Monday, December 17, 2012

More Formative Assessment Ideas...

An Assessment Foldable: 

On this foldable are sections for Agree/Disagree, True/False, multiple choice letters of A,B,C,D and numbers 1,2,3,4.  There is also a section for a "stoplight."  One last section is for a student name plate.

For multiple choice answers of  1,2,3 or 4:

For responding as Agree or Disagree:

For multiple choice answers of A, B, C or D:

Stoplight:  Red = I'm stuck.
Yellow = I need to slow down and review.
Green = I'm good to go! 

For responding to True/False questions:

Color Cards: 

I used a craft punch to create decorative circles and various colors.  Next, I laminated the circles, cut them out and placed on a binder ring.  Each color can indicate multiple things.  For instance, pink could equal True while orange could represent False.  Simply have the students to display the color on their desk or in the air for a quick assessment.  The colors red, yellow and green can be used like the stoplight.  As students read and article or work on answering questions, they can display certain colors to signify their understand or if they need help with something.

Exit Slip Collection Board:

I took business sized envelopes, sealed them and then cut the ends off to create pockets.  I then numbered each pocket and glued them to a piece of poster board.  Now each student can match their assigned number and place their exit slip into the pocket on their way out the door!  

The Stoplight: 

Students are given a small sticky/post-it note.  I take the 1x1 size and cut it into thirds.  Students then write their personal ID number on it and place it on the color that best represents their individual level of understanding.

Stoplight:  Red = I'm stuck.
Yellow = I need to slow down and review.
Green = I'm good to go! 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

"Silence for Sandy Hook Elementary"

Please join me in a day of silence for teacher bloggers on
Sunday, December 16, 2012,
by only posting the picture below on your blog 
and titling your post as "Silence for Sandy Hook Elementary" 

"Angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are 
~Author Unknown

"The light of a distant star continues to reach the Earth long after 
the star itself is gone."
~Author Unknown

"Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal."
~Author Unknown

Friday, December 14, 2012

Student Self-Assessment

  1. Each student is given their own personal ID number.  I have students to write their numbers in their science notebooks.  They will keep the same number for the entire school year.  
  2. Give each student a sticker and have them write their number on the sticker.  
  3. To assess levels of understanding for a particular topic, have students place their sticker above the line that corresponds to their level of understanding.  
  4. In the end, you will have visual analysis of the level of understanding for the entire class.  
  5. You can then make decisions on reteaching the topic or being able to move on.  

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Energy Sources: Renewable vs Nonrenewable

The Plan:

Energy is a new topic in my teaching curriculum this year.  As a matter of fact, I have never had to teach this topic!  So coming up with a plan that was engaging and learning the information well enough for me to teach became somewhat daunting.  But with the help of a great curriculum coach and a fabulous lead science teacher, we came up a good plan.

  1. Our class studied information about renewable vs nonrenewable energy sources.  
  2. We created a basic foldable which included definitions and examples. 
  3. Our next step was to research various sources of energy.  I found a fabulous website that had printable information sheets.  So I printed them on colored paper and had them laminated so I could use them for years to come.  
  4. Because there were so many sources to cover, I decided to use cooperative group strategies to get the goal covered.  
  5. I ended up with about 10 groups for the 10 sources.  Each group had to research their energy source, create an informative mini-poster and present their information to the class.  
  6. Now I am fully aware that middle school kids have difficulty paying attention to one lesson per day.  So I knew that 10 lessons would be ridiculous.  So after all the presentations were complete, I taped the posters all around the room and had the students to complete a silent gallery walk.  This way, any information they students missed during the presentations could be gained by reading the posters.  


The NEED Project~
  • This is an amazing resource!  The information booklets provided so much more than any textbook ever could.  All of the information can be downloaded by levels such as primary, elementary, intermediate and secondary. There are many lesson plans and activities too! 
  • SchoolHouse Rock!  Science video on Energy!  Loved this when I was a kid.  

Paint Sample Cards...

Here is another way to use paint sample cards in your classroom:

I took some of the larger cards and cut them in half.  At the end of learning about the periodic table, I handed each student a card and instructed them to write as many facts as they could in about 2-3 minutes.  I then had each student randomly tape their card to a piece of chart paper. Now we have a poster that we can use as a review for our state testing.  This is also a great formative assessment tool!  The teacher could look over the information posted on the cards and if there was an important concept not written about then she/he could do a little reteaching.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


I have found a great new website and I can't wait to use it!  It's called Mightybell.  In my opinion it is a cross between Facebook and Pinterest.  I hope to use it to promote collaborative lesson planning for science.

My Mightybell space:

Start your own:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Science Notebooking Ideas

A few things I am learning about science notebooking:

  1. Students take pride in making their notebook neat and usable.  
  2. Students want to use their notebooks daily.  
  3. Students appreciate how their notebooks take the place of a textbook.  
  4. Students want and need to be encouraged to keep their notebooks organized.  
  5. Although it is a great strategy, using left side/right side doesn't work for everyone.  There are many ways to get the most out of notebooking.  Customize your own strategies for each of your classes.
  6. Teachers should keep a model notebook.  This helps students with learning creative ways to glue in foldables or activity sheets.  
  7. Make copies or photos of student notebook pages of notes, drawings, etc. and add them to your own teacher notebook.  This will save time from having to write your own notes in your notebook and it showcases student work.  Students will take pride in making their drawings extra neat in hopes that their teacher will choose their page to be showcased!  
  8. Make notebooking enjoyable for all!  The best way to do this is by using creative activities with notebooking.  Allow the students to get creative as long as they don't lose focus of their learning target.  

A few pictures from student notebooks... 

A very simple Table of Contents:
There are some wonderful pre-made ToC available online.  But this year I allowed my students to create their own and so far so good!  

This is an example from last year when I still used left side/right side notebooking.  This looks great and works very well with left/ride side notebooking.  

A simple circle map after an introduction of the Periodic Table: 

Density Cube Lab:  I decreased the size of the lab sheets to 64%.  This made it possible for students to fit both forms on one page of their notebook which allowed room on another page for reflection.  

Write it out:  Sometimes, at the end of class, I'll have the students write our their thoughts from the day's lesson.  I give them about 10 minutes to write in their notebooks.  Then I begin the next class by looking over what they wrote.  This gives me a pretty good gauge of whether or not they met the learning target.  

Foldables!  Glue them in so they won't get lost.  

 Diagrams:  Students love to draw and color.  Make it meaningful and it is a win-win lesson.  

Q & A:  I like to give my students some essential questions for the day's lesson.  Instead of making them feel it's just another worksheet, we incorporate it into their notebooks.  This can even serve as a study guide later on.  Another plus is that students aren't spending 20 minutes copying down questions.  

Another Thinking Map: 

 Amazing foldable!  

Color Coding the Periodic Table: 

Best phase change foldable I've ever seen!  

Adding extra notes to an already filled foldable:  We wanted to add notes from the "Properties Song."

Another example of a "Write it Out" 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Spiral Deco Mesh Wreath - Classroom Decor....

This is my first attempt at making a spiral deco-mesh wreath.  I wanted to try it out before spending the extra money to make Christmas wreaths for my home.  So I decided to make one for my classroom.  I honestly had no idea that it would be as HUGE as it is!  Each time I look at it I want to scream "It's so FLUFFY!!!!" Now I only hope I can keep myself from trying to embellish it some more...more ribbon?  Maybe a monogram? Possibly a science sign?  Or maybe I should just stop before the wreath grows out of control?  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Teaching the Zombie Apocalypse!

Get A Kit,    Make A Plan, Be Prepared. If you're    ready for a zombie apocalypse, then you're ready for any emergency.

The CDC ROCKS!  This year I get to teach epidemics and pandemics in science.  What better way to do this than focusing on the Zombie Apocalypse?  Check out the CDC link for some great lesson plans.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Using Wordle to Organize Science Concepts

Wordle can be used as a great educational tool for science class.  There are so many vocabulary words for students to remember.  Learning all these words can be a very daunting task for some.  One idea for using Wordle is to clump together many vocabulary words under one scientific concept.  It would be so easy to create a list of vocabulary words, some matching the concept and some not.  Students would first have to determine which words match and eliminate the others from the list.  Next, they could use Wordle to graphically display the concept and matching vocabulary words.  This would meet the needs of several different learning styles.  This also is a quick way for teachers to assess student understanding.

Example:  Physical Properties of Matter

Wordle: Properties of Matter

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Exploring Density

Our focus in class last week was density. My students worked on creating a foldable from Middle School Science.  This is probably the best density foldable I've ever used.  I can see my students using it often.  For measuring density and using it as an identification property, we participated in a density cube lab.  Our final density lesson was to create a density column and to watch a Steve Spangler video of the Amazing 9 Layer Density Tower.  I didn't have all of the components to do the 9 layer, but we did make a 6 layer column together instead.


Saturday, August 25, 2012


I had a little visitor to come and spend some time in my classroom yesterday. My visitor, the daughter of two of my coworkers, is a little girl full of energy.  This kid is so inquisitive and can soak up information like a sponge!  Just precious! We spent some time looking over my Giant Microbes collection. She had tons of questions and I thoroughly enjoyed answering each one.  Until she stopped by for a visit I was feeling a little frustrated and overwhelmed with all the things I still needed to complete. Our discussion reminded me of how much I like just sitting back and talking to my students.  I sometimes spend too much time trying to create a lesson plan or activity but often lose focus of truly reaching my students and catering to their questions. This little girl helped me to refocus my energy.  It really is amazing how inspiration can sneak up on you.  

The Giant Microbes that were the focus of our conversation....

My portrait!  

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Look Inside My Classroom

As much as I hate saying goodbye to summer, I really do enjoy decorating and organizing my classroom.  Now getting up at 5:30 each morning is something I absolutely dislike!  But the students are coming in one week whether the room looks good or not!  So I decided to get a head start on the decorating and organizing.  I still have a lot of things to work on but this is my classroom as of today :) 

This is the welcome sign outside of my classroom. 

This is the back wall and lab station.