‘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!

 

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

GIZMO (Not from Gremlins)

The first time I recall someone uttering the word “GIZMO” it was in reference to the cute little animal in the movie Gremlins.  But in most recent experiences teacher and student conversations about GIZMOs refers to technology based simulations found at www.explorelearning.com (a fantanstic resource for teachers).  These simulations can range from early learning to the high school level and primarily for mathematics and science related curriculum.  For the past 2 years, I have been incorporating GIZMOs within my instructional approach.  These simulations can be done independently, in groups and as a whole class.  Research has shown that utilizing technology based simulations can deepen understanding and improve student learning.  I find that my students are involved and active in their learning. They enjoy using them!   I truly enjoy using them, I hope you do too.

Think Aloud Strategy

A lesson put together for the Primary Division

(Questioning, Predicting, Connecting, Inferring)

clip_image001

Book: Puddleman

by Ted Staunton, Illustrated by Brenda Clark

Cover

I’m looking at the cover of this book and I wonder what it will be about? Maybe Puddleman is the child’s last name. Or maybe, the story is about playing in a sandbox. (Strategy: Prediction) When I look at the picture I think about the park that is close to my home and where all the children play. (Strategy: Connection) I wonder if this story takes place in a park. (Strategy: Prediction)

On the first 2 pages, the main character (Michael) is depicted in a yard of some sort with other children(including his younger brother) around him and he jumps into the sandbox which is wet and muddy.

A sandbox, I remember playing in those when I was young. (Connection) There was one in the park and I played with all of my friends. I wonder if Michael will get as dirty? (Question) Will he land in the sandbox or outside the sandbox? (Question) Everyone has surprised looks on their faces, where is his mom? (Question) I wonder if his brother will jump in with him. (Prediction)

Page 5&6 Michael got so deep into the sandbox, which is muddy, that he buried himself in it. The children cannot see him any longer, when something in the sandbox starts moving. The neighbor girls run, the neighbor lady faints and the little brother starts to cry.

Why are they so scared? (Question) What happened to Michael? (Question)

Maybe they can’t find Michael. (Inference) What does this Puddleman look like? (Question) Is he really that scary? (Question) Fainted? What does it mean to faint? Well the picture shows the neighbor on the ground, maybe it’s when you fall. (Visualize, Infer)

Pg 11 & 12 Puddleman (Michael) gets hungry but when he goes to his mom, he is told that Peanut Butter sandwiches are for boys and girls. Puddleman looks like a muddy monster and they do not eat anything but mud pies. Michael’s mom shuts the door and tells Puddleman to tell Michael that his sandwich is ready.

What does this Puddleman look like? (Question) Well from the pictures, there is a lot of mud on him. (Visualize, Connection) Who do I think Puddleman is? (Question) Why isn’t Michael’s mom looking for Michael? (Question) Its lunchtime, I think Michael will be very hungry. (Infer) I wonder where he has been, and what he will think of Puddleman. (Connection) I wonder if he will be scared like the others. (Prediction)

After reading the story and doing the Think Aloud with my students. I will make the following comments:

The Puddleman got caught in the rain, and after I looked at the picture Puddleman started losing his mud, and it sort of looks like a boy underneath. From looking at the clothes in the picture, I recall that those were Michael’s clothes.(Evaluation) I think that the Puddleman got his peanut butter sandwich. I think he really was Michael with a lot of mud on him. (Evaluation)

 

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