‘While you were absent’– A note for your students

Be a Buddy, Keep a ‘While you were Absent’ Folder!

On days that our students are away, it’s a great idea to keep track of what they missed so they can catch up easily the next day or when they return. Part of ensuring this is a smooth process for all, is for one, organize a buddy list so that each time a student is absent, there is a student keeping track of their work for them. Two, have a ‘While you were absent’ list (make plenty of photocopies) within a folder (you may want to have a few of these on hand, should there be more than one student absent) in a bin.

When a student is absent, their ‘buddy’ can get a folder and begin keeping track of what they missed under each subject. Within this folder, they can also collect and insert any handouts, worksheets or any other important information. At the end of the day, this folder can be placed on the ‘absent’ students desk. Upon return, your student can now transition smoothly into their day, making sure they catch up on all work!

Check it out! I used this in my Gr.7/8 class last year – it worked great! Be consistent and help your students be consistent too! Just click the link above!

‘A New Beginning’ — A Letter to be sent to your students each year.

Just as we are starting a new school year, so are students. Having said that, it is essential that we build an immediate bond with them from day one. Among the many ideas of welcoming students into our classroom and setting the grounds for a great year, sending home an introduction letter with general information for both students and parents is a great start. Not only does it welcome all students into your classroom, letting them know what’s ahead, but it also allows parents to feel connected with both you and their child!

Attached is just an example in which I used with my grade 7/8 class last year. Feel free to take this idea, changing information in order to best suit your goals, intentions and ideas of what it will take to start the year off great! You can also play around with colors, format and pictures!  Just click on the image above!

 

Scientific Literacy: Using QAR to help students learn about the Ontario Greenbelt

A scientifically literate person may be described as “one who is aware that science, mathematics, and technology are interdependent human enterprises with strengths and limitations; understands key concepts and principles of science; is familiar with the natural world and recognizes both its diversity and unity; and uses scientific knowledge and scientific ways of thinking for individual and social purposes” (Derek Hodson, “In Pursuit of Scientific Literacy” 1998. p. 2).

Hodson describes three different aspects of science education: learning science, learning about science, and doing science. The three different aspects of science education are discrete; however, they are clearly connected and provide a well-rounded science education. He goes on to explain that learning science teaches about science facts and knowledge; learning about science develops an understanding of the nature and methods of science and the interaction with science, technology and society; while, doing science engages and develops scientific inquiry and problem-solving.  All three aspects of science must play a role in science education because they allow different areas of a student’s scientific literacy to be developed.

So what does this mean for educators?  Well, not all of the students in my science classes will go on to pursue science related careers; however, they must all have critical thinking, inquiry, and problem solving skills in order to make well-informed decisions, both for themselves and for society as a whole.  I think that a great way to develop scientific literacy is to use realistic examples, scenarios, and case studies during science classes.  An example of this is the mining case I posted earlier:

The fictional town of Drew’s Falls, Ontario faced quite a dilemma: as a town based on a strong summer and winter tourism industry, townspeople needed to decide if they should mine a nearby copper deposit. The townspeople were split in their decision—some argued that the mine would create new jobs, improve the economy, and create a new industry to support the citizens. On the other hand, several residents discouraged the mine development as it would pollute the surrounding town, lake, forests and parks, endanger animals, and threaten the tourism industry. Before the town can reach a decision, several issues must be carefully considered to determine the consequences of both choices.

Another way to develop scientific literacy is to use real-life issues; for example, in 2005, legislation was passed to create a greenbelt around the Golden Horseshoe area of Ontario.  The purpose of this greenbelt is to prevent urban sprawl from decimating the natural green space (i.e. agricultural land, conservation parks, wetlands, forests, and watersheds) surrounding some major cities.  Since this is a critical issue in Southern Ontario, it is important that my students understand both the benefits and challenges of the greenbelt and how it will affect them.

I’ve provided a short text explaining the Ontario Greenbelt and a QAR student sheet to help you promote scientific literacy in your classroom (and it’s cross-curricular with Language Arts!).  Even if you do not live in Southern Ontario, you could discuss the relevance of a greenbelt with your students and determine whether a protected area like that would benefit your town, city, or province/state.

For further reading about scientific literacy, here’s a great article by Derek Hodson, a professor at OISE/UT: http://www.mun.ca/educ/faculty/mwatch/fall05/hodson.htm

Here’s the student text, worksheet, and teacher answer key! Just click the image below!

10 Excellent Science Websites!

This is my second post regarding useful websites that provide science teachers with great resources! Edited to fix broken link! So sorry!

Environmental:

WWF Canada Schools for a Living Planet
http://schools.wwf.ca/index.cfm

“WWF-Canada is proud to offer Schools for a Living Planet, an educational program that provides educators with access to over 30 curriculum-linked, printable in-class activities for Grades 3 to 8. The materials relate to the science curriculum with opportunities for cross-curricular integration of social studies, language and art.”

I’ve used this website in the past as it is a Canadian site that provides teachers with resources that pertain to our environment. The units that are provided are excellent and provide background information for teachers, hands-on activities for students, and a variety of assessments. The units are for grades 3-8.

 

Variety of Resources:

Link to Learning
http://www.linktolearning.com/

This website has tons of resources for a variety of subject areas. There are two sections: one for grades 1-8 and one for grades 9-12 (just clink on the link at the top of the homepage). Link to Learning is a Canadian site, so the resources provided match our curriculum. I find that many resources that are available are from the US and don’t necessarily match our curriculum in many areas, so I am always happy to find Canadian resources to use.

TES Connect
http://www.tes.co.uk/

This particular resource is UK-based; however, there are many pertinent resources for Ontario teachers as well. I find this website useful to find PowerPoint presentations and worksheets.

Just type in the topic you are researching (e.g. Cells) in the search bar in the top right corner of the homepage. You will then be led to the search results that are organized according to grade level. There are worksheets, presentations, videos, games, lessons, and scripts for assemblies available.

Resources by Grade and Topic
http://engagingstudents.blackgold.ca/

Click on the links at the top of the page: ECS (kindergarten), DIV I (grades 1-3), DIV II (grades 4-6), DIV III (grades 7-9), or DIV IV (grades 10-12).  You can then go into the science section for each grade to find tons of activities, labs, projects, and worksheets divided by topic.

 

Assessment:

eduGAINS
http://www.edugains.ca/newsite/aer2/index.html

The eduGAINS website is a part of the AER Gains site. AER Gains was developed to support the Growing Success document and includes teacher, facilitator, administrator, and superintendent resources. There are videos, worksheets, illustrations, and examples to help support teachers in using assessment for and as learning in the classroom. There are videos and resources for teacher- and student-self assessment, learning goals and success criteria, questioning, and descriptive feedback. This website and the videos was very useful when learning about learning goals and success criteria, as the videos by Lorna Earl are very easy to understand and follow.

LNS: Capacity Building Series “Student Self-Assessment”
http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/inspire/research/StudentSelfAssessment.pdf

There are several articles released by the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat that are very useful in understanding assessment for and as learning. As part of our school learning improvement plan, assessment for and as learning was our goal for 2010-2011 and we will be continuing with this for 2011-2012. This article helped to explain the student self-assessment component well and provided many examples of student self-assessments that can be used in the classroom on a regular basis.

Saskatchewan Ministry of Education
https://www.edonline.sk.ca/webapps/moe-curriculum-BBLEARN/index.jsp?lang=en

The Saskatchewan Ministry of Education has a great science resource page for high school science; however, these resources can easily be used for other grade levels as well. For example, the chemistry templates include laboratory checklists, group lab self-assessments, project presentation checklists and self-assessments, and checklists for scientific literacy.  I’ve included the links for biology, chemistry, and physics.

 

Videos

The Story of Stuff
http://www.storyofstuff.com/

This website is only on season one of videos, but the videos they have are really pertinent to both science, the environment, and what people can do to make a change. Two of the videos in particular, “The Story of Bottled Water” and “The Story of Electronics,” really helps you understand the negative effects that bottled water and electronics that we throw away have on the environment. The videos have a narrator and include black and white cartoons that are very effective when delivering the message. The videos can be used for media literacy as well.

 

Scientific Literacy Resources

Readwritethink
http://www.readwritethink.org/

Teaching scientific literacy is something that we should all be doing, but may find it difficult to find the resources. This website provides resources for literacy activities and has many graphic organizers available. The resources are for grades 1-12 and provide both lessons and worksheets on topics like critical thinking, determining important ideas, comparing and contrasting, and inquiry and analysis.

Free School Stuff
www.freeology.com

This is a great website to find graphic organizers that can be used for a variety of lessons and activities. Unlike other sites, all the worksheets here are free to use. Just look under “Graphic Organizers” on the left-hand side

Chocolate Lovers!

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Choose a bar and Personalize!

In planning for our grade 8 graduation celebration, among the thousand of ideas we had to give our students a token to take along with them aside from the frames, we decided to wrap chocolate bars with a special note. Who doesn’t LOVE chocolate? There are many chocolate bars to choose from; however, this particular form works best with aero chocolate bars! You can take and use this idea with any chocolate bar or candy box, but of course, you will have to crop and edit to make it work for you! We were going with a theme, using specific colors. Feel free to use this idea and edit it to best suit your graduating class – changing colors, wording, and choice of chocolate bar or candy box….you can make it fit for every and any class each and every year! Have fun!

Quotes for your Graduating Class!

Having the opportunity to work within a grade 8 class, I also shared the opportunity and experience in organizing the graduation ceremony and celebration. Along with my fellow colleague, Loriana, we put together some great ideas. Some of these ideas included picture frames, each with its unique quote for each one of our graduating students. The students absolutely loved them! One of the students had a great idea and approached one of us to sign their frame and from there, one teacher and student after another were signing off frames. Below are some of the quotes we thought would work well in wishing our students the best of luck as they completed one chapter in life and moved forward on a new one!

gif_5_headdress

The end of one journey is the beginning of another

Congratulations!

You’re off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.

So…get on your way!

– Dr. Seuss

 

You have brains in your head.

You have feet in yourshoes.

You can steer yourself

Any direction youchoose.

You’re on yourown.

And you know what youknow.

And YOUare the one who’ll decide where to go.

-Dr. Seuss

 

There’s more about life

That you’ll learn as you go,

Because figuring things out on your own
Helps you grow.

Just trust in yourself, and you’ll climb every hill.

Say, “I think I can!” And you know what?

You will.

-Craig Dorfman

 

I knew you could! And you knew it, too –

That you’d come out on top

After all you’ve been through.

And from here, you’ll go farther

And see brand-new sights.

You’ll face brand-new hills that rise to new heights.

-Craig Dorfman

 

So much to see!

So much to try!

What should you do?

It’s up to you!

Just follow your dreams and you’ll soar.

You’ll see sights that take your breath away!

You’ll find the spot where you most want to land.

Oh, what a place it will be!

The thrill of discovery will be yours.

-Kathleen W. Zoehfeld