$3 DIY Planner

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Planners are a super trendy, super necessary item. I looked at a few of the popular planners that everyone posts about on social media, and while they are very pretty, they are pricey. In the past I have always printed my own planner pages, which gives me so much more flexibility than a store bought planner. I put them in a binder, but binders can be bulky and not as pretty. Their angled shape makes them not stack as well when you’re carrying your folders and paperwork to a meeting. This year, I decided I wanted a custom planner like everyone else. However, when I saw the price tags, I couldn’t feel good spending that much.

Luckily, the Target Dollar Spot came to this teacher’s rescue once again! I found a pack for $3 that included 5 dividers, 78 weekly planning pages, and 18 calendar pages. I was able to turn that pack into a pretty amazing, and durable, planner!

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Here is how I made my new planner:

1. Take the two prettiest dividers to make into the planner covers. Cut the tabs off of those dividers. (The extra dividers will become the dividers inside your planner.)

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2. Print (or write) the label you want for the front and cut it out. I like to put my name on the front.

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3. Place your label where you like it, and put the divider inside a lamination pouch. Place the back cover inside a lamination pouch. Laminate both the front and back cover to make it more durable.

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4. Cut a hole in the hole punched places. Line up all your pages and dividers just like you like them. Put book rings through each hole Spot.

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I added notebook book paper to the back section for note taking. Here are some pics of the inside.

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Im pretty excited about my $3 ish planner, and I have already been using it! It stacks nicely with my other books and fits perfect in my teacher bag!

If you can’t find this $3 pack, you can make this with a $1 divider set from the dollar spot and print your own pages! Here is the planner I made with my own pages and dollar spot dividers.

I hope this little tutorial can help you get that custom planner you want for a much more affordable price! I would love for you to share pics if you make this, too!! Tag me on social media or comment here on the blog 🙂

How to Build an Amazing Science Program at your School- Part 3 #lessongoals

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The last post in this series covered #planninggoals. I talked about how to plan a scope and sequence for your school year. A mandatory prerequisite to lesson planning 🙂

What makes an outstanding Science program that supports the teachers in your school?

Calling all teachers, specialists, and principals! Its not a daunting task. I am here to help!

Do you wish your current science program included engaging hands-on activities that helped your students experience each standard in a meaningful way?

Do you wish your current science program provided rich informational texts and literacy skill building for each standard?

Do you wish your current science program offered a multifaceted approach to learning each standard to reach every type of learner on every level?

Do you wish your current science program covered the latest standards and trends in science education?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then this post is for you!

Let’s take a look at lesson planning for your science program.

Lesson Planning

Now that you have a year long plan, you can quickly and easily organize standards and materials!

You need to find a lesson planning format that will help you cover each standard in the best way. You need a variety of “teacher input” parts of your lessons. You also need a good attention grabbing intro activity to ignite curiosity and to activate prior knowledge. Literacy and hands on learning opportunities are big players in student achievement and understanding. Once you have a great selection of “inputs”, you need to find meaningful student “output” activities such as analyzing data, interactive science notebook activities, and projects. End each lesson with a formative assessment, and end each unit with a summative assessment.

I know a lot of people love the 5E lesson planning format. I used it for years before creating a format that I feel works better for me. I use a lesson planning format that I have called Science in Perfect Portions. I feel it covers each concept in depth, while presenting material in an order that is easy for students to follow. Before coming up with this Perfect Portions planning format, I spent hours finding activities and plugging them into my lesson plans. Using this for each week has been a huge time saver!

Take a look at the explanation of my lesson plan format to see how I use it to develop lessons. Click the image below to get the whole lesson planning Science in Perfect Portions kit PLUS a printable template to start planning today. **FREEBIE**

Science in Perfect Portions Lesson Planning Format

Science in Perfect Portions Lesson Planning Format

With a simplified lesson plan format, you can simply go down the line and find activities to plug into each category.

I pull up my lesson planning format template to help me decide what all I need to find for each lesson and standard.

Where do I get ideas and materials? I have two places that I frequent. I absolutely love Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers!!! Huge time savers and a great way to connect with other educators and share ideas.

My pinterest boards are filled with ideas… I am an  idea hoarder, and I’m okay with that.

Since I have made it my career to create science programs and resources for schools and teachers, I am working to build a complete program for every grade level K-8! Big goals, I know, but I have 5th completed, 4th completed, and my Middle School program has many options so far. I plan to complete my K-3 programs this Summer and upcoming school year (2017-2018).

Follow me on this blog, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to see the progress I am making and the ideas I share for science education!

Keep an eye out for the next post and I will cover selecting high quality resources.

How to Build an Amazing Science Program at your School- Part 2 #planninggoals

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Last week we started off this series with #learninggoals. I listed some must have’s for learning goals.

What makes an outstanding Science program that supports the teachers in your school?

Calling all teachers, specialists, and principals! Its not a daunting task. I am here to help!

Do you wish your current science program included engaging hands-on activities that helped your students experience each standard in a meaningful way?

Do you wish your current science program provided rich informational texts and literacy skill building for each standard?

Do you wish your current science program offered a multifaceted approach to learning each standard to reach every type of learner on every level?

Do you wish your current science program covered the latest standards and trends in science education?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then this post is for you!

Let’s take a look at planning your school year out for your science program.

Scope and Sequence Planning

The first step I take in planning is to look over the standards I need to cover for the year, and figure out how to organize them into the weeks of my school year.

Your scope and sequence will give you a starting point to plan for the year and plug in the lessons you have or find for each week. This will simplify your thought process and help you move through the year smoothly.

Try to find a way to group the standards into units by finding which standards are similar or can build off each other. Your scope and sequence may be planned for you by your district, but this template may help you add more focus to their scope and sequence.

Take a look at the first page of my scope and sequence in 4th grade science to see how I separate standards into lessons. My lessons all follow both NGSS and TEKS (Texas) to make sure all topics are well covered. Click the image below to get the whole scope and sequence PLUS two printable scope and sequence templates. **FREEBIE**

Scope and Sequence Page

Year at a Glance Plan 4th grade science

 

Keep an eye out for the next post and I will cover lesson planning for each week of the year.

How to Build an Amazing Science Program at your School – Part 1 #learninggoals

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What makes an outstanding Science program that supports the teachers in your school?

Calling all teachers, specialists, and principals! Its not a daunting task. I am here to help!

Do you wish your current science program included engaging hands-on activities that helped your students experience each standard in a meaningful way?

Do you wish your current science program provided rich informational texts and literacy skill building for each standard?

Do you wish your current science program offered a multifaceted approach to learning each standard to reach every type of learner on every level?

Do you wish your current science program covered the latest standards and trends in science education?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then this series is for you!

Before we get into my list of must haves for building an amazing science program, lets look at some goals in learning.

#learninggoals

Here is how I see the most effective learning plan in a classroom.

A well structured curriculum will offer your students a stimulating learning environment which provides hands on opportunities to see their standards come to life in real world ways. Throughout the learning process, students need to experience each standard with a literacy-rich, multifaceted approach which presents the concepts in a variety of ways that reaches every learner at their level and style. Teaching with this higher level of engagement will help them reach higher levels of understanding.

Creating a learning environment which is curious and constructive will make a huge impact in student engagement and comprehension. The goals of an engaging learning environment are simple, but effective classroom

#1 Above all else, have fun!

learning games

Test Scores, Schmest Scores is what I say. If you provide fun learning in an interesting and meaningful way, they will learn. I had to do very little intervention in my 5th grade Science classroom to get low level students up to passing our lovely standardized tests. I just found a new way to make learning like play. Think about it. Would you rather go to staff meetings and professional development where you played games like Taboo with your teammates, or sit and take notes and hear someone talk? I know which one I would pick!! By the way, can we start playing game in meetings? Pretty, pretty please. Insert begging emoticon here 🙂  Games, movements, and investigating are key to fun, effective learning. Look at every standard as you are planning and ask yourself, “How can I turn this into a game?” It works every time! Take the simple games like Candy Land, War, and Go Fish. Turn them into a game for a table to play together, or even better, turn it into a life sized game for the whole class to move around and play! This isn’t just for review, it works for learning a new concept as well. Look at this game I made to teach students the parts of life cycles in order.

#2 Get Moving!

I know adding movement into your classroom is a good way to help get those physical activity hours they need for the week, but it also works wonders for the brain and learning. I read article after article about how little movement kids get in their day, and it makes me sad. I don’t want to sit in a meeting all day, do you? I might even get up to go to the bathroom during a meeting just so I can stretch my legs and back and move around some.

Adding movement into the classroom is probably the least expensive way to take your lessons up to higher level learning. I have a blog post coming up later this month with the many ways you can add movement into your classroom, so be watching for it!

I’ll go ahead and share my all time favorite way to add movement into learning: Science Says. We play Simon Says with our Science Terms. The kids would know their science terms and movements so well through this game, that I would see them acting out those movements while working on the STAAR test. Be still my teacher heart!

Grab a printable sample of my Science Says game by clicking the image.

science says

 

#3 Get Talking!

Yes, talking to partners and tables makes for a loud classroom. However, it makes for a better classroom! Kids learn well by sharing ideas with their peers. Kids are naturally talkative creatures. Think about all the kids who follow you around telling you their long-winded stories about what happened on their favorite TV show, or what they did after school yesterday. They love to talk and share, so use that to your advantage. Find ways for them to work together to problem solve, present a concept or creation to the class, or even debate some ideas or predictions on an upcoming lab. When we share ideas as an adult, we learn so much more about the world around us. Think about all the amazing ideas you find and can improve upon in the teacher social media world. Teachers share great ideas from their classrooms on instagram , pinterest, and facebook. It gets me thinking of new ideas for my own classroom! If you aren’t following teachers on these platforms, click the links and do so now .

Most of the learning and “ah-ha” moments I have ever witnessed in the classroom, came through group work and group sharing. Looking at the students in this end of the year  STEM challenge, they are engaged. They are focused, and thinking, and enjoying what they are doing. They may not even know that they are learning!

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#4 Use Trends to Your Advantage

What is it the kids are excited about? What is the newest obsession? Use that in your lessons and have instant engagement. I saw so many super amazing things posted on social media of teachers taking advantage of that Pokemon-Go hype last year.  Think about those oh-so-annoying fidget spinners. I know you want to chuck them out the back door, but they are so hot right now and you can find a use for them in your lessons. You could put one on the front table and tell students to race the spinner to draw the carbon dioxide – oxygen cycle diagram as fast as they can. They are playing with a toy that they love, and you are getting in that review that you love. Its a Win-Win!

Watch my fidget spinner go while my kids clean their room. It worked!! They never clean their rooms this fast!

A few of the topics I will be covering in this series over the next couple weeks are:

#2 Organizing Your Thinking – A great place to start! –with FREEBIES–

#3 Planning – Choosing an effective lesson planning format and filling it with the best types of high quality resources. –with FREEBIES–

#4 How to Pick High Quality Resources – This may be the most important part. You don’t have to break the bank, either!  I will share my favorite resources here! –with FREEBIES–

#5 Classroom Setup – This is a big one. I will cover interactive notebook storage, word walls, seating, prep time savers, and much more! –with FREEBIES–

#6 Why I Absolutely Love Teaching – Having the right perspective on your classroom, materials, coworkers, and students will turn your job into something you love! Let’s slightly modify that cliche work quote I see all over the internet and posters into saying: Love what you do, where you’re at, and you’ll never work a day in your life.

All these posts will come out over the next few weeks, so keep checking back and don’t forget to sign up to get my email alerts for new posts! (You can sign up to follow my blog by email by clicking the “follow” button on the right.)

I hope this helped get you thinking about a few things to work into your curriculum! The next posts will be full of good information [and freebies!] you won’t want to miss out!

 

 

 

How to Create Lapbooks for the Interactive Science Notebook

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Lapbooks had been showing up in my Pinterest feed more and more, and I wanted to find the best way to use them in a science classroom. All the lapbooks I come across look fun and interactive, and I know students would enjoy creating and using them.

Thinking over the many uses of a lapbook in a science classroom, I decided that they would be a great addition to an interactive science notebook. Essentially, lapbooks and interactive notebooks both give students an interactive place to collect and store new information for future practice and reference.

One thing bothered me about lapbooks. Where would I keep these lapbooks in my classroom? I have always organized and stored student notebooks in my classroom. Each table with its own crate to hold the notebooks. Students can take their notebooks home for review or homework help as needed, but having a dedicated place of storage in the classroom cuts down on students losing and destroying them. A lapbook for each student, for each topic, would really add clutter to my already filled classroom. **Idea** Make the lapbooks IN the notebooks!

mini lapbook image.pngI have a system for creating lapbooks for each topic in your science lessons, and how to get a whole lapbook onto a page in the student notebook.

  1. Create a lapbook using printer paper and glue it into the notebook on the input side.
  2. Use the materials that you already have in your lesson files to fill the lapbook with valuable information and learning tools.
  3. Create these lapbooks during the time you already use for interactive notebook input.

Students can always look back and review the interactive learning tool you have provided for them! This is great for test prep and review.

Easy to create, easy to store, and easy for students to use!

Grab this FREE mini lapbook guide with set up and printables!

Lapbook Template

 

Here is my Complete List of What to Include in your Lapbooks for the Interactive Science Notebook:

  1. Topic/ I Can Statement or Standard
  2. Guiding Question to Answer
  3. K-W-L or Schema Building Activity
  4. Vocabulary Matching (Cards and Definitions can be found in these review stations.)
  5. Anchor Chart
  6. Lab or Activity Sheet
  7. Interactive Science Notebook Input Activity

**Print on the setting “4 per page” to get the printables small enough for your mini lapbook.

You can always take this lapbook idea and use it for a file folder sized lapbook if that is the format you like best!

This whole system could be easily modified to work in a math or history/ social studies classroom, too!! The possibilities are endless 🙂

Have fun making Interactive Science Notebooks even more interactive!!!

How to get your work done during the school day (and leave on time)

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Hi teacher friends! Since school is starting back up, I want to share my secret to keeping my sanity while teaching. I am a planner, and I figured out very quickly that teaching was a job that needed serious time management. At first, I spent nights and weekends grading papers. It took me four hours on Sunday nights to plan my week’s lessons and write my lesson plans to turn in to my principal. I spend who knows how many hours online and in book stores researching the best creative and effective ways to teach my content. When you spend ten hours at school teaching, prepping, tutoring, and planning, the last thing you want to do (or need to do) it work at home.

We all need a nice, relaxing, enjoyable home life. I have found that having hobbies and date nights and family movie nights and attending church all help me live a happy life. Working long hours and continuing to work at home take away those joys.

I know that teaching is a demanding career. Never before did I have so much responsibility, diversity, planning, data, or training like teaching required. We teachers have a great deal of information and activities to cram into each day of the school year. I have worked in all exemplary schools with very high expectations on the teachers. So, I know the incredible stress of needing your students to pass state tests. I am hoping that sharing some ways I found to get my work done at school and leave on time will help you find ways to do the same.

  1. Get to work at least 30 minutes before the kids get there. This will give you time to make sure you have everything you need for the day, look over your plans, start the day quietly, and maybe even catch up or get ahead on copies or grading.
  2. Sneak in time to grade student work. I would grade while I ate, while I made copies, while I waiting on a meeting to start, and after school. Its never a good idea to grade while you should be monitoring or teaching. If the students are in your care, its probably not the best time to grade. Grading student work using a remote (CPS) system can be a huge time saver, if it is a multiple choice assignment. I used the remote system for grading homework assignments quickly. It also gave us a chance to talk about each question as a class, and give the class and me an idea how well everyone was understanding the questions.
  3. Make class time count. The more involved you are in assessing and redirecting and guiding student learning, the better they will “get it” the first time. As students work, walk around observing, asking questions, and assessing their work. If you can work with each student individually throughout the day on their assignments, then you may be able to tutor within each lesson. This just makes your time more effective. I am not saying this will replace your normal tutoring time, but they will be more successful with your extra attention throughout the day. For each topic, teach it and show it in a variety of ways. The more your students experience and re-experience a topic, the better it will “stick” with them. They say it takes reading or hearing something seven times to commit it to memory. How many times do your students see or hear the content? Repetition is a great method for helping students commit it to memory.
  4. Plan during your planning period. I know meetings and obligations come up during your planning period, but use that as much as possible to plan. I recently wrote a post about how I use a system to plan efficiently. Find a system that will work for most units, and you can just plug the materials in. Here are a couple examples of my lesson planning.

This is a planning page that shows my overall system of planning resources for a lesson. lesson brainstorming imgHere is an actual lesson plan that I have written for 5th grade science. It will show you how those resources fit into my week. Every week just about follows this plan. Same plan, new topic, new resources.Free science lesson- Structures and Functions of Plants and Animals

6. Prep. As part of my planning, I sort the copies I make and set up the materials for the next day. Here is an overview of my prep methods:

Make lesson plans at least three weeks ahead. Make copies at least one week ahead. Place labels on an empty counter space for each day of the week. On Thursdays, stack the copies and materials you need for each day of the following week on those labels. On Thursday,  you can also move your Friday (of this week) materials to your desk for easy access. When it comes to a lab or activity that requires a material list. I would set that up the day before. After school the day before a lab or activity, set out a basket for each table. Fill the baskets with the materials each group will need. You can either place a basket at each table, or you can have a group member pick up the materials when needed. This seriously would take me about 20 minutes after school. *As you write your lessons, think ahead to what materials you will need for those lessons to make sure you have them when that week comes around.

7. Make a Happy List. Okay, this is just a fun thing for you to do. What are ten activities that make you happy? Make your list and aim to do at least one of those things each week. Here is my happy list:

happy list

And, I could add chalk art while the kids play to that list. 🙂

Whatever your workload this year, make time for yourself. Love yourself, and I believe your teaching will be even more successful!

Best Wishes this year!

Back to School: 3 Steps to Streamlining Your Lesson Planning

3 steps to lesson planning

July is almost over already?!?! Summer goes by faster and faster each year I think. July is the month I always scheduled my CPE and professional development workshops to prepare for the upcoming school year. I also get organized and set up for my school year in July. I am a bit of a planning nerd, so a good deal of my lessons and classroom were usually set up by the time I left the previous school year. But, I always used July to really get it together.

Okay, so where do I begin planning an entire year?

Evaluate, Simplify, Plan

step 1 evaluate

First, I evaluate what I need to cover. Your state and district standards are always a great place to start. Some schools provide a scope and sequence to let you know when to cover each standard. If you don’t have a scope and sequence, break up your standards across your year. I use a calendar like the picture below to organize the standards in a logical order and take into account school holidays.

planning calendar

2 simplify

Second, I simplify by planing out my system for teaching. I like to begin with a learning goal based on the standard(s) I have planned for the week(s). Having a specific method for teaching in your classroom will help you organize and streamline the planning process of each lesson. Here is the planning method I use:”IDEA” Introduce, Details, Experience, Assess.

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Click here to download my lesson brainstorming pages! My gift to you to help get your school year off to a low-stress start 🙂

If you would like to see a whole year of my lesson planning, check out my Science Lesson Plans freebie on Teachers Pay Teachers. This might help give you an idea how I use resources to cover each part of my teaching process. Mondays usually cover the Introduce lesson, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the Details, Thursdays are the Experience and the formative part of the Assessment. Fridays are a day I use to spread out a longer lesson, or to complete comprehensive Science Stations to review the concepts from the year. This gives you time to work with small groups for extra learning or provide a reteach if the formative assessment doesn’t show the mastery you wanted. A week from my Science Lesson Plans freebie is shown below. I make sure to provide links to any resources I use for each lesson.
Free Science Lessons: Complete and Incomplete Metamorphosis

3 plan

Third, I plan. I look at each standard/ lesson and decide which teaching materials and resources will be the best to cover it. I have a collection of resources that I add to and update each year as I go along to meet new standards or new methods of teaching. I suggest storing your collection of resources in binders. Depending on the amount of resources you have, you can put everything for one unit, or one standard, into its own binder. I started my teaching career using filing cabinets. I swear I had a troll living in my filing cabinet because papers were always all over the place and I had a hard time finding anything. I soon figured out binders were much better for me 🙂 When building your collection, Pinterest is a great place to start! So many great ideas. I can get lost in my Pinterest “Planning” time for hours. It just sucks me right in! I have many education and science boards already set up if you need a place to start looking.

I also have a blog post for each week of the school year for my upper elementary/ 5th grade lessons.

Once you have a good collection of materials and resources, go ahead and start plugging them into your lesson plans!

Here are the big collection bundled resources I have been recommending to the teachers who have already been emailing me for planning suggestions this summer.

Everything 5th Grade Science

2nd grade interactive science notebook bundle

Creating a Science Lab for your Classroom

How to create a science lab in your classroom

Lab Basics

Science Lab Basics

Need help creating a lab in your elementary classroom?  Some schools provide all the supplies you need, some reimburse you for your purchases, and some leave it up to you to fund your classroom supplies. Which ever is your situation, let’s look at a basic cost-effective list of equipment you can use to create a lab for your students. *Prices below were based on my shopping cart on Amazon.com.

1. Group desks together or use tables (Free)

2. Safety Goggles (Set of 6 for $24) Class set

3. Metric Rulers (Set of 36 for $17) Class set

4. Triple Beam Balance ($61) Either one for class demonstrations or one per table

5. Graduated Cylinders (3 for $7) Either one set for class demonstrations or one per table

6. Glass Beakers (3 for $7) Either one set for class demonstrations or one per table

7. Hand lenses ($5) One per table

8. Hot Plate ($15) One for demonstration purposes

9. Electric Circuit Supplies: Wire ($4 a roll), batteries(20 for $8) and holders ($4 each), light bulbs (10 for $5), switches ($14 each); ( a single group set up kit for $14) Have enough supplies on hand for each group to make a circuit with switches

10. Magnet Bar ($4) One per table

11. Microscope – Celestron Digital Microscope ($43) One for class demonstration is probably enough – This one has an attachment so you can put it on the projector or TV screen through your computer!

12. Prism and lens set ($19) One for demonstration purposes

13. Flashlights (4 for $8) One per table

14. Thermometers (10 for $13) One per table

15. Notebook – add to the student school supply list

As labs come up throughout the year, collect and reuse any items you can. Put out emails to friends and staff to collect items you need for labs. Watch garage sales and store clearance sections for good buys. You can also ask local stores and businesses to donate supplies that you need. Most places are happy to help out!

Keep in mind that some of the equipment can be used for class demonstrations, so you will not need to buy multiples. You can look at my list and modify it to your needs. These items are the fundamentals that I use when designing my lessons and labs. If you need lessons, activities, and printables to complete your science class, check out my store!

The most important resource to use when deciding what materials you need for your science classroom is your state and district standards. In Texas, the first section of the standards for Science (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills – TEKS) explain the learning goals for scientific investigations and reasoning. They include a list of lab tools students should be comfortable using.

science standards for lab tools

 

Storage Solutions for Classroom Science Labs

Group the equipment and supplies by the unit they are most often used for, so you will know where to find things. Have cabinets set up for Physical Science, Earth and Space, and Life Science. Keep supplies that you use for labs in gallon freezer bags stored with the corresponding equipment. Most equipment will fall into the Physical Science category, so that will need to be the biggest cabinet. The other two categories will probably contain more supplies than equipment.

Another option is storing lab tools out in the open. Using lab tools as a display serves a dual purpose. You can put the supplies on the top of cabinets around the room with a large label for each one or set. Hang your thermometer on the wall, or hang multiple thermometers in different areas/ temperatures in the room. It would be like a 3-D anchor chart for lab tools. And, it leaves your cabinets open for storing more supplies.

triple beam balance

Science Classroom Decor

I never used anything too fancy to decorate a science classroom. Science is an interesting subject and kids like it. Use that to your advantage and use science as your decor. As you cover topics throughout the school year place anchor charts up around the room. Your walls are prime real estate for learning and anchor charts give students a place to refresh their memory. With bright or bold colors and drawings or diagrams, anchor charts can be very decorative. Science news articles and images can be placed around the room or on bulletin boards for added interest. Like I said in the organization and storage section, storing science tools around the room provide visuals for students to become more familiar with the tools and they make the classroom shelves a little more interesting.

anchor chart1

 

The Twelve Days of Christmas Tips and Gifts: Ninth Day – Classroom Labels

12 days of Christmas tips and gifts

Follow with me each day as I post my 12 gifts of Christmas for teachers. Each day will have a tip to encourage engaged learning in your classroom and a free gift to accompany that tip. Here goes the ninth day!

On the ninth day of Christmas, Elementary Ali gave to me…

Nine Classroom Label Pages!

An interesting and interactive classroom has a lot going on. You have I can statements, essential questions, interactive notebooks, tables, learning stations, lab supply baskets, and the list goes on and on. I have put together a small collection of labels that might help you organize some of the things you have around the classroom.  This week your gift is nine pages of free classroom labels! Here are a couple sample pics:

free labels free labels free labels

Beginning of the year Science

 

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Well, it’s that time of the year again. Back to School season. It is actually one of my favorite seasons of the year! I happen to be a huge school supply need, so back to school shopping is my favorite. I always buy more than I need and spend more than I should, but I get excited. It is also my favorite season because you get to set up your classroom and prepare to delight and enlighten students with a love for learning and a love for science. Teaching is all about making it fun and interesting. I love to share that fun with the kids! Today, I am going to share my ideas for starting off the year with fun with you! I have added hyperlinks into this post in case you need to see which resources I prefer to use.

From day one, I let my students know how much fun science will be. I build up the anticipation by talking about the kinds of labs and activities we will cover throughout the year. This anticipation and excitement is a perfect opening to lead into behavior. I explain to them how important it is to follow the rules and listen in science. Labs can be dangerous of rules are not followed. I always tell my students that if they are not following the rules and listening, I can trust them with lab equipment. Right off the bat, I find behavior better because they want to participate in labs! I have a behavior system of warnings and rewards that my kids have loved. It includes a fishbowl to fill with fish for good behavior, a cat moving closer to the fishbowl for warnings, and the cat can eat fish out of their bowl for each redirection after the cat gets to the bowl. Works like a charm! The reward I find most effective is allowing students to pick their seating chart for a period of time. They actually work pretty hard to get rid of my seating chart. A daily reminder that good behavior = labs and fun activities helps. They always say to start the year off tough and scare the kids into good behavior. Well, at 5 feet 1 inch, I am not scary. I can’t be scary if I try my hardest. I did worry I would have troubles with discipline because of my lack of scare tactics, but my creativity paid off and I never felt I had lost a student. No student wants to be left out of a lab! I think I had one or two that did miss a lab and completed a handout over the information. It only happened once to each of them 🙂

It really helps to get your classwork started from day one. Don’t plan nonsense days for the first week of school for two reasons. One, the kids will consider it play time because they can tell it is not an important week and you have lost them from the beginning. Reason two, time is a precious commodity in teaching. You have way to much to accomplish in just a few months. Don’t waste a minute of learning time. Begin by making anchor charts with your students to outline classroom behavior expectations and any routines you will have in place. This introduces the concept of anchor charts, and gives you some wall decor to start off the year. Day one, I hit the ground running with setting up the interactive science notebook. This is the perfect time to introduce any daily routines and procedures. I like to start everything off with the Nature of Science Unit because it is basic and perfect to introduce the science routines like Science Wall, Daily Science Starters, the Interactive Science Notebook, and labs. Day one is usually setting up the science notebook with the table of contents and going over how to store them each day. The second day is usually when I start the science wall and daily science starters to accompany a lesson on lab safety.