Saturday, November 12, 2011

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?

Last week, our classroom finished up a 3 day science project on pumpkins to introduce plants to students. I found this 5 Es lesson in the Science and Children journal archives at NSTA.org. Written by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan, authors of Picture-Perfect Science Lessons, this hands-on lesson encorporates math and science into an engaging, real-life experience for students.

On the first day, students made predictions as to which pumpkins would have the most seeds (mini, small, medium, or large). I used cheap dot stickers (like the ones used at garage sales) to have students mark their predictions on a graph (Hello, math skills!). We then hung this graph up and discussed our results. After graphing, we read the first few pages of the picture book, How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? We then spent the rest of the day in groups scooping out seeds from our pumpkins. It was messy, but lots of fun!

After the seeds dried overnight, we read a few more pages of the story and students spent the next day deciding the most effective way to count their seeds. After counting by 2s, 5s, or 10s, students wrote their total number outside their pumpkins. We finished reading How Many Seeds and discussed the different variables that determine what makes a pumpkin have more seeds than others (I'll leave those as a surprise for when you read the story!).

Finally, I followed up the lesson by having students write down other questions they had on sentence strips. We then discussed how scientists categorize their questiosn into two categories: researchable and testable. Students shared their questions and categorized each one into their categories.

If you decided to complete this lesson, it makes for a really neat bulletin board display, however, I will warn you that the pumpkins will start to smell and mold after about 2-3 days.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fantasy & Realism Bingo!

Last week I wrapped up a week of exploring Fantasy & Realism in books during Reader's Workshop. After brainstorming for a VERY long period of time (and ending up with a headache), I decided to wrap up the week by having students play Fantasy & Realism BINGO.

I made a generic BINGO board, copied it, and had the kids fill in their own spaces (Bonus: they practiced spelling fantasy & realism!).
Bingo Template

When they were finished, I grabbed a tub of books out of our classroom library and showed them the title and cover.



From there I asked them to determine if they thought the book was fantasy or realism and place a token on the corresponding square. When someone had BINGO, I checked their answers and then we reviewed what our answers should have been (I had several winners each round). I had NO idea how much the kids would enjoy playing! They even asked to play during recess!

I'm thinking the next time we talk about Fantasy & Realism, I'm going to read a "snippit" out of a book and let them guess.

What do you think? Any other ways I could change it to make it even more challenging?

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Picture-Perfect Science, Part 2

My week with the Picture-Perfect Science authors is over. :( Although I did learn some cool stuff from Karen and Emily, unfortunately, I cannot share the pages from the books with you (darn copyright, laws!). However, I do have some pictures to share of a lab we tried!

You should know what I love about Picture-Perfect is that Karen and Emily have made teaching science with picture books and the 5Es so easy! This was demonstrated when we completed the "What's Poppin'?" lesson from their first book, Picture-Perfect Science Lessons (*This lesson is designed for grades 5-6, however, with some modifications, this lesson can fit into any grade level).When using this lesson in your classroom, begin by engaging students with the picture book Popcorn! by Elaine Landau (You can also use Tomie dePaola's The Popcorn Book with this lesson). Next, explore and explain by completing the "What's Poppin'?" lab. This step is followed by elaborating with the brand test, and finally, evaluating with a popcorn poster. I can't begin to tell you how much fun this lab is! It fits in really well with introducing lab safety and instructing how to design an experiment.

On another note: Karen and Emily really emphasized science misconceptions during their workshop. As teachers, we need to discover students' misconceptions to make teaching more effective. Students' misconceptions come from many places including: parents, teachers, picture books, and even from their own discovery.

I know what you're thinking: "What? Picture books? I thought they were accurate since they're published works?!" Well, that's not always the case. There are many misconceptions in picture books that we as teachers don't even catch (I can't believe how many misconceptions they pointed out in books that I have read to my students - I felt so bad!). Research shows that students can carry these misconceptions with them until they are adults, even after someone has shown them they are not correct!

Karen and Emily made a great point that you can't edit every picture book you read to your students, otherwise, the fun in reading can be lost. You can, however, have students look for misconceptions in books after learning has taken place and while wrapping up your unit.

Science plays a very important role in our lives and it is being forced out of our instructional time little-by-little each year. Using picture books to help teach science allows us to cover reading strategies and create meaningful learning simultaneously - what teacher doesn't want that?!

If you get a chance to read a Picture-Perfect Science Lesson book or take a workshop: DO IT! I have learned so much that I would be typing for a week if I posted it all!

What do you think? Have I convinced you to try out picture books during science instruction?

*Please know that I am in no way being paid to type about Picture-Perfect Science Lessons. I just really love the idea of using picture books to guide science instruction!*

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Picture-Perfect Science, Part 1

Some of you might remember the exciting news I posted about in April when I found out that I was selected to participate in a grant that provides 3-years of science professional development to several districts in our area. Today was the first day of our 2-week summer institute - Woohoo! This week, our guest speakers are the authors Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan. Known for their books, Picture-Perfect Science Lessons and More Picture-Perfect Science Lessons, Ansberry and Morgan wrote ready-to-teach, inquiry-based lessons that include the 5Es (engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate). What I really love about their books is that I can read quality picture books to students while discussing reading strategies and science topics at the same time (and we all wish we had more time for science and social studies instruction!).

During our session today, we talked about (and tried!) several lessons from Picture-Perfect Science Lessons and discussed how the 6 reading strategies from Strategies that Work (Harvey and Goudvis) tied in with the lessons. Lessons from Picture-Perfect are engaging and exciting with hands-on activities - "Turtle Hurdles" included using fortune-tellers (who remembers those from elementary school?!) to practiced new information. If your librarian or principal asks for PD book suggestions this year, I strongly encourage you to suggest the 2 Picture-Perfect books. *Note: I'm sure there are copyright laws on the Picture-Perfect books, therefore, I will not be posting anything from their books right now. But don't worry! I'm going to ask them if it would be okay if I post a few bits and pieces from their book (keep your fingers crossed!).

Oh, and before I forget - Emily and Karen did share a secret with us: they are in the process of writing a 3rd Picture-Perfect Science Lessons book! What do you think the title will be? It has to involve Picture-Perfect in the title! :D

I look forward to sharing new ideas with you that I discover through Science Matters. Stay tuned - it's gonna be grrrreat!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Favorite Fonts Linky Party!!

Finally in First is having a Favorite Fonts Linky Party! How fun and original! I have so many fonts that I love and I struggled to pick just one. So, I caved and picked all of my favorites (I know, I know - it's supposed to be just 1)! This list has fonts that are paid, free, and one that came on my computer.
*Coming Soon & Kranky can be found here. Scroll down to find each font and then select the 'Download' button. Google asks if you would like to contribute a monetary donation to the font designer, but if you look carefully, there is a link to download the font for free.

*DJ JustWrite, DJ Light, DJ Picket, & DJ Squiggle are paid fonts that are found at DJ Inkers'. Only DJ Squiggle can be downloaded individually, the others are available for purchase on her font cd's.

*Marker Felt is a font that was installed on my Mac when I bought it. I did find a link that has a Marker Felt font that is very similar to mine and it's free!

*Pea Jane is available for free at Kevin and Amanda.

Thanks for stopping by!

Has it really been this long?! Plus a few projects...

WOW! I can't believe it has been since May 19th since I've blogged! I wanted to share a few things I've been up to since school got out.

First, I decided that my office needed a makeover. I found this desk and chair at a store called Trendz Market in KC. Trendz is like a flea market with booths that small business owners can rent and sell their products. I found this chair and desk from reDeux and had to have it!
What do you guys think? I know I don't have a whole lot of room to work on my desk, but I really wanted to scale down. Before I had a huge desk and it became a catch-all for tons of junk!

Second, I began working on organizing all of my resources (ideas, curriculum, etc.) for teaching. I used to keep everything in 3-ring binders organized by subject and then by topic inside, but I quickly ran out of room - I needed something a little different! I decided to organize by color and then by topic inside each color. I used file folders that I bought from Pendaflex and mailing & shipping labels from Avery.
Next, I assigned a subject to each color: reading - red, writing/grammar - yellow, math - green, science - blue, and social studies - purple. *Note: The purple folders didn't come with the box of folders. I had them already and I needed 5 different colors.

Then, I labeled the topic on the tab at the top (addition, subtraction, time, money, etc.) and then typed the corresponding grade-level expectation (GLE) on a label and attached it to the front. I used mailing labels for topics that only had 1 GLE that applied, and shipping labels for topics that had several GLEs that applied.
Okay, what do you guys think? Is this a good idea for organizing? I plan on putting the folders in my filing cabinet at school. I also plan on organizing other topics (holidays, parent communication, etc.) next. I'm also in the process of creating a spelling/vocabulary program that is based on a program created by Beth Newingham. I'll post more on the spelling program as I get further into it!

Thanks for stopping by!