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Custer State Park

Custer State Park

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Check for Understanding Graphic Organizers

We have been out of school for two weeks and I am already losing track of which day is which! Apparently, I need to consult my planner more than I originally thought.

There are so many types of graphic organizers out there! Here are a couple that I really like:

Connections, Points & Questions

Ready-Set-Go-Whoa!


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Online Practice

As a PLC, we have created resources for students to use to practice at home in preparation for tests.

The first one is Quizlet. The account is free for teachers to sign up and students do not need a login. It's great for vocabulary practice. Things your students can do with Quizlet:

  • Take practice tests and receive immediate feedback on performance
  • Play Scatter: version of memory where the student matches definitions to the term while a timer goes
  • Play Gravity: answer questions before an asteroid hits the planet
  • Flashcards: digital versions of flashcards that can include pictures and pronunciations, if you choose to add them

The second is a newer option to my school district. We have begun GAFE training for our students and one of the apps you can use is Google Forms. Google Forms is great for working like a review guide because students can practice both vocabulary, labeling and processes. We have it set up so students can use a Form as many times as they desire. When paired with Flubaroo, students can receive instant feedback on their performance after you have created an answer key.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Red, Blue, and Black Ink Activity

Something I have learned from my PLC is this pen activity for comprehension checks using different colored pens on a worksheet. In science, our review sheets typically have vocabulary, comparisons, and a little bit of analyzing. This is done shortly after the direct instruction piece, but never the same day as the material is introduced or assessed. It's a diagnostic tool.

The students are given anywhere from 8-10 minutes for a single-sided worksheet. (I usually allot one minute per question.) 
  1. Students work independently using the black pen. This represents what they know or believe they know. 
  2. Students go up front, where I have a cup of blue pens placed and partner up with the first person they see grabbing a blue pen. Together, they review their answers and help each other fill in any gaps.
  3. Students grab a red pen and work independently again. This time, they are allowed to use their book or notes to fill in the remaining pieces and double check their work.
I emphasize to my students that areas that are in blue and red should be fewer than the black ink. Their goal is to practice the areas of the blue and red ink.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Convection Currents

My cohort and I realized that our students were scoring low on a question about the relationship between density and temperature on our check point.

I created something similar for the students to draw in their notebooks and we viewed a couple things as we discussed, like this amazing convection current video and this animation of molecules and temperature from Middle School Chemistry.

I think it helped clear up a few cobwebs. We'll find out more over the next week!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

On the Fly Review

There are times when a teacher finds a couple minutes are left at the end of class. There's not enough time to start on something new, like tomorrow's lesson. These precious minutes should never go to waste. There are a couple games I have learned and invented to engage my students in review of our science material.


Sparkle (or Crystalline Reflection): This was a game that my students knew from language arts to practice spelling. I adapted it to fit a science classroom. I have the whole class stand up and I will ask students to spell out the answer to the question I pose. Going down the row of students, one at a time, each provides the next letter to spell the answer. If someone says the incorrect letter, they sit down and the next student restarts the word. Once the answer has been spelled out, the next student declares "sparkle" and the student after them has to sit down.

Last Scientist Standing: Similar to Sparkle, I pose a question to a student. If they know the answer, they stay standing and I give a new question to the next student. If the first student does not know the answer, they sit down and the question moves on to the next student. I don't repeat the questions so that all students have to pay attention.

Rock, Paper, Science: Students partner and listen for the trivia question. I count down from three and they shout the answer. If they are both right, they have a rematch. If they're both wrong, they sit down. If one student gets it right, they find a new partner and the student that missed it sits down.

My students have become so familiar with these games, that it requires little time to transition, but it did not require much explanation in the beginning either.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Review Game Templates


I had a co-worker ask today about resources for reviewing as a class.  That got me thinking about a couple resources that I downloaded years ago, but was not sure what I would find today, so I started to search. Here is what I found out:

Principal's Office

When I first started teaching, a co-worker introduced me to a fantastic show call "The Principal's Office". If you need a laugh, especially with the end of the school year. Enjoy!