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

Science Lesson Plans.PNG

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.

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

Science Planning.PNG

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

how to curriculum.png

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!

 

 

 

How to Create Lapbooks for the Interactive Science Notebook

mini lapbooks

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!!!

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.

lesson brainstorming img

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

Week 24 Science Lessons: Carbon Dioxide – Oxygen Cycle and Photosynthesis

Grade 5 Science

Week Twenty-four Lessons

This week we will continue the Environments Unit. We are going to take a look at how the carbon dioxide- oxygen cycle and photosynthesis work, and why they are important. Links to actual materials and lessons are provided throughout this post. I hope you can find something to help make planning this year a little, or a lot, easier!

free science lesson - carbon dioxide- oxygen cycle and photosynthesis

TEKS/ Standards:

(D) identify the significance of the carbon dioxide-oxygen cycle to the survival of plants and animals. Supporting Standard

“I can” Statements:

I can identify the importance of the carbon dioxide – oxygen cycle to the survival of plants and animals.

Essential Questions:

Monday – What does a plant use for photosynthesis?

Tuesday – Why is the carbon dioxide- oxygen cycle important for life?

Wednesday – Why is photosynthesis important for life?

Thursday – How do the carbon dioxide – oxygen cycle and photosynthesis work together?

Friday – Could we live if the carbon dioxide – oxygen cycle stopped? Explain your thoughts.

Word Wall Words:

Photosynthesis

Lesson Ideas and Materials:

Materials:

Science Wall Complete each day with your choice of word wall words.

Organisms and Environments Interactive Science Notebook

Science and Literacy Carbon Dioxide – Oxygen Cycle and Photosynthesis

Organisms and Environments Anchor Charts

Life Science Vocabulary

STAAR Science Review Stations

Lesson Ideas:

(Monday) Students will complete the Photosynthesis/ Boiling Water Analogy Activity. Complete the first 2 columns of a Word Wall Builder Chart. –All this is in the Science and Literacy Carbon Dioxide – Oxygen Cycle and Photosynthesis

(Tuesday) Students will read an informational text about the Carbon Dioxide – Oxygen Cycle and Photosynthesis and complete a graphic organizer to process the information. Complete the third column of the Word Wall Builder Chart. –All this is in the Science and Literacy Carbon Dioxide – Oxygen Cycle and Photosynthesis

photoco23

(Wednesday) Students will complete a summary writing with key terms from Tuesday’s reading. –Science and Literacy Carbon Dioxide – Oxygen Cycle and Photosynthesis. Students will complete the photosynthesis diagram and writing activity in their notebooks- Organisms and Environments Interactive Science Notebook

(Thursday) Students will play the Carbon Dioxide – Oxygen Balloon Toss Game.-Science and Literacy Carbon Dioxide – Oxygen Cycle and Photosynthesis. Complete the Carbon Dioxide- Oxygen Cycle Anchor Chart as a class. –  Organisms and Environments Anchor Charts The students can fill in their printable poster, and you can make one on chart paper to hang up around the room.

balloon toss materialslearning game balloon toss
carbon dioxide - oxygen cycle and photosynthesis

(Friday) Continue the STAAR Science Review Stations this week. Complete one or two rotations of stations this Friday. Only 9 weeks before the STAAR Science!

staarstationscover2014

STAAR review stations

Additional resources:

The following links to the pretty PDF of this lesson plan.

5th Science Lesson Plans

Need materials for younger grades?

The materials in this lesson are intended for 5th graders in Texas, but are taught in a way that they could be easily modified for younger and older grades.

Here is what I have for Earth and Space so far.

Kindergarten Interactive Science Notebook with Word Wall Cards

2nd Grade Organisms and Environments Interactive Notebook

The Twelve Days of Christmas Tips and Gifts: Twelfth Day – Science Cycles Slides

12 days of Christmas tips and gifts

Today marks the end of my 12 days of Christmas. I hope you were able to find something helpful out of this series. Here goes the twelfth day!

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

Twelve Science Cycles Slides!

When teaching science, it is handy to have the common cycles on hand for a quick overview. This slide show I have made can be used as an individual slide from the group as you teach the cycle. The slide show is formatted in a way that it can also be used as an end of the year review game. Students can guess the name of the cycle based on the parts. The parts of the cycle are designed to appear in order during the slide show presentation. Your twelfth gifts of Christmas are twelve science cycles slides. Here is a look at a cycle from the slide show.

science cycles slide show freebie

The Twelve Days of Christmas Tips and Gifts: Eleventh Day – Science Tools Task Cards

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 eleventh day!

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

Eleven Science Tools Task Cards!

Task cards are becoming a popular strategy to encourage interactive learning. You can create simple tasks for students to explore and practice a skill. Your eleventh gifts of Christmas are eleven Science Tools Task Cards for practicing using common elementary science tools. Here is a look at a couple of the free task cards:

Task Cards Freebie

The Twelve Days of Christmas Tips and Gifts: Tenth Day – Higher Level Thinking Activites

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 tenth day!

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

Ten Higher Level Thinking Activities!

It can be challenging to challenge your students. I wanted to give you some ideas to get them thinking. The higher levels of thinking challenges are actually more fun for the students, if you have the right activities planned for them! This week your gift is ten higher level thinking activities! Here are a couple sample pics:

higher level thinking activities higher level thinking activities Slide8 Slide8 higher level thinking activities

The Twelve Days of Christmas Tips and Gifts: Fifth Day of Christmas – Reward Tickets

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 fifth day!

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

Five cost-free reward tickets!

Rewards my first year of teaching cost me well over a hundred dollars. I thought that exciting bouncy balls and light-up toys would convince my students to listen and follow directions. It did work. But to my surprise, the teacher next door had cost-free rewards that worked even better! Today your gift is five cost-free (and editable) reward tickets!

reward tickets