Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Science News Bulletin Board

For the past 2 years, I've used one of my little bulletin boards as a homework/missed work board. At the end of the day, I put any papers we worked on in the file folders that were stapled to the board. This worked pretty well but since I changed my big bulletin board, I felt like I needed to change my little one as well, if not just for a change of scenery. Here was my board before...

Kind of ghetto, I know, but I didn't want to print out letters, then CUT OUT letters to put on the folders.

With my new board, I searched google for ideas but didn't find anything that really struck my fancy. I didn't want to do anything specific to a certain area of science I was teaching because then I would have to constantly change it to what I was teaching.

THEN I saw this board...

What a great idea!! I am always trying to get the kids to connect science to our everyday lives. One of my favorite websites for science is! It's awesome. So I figured that I could find tons of articles and print them out and post them (change them out weekly or every other week) so the kids can read how science is used in everyday life. Another thing I like is that these articles come with a printer friendly version of the article so it's easy to print.

My favorite part about this website is it has lots of information that deals with STEM. I recently attended a SciGirls workshop that focused on getting girls (8-11) interested in STEM and how to pump them up for it. It got me really motivated.

But I wanted more in my little bulletin board. Kids love fun facts. I have 3 of the Weird But True books from National Geographic. Book #1 that I have was pretty torn up so I decided to tear the pages out and that I would have a section on the board that displays a few of these cool facts at a time and switch them out weekly. There are enough facts in that book to last me all year!

So my bulletin board idea was now concrete. One part for fun facts, and one part of science in the news. I am quite pleased with my final product. The article I posted is about museum science and you can read that article here.

Happy teaching!!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Test Taking Skills Foldable

Every teacher has their way of teaching things.

One of those things is test taking strategies. There are a million things that you could say or do, but this year, I thought I would create a foldable for the kids that explains these strategies the Brazell way.

I got the idea for a test taking skills foldable from this pin on Pinterest...

My creative juices were flowing a little bit better than with the bulletin board I made, so I was able to take this and morph it into something more relevant to my classroom.

I did 6 flaps total.

1- Read the question twice
My kids always tell me they only read it one time and after going over the answer with the kids, they say "Oh, I didn't read the question right." So I encourage them to read it twice before even looking at the answers to make sure they read everything and hopefully understand it.

2- Open your filing cabinet
One of our special education diagnosticians refers to the brain as a filing cabinet. It stores information and we just have to go back and get it. I always tell my kids to try and answer the question without even looking at the answers. What do THEY think the answer is? So I ask them, does this questions require prior knowledge that you need to go get? Or is the answer in the question? If you need to go back into your filing cabinet, go get that information and use it!!

3- Underline vocab words
Vocabulary is so important. Questions can be so difficult if they don't understand the vocabulary being used. I pound vocab into their brains. So they need to make sure they understand the vocab before they can answer the question.

4- Highlight key words
To me, key words are when, where and how something is going down. Questions about lab safety for example, it's important to know if you should wear gloves before, after or during a messy experiment. So I encourage them to find these words so they have an idea of time and place.

5- Circle amounts
If there is a question that is basically spelling out information on a chart, but not giving you an actual chart to look at, the numbers or amounts are important so I tell them to notice those things.

6- Slash the trash
Now we get to the answers. They are pretty good about being able to cross out one or two answers. Once those are gone, chances are they will get closer to the correct answer.

I'm sure these could be used in any order really, but they are all important to me and so I wanted to have something the kids could physically hold and read to help them remember these steps. I plan on letting them have them out for tests. We'll see how it goes!!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Student Organization

As the only science teacher for my grade, I see all 5 classes every day. So it's around 110 students a day. As a teacher, I have to be super organized or I go crazy. Trying to get my kids to be organized is another story.

Getting parents to be involved in their kids work is a whole other can of worms. So I wanted to share what I do to keep things running smoothly with so many students.

For each class, I have a crate that can hang those green file folders. Each student has their own "file". As we do work through the week, their papers get put in their file. If we are doing an activity that's not for a grade, they put it in their file at the end of class. If it's graded, then I grade it and put it in their file but on lazy days I just pick a few students to file for me :)

So come Friday, they have a weeks worth of work. On the first day of the next week, I have them take all their papers out and get a slip of paper called a "work check". They have to take their work home to show their parents what we are doing in science. The parents have to sign that slip of paper that says "I have seen my child's work for the week" and that sucker is due the next day.

This way, the parents are aware of what's going on school wise, grade wise, etc. and I don't get emails or phone calls asking me why their kid's grades are low. It also teaches the kids responsibility to get things turned in on time.

So this method has worked very well for me in my classroom so hopefully it can somehow be incorporated into your classrooms if you see a ton of kids every day. HAPPY TEACHING!!


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