Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Teaching About the Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming for Middle School

Teaching about the Greenhouse Effect, Global Warming and Climate Change can be tricky.  First of all there are a lot of people out there that have strong opinions about global warming and climate change. Second of all, it is a complicated topic. 

I would start by teaching about the Greenhouse Effect.  The greenhouse effect is a normal process that balances our global temperature. 

The greenhouse effect is the process by which radiation from a planet's atmosphere warms the planet's surface to a temperature above what it would be without its atmosphere. If a planet's atmosphere contains radiatively active gases they will radiate energy in all directionsImage result for what is greenhouse effect
After explaining to the students that the greenhouse effect is a normal process and it helps our Earth to stay a comfortable temperature, I would make sure the understand that without the greenhouse effect, our Earth would get very cold.

I would use slide shows and nonfiction reading to introduce concepts about the Greenhouse effect and probably also a hands-on activity.

I would also have students make a simple model in their interactive notebook showing their understanding of the Greenhouse Effect.

Once, they have understanding of the Greenhouse Effect, I would introduce them to the enhanced greenhouse effect, which occurs when excess greenhouse gases are in our atmosphere. Less infrared energy can escape the atmosphere because of this  excess gas, so our planet gets warmer.  

However, I would not want students to take my word for it!  I would want them to look at the data themselves from some reputable websites, like NOAA.
I provide students with QR codes that take them to reputable sites to gather information.
Students would record data and draw their own conclusions. 

I have create a resource specific to 

NGSS MS-ESS3-5. Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.

I also made one specific to the Utah SEEd which focuses more on the Greenhouse Effect and less on global warming.

Thanks for visiting and don't be afraid to teach the controversial topics!  Just let students look at the data and draw their own conclusions. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Uneven Heating of the Earth's Surface NGSS MS ESS2-6

I have been having a blast planning for Middle School Science.  I think this is because I am learning too!   

My newest project is to meet the NGSS MS ESS2-6 
Develop and use a model to describe how unequal heating and rotation of the Earth cause patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation that determine regional climates.

I also made a version specific for Utah SEEd „ Standard 6.3.3 Develop and use a model to show how unequal heating of the Earth’s systems causes patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation that determine regional climates. Emphasize how warm water and air move from the equator toward the poles.

First we start of talking about the atmosphere. 

Next we start exploring the way the sunlight hits the curved Earth. We do a couple of activities with this and then we do a really cool activity.  We compare the heating of Earth's main materials: Land and Water.  We want to discover if the heat at the same rate and if they cool at the same rate.  

I won't spoil the fun by telling you what we discover, but it was a great chance to use measurement and graphing to record out data.

Next we do the coolest thing of all!  We review heat transfer and then discuss how heat transfer works in our atmosphere and hydrosphere to distribute heat.
We do a great experiment on convection currents, which I have recorded for you here. 

There is so much more to this unit.  It is well over 100 pages/slides.  
If you teach middle school, please take a look.  Remember, there is a version for NGSS and another version for Utah SEEd. 

Utah SEEd 6.3.3 Uneven Heat of the Earth's Surfaces and How it Affects Regional Climate

 I am really proud of these HUGE units and they are currently on sale!  Save $3 during the first week! 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Leaving Feedback on Teachers Pay Teachers- A Quick Tutorial


I am continually surprised that so few people seem to know that leaving TPT Feedback can earn you TPT credits that you can use to purchase other items on TPT!  It is a great way to get a discount! AND that you can do it at anytime!  Have not ever left can do so now and collect all those retroactive TPT credits.  

Whether you are a buyer or a seller on Teachers Pay Teachers, you may have heard of leaving feedback. I have had people tell me they do no know how.  Or they tell me in person that they loved the resource, but seemed to have no idea how to do it on TPT.  So here is a short tutorial:

Pin this image on Pinterest

Leaving feedback is quite easy.  But, in case you are having a hard time navigating through the TpT waters, here’s a quick and painless tutorial on how to appropriately give feedback!

 please please please do not leave negative feedback that wishes the product to be something that it is not (as the statement provided by TpT describes).

You will see a place for anonymous feedback, which you can skip if you want.
 You will then see a scale for public feedback. This is the important one.  Be sure to tell what part of the resource you enjoyed or liked or how it helped you as a teacher.

If you are unsure what to write, you can look at what others have written.  

And lastly, a word about freebies (which we all LOVE!). It’s not required, but when something is given to you for free, it’s polite to say thank you. Be grateful, just like you teach your own students to do!

Would you like to give it a try?  Here is one of my FREE resource.  Download it and please give Feedback.FREE Science Experiment on Air Pressure

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Air Pressure, Air Masses and Weather Fronts NGSS MS-ESS2-5

Recently I spent some time considering how to teach middle school students about weather for the Next Generation Science Standard: 

MS-ESS2-5. Collect data to provide evidence for how the motions and complex interactions of air masses result in changes in weather conditions.

There is a lot to this standard and I decided the first thing that students needed to understand was air pressure.  I was excited when I figured this out because there are so many cool experiments that can be done with air pressure. 

After teaching all about air pressure, with five different labs and investigations, I knew I needed to give some direct information on air masses and weather fronts.

I used a slideshow and some nonfiction text for this and had the students do some QR code research and play with some simulations for weather fronts.

Sample from my Slideshow

Next, I had students really try to apply the information using weather maps, and answering questions to determine that they understood what they meant. 

Sample Weather Map Task Card

This was a really interesting unit to plan for and ended up being really HUGE.  I finished by assessing students with several quizzes that help them practice the information in a format that will be similar to what they will be asked on a standardized test.  
The whole unit is available here: 
Air Pressure, Air Masses and Weather Fronts Complete Unit NGSS MS-ESS2-5

I also created a unit specific to Utah SEEd which has a similar standard.
Air Pressure, Air Masses and Weather Fronts Utah SEEd 6.3.2

Utah SEEd
the interactions between air masses
that cause changes in weather conditions. Collect and analyze weather data to provide evidence for how air masses flow from regions of high pressure to low pressure causing a change in weather. Examples of data collection could include field observations, laboratory experiments, weather maps, or diagrams. 

Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Earthquake Lab Activity NGSS 4-ESS2-2, NGSS 4-ESS3-2 and NGSS 4-ESS1-1

Teaching students about earthquakes can be interesting!  There is so much to teach them about the science around earthquakes.

I like to make sure the understand a little about plate tectonics and then I like to teach them about faults, seismic waves, magnitude and more.  

After I have given them some background information or had students explore with QR codes and a WebQuest, I like to give them an engineering challenge. Build a structure out of toothpicks and marshmallows that can withstand the shaking and movement of an earthquake.

Make some jello and allow it to become firm. 
Let the students design their building.
 Test the building with shaking.
Redesign the building and test again.
 Discuss what worked and what did not work.  Have student read some informational text about earthquakes and complete interactive notebook flaps. 

If you would like to see the complete unit with a slide show, nonfiction text, lab pages, interactive notebook flaps, response pages, answer keys and sorting cards...I have done the planning for you here.

Complete Earthquake Unit NGSS for 4th Grade

Thank you for visiting! 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Teaching Photosynthesis for Middle School

The middle school standards for science want students to understand that photosynthesis is the beginning of the flow of energy through the food chain.

NGSS MS-LS1-6. Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for the role of photosynthesis in the cycling of matter and flow of energy into and out of organisms.

Utah SEEd
Plan and conduct an investigation and use the evidence to construct an explanation of how photosynthetic organisms use energy to transform matter. Emphasize molecular and energy transformations during photosynthesis.
Ask questions to obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about how changes to an ecosystem affect the stability of cycling matter and the flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem. Emphasize describing the cycling of matter and flow of energy through the carbon cycle.

Students need to first understand the basics of how photosynthesis works.  Some of the chemistry and specifics will be delved into more deeply when students are in high school.

Students in middle school should understand that:
  • photosynthesis takes place in the chloroplasts in the leaf

  • Light energy is absorbed by chlorophyll, a green substance found in chloroplasts in some plant cells and algae

    • Absorbed light energy is used to convert carbon dioxide (from the air) and water (from the soil) into a sugar called glucose
    • Oxygen is released as a by-product
    • Photosynthesis is the single most important chemical process on the earth.
    • Almost all plants needs the sun in order to survive.
    • Plants produce oxygen during this process and utilize carbon dioxide.
    • All people and animals need oxygen to survive.
    • photosynthesis takes place in the chloroplasts in the leaf

    I think this is a great opportunity for students to practice some science skills:
    • Setting up fair tests
    • arguing from evidence
    • supporting claims with evidence
    • critical thinking
    • making a model to explain thinking

    Once students understand the basics, the emphasis should be on how energy moves through the food chain starting with the sun and moving into plants and then up the food chain as it is consumed.