‘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!

 

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

Ban the Bottle!

During these last few weeks before summer vacation, many of our students are chugging back on water in plastic bottles to stay hydrated…but do they understand the impact bottled water has on our environment?  Many schools and school boards are taking steps towards banning plastic water bottles and advocating the use of reusable water bottles that can be washed and refilled on a regular basis.  An excellent video to watch with your students is “The Story of Bottled Water.”  This lesson is a great way to incorporate media literacy into your science lessons (and vice versa!) and promote a healthy discussion with your students regarding the environmental implications of their daily actions.

Before watching the video, talk to your students about drinking water.  Some of the following guiding questions can be used:

  • Where do you get your drinking water from?
  • Do you drink tap water or bottled water?
  • Is tap water safe?
  • Is bottled water better for you than tap water?
  • Do you think that there is an environmental impact to bottled water use?

Here’s the worksheet that can be used while watching the movie! Just click the image below!

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.

Speech Writing Rubric

Here’s a rubric to help you assess the speeches your students have written!  Public speaking is one of my favourite units for several reasons:

  • Public speaking hits upon several curriculum expectations for both writing and oral communication
  • Students not only improve their speaking skills, but they also develop their listening skills
  • Students need more opportunities to practice speaking in front of an audience

When I announce that we will be working on public speaking by writing and delivering speeches, most students are very apprehensive and lack confidence in their abilities.  It’s amazing to see how well they end up doing!  This type of activity really surprises students and allows them to overcome their fears.

I previously wrote about how I start out my unit by having students listen to three awesome speeches on YouTube and use these three speeches to inspire their writing and delivery.

Here’s the rubric that I use to assess the written component of their speech (just click on the image!).

speech writing rubric