Monday, March 17, 2014

Science Note-booking

I feel like I should start this post saying that I did little research on Science note-booking- something I would normally do when I'm starting something new - therefore I have no idea if this is what most teachers do, but I have found this to work for me and my 2nd graders...  SO of course I thought it was worthy of a share.  (Ok-I think that was one HUGE run-on sentence.  Teach grammar much?? ;))  

About halfway through the school year, I started using a science note-booking concept with my 2nd graders.  Earlier on in the year, my team and I would actually make reflection sheets and put them together in a notebook form for the entire unit- and that worked well- but I wanted something different, where the kids could take more charge- so in came Science Notebooks.  Our science notebooks are actually the science section in their binder.  Next year- they will have an actual notebook.

Right now, we are learning all about sound.  To begin each investigation - students open their notebooks, put the title of the investigation, any definitions, and answer some "Pre-investigation" questions.  I project these questions on the smartboard.  At this point, they can do all of this in about 3 minutes, depending on the amount of writing that needs to be done.

Then, I introduce them to their investigation.  I usually give them as little direction as possible so that they can discover things on their own.  I give them about 10-15 minutes to investigate- sometimes more, depending on how long I think it will take them.  During this time they are recording any data they get, and writing down their own thoughts about their experiment.

Sometimes, I give them a recording paper for any data I want them to record.

After their experiment, I project a set of reflection questions on the smart board for them to answer.  This is one thing that we will change next year.  I began by asking them to just answer the question, but I definitely want them to restate the question and write in a complete sentence so that they can see what they've learned without needing to remember the question.

Last, we talk together about what we learned.  I think we will also add a "What we've learned" section to our notebook and we will put some statements that we all come to together.  Ex) The loudness or softness of a sound is called the volume.  The highness or lowness of a sound is called its pitch.  Sound is vibrations that travel.  We can change the pitch of a string by holding it tighter or more loosely.  We can change the volume of a string by plucking it harder or softer. OK I think you get the idea.

I really like the way our note-booking has turned out so far.  It's lead to more discovery, rather than explicit teaching- and has taught them the important things that scientists look for when conducting an experiment.

Do you use science notebooks in your classroom?  What have you found that works?  I would love to hear your ideas!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Encouraging their BEST Handwriting

I am so excited to join over 180 bloggers (Yes, 180!) for the 2nd edition of the Bright Ideas Blog Hop where we bring you nothing but great ideas for your classroom! I know that's a whole lotta readin' to do- so I'll make this as short and sweet as possible!

I'm going to share a quick, easy way to get your students to always write using their very best handwriting - cause let's face it.. they all get a little lazy times!

 First- On an index card, we write in our very best most neatest handwriting, "My name is ______.  This is my best handwriting." I cannot remember where I got this idea but it was brilliant!  These are taped to their desk so they can see it and I can just point and say, "Is that your best handwriting?"

Now- to encourage them to actually use their best handwriting, all.the.time. - I found a spot in my room and hung up 1 sandwich baggie for each student.  These are really not "cute" but they do the trick! I got this idea from one of my {oh-so-fabulous} teammates!

Every time we are doing anything that has a writing component (uhm - basically everything!) they can earn a cube in their bag.  I simple check to see if they used their neatest handwriting and say, "Great Handwriting" or "You can write neater than that!"  I have an over abundance of unfix cubes, so we use them but you could use beans, little plastic toys, or anything you can get your hands on.  When the student gets a certain number of cubes in their bag, they get a homework pass!

The first time they had to get 7 cubes, then 8, then 9, 10, 11.  After 15, we just keep repeating.  For every 15 cubes, they receive 1 homework pass.  And trust me, they hate when I tell them, "I'm sorry but this is not your best handwriting.  I'm sure next time you'll .... (Space out your words, take your time and form your letters, write on one line, etc.)" This little incentive has worked pretty well with my 2nd graders!

Ready for some more bright ideas? Check out the link up below or head on over to First Grade Smiles where she's sharing some ideas on Math Relay Races!  Thanks for stopping by!  Stay bright!

First Grade Smiles