Monday, April 10, 2017

Projects - Food Chain Reactions

The "Food Chain" is one of those topics that follows students from lower elementary science all the way up to upper elementary. For some reason, this is always an area where my students come in to 5th grade with little prior knowledge. I absolutely love teaching about food chains, because the students get really interested in their importance! Most students first think of "not liking" the food chain because it has to do with an animal eating another animal; however, when you take it from the standpoint of how IMPORTANT it is to keep all of our animals in population for the food chain to continue to work, the students really see a different side of things.

We reviewed the vocabulary for food chains: food web, food chain, producer, consumer, decomposer, primary, secondary, etc. 

After reviewing the vocabulary, we read a few of the books in the series like the one below:

Link to this book on Amazon: click here

There are many different books in this series. I have a few and tried to buy ones that take place in different ecosystems. 

After reading the books, we discussed other plants or animals we feel are important to the ecosystem because of the significance of food chains (the answer: all plants and animals!). 

Then, the students created their own books by researching an animal of their choice!

See examples below:

Take a look inside!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Studying Idea for Kids

Teaching students to study is an extremely important lesson. 

I remember when I was younger and my mom taught me tricks for studying. She taught me how to make up weird, quirky ways to remember certain facts. She taught me how to color code my notes. She taught me how to organize notes in a way that allowed for easier memorization. She taught me about flash cards. There are just so many ways! 

One of my favorite ways is to get everything important on to ONE page! Rewriting alone helps me study, but this studying technique includes rewriting AND makes for easy reviewing. 

I have my students use this mostly for science. I put up a list of the unit (example: "body systems" or "space") and ALL of its vocabulary words. The students then create a one-page, one-sided illustration or picture that includes all of this information. They can do this in any way that works for them. We discuss that if you are a visual learner, illustrations are a great idea. If you learn best by rewriting, then writing definitions and facts would work best for you. The kids come up with really great products. I like to laminate them and allow them to take them home as placemats before testing! They can use them under their dinner each night for easy reviewing and conversation with their parents!


Monday, April 3, 2017

Foldables for Full Unit Notes

Anyone else love foldables? I do, I do, I do! 

One of my favorite ways to use foldables is to pack the entire unit into one foldable. We then save them for the end of the year when we review. I hand them all of their foldables and the students are always amazed at how much work they have done and how much they have learned. 

I choose the tabs based on our state standards and what I need to be sure to cover. It helps me stay focused on the standards, while giving great organization to the kiddos!

See inside most of our ecosystem foldable below:

I also like to use the simple tri-fold foldables for smaller amounts of information. 

Below we used the tri-fold foldables for the inner and outer planets, as well as for animal adaptations. I just love how much students learn from illustrating and captioning. These tie in well with our text features lesson, as well. 

A student explains the animal's adaptation in the inside of the foldable below.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Space Project Based Learning Brochure

"To Infinity and Beyond!"

Safe to say SPACE is my favorite unit in science!?

My favorite part of the space unit is...well...everything. But if you forced me to pick one, I would pick the students' space brochures! 

I love project based learning in so many ways! I love the beginning, when the kids are so excited to choose their topic (in this case, their planet). I love the middle when they are researching, organizing, and paraphrasing content. I especially love the end, when they see their results and show off their final project! 

Below is my sample that I display each year. I did a brochure on Pluto, since no student is allowed to pick Pluto. This helps the students see my high expectations for neatness and organization. I get much better project results when I start with a sample of what I would like to see when they are finished. 

The students follow a project form to separate their brochure into 6 sections, including the cover. After that, the information collection is up to them. They are required to have an illustration on each panel, as well. 

Below is the recommendations section (Please excuse the misspelling below! You know how it goes!) I love love love this recommendations section because it allows the students to apply the factual information they learned from researching to a fictional panel on their brochure. They use the facts they learned to create ideas for things that people could do on the planet they chose (for example, ice skating on Neptune!). The "tourist attractions" they create always make me laugh and add a creative/fun element to the project. 

I love to let the students have a little fun being creative, too! This student needed more space for her illustration, so she got innovative and added fold down panels!

The project sheet - above

End of the Year Project Idea

One of my favorite parts of the end of the year is doing project-based learning to review old skills & content, or research new content. Before testing, my students are mentally exhausted from all of the new content we've been learning. We still need to review the content so they're ready, and below I am going to explain one of my go-to projects for this time of the year

Review books are one of my favorite projects because they do not require very much direction, you can grade them using a rubric depending on your goals, and the kids love them! 

I simply made a list of the topics in math we had covered so far this year and handed it out to the students with the simple directions to "create a book explaining how to do the skill to a fourth grader" (we are in fifth grade). I like this because they have to use their own words to explain the content, and they try to make it sound simpler since they know they are trying to explain it to a fourth grader. 

Some of the students got super creative, like the student who wrote "8 Little Geometric Terms Jumping on the Bed," while other students simply teach the skill in a more "textbook" way. 

(in case you caught the misspelling below - "fractionos" was 
an inside joke at school this past year...haha)

Below is a view at the inside of one of the geometric terms projects. She created hers to be more like a dictionary teaching the terms. 

The students got to pick their own content area they wanted to do their project on; however, I did go around the room and ask them their choice to make sure I ended up with at least 2 of each skill from the year. I wanted to make sure we reviewed ALL skills when we presented our projects.