...fool's gold, STEM activities, real fossils, dinosaur puzzles so they can be archaeologists, great video clips, great picture books, and interactive theme based games that are educational. (Write the Room, SCOOT, Vocabulary Go Fish, Match Game...)
4. Grab a great picture book and get to reading and engaging through the message of your non-fiction book! From rocks...to volcanoes...fossils...to sand... bring in an engaging story to springboard an activity off of. See the fossil puzzle above? See the play dough and an easy way to make fossils? See the buckets of sand and shells? Our rock unit is a great way to bring in the idea of soil and dirt as well as worms!

5. Find the time!

Be excited and find a small corner of time in your week to make YOUR science school yard...child's play! Need some help finding great resources that will rock?

Rocks, Pebbles, Sand, Silt, FOSS, Digital Resources, iPad, Computer, Resources, Rocks


Sunday, January 15, 2017

IPad Adventures and AirDropping

This year, each of our over 400 students at our school received an Ipad to use at school. This adventure was something my Encore coworkers were ready for. Our Encore is made up of our PE, Art, Music, Media, and Science Specialists!

It wasn't an easy start, but we had to figure out what programs we could use, lessons we would need to teach (we had some regular ed. classroom teachers not ready to dive in to allow the students to utilize the Ipads in their own rooms let alone the specialists' rooms) so we worked as an ENCORE team to help everyone!

Our district controls all apps that are placed onto the student Ipads, so we needed to figure out what we had to work with. Here is what we focused on first:

1. How can we use Explain Everything in and out of the classroom?
2. Is there a way to make the Ipads replace some of my many science worksheets?
3. How can we easily upload those images so that the students don't have to?

Our amazing Media Specialist started with teaching lessons on the apps that we chose to focus one...most importantly Explain Everything so that we could create folders for each one of us.

To deal with the second goal on my list, I wanted to find a way to use the Ipads for assessment, uploading worksheets, and go more paperless.

In the last few weeks of this quarter, I am now savvy enough to make some fun, interactive activities that work along with our FOSS kits. Where some people use Chrome Books or laptops and can have movable parts in their activities, I have learned that with Ipads that doesn't work. What can we do with our Ipads?

Discoveries:
1. I can Airdrop all sheets that I save as a JPEG/PNG to the students!
-swipe the bottom of your screen to open the Control Center
-Tap on the button that says AirDrop
-Chose one of the options (off, contacts, everyone) I always choose everyone when I airdrop to my students. Your students will now need to accept the photos by pressing the accept button.

Image result for insert photo iconNow that they have the photos that I airdrop...it's time to upload those pictures. Some of my friends use PicCollage which is a great free app that could be used instead of Explain Everything.

2. Let's get into the app your kiddos will use to work on the sheets. Explain Everything...PicCollage...The airdropped pictures can be found in Photos. Follow the rainbow...
3. They can then open up Explain Everything, go to + button, go to the top add a photo (we say go to the mountains).


4. They need to now go to see the rainbow on the mountain (okay the photo key) Here they will see the pictures that were airdropped.

Have them pick the one that they want to add to their page. Once it is picked, they will need to press the bottom corner DONE button. The picture will now be there for them to use. Often I have the older students lock in the background.

5. If students want to lock in the background, we go to the i with the dots around it. I say, "Press the I...I want to ...now touch the picture...want this picture....now press the set as background...I want this picture as background...I want this picture...touch the picture again... and say to work with while you press the finger at the top.


           Check out what we are doing to integrate technology!
Find Digital Science Resources HERE!
Want to try it out first? Here is a JPEG for you to upload to your iPads using the directions above to see it in action! I used this with my first graders for our rock unit. We did a "How do we use rocks?" scavenger hunt around the school. We inserted pictures into each box to share how we use rocks in our school! They loved it! You can see one of my firsties using it above!
Rock Scavenger Hunt Freebie
Let me know how it goes! Digital Science Lessons are a great way to add engagement to your school day in a whole new way!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Integrating Science and Social Studies With Success

I am always trying to find ways to integrate different subjects into my Science day, so when our fifth grade teachers asked me if I could add some social studies into science…I took the challenge!

I was a regular Ed teacher for 20 years before becoming a science teacher. I minored in Social Studies so when I taught 5th grade for 15 years of those 20, I loved getting my students excited about something that was often ignored or but on the back burner. When I took the science job, I took on a subject that was often put aside just like Social Studies because the focus was placed heavily on math and reading.

I  actually miss teaching that topic so as three new 5th grade teachers unsure of how to teach the revolution were joking with me in the teacher’s lounge, I took them seriously. Little did they know that I could actually pull it off. I took a look at our new unit FOSS Mixtures and Solutions, remembering that I also had iPads to figure out how to utilize…I looked at any way that I could actually find connections…BAM…What Separates?

Success Strategy #1: Find a common theme

What Separates became my theme! What a perfect way to tie a social studies concept with a science concept. 

Success Strategy #2: Find common words to use

Loyal...Separate...timeline...events...they can be as simple as that. Then figure out how to weave them together. My first lesson was "What separates". We used a list to find ways that we were going to separate mixtures...screen, filter, and evaporation. Then, we made a list of what separates people. We took that list to start the timeline of the major events that led to the revolution. I had then learn the events by working with a timeline that was strung across the room. We then did our separation science lesson!

My second lesson is are controlled experiments always loyal to the outcome or do variables impact the results. Loyalists vs. Patriots...and does loyal always mean loyal...in comes Benedict Arnold next week.

Success Strategy #3: Motivation
I have a chart in my room for points that they can earn. Points can be earned by finishing their science sheets, answering questions, passing a ticket out the door test that is linked to google forms. They seem to work much quicker and with more focus when we have an intensive chart that in the end will get them a little prize...this one is a Boston Tea Party! Tea and Boston Creme Pie! Three classes, three winning groups. 

Here is a three sheet freebie for you to see what we are doing in our class and see if you are up to the same challenge! Let's connect!
Social Studies and Science Connections Freebie HERE