Sunday, March 27, 2011

Science in the Pictures

Armed with a digital camera, my daughter, son, and I made our trip around town. We snapped random photos of everything from rain puddles to stained glass church windows. The beach provided excellent images, as did the local gas station. Why did we become amateur photographers for the day?

Science in the pictures...

Each couple of months, I grab random pictures to give students to view, manipulate, and dialogue about on the smart board. I ask my students to allow the 'inner scientist' out to discuss what we see in the photos. We draw all over the pics. We develop questions. We take the day to just dialogue about what we see, know, and wonder.

I've found this type of exploration to be really beneficial. My students see so much science in the world around them. Given a springboard, they will show you just how much they know. They will develop the coolest questions and investigations. Looking at a picture of our local library windows, the discussion ranged from light reflection to efficiency windows to the seasonal changes shown in the trees around the building to evidence as to when the picture was taken. (This was just from one photo in the last round!)

I can't wait to use this latest round of pics...science in photos!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Where did the day go?

The day started off with organizing our Right to Read week events (better late than never).

Rolled into a great game of star wars dodge ball with my class and the school resource officer. Yes. I did get out many, many times. But, I did hold my own for most of the game. And, it was such a great feeling seeing kids high-fiving each other, me, and the resource officer! When our principal stopped in, I asked him to hold the bells...we had a wicked cool game in the works.

In my first science class, we had a follow up skype session with our tech director. He had answered questions on computers and iPads in the previous conversation. So, he decided to surprise them with a skype call on the iPad 2 from right outside our door! When he walked in the room, the kids were so surprised. It was great.

A student in my afternoon class wore a color changing shirt (sunlight added). So, that was an awesome spin on our light study.

We skyped with our partner class in Amherst for some challenging OAA questions. I was SO proud of my little ones. Without any content coverage of thermal energy, my kids worked their way through a really tough one. Made me feel good about helping develop scientists that problem solve and reason.

By the end of the day, I was prepping my homeroom for next week's right to read activities...book swap, door decorations, free books, stop drop and read, and a character dress up day on Wednesday. Oh yeah...I'll be sporting a Ms. Frizzle outfit. Of course, it will be geared to light and sound energy!

Where did the day go? What a blast! I love my job.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Science Suitcases, Bell's Notebook, and Current Events!

How many students do you think would call themselves a scientist? Not many, I would guess. And, even less as they get older. It seems that our children have an image in their mind that doesn't allow them to see themselves as scientists.

In an effort to change these ideas, I have been trying to give them even more opportunities to see and call themselves scientists...

1. Wrote a grant for supplies for SCIENCE SUITCASES. These suitcases are being loaded up with science manipulatives, journaling materials, and more. We have been drawing names for the suitcases to get them in as many hands as possible. Students take these loaded suitcases home for a week to explore. Circus Sam the balancing man, solar cars and crickets, sound pipes, and circuit materials are just a few of the items the kids (and hopefully parents) explore. Do these activities make them feel more like scientists? I think so! Several students bringing the suitcases back wanted to discuss their activities with me, and told me of more ideas that they would love to try.

2. You have to view this link...http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/03/alexander-graham-bells-delightfully-weird-sketchbooks/72281/
My students and I explored Alexander Graham Bell's notebook on the smart board and compared his notes to our science notebooks. Cool comments surfaced about keeping records, diagrams, and questions/ideas. We talked about being scientists by observing the world around us, questioning what we see, and challenging information given to us by others.

3. Current events- I find that teaching science by connecting to the world around the students is the best route to take! My 5th graders are asking about the events in Japan, and I am so grateful to the phenomenal sites and visuals being posted. Students are on the edge of their seats with such concern and empathy, and they want to know WHY.

This is where we are at in science. Listening, sharing, and getting science into their curious path!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My Daughter's Voice

"Why my hair stick up when I jump on the trampoline...or go down slide?"

Jay's beautiful little four year voice washed over me again and again as we explored the concept of static electricity in fifth grade science. Her gorgeous little blond head with hair standing straight up against the bright yellow slide and trampoline showed the indirect evidence of static charge build-up. On our smart board slide, I had the pictures linked to Jay's question, and I admit each listening brought me to tears. Hearing her question reminded me of the exact summer day playing outside when she really wondered why her hair was so crazy!

Making the smart board slide, I had to prompt Jay several times to repeat herself. But, her natural curiosity outside was so spontaneous. It made me think about how our children are all natural scientists. They start off wondering and exploring the world around them. They develop questions, set up tests, and revise their thinking all the time.

When do we lose this? When do children start feeling that they are not good in science, not smart enough? Is it when they are given their first science test that consists mainly of vocabulary? It is when the essence of science (hands-on investigation) is replaced with chapter 4, section 2? Or, is it when we give them four choices and a time limit to answer those questions (not even their own questions)?

I'm not sure when exactly it happens...I just know I don't want to ever see MY little scientist to stop questioning the world around her. Jumping, sliding, building up electric charge! And, I will do everything in my classroom to show each of my fifth graders how they are scientists. The best kind of scientists...those who have great questions!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What's Your Marathon?

Since November, I have been steadily training for the Cleveland marathon. It will be the first full marathon after MANY half marathons. I decided that this is the time. I'm ready to challenge myself with this race.

So, during one of my longer runs over the weekend, I started to think about the process that I have been going through. The goal setting, the tracking, asking for help, celebrating. I decided to talk to my students about this process, share my story. Then, ask my students what their 'marathon' is. What are you working towards? What are your goals? At home? At school?

This conversation began in my first period gym class with my fifth graders. During our stretching and yoga warm ups, I just started talking to them about my process. After sharing a few of my running stories and my plan, I asked the marathon question. At first, my students didn't quite get the analogy and question. They were riveted and wanted to share, but really didn't have a starting point.

So, I told them to think on it...share when they had some ideas.

Throughout the day, I had many students ask me if I needed or wanted a running partner. Until, I had one particularly shy little girl come up and say quite honestly, "My marathon is reading. Every day, I try hard to get better. I'll get there. Just like you." Smiled and walked away.


That's her marathon.

Monday, March 7, 2011

My classroom today...

I set up my stations, gave directions, and said go!
Ok. It was more complicated than that.

In my science room, we have been studying electricity. There was an awesome transition from designing our Lego space vehicles into electricity by wiring some of the vehicles with light and mini motors.

With our test on Wednesday, I wanted to design stations that would help students review the big ideas and talk about electricity. So, I had a brain pop station with a video and quiz (emailed results). Second, I had a bulletin board station with the BIG ideas on sentence strips. Students drew pictures in DrawingPad app on iPads to share. Station three had students completing series and parallel circuits on the smart board. Cool files that lit up with correct creation. Station four was a review story created in Storykit app on the iPad. Drawings and audio clips reviewing the big idea were woven together for students to listen to. Apparently, I sound like a Canadian robot...Hmmmm? Station five used the FlashCardShare app to review the high frequency words. And, station six was a couple of achievement type questions (multiple choice and short answer).

So, students spent about 10 minutes at each station. We only got through half, and are going to finish up tomorrow.

You know the moment when you pause, look around the room, and see complete engagement? We are there! I almost felt like conductor of an orchestra. With my students hard at work, there was this awesome buzz of activity, conversation, learning, and sharing.

That is my science room...today.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wow...stuff happens fast!

So, since the Ohio eTech conference at the end of January, I started my journey to develop a PLN. This included dipping my toes into twitter pool. Unlike Mr. Sheen, I haven't racked up a million followers. But, I have found some awesome people to follow who are light years ahead of me. The blogs, tweets, and ideas out there...phenomenal!

Now, I'm on a path to creating my own blog, finding a classroom to skype with, and continuing my exploration of iPads in the classroom.

Wow. This happens fast. :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Great quote...

"It is true that too much interactivity, or better yet interactivity without a defined purpose, is not of significant value to our children’s learning and development." Daniel Donahoo

I just read this in an on-line article. So many of the apps that are being advertised to educators have this quality. Just because an app has 5 million ways to 'tap it', doesn't make it interactive.

Being very choosy in app and program use with students, focusing on content depth, and allowing for student proficiency in app use is important. Do not want to get app slap happy and buy/use just because it looks good.

Good apps will stand out!

First post on this blog

Since joining Twitter a couple months ago, I have had the fortune to learn from so many other teachers out there. How? Through reading tweets and BLOGS, I have learned so much about teaching, learning, technology, and sharing. So, I think it is time to get in on the conversation. Being a Newbie blogger, I will hopefully learn as I go. Grow as I go. And maybe help others in the process.

I hope to share my experiences in the classroom and at home with teaching, learning, and technology. In the process, I may share stories related to running, reading, and family.

Thanks for reading...and joining in on the conversation.