Saturday, January 4, 2014

{Saturday Sprinkles} Of The Science Variety

Well, sadly my winter break is OVER!  Waaaaaaaaaah!  I cannot believe how seemingly fast 2 weeks went by.  But I really needed it and am glad it came when it did.  So, to help me get back into the swing of things, I am linking up with my buddy, my pal, my friendliest friend, She, over at Sprinkle Teaching Magic for this weekly linky party.

While I never really officially blogged about my National Board results, I did mention over on my 13 in 13 blog post here, that I missed it by a teeny tiny 6 points.  Argh!  So, I am retaking my Entry 3 (Science/Math) and 1 or 2 Assessment Center exercises (Science and Fine Arts) this year to make up those 6 points.  

Two weeks before winter break, I introduced our Levers & Pulleys (FOSS) unit to my students through exploration and very little information given by me.  Because I know my students learn best through exploration, I chose to have them jump right into working with levers through exploring with what they already know and understand, which helped them grasp on to the concept more deeply and peeked their curiosity way more than if I had just given them a vocabulary lesson and jumped right into the first experiment of setting up a lever to lift a load.  Do you see how I just threw a National Board explanation format at you?!  It comes at you in your sleep after working on them for 4 entries and assessment exercises for 2 years.  You're welcome.  

Here is a peek into our classroom during this 45 minute chunk of time where I had small groups of students gathered around me to help me open a paint can with their fingers while partner/trios gathered around our computers to explore and attempt a Simple Machines Brainpop game on how to build levers and pulleys to complete tasks (again, remember I did not give them any background information).  

While you can't see their faces, let me just paint the picture (LOL, see how I did that?) for you. They are staring at that paint can for about 5-10 seconds and thinking solo about how they can possibly open it after all trying to do so with just their fingers.  Right after this, we had a seriously insane conversation about what they could use to actually open it.  Many of them mentioned seeing their dads or uncles opening one with a screwdriver before, so I asked them, "Why do you think a screwdriver works instead of your fingers?"  Some of them wanted to try to open it with their pencils because they figured out they needed something similar to a screwdriver, but stronger than their fingers.  Of course, their pencils broke and I asked them to discuss why the pencil broke, etc. Through this, they were heading towards the idea of a fulcrum, but they weren't quite there yet...perfect!  It paved the way in such a beautiful manner for their first experiment.  See below ("I Wonder" in their notebooks) for their next step after what you see in this picture.

They had some fantastic exploration discussion going as they tried to play out ways to move objects and lift loads to win the game.  I definitely recommend giving your students a shot at this free game from Brainpop.  My students absolutely ate it up and wanted to play it again.  It was hard for me to shoot video (via my iPhone) while trying to listen in on their discussions, so I only got this quick 10-second video after I asked this pair of boys why they think their object they chose finally worked to lift the load (for some reason I also couldn't get my YT link from my page to work either, so there's that).

When students were finished with either the paint can or the Simple Machines Brainpop game, they went to their desks and began filling out their "I Wonder" page in their Science Notebooks.  All I asked them to do was write about what the two activities sparked in their minds.  These wonderings will pave the way to their experiments, including their two final inquiry-based experiments in which they design their own exploration and carry-out the building of levers and pulleys to accomplish a task.

There you have it!  This is what Science looks like in my least at the beginning stages of a new unit.  I only took these pictures for my National Boards portfolio entry, so they aren't super detailed.  But I loved She's idea of looking back at what the week was made of and considering how successful it was.  Basically, I think this weekly linky party will be a really perfect way for me to reflect back on those bad weeks (really hoping they are fewer and fewer these last 2 quarters).

Thanks for visiting!  Definitely link up with She and other teachers each week.  This is a way for us hard-working teachers to share those successes we have more often than we realize.