Science in the City

Feb 26, 2013

What to Do When You Can't Do a Hands-On Activity

My first choice, of course is to do activities as hands-on, either in partners, lab groups, or individually. Sometimes this is not feasible.....this might be because of behaviors, scheduling, lack of money and supplies, time, space, then what.

I have been struggling with a lot of these issues this year, and struggling with how to adapt and improve my teaching.  I do not want to go toward doing a lot of book work and worksheets or notes.  I really don't believe that is for the best for anyone.

Soooo....sometimes I've done demos.  This is ok, except my attention, to some extent is on the demo and I can't re-direct kids, or handle behaviors as much.  Also, the demo usually happens once and some kids, inevitably, aren't paying attention and miss it, or want to see it again.  I am starting to really like showing a video clip of the demo.  I can focus their attention on certain things, refocus them, prompt them, and play it over and over.  They are also great for things that take time, but can be sped up or slowed down.

Here are a couple that I have used recently:

Feb 23, 2013

How to Help a Struggling Writer Want to Write

My son is in first grade.  I want him to work on his writing, which he hates.  He hates both the mechanics of writing (putting pencil to paper), spelling, etc.  We went to a local museum and he saw an ad for a kids writing contest, grades K-3.  He decided he was going to enter, and win.  Kind of a funny choice for someone who hates writing, but he was set on it.  He came home to start, and very very quickly got frustrated when he made mistakes, had to erase, the paper got messy, etc.

I had a small brainstorm.  Maybe he could type it on the computer, edit his mistakes, and not get so frustrated.  It would also take away the whole problem of writing (ok, so he doesn't get practice on that, but at least he's practicing spelling and making sentences).

I started him on googledocs.  I chose that because it automatically saves, saves edits (so things can be undone) and can be accessed from any computer.

He loves it!  After a few days, however, he realized that he had an email account associated with his google docs account.  Uh oh.  Ok, so gmail does not have parental controls, I've looked.  I've monitored closely.  He has been emailing me, my husband, my parents, his other grandparents.  He can't wait to check his email and write back.  He has used google docs to share the story with them, and keep adding to it. that authentic practice?!!  How to make middle school level as authentic as that?  It seems to me, that for reading and writing are easier to find authentic practice.  Now I need to think about how to do that in my class.

And....has anyone ever used google docs, or a better kid-friendly website or application for kids?

Feb 18, 2013

This is What Happens When You Focus on Tier 2 Vocabulary

I posted earlier about my action research on Tier 2 vocabulary words for bellwork.  Some of my results are in, and I wanted to share....

I conducted a "pre-quiz" on a set of 5 words, worked with the words for 5 class days and then a "post-quiz" on the same five words.  It was matching words and definitions.  Don't forget....the post-quiz was the day before February break!  The 7A, 7B, 8A, and 8B  designations indicate the groups.  7A and B are 7th grade, 8A and B are 8th grade.  8A and 7B both have significant ELL students.  7B also has some IEP students.

Not bad...I was actually hoping for even a little better, but some of the words were similar, and they got confused.

The words were: property, component, factor, consecutive, and formation.

I also conducted a survey where I asked them if they were aware of the focus on vocabulary in bellwork, if it was helping them in science, in other classes, not helping them at all, etc. I also asked them what methods worked best for them.

Interesting results!
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