Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lab: What is Energy??

I. LOVE. TEACHING.  Love it... Love it... love it.  I can't wait for tomorrow where my students get to become a newscast in the Amazon Rainforest; however, today I had such a great time teaching them about energy.  The best is peaking their interest.   As I have said before, I use the 5 E model when teaching science.  Today was our Engage and Explore lesson on forms of energy.

So how do you engage a bunch of kids on energy?  

Get yourself a beaker of colored water, double pan balance, rock and a flashlight.

Place rock on balance which moves down (proved it has mass)
Place rock in beaker which the water will rise (water displacement and proves rock has volume)
Ask what that means about the rock? (It is matter.)
Ask: what about light? and turn off the lights.
Shine light on balance, then in the beaker.... both don't move (proves light is not matter)... some kids are actually surprised by this.  Its these moments where I know bulbs will be lighting up as to understanding the simple things we take for granted.
Ask:  If light is not matter, then what is it?  JOURNAL TIME (7-10 minutes using good vocabulary)

So after writing, I asked them, did anyone think they knew what light was if it was not matter?  In each class, someone said energy.... (hear all the others say, "oooooh yeah....." ) Does anyone know any other forms of energy?  Now its time to explore 4 different stations of energy. 

First the students put a 4 door foldable in their journal... I know ... I know... this picture shows a completed lab and not the beginning one, but you can see the foldable.  I am trying to focus more on asking the students why they think something happened rather than what happened. 
On the front flaps, they had to draw and label a diagram of the completed station.  Underneath the flap on the lines of their journal, they had to write why they thought whatever happened, happened.  (I hate it when words do this in a sentence, the double repetition- it leads to major confusion... mostly by me because I cant wrap my head around the repetition... next time Ill find another word rather than repeat it)

Station One.... (Thermal Energy...but students have not yet discovered the term)
Hot water, cold water, sugar cubes and 2 cups.

You know its doing magic in the classroom when you watch sugar dissolve.  Bringing understanding to life's everyday simplicity makes you one cool teacher....

Station Two.... (Mechanical Energy)
Rubber ball and ping pong ball (same size), meter stick
Here's our 2nd YouTube Video!!!! I am feeling so techie....

Although she is technically wrong... I am impressed that she is considering gravity as a reason. 

Station Three (Electricity)
Styrofoam pieces, cut pieces of paper, inflated balloon and a piece of wool (it didn't work for us, so we rubbed the balloons on our heads which worked really well)
The set up
One of our most beloved Spec Ed aides... she let the kids rub the balloon on her sweater when the wool cloth wouldn't work.  They love her so much and so do I!

vigorously rubbing the balloon

How high can the balloon be away from the items and still make them move? WHY??
Future artist.... not the best speller... good thing I'm grading on content and not spelling :)

Station Four (Chemical Energy.... but they really are witnessing a chemical change)
Colored water, bleach, pipette, cup, graduated cylinder, waste water bucket, and GOGGLES!

5 drops should do the trick... try 20.... maybe I shouldn't have used red??

Whew!!! I know, I know.... it's a lot... but it happened so fast... 10-11 minutes per station was more than enough time to get their work done.  Thursday we will be reading on different forms of energy and completing a foldable on it... Here's what I did last year... I know... you're probably thinking, "Good grief!!! Does this chick ever stop taking pictures?!?!"  Yeah I know... what can I say... I'm a visual learner :)


So I am off to the Rain forest Newscast Conference tomorrow and back to energy learning on Thursday.  I cant believe I have blogged this much this month!!!! Can you?!?!?!  Happy teaching!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mexico City Bus Tour

Who doesn't like to take field trips?? Out of the country is even better:)   And like most teachers... budget cuts are having a significant impact on our field trips. 

But with TCI... you can take field trips in your classroom to places all over the world.  It's even better when you make your classroom into a bus, or a plane or a train.  I know... who has time for that?  However, I guarantee if you take that little extra time, and get pumped up about your trip, the kids will remember the lesson forever.  Isn't that what we all want?  To make such an impact that the kids remember you and this lesson forever?  That's how I want to be remembered, anyway. 

Beth Newingham (awesome master teacher) has written about how she uses Social Studies Alive in her 3rd grade classroom. You can check out that post here.  She does a whole United States Tour... so cool.

In 6th grade, we went to Mexico City to check out the culture, history, neighborhoods and environment of today.   I pushed all the tables to the walls and set the chairs in groups of 3 with an aisle down the middle.  Who they sat next to on the bus, was their group when they went to the bus station.   Definitely looked like a bus and the kids were pretty stoked about the classroom looking different.  

Are you on the bus?
The bus... and 2 bus stations.  The students worked in groups of 2-3 at each bus station.

So in order to get on the bus, the kids needed a ticket.  So I made them and handed the tickets to them as they came through the door that you see opened in the picture above.  TCI had a worksheet (no ticket or postcards) but it looked pretty boring.  I had some time one night so I got to creating... Just made the ticket and postcards in word using the TCI printout as a guide. 
Students used the reading and their ticket to help them write their postcards
Students had parts of their tickets that needed to be filled out while they were on the tour.  After each tour, we would get off the bus and go to the "bus station" where there was a reading pertaining to that specific tour (history, culture, environment and neighborhoods).
Reading on Mexico City culture.
After students read the information at the bus stop, they would fill out their ticket, and write a postcard to someone about what they learned about Mexico City's____________ (culture, history, environment, neighborhood).  Every station had the same reading, it just allowed me to make smaller groups.  By the end of the tour, each student wrote 4 postcards. 

The kids did an amazing job on writing their postcards.  I could hear their voice and they were able to be creative.  The language arts teacher and I collaborated and she was able to take a grade on their sentence structure and letter writing techniques.  I graded for content. 
A finished postcard on Mexico City's culture... dont you love how he wrote to a "Dear member of family"  SMH...

Another culture postcard

It was pretty amazing and best of all, the students remember what they learned even after the unit.  I actually was reviewed by my principal during this lesson, and although he didn't want any "dramatics" or anything out of the ordinary, the lesson would have been so much weaker if I kept my classroom the way it was with the tables.  It's always worth it to make learning come alive.

Soon to come.... A Rainforest Conference in Brazil.  (Yeah... the kids become newscasters.... another great reason to watch CNN Student News)

Happy Traveling!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

LAB: It's a Roller Coaster kinda World ...

It definitely was in my classroom today.  We built roller coasters to demonstrate our knowledge of potential and kinetic energy in science.
I teach science using the 5 E's (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate)...it's perfect if I actually got to teach science each and everyday, but I don't.  I have to use an A/B schedule to teach science and social studies, but I can usually get all the E's done by the end of the week. 
Here is what this lesson looked like... I'll include a few videos and pics of their awesome work throughout. 
Engage:  I showed my kids one of these awesome things...Newton Balls.  Don't we all have one stashed somewhere in the house?

We observed its stillness and I said that it had potential energy.  Then we discussed what potential meant.  I told them that I know they have heard that word before, "You have all the potential in the world to make straight A's."  After a little prodding, they decided it meant ability.  I was proud of that word...ability.  How can I increase its potential? (move the ball on the end)  You get the point....
Then we drew it in our journal and took some notes. (KWL chart and definitions)

Explore:  Then I showed them this little video about potential and kinetic energy conversion on a roller coaster.  We drew it in our journal, colored our coaster where it showed potential and kinetic energy, and they had to write a paragraph explaining how potential and kinetic energy are related on the roller coaster.

Explain:  Reading.  Sometimes it's dreaded, but not really in my class.  I think this is for 2 reasons. 
1-- The textbook we use, Gateways to Science, does not ramble or give endless amounts of over information.  It tells exactly what the kids need to know at their level  2-- The students know that this is not the main way we learn science.  We learn by doing and reinforce with reading.   They answered a couple of questions in their journal explaining how when a cat jumps off the refrigerator the energy transforms.

Elaborate:  My favorite part of the day! I told the kids they were going to make 2 different roller coasters.  The first had to have 2 hills and the second had to have a loop and a hill.  They had to use about 5 feet of clear plastic tubing (find at Lowes) and masking tape to make their roller coaster.  They would use a BB (find at Walmart) as the coaster and it would have to make it through the tube to the end. 


Loads of trial and error, readjusting and learning as they built.  Loved it.  Check out our video from one of my groups today :)

Evaluate:  Usually falls on a Friday... which is fine with me... Fridays are usually my quiz days.  Yes I teach 6th grade and still have Friday test days.  I'm sorry,but I just find this easier.  I like starting new units/lessons on Mondays and having 2 extra days to grade without the constant "Have you graded my quiz yet?" banter.  Ummm do they realize that I don't live at the school and I have a life... or rather...try to have a life outside of the classroom???  No.... the answer to this rhetorical question is no... if they did realize, they wouldn't look at you crazily when they spot you in Walmart.

 Have fun riding roller coaster without paying the theme park price :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

ToonDoo... the MOST AMAZING site. EVER. Yes EVER.

Have you seen it???  Toondoo???  Talk about awesome.  In the great words of Phil Robertson, it makes me and my students "happy, happy, happy."  They have fun learning and I have a blast watching them depict what they learned in a cartoon form.  Not to mention it's the top 4 letter word that make teachers crane their necks when they hear it.  Yes it is....

All you need is a user name and email address.  And you get to make fun cartoons like the one I made above.  And they have all SORTS of templates, pics, and emotion-cons.  And it's free.  And don't you hate it when your students start all their sentences with "and"?  But I am using it for voice purposes so I guess I will let myself slide.  Hmmmm I digress.....

So this fan-tab-u-lous site was brought to my attention as I was teaching command and market economies.  I know, I know.... You're like, "What?!?! Command and market economies??? That sounds so B-O-R-I-N-G.  How did you make that fun???"  Well, it wasn't my idea... but I wish it was.  

I have a subscription to TCI which is the leader in Interactive Notebooking-  they were one of the firsts to pioneer interactive notebooks, but now it's gone digital as well.  Anyways, its how I teach World Cultures, and part of my TEKS is to teach my 6th graders about command and market systems. If you want to check out my love-post for TCI just click this link.  So.... on my TCI lesson plan, there was a link to toondoo, and it suggested to do a compare and contrast cartoon using 2 panels.  I gave my students a rubric and 2 days in the computer lab.  However, before we went to the lab, we did a long demo in class together just playing on the site and making a mock cartoon. 
This was an example I did with my 3rd period class before we went to the computer lab.  We only did a command economy.
   That night about 30% of my students went home and made their own accounts and I made each of them a school account.  It was that wonderful 4 letter word... FREE.

So here are some of the results.... drum roll please.... I cant roll my r's so I can never do drum rolls... se la vi.... 

 Pretty cool huh?  I cant begin to tell you how much the kids taught me during this too.  Hope this helps you turn one of those concepts that can be so boring, into an engaging fun experience for you but more importantly your kids (ie.. students... but you know their your kids...)

Happy Teaching!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

TCI: Where Social Studies Comes ALIVE!!!

And it does!!!  This is my first year to teach 6th grade social studies which covers World Cultures....da da da dum.  Did you hear that???  That sound you hear when there is a daunting task you have no idea how to attack... Yeah that is totally how I felt when having to start teaching Social Studies.  Did I mention my background is in Art Ed??? Ummm yeah....
So I need all the help I can get (obviously) and this site is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! No lie.  Go to it right now....
Well... if you want to wait about 2 minutes after reading my post, that would be great.  :)

So what is so great about this site???  Here's my list:
  1. It uses JOURNALS!!!! Which means we get to be CREATIVE!!! Art background comes in handy here. :)
  2. The entire year's worth of units are correlated to my state standards- Texas, but it can go with any state. Just select yours!
  3. It is made for SMART BOARDS because it's interactive (wish I had one) but it works just as well as an interactive PowerPoint.  Kids still love it!
  4. Instead of reading from a textbook (that may be 10 yrs old and out of date), students get to watch snip-it videos or use interactive slides to understand the lesson.
  5. Students "travel" to destinations.  I've told them that "Next week, we will fly to Canada and check out why people live where they do," or "Today, we are going to use a time machine and travel to Mexico's past.  We are going to see how past events have impacted Mexico today," and "On Monday, we are going on a field trip to Mexico City and tour the area to check out its rich heritage."  But just changing my words around, the kids get so pumped.  The response is usually, "Really?!?!  That's gonna be cool."
  6. The whole year is laid out for you in a calendar so you can check your pacing.
  7. Each lesson has the standards laid out for each section: Preview, Activity, and Processing.
  8. The kids CREATE during the Processing lesson.  This list is just what we have done so far this year.
    • Maps of their own make believe country including physical, resource, political and vegetation zone maps.
    • Comic Strips using an AWESOME website called toondoo (which I posted about here) where my students compared command and market economies. Did I learn this stuff in 6th grade???? I don't think so.
    • Games where the students analyze graphs to see what country the graph belongs to.
    • Making maps
    • Creating graphs and then analyzing them to understand what life is like in different countries... whether that country is developed or not
    • Writing postcards to friends and family after "touring" a city
There is so much that I love about this site.  It's not learning from a textbook.... it's  learning through interaction.  Yes there are reading segments, but that's not the only way kids learn social studies. It's not free... booooo... but the price is a whole lot cheaper than a class set of books and it is SO WORTH IT!!!

Check out their FREE lesson on MLK (2day lesson) here!!! It's great and pertinent to 5th graders and up.