Getting Down and Dirty In Science

Hey everyone!


I wanted to talk about how important doing hands on science activities are in my classroom. The kids are so much more engaged, they're excited to try things out and experiment, and it really amped up their writing.

My science unit we just completed was our land and water unit. It does tend to get messy and I tend to dread it, but I am happy with the results at the end.  The main idea of the unit is for students to study water flow and then build a dam. We are an IB school (International Baccalaureate) and we use a lot of inquiry while doing all subjects. I started off this unit planting in their heads the question of why do we need to know about water flow? How can we affect water flow?

Each lesson was like a building block, adding on. We learned about the water cycle, then progressed to small water flow, and building up to a larger water flow. They studied the impact of hills and rocks with water flow. Students looked at how plants affect water and soil. Then of course was their favorite part of the unit, building a dam.

They had to work as a group to design a dam using only tape, popsicle sticks, and straws. Like any good scientist, we tested out the dams and then re-designed or touched up dams as necessary before testing again.



After seeing if their dams worked, then they had a mission. Their mission was to protect the little city of cubes from getting flooded.

 I even threw in a dam alert like the dam was about to break. My students ate that part up. Those little things make it that much more fun and it was easy to add to the lesson.



This little group figured out to use straws like irrigation to divert the water!


As I was going through the pictures, I noticed a common theme. The kids were all close to the dam, huddled around and just SO engaged! This was when real teamwork came out and I saw group leaders. This unit was so much more than just science and testing. Yes, my room was often messy. The experience was worth it!



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How I Use Google Classroom

Hey everyone!


So my last post talked about how Google Classroom changed my teaching this year and today I'll talk a little about how I use it with my class.

The main ways I use it are for science/social studies and reading. For science and social studies, I'll post KWL docs for them to type on, videos or websites I want them to go to and read, or news articles. They use it to upload their research.

Here is a pic of a culminating activity and then the beginnings of our next unit. I can easily see who needs to do it still, due to being out sick.


Reading groups is the other way I use it, specifically for assigning comprehension questions or reading passages with questions.

 All my reading groups, plus my class and one for the whole fourth grade.

 An example of what it looks like in one of my groups. Again, love seeing who hasn't finished so easily!
 This is what it looks like for those that are done (I blurred out names) and I can click on their assignment and hop right in.

Now I can see what they wrote and add a comment to add punctuation and make sure to put the question in the answer.

I'll be bringing more tech tips and Google Classroom tips! Let me know if you have any specific questions.






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How Google Classroom Changed My Class

Hey everyone!

I blogged over on Owl-ways Be Inspired on how using Google Classroom has changed my teaching. It's changed it in many ways, including going about 90% paperless, being able to see my kids' work more, and my kids are more independent.


Click to read the blog post.
*Edit* I apologize the link wasn't working. Here's the url:
https://owlwaysbeinspired.blogspot.com/2017/01/how-google-classroom-has-changed-my.html
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Teaching About The Oregon Trail

Hey everyone!

I'm getting ready to wrap up my favorite social studies unit in 4th grade, the Oregon Trail and Oregon history.



Last year I wrote a few blog posts about what I did to start the unit , how I  used realia , and how we had a few fun days of making butter and playing pioneer games.

I'm going to fill in the rest of the gaps right now and give you a basic outline of what I do with my class.

The first thing I did was send out a KWL in my Google Classroom for my students to fill out. Then I show them some posters about heading to Oregon, the land of milk and honey. The land where pigs are roasted and running around with forks in them. I tell them this is the propaganda told to pioneers to get them out west.

 The next day is when I hook them in to my unit by setting up shop and at each table,  they work as a "wagon" to choose supplies with a weight and money constraint. I feel that this day sets the whole mood for the unit, so I go all out. There is fiddle music, I wear a bonnet and apron, I've got a table with realia and supplies. They also decide who is on the wagon train council and who is the wagon master. They vote and everything!



Our next day, they set up a journal and pick out a pioneer name. I put up a list of pioneer names I found and they put it on the front of their journal.



 I do a quick slideshow about Independence, Missouri and why people are leaving.


I have a map of our journey.



We only have social studies four days a week, so a typical week will have us at a landmark 1-2 times, fate day, and then some sort of research or activity.

Landmarks include: Ft. Laramie, Chimney Rock, Independence Rock, Ft. Bridger, Ft. Hall, Soda Springs,  and the Whitman Mission. There are some others I could definitely include. Right after the landmark slideshow and/or video, they write in their pioneer journals. They write about what they saw, how they felt, and what they did at that landmark. At Independence Rock, they "carved" their names into the rock. At one of the forts, they get new supplies to finish the trail.

The second to last day of the unit, they decide whether to go on the Columbia River or go over Barlow Pass. Students research the pros and cons of each decision and decide as a wagon, not as a wagon train, how they will travel. Then it's fate time and they roll a dice to see what happens. The last day, for those that made it, there is a celebration in Oregon City.

Activities done: Compare and contrast with pioneer children typical day, pioneer game day, Oregon Trail game day (I found it on a DOS website and also there is a card game!), butter making day, wagon making, pioneer quilt day (they make quilts out of construction paper). We also do this unit during December, so I have them make snowflakes right before winter break and talk about other things pioneer kids did to decorate their homes.




I thoroughly enjoy this unit and I think it comes through to my students because they get so excited at social studies time. My vice principal seems to visit me during this time a lot too, so I think he enjoys it as well.

Let me know if there is anything else you want to know specifically or more details on a certain part of my unit. I hope this helps those of you teaching or gives you an idea to include in your classroom!

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First Quarter Recap

Hello everyone!

     This year has been a very crazy school year for me and I feel like I finally have things all under control. I'm also taking grad classes to get my ESOL endorsement, am on the leadership team, the peer tech coach team, and technology grant pilot team. Add in my 10 month old kitten Willow and it's been a crazy school year, lol!
 
 We also have 2 new admin, both of whom I appreciate and like so much! It is so nice to have admin that totally get you and understand what it's like to be a teacher, because they both have been.
 
 I also have one of the largest classes in my school, with 31 kids. This has been a very challenging class and it wasn't until the last week of December that I feel that things have finally settled and we are in a groove. It was probably one of the most stressful beginnings to a school year. So many home life problems and personal problems, and many are so low in skills too. I felt like the first few months were just dealing with personal things with them than education, but I know they were learning things.

So, that's me being honest and real and not glossing it over for the blog and making it look like bloggers live in the picture perfect world. On to what we've been doing so far...

      They've learned place value, multiplication, and division. We did a unit on Oregon Native Americans and a unit on animal adaptations.
Some Native American symbols. 


Students researched Native American clothing and housing and recreated in their own way.

We're wrapping up the Oregon Trail in a few weeks.


Students love realia, so this is the shop I set up as they headed out on the trail.

Students built wagons after researching them and designing them.



    The most exciting thing is we are 1:1 this year with Chromebooks and I have jumped in with both feet technology wise. Google Classroom is a game changer for this class and my saving grace. I've cut down on paper in the classroom so much!

   I plan to do some blog posts on how I use Google Classroom and the Chromebooks in my class. If there's anything specific you want to know, let me know and I'd be happy to do a post on that!
 

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