Science in the City

Jul 23, 2014

Innovative New Resource: Observation, Hypothesis and Inference

Early on in the year in almost any science class, at various grade levels, students will learn, or reinforce, the difference between observations, inferences, and hypotheses.  These are critical science skills that students will use across other subjects, and throughout the year. Of course, these skills are ultimately leading them toward making inferences from data, setting up and successfully running experiments, and even making inferences in other areas of their lives.  When students make observations about the world around them, read a news article and infer from it, or make an inference about the interactions that they have with people around them, they are using these skills.  However, this is an area where many students need reinforcement and practice.

I created this set for practicing observation and inferences.

This set has two components, and can be used many different ways.

1) There are 10 pictures that are good for making both observations and inferences.  You can use these pictures for one or other other, or use them to have students practice doing both.  Here is a good example.

Students can observe a hyena, or a zebra head, grass, etc.  They can infer that the hyena killed the zebra, is eating it, is hunting, etc.  They may infer other information as well, such as where this photo was taken.

The second part of this pack is a set of cards.  There are 16 cards each with examples of observations, inferences, and hypotheses.  Students can use them in the following ways (and probably others that I haven't thought of yet): 

- card sort and separate observation, inference, and hypothesis
- get one card and identify which it is.
- match up/sequence -- for example, I observe that the person is very tall, I infer that he plays basketball, and I hypothesize that people who are tall play basketball better.

These cards and pictures can be used in a variety of ways, and with a wide range of student abilities to reinforce these critical science skills. 

I hope you enjoy, and please let me know any feedback that you have! 

Jul 19, 2014

How Can You Get Free Resources for Your Classroom?!

I just found out about a new free resource that I'm very excited about, for personal reasons as well as professional.  I can't wait to share it with you.

If you live in NY State, as a taxpayer, apparently you are entitled to a New York (City) Public Library card.  You ask....but I don't live near NYC, so what good does that do for me?!

Well, as we all know, libraries also have many electronic resources, and this gives you full access to all their electronic resources.    Here is a link to their New York Public Library Guide, showing an up to date guide to the NYPL.  This is a fantastic resource! 

In order to get a NYC library card, you have to fill out a form online.  The library card gets mailed to you.  Then you take a scan of your driver's license (or other forms of ID), and, email or fax it, along with the library card.  This validates your library card.  It is free and good for 3 years. 

Even if you don't live in NY, maybe there is something similar in your area.  It's worth checking out!

Some of the resources included are shown below, tumblebooks, digital images, ebooks, audiobooks, etc.

Jul 13, 2014

Freebie: Powerful But Simple Congratulations Banner

I think it is very important to congratulate and recognize your students achievements. Everyone likes to feel successful, and that positive praise goes a long way way toward continued success (much more than the negatives).

Here in NY State, students have to complete a certain number of labs with passing grades in order to sit for the state final exams in science (required for graduation).  In other words, that lab qualification is their first step toward what they need to graduate.

Also, students usually can't go to summer school unless they have completed their labs.  They can retake for course credit, and sit for the exam in the summer, but usually can't complete labs.

Whatever your pedagogical thoughts about required labs, and, coherency with the course, etc., getting 'lab qualified' is a big deal.

I always make a display or do a pizza, or do some kind of recognition.  This year, since I didn't have my own classroom, I did a display in the hallway.  I made a big banner (included as a freebie), got foam stars from Dollar Tree, and let kids write on their stars and hang them up when they had met the lab requirement.

It was a big deal because it was in the hallway.  Some students would stay after school to make up labs and then ask me right away for their star, or ask to wait and be recognized in class.

I'm sure there are many things that you could congratulate your students on.   If you don't want the banner to be HUGE, you can print two pages per page and make it a bit more manageable.
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
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