Thursday, March 23, 2017

Make Lava Lamp and Learn About Density

We have all seen it!  The flashy science experiment that really is very exciting and certainly gets students to observe, but somehow falls short when it comes to actually teaching a concept.

I tell my beginning teachers, make sure you think about what concepts, skills or ideas you want to teach first and then come up with a great experiment to go with it.  

Take the Lava Lamp.  It is spectacular and easy to do.  The students love this one!  It is colorful! It happens fast!  It uses simple household materials!  But what are we actually teaching?

I think there are several great science concepts within this activity.  To me the most obvious one is the opportunity to talk about density.  Simply put, water is more dense than oil.  That is why the oil is on the top.  Another concept that you can teach through this exciting activity are polarity (why oil and water do not mix).

There are also skills that you can teach or have students practice:
Making observations
Making inferences
Reading informational text to learn new information
Arguing from evidence
Recording data
Comparing and Contrasting

Here is my procedure:
I have the students fill a bottle  3/4 full with vegetable oil.
I have them fill the rest with water.
(Even this much ends up looking really cool as the water and oil separate). Observe and Record Observations

Add three or four drops of food coloring.  Observe and Record Observations
Break up Alka-Seltzer Tablets into smaller pieces.  Add a few to the bottle. Observe and Record Observations
Give students a flashlight to shine on the bottle. 

Now that I have the students curious and excited.  I have them read some informational text to find out the science behind what is happening!  This works great.  They are suddenly interested in reading some technical reading because they have had this exciting hands-on experience and they want to know how it works. 

We have a great discussion and I then have them record their findings in their interactive notebook.

Here are couple of the folds I use.

Now I have really made sure my students did not just experience science magic!  I made sure they actually learned something and practiced important skills.  

This entire lesson plan including the Informational Text article that explains the science behind it and All the Flaps and Folds is available for purchase. 

Thank you for reading.  If you like this post, please share on social media. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Magnets and Interactive Notebooks

You can have so much fun in your class with magnets.  There are many different lessons and concepts you can teach with magnets.  Students enjoy the hands on experience and are always excited to explore and investigate with magnets.

I like to give them a variety of materials and then have them sort them into magnetic and non magnetic.

It is also fun to teach them about poles.  
Like poles attract and unlike poles repel.  

I also like to give the students cute games to play.  These figures can be moved using attracting and repelling with magnets. Students discover that in order to move the figure they must have a push or a pull.

Students record their ideas in the interactive notebook. 

To learn more about magnets I have my students do some independent research.  They can read some articles, search on the internet or look at books I bring in from the library.  Reading informational text can be difficult so I like to provide some purpose to it (read to find out) and some ways to practice the skills associated with reading informational text (I like to use the interactive notebook for this).

Here are some folds and flaps for helping students process informational text. 

These are available along with many others in this resource.

Students also enjoy learning about electromagnets and making one!  

And then I of course follow it up with a cool interactive notebook fold for the student to draw their own design. 

All these lesson ideas are included in this resource. Magnet Unit  

The complete Magnet Unit has Eight 5 E lessons using magnets. 
The lessons include: 
What items attract to a magnet?
Attracting and Repelling North and South Pole
Reading Informational Text Lesson (With a three page article)
Creating an Electromagnet
Making a Temporary Magnet
Will a magnet attract through other materials?
Exploring Sand with Magnets
Push and Pull With Magnets

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Strategies for Teaching Students To Read Informational Text by Using the Interactive Notebook

Teach Comprehension Strategies

In addition to exposing young students to informational text, teachers must also teach them how to read it.
Research shows that good readers are strategic in their reading (Pressley & Afflerbach, 1995) and that explicit teaching of comprehension strategies can foster comprehension development (Duke & Pearson, 2002). 

Strategies that appear to improve comprehension include monitoring students' understanding and making adjustments as needed; activating and applying relevant prior knowledge (for example, by making predictions); generating questions; thinking aloud; attending to and uncovering text structure; drawing inferences; constructing visual representations; and summarizing. With each strategy, explicit teaching should include information about what the strategy is, when it is used, how it is used, and why it is worth using.

Research suggests that teaching even one comprehension strategy can lead to improved comprehension and that teaching multiple strategies can have an even larger impact (National Reading Panel, 2000; Pressley, 2000). 

I like to address these reading strategies with the interactive notebooks. 

Use Informational Text for Authentic Purposes

When you read informational text, you do so for an authentic purpose—to obtain information that you want or need to know (Purcell-Gates, Duke, Hall, & Tower, 2002).   This is how I like to use informational text to enhance my science lessons. I like to start with a hands-on, inquiry based lesson and then provide them with informational text that provides the answers to their questions or explains the phenomenon. 

 Interactive Notebooks and Flaps and Folds provide a way for students to practice the strategies for Reading Informational Text in an engaging and meaningful way. 

You can find this entire set of Flaps and Folds for Reading Informational Text in my store.  This set includes 57 flaps and folds covering 3-6 grade standards and additional comprehension skills for reading nonfiction.

I love using Informational Text to enhance my reading strategies.
That is why I include informational text articles in almost all my science lessons and units.
Remember :
1. Inspire the students with some hands-on experience.
2. Connect the reading of informational text with a science experiment.  This will give the reading purpose.
3. Teach and have students practice the strategies for Reading Informational Text. I do this with Flaps and Folds in the Interactive Notebook.

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Visiting a Reptile and Arachnid Breeding Facility

 Last summer I had an opportunity to visit a huge breeding facility for reptiles, arachnids and other interesting creatures.  It was an amazing experience.  The owner and operator only sells captive bred, healthy animals and takes great pride in providing education and supporting responsible pet ownership.  

This place was amazing!  We walked into a huge warehouse with stacks going up to the ceiling with tubs of all kinds of critters.  Each one was labeled and organized by species.  

 The owner showed us all kinds of animals and told us all about them.  He was definitely an expert!  He even picked up the Mexican red knee tarantula I was purchasing and was able to tell me she was a female. 

 He showed us how the eggs are incubated in precise temperatures and how the hatchlings were cared for.   All the animals looked healthy.  

If you are interested in purchasing a reptile or spider I strongly encourage you to support a reputable business like this one. Your animal will be healthy and you will not be contributing to illegal collection of species.

For a complete science unit on spiders see Integrated Spider Unit