Medieval Activities

From my experience, teaching a unit on Medieval Times is one of the best parts of the curriculum.    There are so many ideas, activities that can be done.  I find that organizing my ideas for the upcoming unit helps me plan out my activities and see the cross curricular aspects of my lessons.  The concept map below lists some activities/learning opportunities I have done in the past.

Graphics:

The 3AM Teacher: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/The-3am-Teacher

http://the3amteacher.blogspot.com/

 

Science Labs: An Intro to Safety

science wordle

Don’t you just love Wordle?  In case you haven’t used Wordle before it’s an applet that creates cool word clouds like the one above.  You type in a bunch of words (the more times a word appears, the larger the font size) and a word cloud is formed.  You can customize word directions, colour, font, and a few other things.  Don’t know how you’d like your cloud to look?  Just press “randomize” and it gives you a different cloud each time!

My first science class each year is just about getting the kids to talk about science…what does science mean to them?  It’s important to help students understand the science is dynamic.  It is ever-changing.  And we definitely do not have all the answers to our questions.

I’ve created a set of lab safety rules in student-friendly language.  Before actually getting into scientific inquiry (which I will post about soon) and designing experiments, students need to understand the importance of lab safety.

Click on the Science Wordle above for the lab safety rules and student contract!

I’ll be making these rules into posters soon, so if you have any suggestions please leave them in the comments below!

Here’s a link to an activity to help students identify unsafe lab practices: http://www.biologycorner.com/worksheets/safety.html

Keeping Parents in the Know!

Keeping Parents in the Know! Parent Communication Form! Freebie! www.teachingrocks.ca

 

How many times have you sent a graded test or assignment home in order to communicate with parents regarding the achievement of their son or daughter?  More often than not, that vital piece of information was never shown, and more than likely lost forever!  I find this very frustrating.  I haven’t been able to communicate with parents and at the same time have lost essential documentation for my student files and portfolios.  Instead, I use my notification form (attached below) to communicate with parents/guardians  of their child’s achievement.  Should this form be lost or never returned, you need not worry as you have the evidence on hand.  Enjoy and use as you please!

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

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!