November 11, 2014

Science: What If?

      
My Super Scientist Posters cut apart and used as headers!

      This year when I looked at what I was supposed to teach for the Nature of Science and thought the same thought, “REALLY!  They ask us to teach this stuff and give us NOTHING, EVER!  How in the world am I going to teach this?  Where am I going to get all this stuff?”  Now, I know this is exactly what most teachers think.  It’s true!  We are asked to teach and then not given the materials that help us to actually complete the tasks, especially in Science.  And then we think about that person on campus who usually has the stuff!  We think, “Well, I bet THAT person could teach all this and have all the supplies!”  And, suddenly, I realized I was one of the three people on my campus that they would think of!  That stopped me dead in my tracks-ME!  They would think of ME!  So, what’s my excuse at that point?  I had to adjust my thinking.  I had to eliminate my excuse.  I had to think, “What if?”  What if I taught this with the tools?  What if I did it in a creative way?  What if I created my own Science Notebook?  What if it WORKED?  And that was my new “What if” ….create a tool that uses as many pieces of science equipment as possible, teach the tools, make it fun for kids, and make it realistic with supplies that are on campus or in a grocery store!  And with that, ToolsScientists Use:  A Notebook for Little Scientists was born!
The notebook was just a portion of the whole package!  Students were able to record information about the experiments in their booklet.  It was an easy access point for each lesson and did guide our work.  Here are some of the activities, through pictures, that are in the notebook! 

First, they design what their notebook would look like.  We read a book and discussed the different types of scientists.  Then they designed their cover.


Measuring tools came up first!  I didn't even know I had these tools in my closet till I put them all together in one location!!


The first measuring activity involves measuring each other to discover how a tape measure works.



The second measuring activity deals with weight and balances!


There is one dream in the childhood science experiences that every kid has-to wear goggles!  And, here they are doing it!  



Dancing Raisins!



 Sadly, we used an online source for the microscope!  I couldn't get any slides to work!  I think I need my eyes checked!!


The last day we completed the Test Tube observation!


They were very excited!


The results as they were "developing", literally!  The next day they were even better!

And, there's more than just what you see here!  Droppers, thermometers, and some others.  Sadly, I had to reset my phone (due to my poor memory!) and lost those shots.

I was very amazed at how the kids really loved what we did!  They looked forward to it each and every day, no matter what the results were!  Their notebooks were great, and we did have to work at a number of the skills!  But here’s the best part!  The assessment!  I created this craftivity to assess the students according to what they learned. 



         Each side of the coat represents what they learned.  One side says "This is What I Know about Scientists".  The other side says "This is What I Know about Scientist's Tools".   This is what the whole point of our learning was about!  Could they explain the tools, could they explain what scientists do?  There has to be more than, “You did these great experiments, you’re good!”  I think this is the key to what this whole unit needs!  But let me go on before I go on!! 

     In the middle of the scientist is an experiment developed by the student.  This was something my district put in our road maps.  Here’s how I tackled it!  Each Friday, I have Book Buddies with an fourth grade class.  These students have also studied tools and the scientific method.  This was the perfect opportunity to have that extra hand for my students that was needed to make this self-developed experiment a reality.  The 4th graders worked with my first grader to come up with an idea.  Then they helped the first grader record all of the information they could onto their experiment paper.   This was the first Friday of work.  

     On the second Friday, I had all of the tools available for the students to use.  The team of kids conducted the experiment together and recorded the results!  This was a great way to complete this difficult  task for an individual teacher to do.  My kids learned a lot, the 4th graders had a chance to reciprocal teach, and I could assess the kids successfully on what they completed. 

     Now, let’s go “there”!  Many times I thought assessing this type of unit was done through the assignments themselves.  I didn’t have the gumption or the time to do what the assessors asked for.  So, here’s the “What if” to come back to the beginning-What if we did assess this “stuff”?  Here’s what I discovered.  Although students knew the tool as they were working with it, they had a hard time communicating what the tool really did and what they learned.  Students still couldn’t explain what scientists did, even though we discussed it each day and we worked at it through the experiments.  What does this REALLY mean?   We aren’t doing enough, especially at the early ages, to get this information across.  Would I change what I did-never!  Does it have me thinking for the rest of the year?  Yes!!!  So, is teaching and assessing this information worth it-YES!!!  It should raise a variety of questions for you, teaching directions to follow, experiments to develop!  This shows me that EVERY unit needs the exploration of experiments and EVERY unit is worth the time to take to do this!  



     And, as just a reminder, I was one of the 3 people on my site that people would think about for using the tools.  So, where did I get them?  I borrowed from the other two!  I don’t know a science-based teacher who won’t lend out materials, so hit them up!  Also, if you need upper grade kids for help, ASK!  This could be a grade for them as well, as their teacher monitors what they are doing and their mastery of the scientific process! 

     I’m hoping this raised some thinking for you, because it did for me!  What kinds of questions do you have about science and the topics discussed here?



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