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 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!

group work

#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!

 

 

 

Food Chain Puzzles

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We made some food chain puzzles, and they were such a big hit with the kids! I used them as an intro activity for the unit, but I have teachers using them in their classrooms as a review.

Students color and cut out each organism in the two food chains. They place them on the habitat mat in the order of energy flow. Producer –> Consumer/ Herbivore –> Consumer/Carnivore –> Consumer/ Bigger Carnivore.

Then, they write the food chain at the bottom of their habitat mat. The ocean habitat is shown above, but there is also a savanna habitat food chain puzzle.

Check out the video below to see one of these puzzles in action!