What Does a Good Scientist Do? Science Process Skills Poster Set

We’ve added a new product to our Teachers Pay Teachers store!  A bright and colourful six poster set that helps students understand science process skills.  The six posters outline the processes of observation, inferring, predicting, experimenting, investigating, and analyzing.  Check it out!

 

Classroom and School Green Initiatives: A Planning Sheet

I hope you are all enjoying the beautiful summer weather and appreciating your well-deserved time off!  So, isn’t now the perfect time to begin planning for September?! Well, if you’re anything like me, after a few lazy days in the sun, my mind begins to wander back to my classroom and I begin to plan out the upcoming school year. As much as I enjoy the freedom of summer vacation, I love returning to a sparkling clean classroom, neatly arranged desks, and freshly sharpened pencils. One of the best things about a new school year is the ability to begin with a fresh start and now is the perfect time to explore some green initiatives for your classroom and school.

If you haven’t already, check out this week’s installment of The Tuesday 12: 12 Green Initiatives for Your Classroom and School.  The 12 green initiatives are subdivided into three groups:  simple steps, ones that require a bit more time, and finally a few that are much larger projects.  It’s up to you to decide how many and what type of green initiatives you would like to try out, but just remember that every step counts, so even simple steps towards being more eco-friendly  make a big impact!

Here’s a teacher planner to help you organize your green initiatives for the school year!

The Tuesday 12: 12 Green Initiatives for Your Classroom and School!

One of the best things about a new school year is the ability to begin with a fresh start and now is the perfect time to explore some green initiatives for your classroom and school.

Simple steps

1. Take your class outside! My kids love to have Phys Ed outside, but how about taking them outside for other subjects? Oil pastel drawings of the fall foliage, reading in the warm September breeze, or nature-based science activities are all great options! Here are some great websites that have outdoor activities for students of all grade levels:

2. Make an Eco Pledge! On the first day of school, my students and I come up with our code of conduct for the year, so why not add in a promise about respecting the environment and becoming green? If students see this commitment as part of their pledge for the year, then they may begin to make more environmentally conscious choices.

3. Lights off! Appoint a different student each week to turn off all lights and computer screens before recess, after lunch and at the end of the day.

4. Recycle! Make sure that your classroom has an appropriate recycling bin and that students actively use it. Have a discussion with your students regarding the types of materials that are recyclable in your area.

5. Waste-Free Wednesdays! Students are to bring their lunch and snacks to school in a reusable container. Any organic waste can be composted at school (if a program is available) or brought back home for composting or green bin.

Got a bit more time?

6. Start an Environmental Club! Students love to be part of clubs and many kids already have tons of eco-friendly ideas for their class and school.

7. Ban the bottle! Explain to students that plastic water bottles are no longer acceptable in your classroom; instead, encourage them to purchase a reusable water bottle that they can refill throughout the day. A great video to watch with your class is “The Story of Bottled Water.” It makes an awesome media literacy lesson (I love cross-curricular lessons!) and really helps students understand how marketing by companies has drastically altered our perception of drinking water sources.

8. Celebrate Earth Day every day! Although Earth Day festivities usually take place during the week of April 22, why not incorporate small activities on a daily or weekly basis? Assemblies with an environmental focus, eco-conscious tips on the morning announcements, and picking up litter in the school yard are some possible suggestions.

9. Calculate (and then reduce) your EcoFootprint! There are many websites available that guide you through a series of questions to calculate your ecological footprint, while also providing suggestions to reduce your impact on the environment. It is best to visit these sites to ensure choosing a quiz that is appropriate to the grade level you teach.

http://myfootprint.org/

http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/online/bigfoot/ (includes teacher resources!)

http://calc.zerofootprint.net/youth/ (includes a teacher’s guide!)

Bigger projects

10. Waste-Free Wednesdays school challenge! We created a month long challenge among our grade 1-8 classes. Each Wednesday after lunch, members of the EcoClub went around weighing the amount of waste produced by each class. The results were recorded and tallied over the course of a month. The class with the lowest total amount of post-lunch waste won a prize!

11. Green schools are Healthy schools! Join up with your school’s health action team to take on greater initiatives to promote diet, exercise, recreation, and green choices related to healthy living.  Check into resources in your city/town/province/state to see what programs are available.  For example,  the Toronto and Region Conservation Schools Programs has a variety of programs, including Sustainable Schools, Watershed on Wheels, field centres, the 20/20 Clean Air partnership, and stewardship programs available. Research programs that are available in your area and sign up early as some programs may have limited spacing!

12. Green your school yard! Some students are lucky to attend schools set on beautifully green landscapes and surrounded by towering trees, but not all students are so lucky! Although school yard greening may seem like an expensive task, there are many organizations that provide grants for school yard greening projects once an application has been submitted.  Over the last few years, we have planted several trees and shrubs around our school yard. We received six trees to plant from Environmental Earth Angels (www.earthangels.ca) after we submitted an online application, while a local nursery provided some more trees and shrubs at a discounted price. Our students had a great time digging, planting, and caring for the trees!

Is there a Science Gender Gap at Your School?

The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), released in May, found eighth grade boys scored 5% higher in science than their female counterparts. A study published in 2011 by the National Science Foundation revealed the gender gap expands at the highest education levels, with females making up only 30% of employed science, engineering, or health doctorates.

A number of programs have sought to boost the number of girls pursuing science-related careers. NSTA wants to know if you think there is a gender gap between male and female students interested in science and what, if anything, your school is doing to close the gap. Let us know what you think by taking this short survey.” (Source: http://science.nsta.org/nstaexpress/nstaexpress_2012_07_09.htm)

As an intermediate teacher (in Canada, that would be grades 7 and 8) for the last seven years, I find the NAEP results to be disconcerting.  From my experience (purely anecdotal evidence and a small sample size), I found that girls enjoyed science classes, performed well on assessments, and participated during lessons and discussions. I have not really seen a gender gap in science or math in my classes, but it could be possible that the gap becomes more apparent in high school.

According to the National Science Foundation study (2011), the gender gap expands at the highest education levels.  It makes me wonder at what point some of these female students start to lose interest in science education or choose to no longer pursue further studies in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields.

What have you noticed in your classes and schools?  Do you notice a gender gap?  If so, is your school doing anything to close the science gender gap?

In Ontario, secondary students are required to take two science credits prior to graduating.  Should students be required to take science credits all four years of high school?

Grade 4 – Habitat : Sharing the Planet

Looking for an interesting Cross-Curricular Unit Plan for Habitat for the Grade 4’s? Check this Unit Plan out. It consists of overall expectations, immersion lessons/tasks and brief lessons for Language (Writing and Oral), Visual Arts, Science and Drama. We have also included Process Skill and Culminating Task.

You will find great ideas that you can definitely work with, alter and extend whichever way you wish. We started you off! From here, let the creativity flow!

Our time is coming to an end!

What better way to end the year then with a timeline reflection – have your students reflect on the great school year! You can do this in so many different ways and for so many different reasons. Click on the attachment to read more about timelines!