Monday, June 13, 2016

Science Mindset: Do you think like a Scientist?

Science Mindset Bulletin Board

I heard a "ting" during my most challenging class today and was reminded that I had yet to check my inbox. So, after the students scurried out the door,  I sat down to check a pile of emails from the day.  Buried under parent concerns/complaints/requests I saw a familiar name.  A student that I had the pleasure of knowing back in 2004 wrote to say thank you for inspiring her to love science.   As she prepared to move to a new city to start her work as a physicians assistant, she was reflecting on how her 6th grade science year inspired her love for the science process.  Talk about a Monday MOOD-BOOSTER!  

Regardless of what science content we teach, it is the science process and quest for new knowledge that sticks with our students long term.  I'm sure she doesn't remember individual lessons, games or labs that I worked tirelessly to plan for her class.  She just left 6th grade with a great feeling about learning science, something she said "later influenced my decision to study medicine."

I'm sure you have many students who look back and think about how your class has encouraged them to think like a scientist.  Most will never write, but every once in a while one will as a reminder that what you do matters. 

I just finished working on this bulletin board as a visual reminder that our science minds can grow as we open them to new ideas and perspectives.   I emphasize scientific thinking with my students and have been wanting to create this for some time now.  It is finally finished and has only been up about 2 weeks and there have been so many opportunities to reference it with my students!  

I thought about some common things that my students say and then created a "Science Mindset" version to match each statement. For example...
I used to think........but now I know.

I created a giant brain using a roll of teal green bulletin board paper and then posted each pair of statements together.  Here are a few more close-ups:

"I can't find the answer."  Never heard that one before right?

I created this worksheet with students that goes along with the bulletin board.  I want to be sure that classroom decor serves a purpose that helps drive a positive learning community.  Since this takes up a decent amount of real estate, I think going over with the whole class is definitely worthwhile.  

Thanks for checking out my science mindset bulletin board.  I hope you can use it to help encourage scientific thinking with your students!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Finish Strong!

This is the home stretch baby! My plans are close to done through the end of June and I even have a few items lined up for the fall.  The weather is starting to break and I'm ready for a summer where I make up for lost time with my friends and family.  But will I be able to do it? Every summer I find myself making new activities, re-writing lessons and tests and scouring Pinterest for ways to brighten my classroom for the first days of school.  Simply said, I spend A LOT of hours (especially in August) spinning my teacher wheels and sometimes even trying to reinvent them!  This summer obsession with my classroom inspired this sign I made for the big TpT Teacher Appreciation Sale:

I'm determined to end this school year so well-planned and organized that I can just let it all go and spend more time  with my friends and family than any other summer before!

Looking to join me on my quest to TAKE A BREAK come July?  I have two TpT gift cards to give away during the sale tomorrow.  Simply say hello in a comment this Facebook post
and you are entered to win!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Absent and Extra Help Bulletin Board

Did we do anything while I was absent yesterday?  I cringe when students ask this!  This year I created an area of my classroom exclusively for addressing this daily issue with my 6th graders.  It is pretty handy to reference when talking with a student about what they need to do to catch up.

Here are some ways that my students can get help catching up when they are absent:

- Visit their Schoology account (All class notes are posted there along with a daily update about what we did in class.)
- Check their grades in Power School to see if they missed any graded assignments.
- Log into their account to check for any flipped videos that could teach them content that they were absent for.
- Be sure to subscribe and read the class remind messages sent via text. (If you don't use Remind yet, you will LOVE this super easy (Free) way to connect with parents and students.
- Use homeroom time to visit their teachers, pick up paperwork or network with peers to get information about the lessons and activities.
- Go to "Success Lunch" (One teacher each day has their room open for a working lunch where kids can come and eat while they do homework.)
- Get copies of any papers that were distributed while they were out.
- The last one is ASK ME!  (I'm available every morning before school to help students.)

Do you have any tricks for managing student absences?  I'd love to hear them!  

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Time to get ORGANIZED! (Tomorrow is BTS for teachers...EEK!)

Let's get one thing straight.  I am NOT the most organized teacher/mom out there.  Type B all the way from the questionably old food in my fridge to the pile of receipts and bills in a shoe box on my office table.  BUT....I get a lot of really important stuff done by making daily lists and writing things on post-its all over my desk!

Here's a little monthly planning mat I created for my desktop  each month.  (There is a different one for EACH month of the year!)

It is a perfect place for my million "notes to self" and seems to be working quite well to tame the sticky note chaos.  Click here to download a copy for yourself for free!

NOTE: January-August are included free in the same file (but not pictured here).

BTS 2015 is going to by my year to become MORE organized.  To all my fellow type B teachers...Let's DO THIS!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Day and Night Mini Model

Kids LOVE mini models for learning science concepts.  They allow EVERY child in the class to physically interact with a concept, not just the teacher!

This is such a simple concept, yet SO many kids seem to forget it from year to year.  If you are teaching about day and night, time zones, sunrise and sunset this might be a fun addition to your classroom!

I've always modeled day and night using a lamp (sun) and a globe so that kids could see how the Earth spinning West to East causes only 50% of the planet to experience daytime.  However, I think the KIDS need to manipulate a model in order for it to be truly memorable.  Since I didn't have 10 globes available, I decided to get crafty and make some mini day and night models using globe stress balls! (These can be purchased online for dirt cheap.  Link in directions) 

1) The paper template (print it here for free) shows 12 am, 12 pm, 6 pm and 6 am.  
2) I glued it to a small piece of cardboard for each group 
3) I attached the stress ball using nail.  
4) The globe stress ball can be turned to model the Earth's rotation! 
5) The kids always welcome a chance to use their own devices, which worked perfectly to represent sunlight in our simulation!

For more detailed directions, student questions and the free printable template, click here! 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Work Hard and Be Nice to People

My first bulletin board for next school year is done...check baby...check baby...1234!  I know, I should be enjoying my summer and I AM, but I love to do classroom work in small doses so that I can stretch my summer with the kids as long as possible.  I've been thinking a lot about classroom "rules" and how they can go in one ear and out the other with most middle school kids.  Last year I found myself saying this phrase every time I sent my kids off to work in groups.  Why not make it our classroom mantra?

I posted this on Instagram and people have been asking if they can download it.  I'll have to see if I even saved it...Eeek!  It just typed the letters (thanks KB fonts) in powerpoint, printed, trimmed and mounted on black construction paper.  I'm not going to lie, it took all of 30 minutes start to finish.  

Off to do things like this for the rest of the day!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

My Eternal Quest to Get Organized!

Summer goal # 1....Get organized!  Clean closets, sort the kids clothes into totes blah...blah...blah.  Well, instead of doing all those productive things, I made these fun freebie printables!

Here's an example of how I use these: 

A little summer design therapy for me, and a little organization inspiration for you!  To download the entire year of fun note sheets for FREE go here:

 Happy Summer Organizing!


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