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Showing posts with label distance learning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label distance learning. Show all posts

Virtual Science Tips for Back to School

It is easy to go down a rabbit hole of anxiety, which I feel often. It is easy to be upset about the comments we read about educators, however what we can control is how we present ourselves to our students and do our absolute best to stay positive for them and for our own mental stability. No matter what, that is all we can control at times. 

I want to prepare and get ready for the next year, even though I still have no clue how long I will have to teach each class, what platforms I have to work within, and if we will even be teaching live, so what can I do to get ready? As a science teacher, I now have to figure out how to teach science virtually. I need to learn from any mistakes from last year, and move forward into a productive, positive road to the 2020-2021 school year. 

On today's playlist in the School Yard:

1.  Tips to teaching science virtually

2.  Focus Questions

3. Check list of ideas to get started

Let's get focused in Science For Virtual Learning or A/B Hub!

This year, I need to find ways for my science supplies to go home or be in individual bags for easy transporting in case I wind up on a cart when we go back. My biggest obstacle is the amount of bags and supplies I need to get in order in my three bonus days I am receiving in order to get ready. Supplies will be bagged and lessons will be given all set to go for the first five weeks. I also created virtual scavenger hunts for students at home that allow for discussion of key science concepts along with the ability to get up and move. If you are interested in seeing what I mean, check it out here!

Focus Questions: 

Some of my friends are already in school, so I thought I should start to focus on the questions that need to be answered before I start the new year. What will you focus on as you plan to head back? Here are my focus questions that I am working on to have set in place before we start the new year. ( I have three days of bonus pay days they are giving us, so I need to be set by Thursday)...

Check list to get started:

Need a checklist to help you consider what you need to get yourself ready for the 2020-21 school year? Here is a checklist that I made for our science team that is meeting this week. We need to consider thinking outside the box, focusing on the why and finding ways to support each other! 

Thanks for joining me in the School Yard! Science can be child's play even in a pandemic!


6 Ways To Fit Science Into Your Day

Trying to teach intermediate students science isn’t always easy. There are a lot of supplies to often set up and the concepts at times are much harder to explain. Often, science can even get put on the back burner. I am asked by other educators how do I find that extra time that is needed to give quality science curriculum? So, I want to share with you today a few quick tips to finding that time and making it count!

Targeting Standards

1.      Make sure that you are pinpointing the exact standard that you want to cover. whether it is 
NGSS or your districts requirements. Utilize the NGSS cross cutting strategies within their plans. 
That is a great guide to how you can even add the required concepts within your reading and writing 

Non-Fiction Science Connections

2.      Non-fiction reading in common core and in NGSS cross cutting … is a perfect way to add 
science concepts. For example, having a hard time fitting in ecosystems or food chains because the 
supplies needed seem a little out of reach? Then, a non fiction book and science/reading station is a 
perfect way to add a concept that seems out of reach. I purposely utilize Epic books which has a ton 
of great non-fiction science themed books that are perfect for your reading lesson. They even have a 
variety that can be read to students in order for you to differentiate learning. 

Tie that in with digital resources and are set to go! Digital resources come in so many different 
options. From Boom Cards to Google Slides it also allows for teachers to find ways to add science 
into their day! 

Science Stations in Reading/Writing

3.      Science Stations during your reading/writing block is another way to use your time wisely. If 
you incorporate a non fiction book along with a small experiment that has easy to follow step by step 
directions, this is another way to use your time wisely. Allowing students to share their learning with 
an app or internet tool is way to assess for understanding. My new go to for this is flipgrid. 

I set up a class grid, allow for students to go there for my pre-recorded instructions that I video for 
them, or you can even insert a youtube video  showing an experiment that you find online. If you just 
want them to learn more background knowledge about a science topic allow for that video to be 
inserted on flipgrid as well! Many of my colleagues are able to utilize google classroom which I wish 
I was able to use as well. Our district required their own paid version to house lessons in, but another 
great way to add science lessons in an app for them to utilize can be stored in google classroom.

Flipped Lessons

4. Flipped lessons are my new favorite way to teach science after going virtual this year. A flipped       lesson allows you to prerecord a lesson, a concept, and/or background information that you would have used class time for. As students view the video before class, they are getting the needed information that you would have used class time for. This frees up time for you to do demonstrations and experiments and not use the time in class to do that. I still need to review the concepts for friends that didn’t watch ahead of time, but if a student misses out on the experiment, because now they must first watch the video and do the follow-up questions, they don’t want to miss the “fun” stuff. The amount of students not watching the prerecorded lessons declines.  I also find that if I record my demonstration then the students that miss out can now see that or review if they missed something.
You might be saying that is  a lot of time that is used to create those videos, but once you have them and you label them, you are set for years to come. I use screen-cast-omatic. There are other video sites such as screencastify that work perfectly well, too.  Not sure you can know what to say on your video? Use a teleprompter program on your computer and read what you would like to say. you can see how I do that in my video link here:

Supply Short Cuts and Quick Lessons

5. Find lessons, that are already made for you. If you have a kit such as FOSS, which we use, bag up the lessons for easy year after year accessibility. When we went into quarantine mode, it was a bit easier for me to grab my lessons out of the box, because they were all labeled and prepackaged. I put mine in plastic ziplocked baggies and label them with permanent markers and place them in the kit along with the sheets I used for the lessons if I utilized printed versions. If you have no kits, then make sure that you find a storage system that works best for you. I tub my kindergarten lessons along with the picture books and supplies I even use for it. This really does save a ton of time. If you don’t already do that then you will thank me!

Boom Learning Decks

6.Boom learning decks are another go to for easily checking my students for understanding! I create decks that focus on my big ideas. I can give my students a boom deck right after I teach conductors and insulators to see if they got my lesson and the concept I was teaching.   It allow my students immediate feedback to their learning and if you utilize the data you can use it for grading purposes.

Take a look at these science boom decks that can make adding science to your day a little bit easier!
Science School Yard Science Boom Decks

I hope you can find ways to add science to your busy day...your kids will thank you!

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Top 4 Tools To Help Teach Science Remotely

Remote learning by any means has not been easy for anyone. We all had quite a learning curve dealt to us, but it is how we have been able to adapt and find new ways to get to your students that is key to everyone's success! What I have found in the last six weeks, is that I keep evolving and finding new ways to implement my lessons. To help you find new ways, too, I am sharing with you my favorite finds. Here are my top 4 teaching tools that have got me through teaching remotely. 


I have been using flipgrid for a meeting place for my Science Lessons and classrooms. This has allowed me a site that I can see my students, check for understanding, as well as have the accountability that I need.  I am able to star the assignments that I have looked at and even comment back through an email setting, or even create a video for them! I also utilize the ability to host a five minute or less video review lesson or even share a video from youtube for them to watch. You Tube might be a great place to house your video lessons that are over 5 minutes then for them. Students can showcase an assignment by showing you what they did and explain their thinking. 

Flipgrid are the meeting place for your classroom, your school, your department or any learning community to discuss topics or lessons. Flipgrid sets up an  icebreaker. For science you can have students add lesson/experiment reflections, share their thinking, explore STEM principles, give mini-presentations, and showcase their learning. Setting up a rubric so that the students can see what they need to do to show you what they know can be utilized by adding a document to flipgrid.

 How I use it:
  • I voice record my lesson
  • I can star the students I graded so when new ones come in, I know where to start
  • I use the mixed tapes to store the science stars of the week 
  • I use the mixed tapes to store students that still need my help
  • I have students share their thinking and then I can check for understanding using a rubric
  • I share videos I want them to view from youtube
  • I email back to the students a personal message
  • It allow students to view their friends and make comments on what they liked and learned

Screencastify or Screen-cast-omatic

Screen Casts are designed from the ground up to be the safest, simplest video creation tool for teachers and students. I can  make learning more personal for my students and can provide my science lessons each week for distance learning. In the future I can use them for flipped classrooms lessons, by recording lessons, assignment explanations, and giving my students verbal feedback. I can tape myself incorporating a lesson, and use the teleprompter to write my lessons and then choose web cam and screen, make my cam the smallest it can go then teleprompt above so it looks like I am looking at the camera! I just start the prompter and it allows a space at the bottom for me to put the web cam! 

How to use it in your science classroom:
  • screencast an experiment so they can watch it before, during, and after class
  • tape your lessons for kids that are gone
  • give directions for assignments to share out
  • screencast a lesson introduction
  • use for flipping lessons and saving time once they come to class if they view it ahead of time

Boom Learning
I have loved Boom decks for my students! Boom is a platform that allows teachers to purchase and/or create digital activities for students. Boom “decks” are made up of individual, digital task cards for students to complete.
I use Boom for...
  • Differentiating my science instruction, different decks for different kiddos
  • It gives students immediate feedback (dings for correct, oops for incorrect and they get to try again!)
  • Students Get EXCITED about learning with badges and fun digital “rewards” for their work
  • Holding students accountable for their independent work especially in stations or at home
  • It saves me a ton of time because it automatically grades. 
  • It also saves paper...it's paperless!

What do I need in order to use Boom in my classroom?

  • A computer, tablet, or interactive whiteboard
  • An internet browser that is 3 or fewer years old (OR the free Boom app)
  • A free or paid  Boom Account (if you open a new account and click a link you get from a TeachersPayTeachers Boom card purchase, you’ll get 3 months free btw)
  • An internet connection that students can use on a computer/tablet to access the Boom decks
  • you can have a free account which will let you utilize fast pins when purchase them, but won't grade them and keep data which a paid membership will do.
Option A: Copy and paste the complete link for students to play
Option B: Go to the Boom main page (boomlearning.com) on a computer (or on the Boom app). Click on the “FastPlay” button. Enter the pin and click “play.” A fast pin is only good for a certain amount of days (14 days) which will tell you on the fast pin button. 
You can create your own boom decks for your students, send the deck link to families or students and it is one of the simplest tools to use and the kids LOVE them! Boom Learning Site can be found HERE!

Google Classroom
Google Classroom  is a free service for schools, non-profits, and anyone with a personal Google account. The best part of this is that a teacher and student can use in and out  of schools. Classroom saves time and paper, and makes it easy to create classes, "hand out" assignments, communicate with each other, keep track of student assignments,  and be organized.

How to use it in science classrooms:
  • Once set up, you can share a code with your class to join. Once they join they can find your assignments, videos, and class work inside the class.
  • This is paperless, so it saves time with copies
  • It allows everyone to one place for organized science lessons, google documents, flipped lesson videos and more!
  • This allows for easy communication and can be used in class, in their homerooms, and at home on any device.
  • Best yet, it's a google suites product so it connects with all your other google activities such as google slides and forms!
I would love to hear what tools have gotten you through this as well. Keep on keeping on!

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Remote Science and STEM

As we are learning how to teach remotely, we find ourselves learning how to be even more flexible than before. We see our students and families struggling and may even be struggling a bit ourselves. Our district last week, asked us to take a step back from the rigor of what being in school is like. We stepped back to reflect on what is so very important right now, the mental health of our students and parents. To continue to provide learning opportunities, our encore team chose to celebrate this week through a STEM challenge! We are creating crazy hats and then wearing them at our google meet with our students!

This is just a start to the STEM challenges that can connect us all!  We want to find ways that students and families can do something fun and hands-on together with the supplies they have around the house.

Here are our challenges for the next few weeks:

1.  Crazy hat design and share with the focus on how we know that this is a big crazy, but how can we make the best of it? How can we support you? What do you need?

2. Make it move and dance party, connecting what we need to do to stay active for our health and our mind

3. Building Connections: blocks and Lego or recyclables and share your favorite virtual lesson so far

4. Tower Talk: building towers and talking about positives and how to make lemonade with lemons

5. Bridge Building problem solving session share what might be hard and what we can do together to support each other

6. Future's so bright I gotta wear shades sunglasses challenge and what we want to see for the future

7. It's getting warmer, let's make some summer shoes to share and have a virtual runway show and summer send off!

Supply List From Around the House:

  • egg cartons
  • junk mail for paper
  • empty food boxes
  • toilet paper rolls
  • plastic cups, forks, spoons
  • rocks
  • sticks
  • pencils
  • cans
  • toys
  • Legos
  • jars/bottles
  • tissue
  • plastic bags
  • paper bags
  • baggies
  • aluminum foil
  • plastic wrap
  • wax paper
  • paper towels/napkins

Want to find this distance learning pack already to go? Follow the link here for Distance Learning STEM pack 1.

What can your students do with simple supplies found around the house? Have fun finding ways to connect remotely with your students! If you want more virtual STEM ideas check out these packs, too!

Outdoor STEM Digital Resource
Diversity/Positive Growth Mindset STEM
Distance Learning STEM Volume 1
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