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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Choice Board Template--Free Product in my TPT Store

I have created a template, available in Power Point, and made it available at my TPT store.  Use this template to create your own choice board or task cards.

You can choose to group activities by color or shape.

Can be used with any unit that you are studying or any subject! Great for all grade levels.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

HTML as a Second Language

I honestly thought the hardest part about blogging was going to be keeping up with it.  And don't get me wrong.  That has been difficult.  I am no where near creating a schedule for posts or even posting weekly like I wanted to.  

This week though it is all about the appearance of the blog. Developing a color scheme, graphics, how do I make a button?  What is a blog button?  How do I make a pretty, eye catching header and why isn't it centered? So many issues.  So I did what any newbie would do, I GOOGLED it.  A lot of awesome information out there A LOT! Much of it was simple and easy to follow, but a lot talked about HTML and coding. It was a foreign language. 

I do not code. I wish I knew how.  I know it is becoming very popular to get kids to start coding.  A team mate of mine introduced the kids to Scratch.  A free program offered through MIT--I know right! The kids loved it.  They made their own games and had a great introduction to computer programming, and I thought isn't that awesome.  


Monday, July 7, 2014

New TPT Product--Properties of Matter Choice Board

I am super excited about the most recent addition to the Ham it Up in Science TPT store.  The Properties of Matter Choice Board is filled with 16 differentiated activities that students can complete independently or with a partner. Activities are divided into four levels of difficulty based on Bloom's.  Each level includes 4 activities.  These are great for the multiple ability levels in our classrooms.

Every school year starts off with this TEKS, classifying the physical properties of matter.  Personally, I think it is one of the most fun TEKS we have in terms of getting the students' hands on stuff and actually investigating with science tools.  It is a great way to start the year off!

I also love using choice boards in the classroom.  There is something exciting about a classroom that allows students to work on a variety of activities in order to learn or review a concept. I really like to give students a choice to show their knowledge.  Students who enjoy creative writing can write a poem or short story about matter changing physical state.  The more analytical students can develop investigations to determine the physical properties of an object.

I have in the past struggled with the management of the choice board activities.  This year I am thinking about creating a folder for each student and storing the folders in milk crates in the classroom.  They can store their unfinished work in the folder and when they have completed an assignment they can turn it in to be graded.

How do you use choice boards in your classroom?  Do you use choice boards in your classroom? How do you manage the "organized chaos"?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

First TPT Store Milestone!!!

I am super excited! I sold my first product on Teachers Pay Teachers!!!

I was very apprehensive about putting anything on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I struggle with thinking that I could create a product that anyone would actually want to see let alone purchase.  But then it happened.  I have been lacking the inspiration to work on anything else that I could put in my store, and actually selling a product has made me feel a little more motivated.

Now it is July, the only full month of summer vacation and I hope that I can use "nap time" to work on my products.

And hey, if you happen to read this would you mind leaving a comment?  Just dying to know who is seeing what I write.  Also, please share on Facebook, Pinterest and any other social media things...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

My Scientific Summer

In the past, one of the first assignments I gave to my students was to write about their summer, from the point of view of a scientist.  I had advanced students, the type of student that read about Newton and Einstein for fun so most had an above grade level understanding of scientific concepts.  I am inspired this summer to do the assignment myself.  Currently I am flying from Houston to Denver and already I am noticing the science around me.  

There is the obvious, the airpalne itself.  A wonderous piece of engineering technology.  The mechanics involved in keeping the plane in the clouds.  The clouds themselves outside my window, the condensation stage of the water cycle.                 

The plane ride really got me thinking about all the science around us all the time.  Driving from Denver to Avon, in the Vail Valley, I was kicking myself for not being able to magically stop the car and take a thousand pictures.  The layers of sedimentary rocks in the canyon walls, the river that had carved out the canyon over millions of years, and the rocks that had been weathered by frozen water and literally broken in half.  It was super cool.  Yes, super cool.  

I am inspired to bring this project back into my curriculum.  What a great way to get to know my students level of knowledge and ability.  I want to model the assignment with my vacation, perhaps using Prezi or a movie making application.  I want to use my own Scientific Summer to get them excited about the science in their lives.

Any ideas on using this sort of project in your own classroom?  


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Using My Summer Wisely

The summer has officially started.  The last week of school was a whirlwind of activities and events.  The following week was curriculum writing and my daughter's 3rd birthday.  So I just now feel like I am taking it easy, and by that I mean I've been spending a lot of free time on Pinterest stocking up on ideas for the next school year.

I really want to make good use of my time this summer.

My biggest goal for the summer is to develop a BLOGGING SYSTEM!  I just couldn't get it going this school year but am hoping if I can get on a schedule this summer, it will be easier to keep it up come August.  There are so many resources out there for those looking to start a blog that I really have no excuses!

My second goal is to add content to my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I love TPT. There are so many resources that are available that I truly believe have improved my teaching.  I would love to develop products for my classroom that other teacher's may benefit from.  I know I already have things in my collection that just need to be made "marketable" and I really want to make devout more time to that this summer.

My third goal: TRY NOT TO THINK ABOUT SCHOOL TOO MUCH!! I make no promises!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Using Real World Situations to Assess Science Mastery

     I will be honest, I have been lucky in my last 4 years of teaching, to have had students that truly enjoy learning about science.  For the most part, they see the benefit of learning about the physical properties of matter and how water changes the Earth's surface.  If a student should ask, "how will knowing this help me in the future?" I can easily say chemists and geologists use this information in their jobs every day.

     But why should they have to wait until adulthood before they can apply this knowledge?  I want to make it a professional goal to create performance based assessments utilizing real world problems.  I started doing this last year.  STEMScopes, a curriculum developed by Rice University, has done a great job of creating problem based learning assessments for every learning standard (TEKS).  These projects include developing a recipie for lemonade to study the properties of mixtures and solutions.  My favorite is creating an advertisement to reduce deforestation in the rain forest.  

    I created my own project based on the forms and uses of energy, the MELTS.  The students were asked to design an invention that would help them complete a household chore.  The invention had to use at least three forms of energy.  Students drew the invention and labeled the forms of energy that were being used and then they had to write a paragraph explaining how the energy was being used.  I loved that the assignment combined science knowledge with creativity and the oh-so-important writing aspect.  I want to build upon this project for next year and require students to explain how energy was transformed from one form to another, for example, if the invention had to be plugged in, the student would explain how electrical energy was transformed into sound or light energy.  

   I have made this assignment available at my TPT store.  UPDATE 4/23/2014--THIS PRODUCT IS NOW FREE! Please check it out and provide feedback.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Today's experiment in test review

Erosion Stations from The Science Penguin

This year I have discovered the amazingness of a fellow Texas teacher, The Science Penguin.

I started using her products this fall and have probably purchased every thing I thought I could use from her TPT store. The graphics are great, the notes are awesome and easy for students to follow and everything fits neatly inside a composition notebook.

The state test is just a few days away and I can tell my advanced students are growing tired of the review we have been doing.  Last year I loved what my district developed for review.  It was hands-on, involved critical thinking, and kept the students from becoming bored during this crunch time. 

This year is a different story.  A new group of kids and new personalities.  So I decided to modify the district plan by introducing another product I purchased from TPT.  The Erosion stations unit actually contains 9 stations but for my purposes and time limitation I have chosen 4 that my students will complete today, the Read It, Explain It, Analyze It, and Draw It. activities.

The students seemed to be much more engaged today then they had been last week.  Some of their artwork was fabulous.  They were talking about changes to landforms, using academic vocabulary and reviewing the information in a fun way.  Overall I think the choice to use these stations was a success.

To follow up tomorrow, students will complete a foldable and reflection in their ISN and take a "Readiness Assessment."  A 10 question quiz on the TEKS.  We will go over the questions together and studnets will have the opportunity to ask for clarification. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sometimes goals don't go as planned

It is April. I have not posted since September, so as goals go, blogging this year was not a huge success.  However it has been on my mind a lot lately, and like most goals it is about creating new habits.  Perhaps I should set a blog alarm and post when that timer dings.  Perhaps over the summer I will do some much needed research and develop a greater purpose for this blog.

The best part about goals...they can be re-evaluated.
While I was unable to make a habit of posting regularly for most of this school year, I still have about 6 weeks to try and develop a blogging system.  A goal is best met when clear guidelines are established for how one plans to meet their target, and I did not do that in September.  Today, April 13th, I will set up a set of guidelines.

1. Post weekly.  The post doesn't have to be long.  But I will make a goal to blog everyweek.
2. Share the link to my blog on Facebook, Twitter and my teacher webpage.  It will probably be very motivational if I can actually get someone to view my blog.
3. Figure out how to make my blog improve my classroom.  Maybe I can use this blog to communicate with students and parents.  How can this help me be a better teacher?

These guidelines will hopefully help me develop the blogging habit.