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It has been really nice covering Earth Science on Earth Day....wish I had gotten the chance to do something about Earth Day.  In my 6th grade class, we are going into more depth about the layers of the Earth and starting to understand plate tectonics. 

This week started with me showing them a hard-boiled egg, cracking it on the table, going over the cracks with a permanent marker and having the students draw and relate it to what they know about the earth.  They knew that the shell represented the crust, but then I asked "Well what about these cracks?"  Most of them could come to the conclusion that it was the plates.  After drawing, labeling and writing in our journals, I gave them a puzzle of major plates of the world, that they had to cut out, piece together and color. You can find a lesson similar to what I used here. 

Okay so Leslie... where does this LAB come in???  Hold on... I am getting there.   I promise! :)  

Anyway, after we talked about the plates and used Longitude and Latitude to locate points and determine what plate it was (love it when I can tie in another content area), we were ready to talk about the types of crust of the Earth.... Oceanic and Continental.  The kids came to the quick conclusion that continental crust was land and oceanic crust was the crust on the ocean floor.  Now here is the LAB:
I informed my students that there were all sorts of rocks in the crust, but 2 of the main were granite and basalt.  Their task was to determine which one was mostly in the oceanic crust and which one was the continental.  We drew a little picture in our journal and I asked them what they knew about the 2 crusts.  After a little jogging, they determined that the oceanic crust would be more dense than the continental crust since it was deeper than the continental crust. 





In their lab, they had to determine the density of both rocks using water displacement to find volume and measuring the mass.  We covered density IN DEPTH earlier this year and had used water displacement before.  I was proud of them for remembering and how eager they were to figure out which was which.

After they determined the density of each rock, they recorded it on a whole class data chart that I put on the board.
When all was done, we compared our whole class data.  We talked about how this experiment was repeated by 5 different groups all with different rocks and the same results were found: Basalt had a higher density than the granite.  What does this mean?  "Mrs. Johnstone, basalt must be the oceanic crust since it is more dense! "

Write! Write! Write your thinking!!  What did we do?  What were the results? How did we determine this?  All recorded in their journal. 
I worry about what will happen to these journals over the summer.... I pray they don't end up in the trash.  





So.... after a year of waiting....I finally received my 6th grade science TE textbook.  I received it last week.  It has been kinda tough trying to go in blind my first year teaching 6th grade science, but I also have to admit that this year has been soooooo refreshing as well.  I have taught from those "scripted" texts for several years in the past, and the district watched over me like a hawk to make sure I said and taught the content just that way.  
What a blessing this year has been!!! The best part has been this blogging community in which I learn so much--- thank you all you wonderful writers and posters and inspiration givers! 

So let me share something I found this weekend....you may already know.... but I had no idea.  If you are a fan of brainpop (super fan right here) you will love this new site through Scholastic.

Its called StudyJams and it for Math and Science teachers.  They have videos, songs (with lyrics), and quizzes that you can do with your class.  In fact, click on the link to see the video I showed to my 6th graders today on integers.  

Here is a video I found on youtube, but it just gives a brief glimpse into this awesome website.

I use videos to engage the kids when I first teach a lesson, or after we briefly discuss the concept on hand.  Today we talked about integers, but before I showed the video, we made a T-Chart with the 2 columns labeled as "Positive Situations" and "Negative Situations."  I gave them about 20 different scenarios (below zero, profit, above sea level...ect) and we classified them as being positive of negative.  Then (I just love it when this happens) one of my students pipes up, "Mrs. Johnstone, didn't you say integers are numbers?  Where are the numbers here?"  Its like I handed them a script for their question.... LOVE IT.   That was the perfect jumping point to talk about positive and negative whole numbers ans play this video.

I was going to save this post for the weekend, but after reading Charity's challenge on The Organized Classroom Blog I felt compelled to share tonight.  If you too are up for the challenge then head on over and read her amazing post and become a 


Well hello there!!! I have been on a blog frenzy.... hopefully I can keep it going!  Only 6 more weeks of school---I can NOT believe how this year had just flown by!!!  I am hoping that I can do a lot of posts this summer about notebooking.... but as for today... we are making foldables on......
ANGLES!!!
You can use these foldables with anything you are teaching not just math.  Over the course of the year I save a ton of paper scraps.  Cutting some cards for the kids?  Save that 1 inch border that you would throw in the trash.... they make great vocabulary word covers which you see here when I taught probability.
The word is written on top, an example or drawing on the back and a definition on the notebook paper.


But onto what I did for angles...
Sorry about the horrible shadow!  Guess I should have taken another one... Anyway I gave the students 2 pieces of different construction paper that they cut in half and glued little tabs down.  Then we drew each angle with our protractor and labeled it correctly.  Underneath the flap, they wrote the name and found 4 examples of each within the classroom.  I especially loved it when they gave me a certain time as an example!! 

As we continued our study, I gave the students a map printed from mapquest of our school and the surrounding streets.  They had to use 3 different highlighters to highlight the different angles which you can see below.
Then we analyzed our map.  Which angle is used the most?  Why do you think this?  What benefits do right angle streets give to drivers?
I must tell you..... I don't have folders.... or binders.... only these notebooks and EVERYTHING gets glued into the journal.  E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G.  So lots of our worksheets are folded like books (into 1/4) but we always write notes on the inside of the book explaining our thinking or what we learned from the worksheet.
Here is a picture of what we wrote after completing the map.  
When we finish a worksheet book like this, we glue it into our journal and we still have 1/2 of the notebook page to write more notes or work more problems.  

All the notes, homework, quizzes and tests end up glued into their notebook.  When parents ask me what their child is learning, I ask them if they have seen their child's notebook.  Most haven't.  I have found that most students' grades reflect the amount of work they put into their notebook.  

Keeping my own copy of my classes journals as turned into a huge blessing.  I can analyze the order in which I taught concepts (do I want to change the order), have examples of every worksheet and resource I used (is there a better assignment), and all the foldables we did (is there a better foldable I could use).  I will be working this summer to answer all those little questions.

Happy Notebooking!


I love you tube!!!   I shared this song with my class today and they LOVED it.  It melts my heart when they sing along or ask to hear it again.  We are also going to take our foldable notes down to the computer lab, and the students are going to write a short report on the layers of the earth.  Loving Technology!


I've reached my goal this weekend! In fact I have done 3 posts in 3 days!! I am so proud of myself!  

Since my science notebooks are set up the same way as my math ones, I wont go into detail as to how they are set up.  If you want to find out how I set them up you can read my post here, or decorating them is here, or being able to close the giant monstrosities here

I love warm ups!  Whether it's working out (which I am trying to do now) or in class, it's a calming activity to prep me and everyone for the day.  Plus I can get that last second coping done while they work on their warm up.  My math warm up consists 4-5 mixed review problems to solve in their notebook, but in science it's a picture of the day.

At the beginning of the year,we discussed the differences between an observation and an inference.  I read this book aloud to my students (they even gathered on the carpet.....LOVE THEM) 

The mice make observations and then inferences about the object they are crawling all over.  I hid the picture of the object and asked my students what they thought the mice are crawling on based on their observations and why did they think that.  

How does this tie into my daily warm up?  Well I show them the "Picture of the Day" from National Geographic.

Today's picture is this beauty:
I hide the title from the kids so they MUST make observations and inferences without using any word clues. They have to write complete sentences, usually 4-5 observations and inferences that GO WITH that observation.  I have to constantly tell them to give me 6th grade sentences.  "Don't tell me you see an alligator!  What observations can you make that lead you to infer that this is an alligator?"  It takes them awhile to get used to writing detailed sentences.  I also reiterated that their observations and inferences have to link together.  The observation must lead to the inference....duh Mrs. Johnstone.... but I have so many who give me off the wall inferences from the observation. 

Then after about 7-10 minutes of quiet writing, we share their thinking.  I finally give them the title, which they title the page in their notebook. 

There are some great pictures on PINTERST for working on inferring.  I hope this helps!! Have a great science week!


New goal.... hopefully to accomplish.... is trying to post each:

  • Saturday or Sunday post about my Science notebooks (SNS- Science Notebook Saturday).
  • Monday about my Math Notebooks (MNM- Math Notebook Monday)
We will see how I do. 
Well I guess I'll start at the beginning... that only makes sense.  Notebooks are AWESOME!! I did my first in my Algebra II class in high school back in the 90's, and I loved the organization of it all!!

I have been using notebooks for the past 3 years and I have found that composition notebooks are the best!  You don't have to worry about kids tearing out pages, having to keep up with a binder that you know they will put other stuff into, or those spirals with the perforated edge that always seems to loose its pages (fought this battle and lost).  Composition books are smaller than spirals but the fact that they don't loose their pages and are just the right size for a semester of notes, are enough benefits for me.  Each semester requires a notebook, and we spend the first or second day of school decorating them.  You can check out my post about decorating notebooks here.  These notebooks grow during the year, so I had to find a way to keep them closed- enter the giant rubber band.  You can find my post about closing the journals here.

Okay.... so are you decorated??? and do you have the closure???  Excellent!!! Now for the interior set up.

Hopefully  you can go to the dollar tree and get a package of these small manila envelopes (8 for a dollar).  Each envelope will be used for 2 kids.  They look like this:
Just have the kids lick it closed and cut it in half.  Now you have a little pocket perfect to hold homework (folded in half), a protractor, and "THE TEST" formula sheet.  You know... the one with the inches on one side and cm on the other.  Now the students cant say they didn't have a ruler to do that perimeter homework you assigned.  Yes.... its genius.  Now just glue it into the inside of the front cover.  You can always reinforce with tape if needed. 
Make a cover page however you want, and then a table of contents (TOC).  I wish all my kids would keep up with the TOC but they all don't, but the ones who do... love it.  So it's worth putting in there.  We use the front and the back of each page (I would not have enough pages if I didn't) We use 5 individual pages for our table of contents.
This is the only back page we don't use.  Its the back of the title page.

Another 2 pages look like this... that should make 5 TOC pages. 
Another thing you could add is an Index to the back of the journal for all the new vocabulary you will teach.  I did this in my 1st semester journal but I didn't keep up with it, and I noticed that the kids would never use it to go back and find their pages. They would use the TOC.  It's up to you.  I liked teaching them the "why" we have an index and how to use and make it, but they just didn't use it often enough.   Maybe next year. 

If you want, you can have kids number the pages all the pages in their notebook early, but we number the pages each day, that way I know we are all on the same page.... literally.... and pun... hahaha! 

Look for next weeks post on worksheet foldables in the math journal! 


So this week we started Earth Science... one of my faves!!!! My TEK stated that the students were to build a model of the layers of the earth, but when they know nothing about the earth it makes the concept of building kind of tough.   So we started from square one: KWL chart, and they came up with some great questions under the W.  One of my students even asked "My dog digs in the ground to make a hole to cool off in, but how can the layers heat up as we go further into the earth?"  I love it!!  After making the KWL chart together, my students read in their book and completed a little worksheet of the information they learned.  Then they added into the L section of the KWL on their own.  This was all on Monday.
Tuesday we created this foldable.
 I just made a paper copy of the circles in a word document and they colored and labeled each circle.  I told them that we didn't want to just slap the foldable together, we want them all centered.  So after some prodding, they came up with folding each circle into 1/4 to find the center point and then stack them.  We glued only 1/2 of each circle down so we could flip it and write facts about each layer. 
Then I informed them of making a model this week.  They were so excited, and so was I!!!  I told them for homework they had to bring a batch of play dough (not store bought) to school by Thursday, and I supplied them with this recipe. We would color it Thursday, and make the models on Friday.  FYI: We had lots of left overs from this recipe!
Wednesday the students researched through reading different  books that I placed at their table, and wrote just facts under each flap of each layer of their foldable.  The last 20 minutes or so we talked about making our model to scale.  My students are 6th graders, and in math we do A LOT of proportional studies.  So we naturally made our model to scale.  Using some measurements given to us in our textbook, and this worksheet

we determined that our layers should be the following measurements:
  • Crust : 1 mm
  • Lithosphere (mantle part only): 1mm
  • Mantle: 4 cm
  • Outer Core: 3 cm
  • Inner Core: 3 cm diameter.  
This was such a great lesson at this time of year since it was a wonderful review of making proportions and tying in circles.  I loved it when they would say... This is science, not math!  And we would discuss how they overlap.

The students were very careful with their measurements.  Here are a few pictures of the project in motion....

Warning: Those of you who are afraid of chaos and mess ( like me) please take a deep breath before viewing.
Each table placed their colored play dough in baggies and in a bucket which made it easy to pass out today.
Making that Outer core 3 cm.  SCALE!!!
Careful tick marks at 4 cm makes it easy to keep the right measurements.
Love how they used their sheets, without me saying anything!
It's hard to make it 1 mm thin!!!


Lots of colors and lots of fun!
Keeping it accurate!!!
Thinning out the Lithosphere.
A final project with flag labels and all.




Another nicely finished model

Completed!
 Now I have to go on warrior guard mode and make sure no one destroys these beautiful works of earth!

Happy Teaching!