Both of these circuit crafts are super cheap. I supplied materials for 21 students. Each student made their very own and didn't have to share with a partner or small group. Supplies are listed below.
Aluminum foil (used as the "wires")
LED bulb (pulled out from a string of Christmas lights)
Coin cell battery (3V)
Card stock/Computer paper/Markers
Steady Hand Test:
Poster board (half)
Scotch tape and Electrical tape
9V battery and connector
My 8th grade STEM students just completed their first "major" project: The Masking Tape Shoe Project. Students studied gait and arch types for a few days before completing a wet foot test to determine their own arch type. Gait analysis became an important part of the research component of this project. Students now understand how an injury to their left ankle could eventually affect their right hip!
Most of the time for this project was spent building the shoes. Each student had to bring in a shoe. They used that chosen shoe as a model. Students spent about a week sculpting their shoe prototypes. There was one major rule. Only masking tape could be used! That's it! Only masking tape could be used to create every single part of their shoe prototype.
Students were very frustrated after the first two days of sculpting. They couldn't quite see the big picture yet and they were doubting their capabilities. But half way through the week, once the sides of their shoes starting forming, they were in awe of themselves.
This project was a great first project for my students. They could easily identify what step of the engineering design process they were involved in during each day of class as the project progressed. They could also see how brainstorming and having a plan helped their creations piece together more smoothly. Students made improvements as they went along. I loved seeing them work so hard...and it was cheap! Each student went through one roll of masking tape. My students provided their own tape and then they donated a lot of extra rolls.
I have made the best decision of my teaching career! I went from teaching 8th grade science to teaching 6th-8th grade STEM. I love it! First of all, it's not a tested subject. Second, my students are excited about the program so they are fully engaged in our projects. The year is off to a great start!
The room I moved into wasn't "move in ready" so there was a lot of work involved to get this DREAM JOB ready for the new school year. I had to take apart furniture, throw away tons of stuff, sweep up a lot of saw dust, and paint the walls...then...I could decorate.
Teachers love decorating! And...with this new room...I got an office. So, there were two rooms to decorate! The pictures shown above is what the rooms looked like before the Pinterest magic took over. The pictures below show what my classroom looks like now. I love it!
I decided to use tables this year. I've recently traded out the chairs for stools. No more leaning back! I am in love with my table signs. I purchased the purple buckets at The Dollar Tree. I filled the bottom of each bucket with sand to add weight and stability. I have placed purple, turquoise, and navy confetti strips in the buckets. Students actually leave them alone! I use the turquoise trays to hold scissors, glue sticks, and markers. Those were less than a $1.00 at Walmart. I added a pop of color by attaching colored painters tape to my white drawers.
This room was a lot of work but I absolutely love how it turned out! I think students really feel welcomed and comfortable in this space. It makes me happy...even on a Monday morning!
After each school day, I write a 3-5 sentence reflection over my lesson plans for that particular day. Before the next school year, I read back over all the reflections to help me prepare for the upcoming year. If you aren't already writing down your reflections, I highly recommend that you make that your #1 goal for the next school year. It will help you grow as a teacher and will give you a stronger voice throughout the PLC process. I keep all my reflections in my teacher plan book, which I will share in a later post.
Reading over my own comments, I noticed that I kept writing positive things about something new I tried this past year. STICKERS! Yes, big kids love stickers too! I was reminded of how much we all loved stickers as kids at an Annette Breaux inservice. (Note: If you need to be reminded to smile at your students, be sure to check her out!) We all got stickers as young students...but then it stopped. Why did teachers stop passing out stickers as we grew up?
All of my students are required to keep up with an interactive science notebook. In the front of their notebooks, they saved a page for stickers. When we were setting up our notebooks the first week of school, the students made little comments about how silly having a sticker page was. But, once the stickers started being handed out days later, their comments turned into excitement!
I used stickers as prizes and rewards. If a student (or small group of students) won a competition in class, they got a sticker to place in their notebooks. If a student asked a good question, I'd give him a sticker. If a student helped out another student, I'd give her a sticker. Stickers became my new classroom management strategy...and it worked! It was so much more effective than anything else I had tried...even better than candy...especially if I gave out the "smelly" ones.
To make it tricky, I would often give the student a choice in their prize. Would they choose candy or a sticker? Almost every single time, they chose stickers! Why? Probably because they had their eye on the big prize. They were competing against their classmates to have the most stickers at the very end. That winner would get a HUGE prize.
To keep it interesting, I'd have little reward days. I'd say, "Anyone who has a blue sticker earns a piece of candy!" This helped with getting all the students to always have their notebooks in class and at the students' desks ready to go. A student couldn't "retrieve" their notebook for the prize. They had to be prepared. I'd even say, "Any group that has a combined total of twelve red stickers gets candy." This encouraged students to "nag" their classmates about having their notebooks so I wouldn't have to. Trust me...it works!
For this upcoming school year, I am thinking about having a "store" where students can trade in their stickers for prizes. I'll use a Sharpie to mark through the stickers they've cashed in so I will know not to count those in the final count...or maybe I will. I haven't worked out the kinks yet. I'm thinking that if a student forgets to complete an assignment on time, he could cash in stickers in order to complete the assignment and turn it in at a later date. Have you tried a classroom store at the secondary level?
I purchase the stickers shown above online at A-Z Office Resource, Inc. They are smelly and I know they can't be found at stores that my students normally shop at...even though I have never had a student try to add his own stickers to his notebook.
Testing is over! The end of the year is near...but...it's not quite over yet. What do you do with a bunch of secondary science students who are mentally struggling to stay engaged in the month of May?
My own six year old son brought home a Flat Stanley project last year and we fell in love with the books. Did you know it's a series? There's more to that squashed little guy than you originally learned in grade school. He becomes a kite, saves his brother on a camping trip, bakes...who knew?!
Last summer, I decided that I wanted my middle school students to participate in a Flat Stanley-like project. I struggled with it for awhile though because I knew that I'd have those students who either wouldn't complete the assignment on their own or didn't have a way to complete it at home. So, I decided to make the entire project an in-class, researched based activity. My lesson plans were now complete for the dreaded AFTER TESTING PERIOD. (insert scary movie music here)
I purchased a 3-prong folder for every student, laid out some magazines, construction paper, and other craft supplies, and allowed the crafting chaos to begin. This is how I led the project:
My students organized all their work in a 3-prong folder. Most students chose to display their work in page protectors and some just hole punched their papers. The project as a whole turned out better than expected. My students worked so hard on the assignment. They liked being able to work at their own pace but accomplish certain success criteria each day as the project progressed. Click HERE to get your copy of everything you'd need to do this project in your classroom!
We have been busy in class reviewing for our state standardized tests. We actually just finished testing this morning! Whew! I feel really confident that my students were prepared and did an amazing job on the science portion of the test. I make learning the vocabulary a priority in my class.
The week leading up to the science test, I had my students complete an individual assignment over different vocabulary words...just to serve as a last minute CRAM session of our most important key terms. I gave students five different lists of words. They had to choose two words from each list. They had a total of ten vocab words to work with. With a provided handout, students were allowed to use their own devices to research songs. (THEY LOVE USING THEIR DEVICES!)
Their assignment was to find a song that they could connect, in some way, to their chosen vocab word. After that, they created a written response explaining how the song connected to their key term. They loved this assignment! It took them about three days in class to complete the entire handout. I allowed them to look up lyrics and listen to the songs as they did their research. Students were actually excited to "prove" to me that their songs connected to their words. They were showing me that they truly knew the meanings of each word...but they didn't realize they were "writing definitions". Score! Their work was amazing! Be sure to click on a picture below to get your copy of the assignment. I've created two versions: Any Content Area (option 1) and Science Content Area (option 2).
Have you been to The Escape Room yet? My students are crazy about it. You're basically locked in a room and have a certain amount of time to solve a bunch of puzzles in order to find the key to get out. Well, I decided to turn my classroom into that experience. And...it was the event of the day!
Don't you love it when you hear kids talk about how fun your class was? This lesson, FIRST 2 ESCAPE, got that response. Did it require a lot of planning? Yes. Did I have to have very specific classroom management expectations in place? Yes. Was it worth it? Yes.
My classes are currently reviewing for the state standardized tests. Each day, we review a different topic. The standards have all been taught and now we are just refreshing our memories over certain content. Today's lesson was over the periodic table. Just like my students, I get bored looking over practice test questions. For our review, we spend most of our time competing. We have individual competitions each day and group competitions. The First 2 Escape lesson is a group competition. Which group can escape the classroom first? I awarded SEVEN points to the winning group, because I have seven groups in my classroom. Second place received six points and so on. The day before the state test, the winning group gets a reward. It's super easy to keep up with group points each day.
INTRODUCTION: There is a potential gas leak in the classroom and you must escape before it's too late!
Here's how it went...for the most part:
Click HERE to get your copy of this lesson!