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Showing posts with label back to school. Show all posts
Showing posts with label back to school. Show all posts

Science Incentives and Positive Behaviors For Specialists

Discipline is never easy, and after 26 years of teaching it still isn't, but I am hoping to focus this year on a new way to encourage making good choices! My biggest challenges always come in kindergarten and first grade so I am hoping to find a way to get even our struggling readers motivated to make good choices for the good of the team!

Here is how it works...
1. You will notice the K-5 yellow cards. That shows the grade level.
2. The colors are coordinated by the day of the week I have them. I have four regular ed. Science classes on Day one or red cards featured on the top lines.
3. The yellow poster above the grades shows our core values at our school which are Be Respectful, Be Responsible, and Be Safe.
I made faces that have a smiley on one side and a frown on the other. There are three faces clipped to each core value...because they get three strikes before the class is out! That is what the three boxes on the bottom...
When a negative behavior occurs, a reteach happens. I always refer to our behavior chart as I do that. If the same child is causing the whole class to be unsuccessful three times, that child is not able to participate in group activities and their job is to watch for what respectful, responsible, and/or safe behavior in our room looks like. They may join the group after a conference and at times may do the activity at a table by themselves.

Now, what happens if the class gets through a whole science hour long class without getting three strikes? I place a smiley face on the first letter of science. Each week, they can add a new letter to science until they spell the whole word! Once the word science is spelled by a particular class, they get a STEM reward! Sneaky enough, I will tie it into something we are doing!

Whether it is a STEM reward or a fun activity that is ready to go when they reach their goal, working together as a team to help ALL students achieve is a goal that I am sure that we all have. In the regular ed. classroom your chart is different than a specialist, but working with over 15 different classrooms allows me to find ways to help our classrooms teachers, too. Having students learn positive ways to be respectful, responsible, and safe is good for EVERYONE!

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Getting Ready For Back To School With New Resources!

You know when you are almost ready to head back to school, as I know some of my teacher friends are already there, you start planning what your bulletin boards will look like... you start buying supplies to fill all your needs, and you start thinking about curriculum...at least that is what this week entailed.

I met with my lovely friend, both of us lost sections of science, so both of us are in the same bind...we need to create a program that will be data driven, teach science or STEM, engaging, hit second through fifth grade and is completed in 40 minutes. That is a lot to muster, but I was up for the challenge.

Then, I started thinking isn't that a problem that we all face? Lessons that need to be:
1. Fun
2. Data driven
3. Hit standards
4. short enough to fit in to a 40-60 minute block
5. And seeing that I need to do four classes, one of each 2-5...differentiated. (otherwise I am prepping for 10 lessons each week, no thank you)

Goal 1: Digital Assessment for my FOSS units

Time to get crackin'. My first thing I had to think about was that I need to create some digital science activities because my first graders and second graders need more assessments that are easy to grade and have them be part of their learning! The thing that drove me was our FOSS kits. First grade themes I worked on were: DAY and NIGHT, SOUND and LIGHT, INSECT and SPIDER, and VERTEBRATE. Second grade focuses on: PLANTS, HABITATS, WEATHER, and MATTER!

                       Find them for first grade {HERE} and for second grade {HERE}.

Goal 2: Grade 2-5th Grade resource for my Science/STEM enrichment classes

Now, I have to create four packs for my third through fifth graders. Using our iPads is one of our key goals for use in assessment this next year. I am also on Evaluation so I set this as a goal of mine. I am hoping this can help you, too!

My second goal was to find a way to not have to prep for 10 science lessons a week...yes a week. I needed to find a way to differentiate a pack that includes science and STEM as well as ways to gather data, focus on NGSS, and be engaging. Yikes. That is a handful!

I focused on NGSS themes that were cross cutting! I created STEM Quick Picks because I needed to use them quickly within the 40 minute time period that I work with them each week...above and beyond the hour they get with their own class.

How I will use the pack: first week...introduction of the NGSS concept, then reading connection, followed by small science activity. Second week, review of concept, interactive notebook and vocabulary review...followed by STEM lesson and then task card review.

Friends...I have 10 weeks to do so that means I have three more to make! I am on it though...they take a long time, but they will be worth it! Find the STEM Quick Picks {HERE}.

Goal 3: STEM Connections for After School Classes, Extensions, and our new STEM Lab in our Library

Each fall, when our after school program starts, our students love STEM stations...but that is not the only reason I worked hard to create new STEM activities...

This year, we are creating a STEM lab in our library! We were able to get some funding for some great resources, but that is never enough. I was able to utilize the Makerspace packs that I made last summer by printing them off and putting them on ring clips ready to go this year. I also created Seasonal School Box STEM packs so that our Library/Tech teacher can have interchangeable activities that can be featured each season! Find Seasonal School Box STEM Packs {HERE}

I might have another few packs up my sleeve this next week before I have to go back to school! I will post about them next week along with a new freebie! But for now...here is a free Seasonal School Box STEM bonus for stopping by and getting to the end! {HERE} 

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Great Sites For Science

Getting ready for back to school or already there? I have compiled Great Science Sites that can help you add science to your school day with ease! These sites are my go to's for what they have to offer as well as their ability to add to the structure of my lessons, as well as enhance what I am teaching.

For informative  videos for 2-5th grade I love Crash Course Kids found on Youtube. There is such a great variety of science topics from space to food chains, animals and matter just to name a few that I have used. They are extremely short in time (2-4 minutes), while others like gravity is over 20 minutes in length. Here is an introduction...
Another go to for great science themed videos is SciShow Kids found on YouTube. This site has such a different variety of science topics, and can be shown to younger learners, too. There is a great eclipse video that really explains it well! Check out their intro below!

Let's take a look at non-fiction books. As a science teacher, it is imperative that I use interactive read-alouds to teach a science concept. Remembering that what I am reading is not necessary at their reading level. Whether you paraphrase or read a quick non-fiction book that helps you teach a science concept my three go-to's are perfect for projecting the books on my smartboard!

The first one is free to educators! It is Epic Books! It has an amazing selection of non-fiction science books for all ages! I use them with all of my K-5 classes! As for the other two that I go to for non-fiction resources are Myon which our district has purchased a subscription to. It provides other options that Epic Books doesn't have. My third go to is Science A-Z. It is also a paid subscription, but gives me the ability to print books for my kids so they can take them home. They also are project-able and can be used on their iPads.

Looking for a free year of science lessons? Go to Mystery Science. After that you pay for it, but it is filled with lessons, videos, and experiments as well as ideas!

For Science review...check out Study Jams! Video Review, picture review, and even assessments for Science and now Math! Here is an example of one that I use...

Onto NGSS resources...I love looking for great resources on NGSS Hub. Now, I can't say I use everything that I see or that it fits just right into my roadmap that I need to follow, but sometimes you just need a little more...

Here are great simulations for science found at PhET Interactive Simulations! Love PhEt for balance and motion, concentration in our Mixtures and Solutions unit, and Static Electricity to name a few that I have used!

Finally, if you want to learn a little bit more about STEM and how to implement it into your classroom, there are some great professional development videos and guidance from STEM Teaching Tools.

The recipe for a great science lesson doesn't have to be so difficult. Use the framework you have in place...mine is FOSS...add a non-fiction book to start your lesson off...(there are also great picture books that connect perfectly, too!)

Followed by an engaging activity or experiment...even a STEM lesson...followed by a video to help you with the facts and you are on your way to making science child's play! And even more fun for you!

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Back To School STEM Starters

For many teachers it is time for back to school. A time when you prepare your classroom for a new group of learners. You start planning your lessons and creating new ways to inspire your class!

We each come back to school with new passion for our positions, new goals set, and along with that you want to find ways to get to really know your students right away.

I love starting the year off with STEM challenges! Not only do they allow me to see how my students work in groups or teams, I can see their personalities shine through when given a challenge!

When starting the year, we often search for great ice breakers that can also allow us to see if our students have the growth mindset that will allow them to persevere and problem solve when faced with challenges.

A STEM challenge can do all of that in a very short period of time. Although going through procedures and expectations are a must, an engaging STEM challenge can be the perfect insight into getting to know your new kiddos!

Here are a few tips to get your STEM Stations ready for back to school!

Tip 1: Supplies

Get organized by finding bins or buckets that can store your supplies. I was able to get plastic tubs donated from a local hospital to keep many of my STEM and science supplies in. Shoe boxes or even pencil cases make great STEM storage supplies more organized.

Tip 2: Designate a Spot

I like to designate a spot in my room for STEM and science supplies. When it is time for your students to get materials, they always know where to go. I call it the STEM store. I assign numbers each time they come in the room. When it is time to get supplies, they know where to go to get them, and then when it is time for clean up a student's number is called to return any supplies that can be reused. It cuts down on waste, time wasted, and it help you stay organized especially if you have back to back classes like I do!

Tip 3: Ice Breakers

Starting off your year with a team builder is always a great way to kids actively engaged! I love this free pack from Smart Chick. Can You Save Fred?

 I love creating my own activities, but this activity was one I used when I started six years ago so I guess it is my go to for getting my students working together, however as we progress into our back to school challenges, I love my differentiated back to school  lessons for my K-5th graders!
For kindergartners and first graders and first graders I use Jenga or the blocks from the FOSS Tree unit. Perfect for little hands! As the students get a bit older I add other supplies for them to create with!

Tip 4: Free Supplies

Often, I get asked how you can find cheap or free supplies for your STEM stations. I first create a box for outside my door that says donations. We are an 82% poverty school so those supplies might be egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, empty boxes, or even newspaper. I have a list for you to hang up for your donation box!
Free Donation Sign
Tip 5: Activities For September

I like to have all of my activities for my STEM lab set to go before I get back. I love that we can readily find apples and I can usually find apple donations for our STEM labs. I created some fun free apple activities to help my K-2nd grade teacher friends found {HERE}.

If you are looking for more STEM-tastic ideas...Check these Apple-ing theme packs {HERE}

Whether you have been in school...already back...or preparing to go back...the Science School Yard can help you make Science and STEM child's play!
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Science Picture Books For Back To School

It is so very important to find great picture books to start off your school year, however science is often times put off to the side for lots of different reasons. However, I want to help you find some great picture books-both fiction and non-fiction that can springboard your science lessons!

Grabbing a science themed book that you can also use in your language arts lesson is one of the best ways to tie in the two subjects! The best part of a picture book can teach our students about the world around us as well as introduce a science concept or principle showing that science is all around us.
Use a story to bring a science concept to life or give them the background knowledge they need to make connections!

For a K-2 introduction to what science is all about is, What is Science written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich. This book has great picture clues to show primary students that science from planets to rocks, to hurricanes, to animals...It gives you a way to start science curiosity and the springboard to asking questions about the world around them!

For 3-5 picture book, I love the book The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires. It is about a girl and her dog who want to make the most magnificent thing. Why I love this book it shows her frustration and the fact that she quits because of it. It can give you a great opportunity to teach perseverance,  perspective, and positive growth mindset. As our older students have to work as a team to complete experiments it is important to set the stage for what it might take to succeed!

Not sure about other great picture books to use for your science lessons...here is a great post that shares over 100 perfect picture books for you to think about. Head on over to Geek Wrapped for their list of Science Books for Kids!

I am the facilitator of our school garden. When our kiddos come back to school I love to integrate a picture book when we go out to our garden to see the plant progress. Here are some of my go to garden picture books...

1. How Does Your Garden Grow? by Gerta Muller (perfect for a STEM Mary, Mary Quite Contrary activity!)

2. I love Up In The Garden and Down In The Dirt by Kate Messner. It gives an overall perspective of everything that happens in a garden over the course of a year.

3. I also love getting the littles outside so anytime I can read a story about colors, letters, or even numbers that is a bonus. I love Planting A Rainbow by Lois Ehlert.

I also want to share with you my favorite STEM books that can foster building with K-5th graders. For STEM activities for littles, take any nursery rhyme or fairy tale and tie it to STEM, but for older kids take any of Andrea Beaty books such as Ada Twist Scientist, Rosie Revere, Engineer, or even Iggy Peck, Architect.

Looking for more picture book ideas check out my friend Kim, over at Stress-Free Teaching for some more great back to school picture book ideas!

It is exciting to plan for the new school year. One of my favorite products for the back to school season that helps me tie in a ton of great picture books along with a holiday theme are my STEM seasonal packs!


Amazon is hosting a Black Friday Sale this Friday, and I didn't want them to be the only ones with great deals...Black Friday Sale On My STEM All Year Pack Here! (For checking out my blog is is up on sale today already!) The lowest price of the year! The price goes up Saturday so get the 32 STEM Activity Pack today! This deal is like getting two packs free! Great with any seasonal picture book! Let the STEM fun begin!
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Basketball Fever using the NCAA and STEM/Science Connections

I love to connect what is going on in the real world and bring it into my science classroom! We are just finishing up many of the FOSS kits, so why not add some engaging STEM activities that are also timely!

Throughout March you can integrate this basketball inspired activity to your school day! For me it is also a way to share with my students a little bit about myself...

We are an athletic family. My husband is a PE teacher and a Baseball and Football coach. My kids also are and have been three sport athletes. I love to share little stories with my students so when March Madness rolled around this year, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to share what my family does! Each year, our family along with the significant others (boyfriends of our daughters) sign up for Fantasy Football and now NCAA brackets. We have to enter who we believe will win the 16 games played. Once we all have picked, we write down and verify what the winner would like as a prize. Let's just say last year's winner was my husband and the two lowest scoring...otherwise know as the BIG losers had to cut his toenails. Yes...he won and yes...this is what they had to do.

This year...if I win, I want everyone that loses to cook a meal for the family. With my picky bunch, it is perfect. No one can complain about MY cooking. I love to share these types of stories...Why you might ask...to show traditions...to show how other families interact...to show them a free way to get everyone doing something together.

Now to connect it to STEM and Science...I get them all excited! I let them know who I want to win...okay I picked Duke...and then I ask them if they would like to have a little basketball competition. I also have to let you know...I use this as an incentive. If they pass the end of the unit test, they are in our bracket...if they do not they take the test over and are spectators. I have very few kids not pass. I then as the kids work on the STEM activity can work with my kiddos that are struggling. I can do a reteach and also build vocabulary.

Take a look at what you can do with recyclables and simple dollar store finds...

Once we set up the constraints and criteria...I assign one side of the table to build the flipper and the other side the hoop. This is what both teams will use for the first round of competition. Whoever wins...moves on. If it is tie...we have a different competition...wadded paper thrown into a garbage can! We play by putting tape on the floor and have them each take turns from the spot. It is like a free throw line...they throw at the same time...whoever gets the first basket wins!

Now we move on to the next round of winners and repeat. Each team gets a set time to shoot and try to score. When that time is up, the next team gets a chance to beat that amount. I give 4 minutes. At two I say switch shooters.  The spectators sit around the courts (tables). We play until we have a winning team! They love it!

I found basketball candy at a Party Store. I also give them a championship metal to show how far they made it! Here is a Free Copy of the March Madness Trophy for stopping by!

Thinking of your own basketball tournament in March or for a great end of the year activity for indoors or outdoors you can get your STEM March Madness Basketball Pack HERE.

STEM Summer Fun!

Summer is a time for slowing down, relaxing, and STEM! I was challenged by a dear science friend who is teaching summer school this year to find something for her kiddos to do when she needs a little pick me up or has a little time to fill during her summer school day!

Something that could take 10 minutes...could take 30 minutes...but as a science teacher during the school year she wanted to find something that could get her students excited about science during the summer time! I was up for the challenge!

I needed to make these activities affordable as well as the materials needed to be easily set up for her to use when the time came for her to fill it with STEM Summer Fun!

For each pack...I made a booklet that she can print back to back, a center card, and writing connections! I can't wait to see if the kiddos like them! Check them out at Science School Yard TPT Store under STEM Summer Fun!


Wisconsin Blogger Meet Up!

Hey...it might not have been Vegas...baby, but it was awesome none the less! This Saturday, a group of 21 Wisconsin Bloggers met up at the Delefield Brewhaus right outside of Milwaukee. We spend several hours networking, sharing, eating, and their were some amazing swag and prizes! I am so fortunate to have met these amazing ladies and I am so appreciative of the two wonderful women that organized this special event! A BIG thank you goes out to Jessica Plemons from Mrs. Plemon's Kindergarten and Angela Nerby from Hippo Hooray For Second Grade who organized this event for us! Stop by their blogs!

There were such AMAZING sponsors that helped make this event even more spectacular! I was so lucky to win Sit Spots! I ordered circles and paws. Our school mascot is the Jaguar...perfect for our little ones! Check out their website for some spots of your own! Other great sponsors were...Kim Geswein Fonts, Kedra Scott Design, ESGI, Tailwind...and many more!

Connecting with these amazing, talented women was worth the 4 hour drive! We all share the same goal...improving education by creating amazing resources and reflecting on how to juggle school, blogging, creating, and still have time for ourselves and our families! I can't wait until we meet again...I see rumblings of another meet up real soon. We need more time to chat and share! Until then...On...Wisconsin!



Tuesday is the first day of  school. I am so excited to see the kiddos again. I have been in my classroom for the second year, so this year I made it a bit more of my own. I am getting things lined up for the new school year.  I am using some great TPT. I have also worked super hard to make some of my own lessons to go with our FOSS units. I am set with my trusty activities for my Kinders.
I am using this wonderful book and then a drawing of us as scientists. You really need this one...it is a great intro to what is science...
We will also make a great graphic organizer to send with the kinders to their rooms!

Now, onto first grade...I am going to be taking the next step...what is a scientist. I have been working hard to create a new unit that works with our animal unit, but this unit fits more in line to the new NGSS science standards. We typically use the five vertebrates and do some fun arts and crafts, but we need to really step it up. I will be publishing my Animal Adaptations unit soon, I am going to test it out myself first. Here is a freebie.

                               Animal Adaptations Freebie
I am going to be using this sheet with the fun book, Are You My Mother?

For my third graders, we start our year with measurement. I still have to make my mock rocks, people, but it doesn't stop us from measuring in the garden. Yes, the garden. First, however...we will be learning to measure in the room. That seems to be something our kiddos forget. I am using some great sheets from the Science Penguin.

As for our 4th and 5th graders, I am working on team building and working together to persevere over a hard experiment. This is what we are doing...thanks to the Smart Chick I am using Can You Save Fred? It's a freebie. Yea!

So, there you have it...my week in a nut shell. If you want to know what I have been doing last week, well trying hard to finish my summer projects, some TPT units. Here is a peek...
This is what I am starting after our first week with my kinders. I am so excited! Force and Motion on TPT
My kinders will follow with a five senses unit...5 Senses Science on TPT... then....

We will finish up with Weather and Climate. I think I now have the new NGSS science standards covered.
Weather and Climate

I am working on finishing my variable unit to add to my FOSS lessons. My goal is next week so that I can use it. It is good to goal set. I learned that from some great TPT authors. Wish me luck on my start of the new school year. The pressure is on to improve our test scores...so October's focus will be on our 4th graders studying for the WKCE tests.

Happy Labor Day!
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