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How to Make Science Fun?

How to Make Science Fun?

My daughter has made the comment that she didn’t like science because it is “boring”. I was not happy to hear that comment at all, but sadly I can’t say I am surprised. Science used to be a favorite subject of hers but for some unknown reason textbook publishers, and school districts that adopt them, choose science curriculum for the intermediate and older grades that can bore you to tears! They take the fun out of science that you find in the primary curriculum

In primary grades, science is taught within the context of a unit. The students learn the concepts by DOING things, it is fun, interesting, and engaging. Hit the intermediate years and it becomes a system of memorizing vocabulary and reading from a textbook. The fun is removed. WHY? Science curriculum has the potential to be exciting and interesting. Why doesn’t the curriculum reflect that?

I know many have created and adapted the science curriculum to better meet the needs of your students to make it more interesting and engaging. Please share some of your suggestions in the comments section and please share links to great ideas and products that you’ve found to be effective!

 

 

Let’s get these exciting lessons into the classrooms around the country to make science FUN instead of boring!

The Playful World of Mr. Popper’s Penguins

The Playful World of Mr. Popper’s Penguins

One of the favorite novel units that I did during the year was Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater!

Mr. Popper spends most the year painting or papering walls for the people of Stillwater. He gets to take a break during the winter and explore his real passion, the Antarctic–at least in books! Mr. Popper resigns himself to this quiet life until one day a mysterious package arrives from his favorite Antarctic explorer, Admiral Drake! Pretty soon the Poppers have a house full of penguins, an ice rink in the basement, and an ever-increasing bill for raw fish and canned shrimp. Mr. Popper comes up with a creative and hilarious way to pay the bills! The book is chock full of hilarious situations that make kids laugh and their imaginations soar!

Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a fun read and I highly recommend it for classroom or home use!



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The Season for Gratitude

The Season for Gratitude

Miss Giraffe’s Class had a link up a couple years ago devoted to what TpT has brought to our lives. It’s worth sharing again as we draw on this season of gratitude.

 

One of my favorite things to do as a teacher was to create and teach novel studies. I loved to spark that interest in real, whole books in my students, many reluctant readers who didn’t have ready access to chapter books.

 

 

After the birth of my second child, way back in 2003, I came up with the idea of attempting to sell my novel units on eBay. My goal was to make enough to pay the preschool tuition for my oldest son ($75 month). I was shocked and so pleased that people actually started to buy them. With that interest, The Teaching Bank was born. Over the years I was able to grow and expand to a couple different websites. With my preschool tuition covered my goals grew, save for a family trip, save for Lasik surgery, be able to provide money for extracurricular costs for my kids, etc. These things were all a blessing and I am so grateful for the small success I had.

In June 2010, all that changed when I found TeachersPayTeachers.com. I discovered the site at the disboards.com (website for planning for Disney trips and just to talk with others who love Disney) of all places. Someone mentioned TpT as being a great place for retired teachers to sell their no longer needed classroom materials. This sparked my interest so I checked it out. TpT gave me a platform to sell my units in a downloadable format instead of burning to a CD and shipping as I had always done. I uploaded my work and the buyers followed.

Of course, I am thankful to TpT for the monetary contributions to my family, but an even more important thing, has come out of it, professional pride and a feeling of worth, that I thought were gone for me forever. I was forced to leave the classroom due to a rare auto-immune hearing loss that had progressed. I truly enjoyed teaching and even though I loved to be home with my kids, I missed the feeling of productivity and contribution that a professional life brings. TpT came into my life at the same time my kids were in school full-time so I was able to devote much more time and in return I have been given such a sense of purpose and pride that even though I am no longer in the classroom on a day to day basis, I am still touching the lives of students all over the world with materials that I created. I have been able to work in the education field creating products that I have a passion for despite my hearing loss, and TpT has given me the platform to do that for which I am grateful.

A Tale of Perseverance: Where the Red Fern Grows.

A Tale of Perseverance: Where the Red Fern Grows.

Where the Red Fern Grows, written by Wilson Rawls, is a wonderful book to use for a novel study,  for literature circles, or book clubs in the classroom. Where the Red Fern Grows, was first published in 1961 and has become a classic favorite to use in the classroom amongst both teachers and students.

 

Summary of Where the Red Fern Grows*:
Billy, Old Dan, and Little Ann – a boy and his two dogs.

A loving threesome, they ranged the dark hills and river bottoms of Cherokee country. Old Dan had the brawn, Little Ann had the brains – and Billy had the will to train them to be the finest hunting team in the valley. Glory and victory were coming to them, but sadness waited too. And close by was the strange and wonderful power that’s only found…

Where the Red Fern Grows. An exciting tale of love and adventure you’ll never forget.

*(from the book jacket)

 

 

This is a great novel to accompany a study of:

  • The Cherokee Native American tribe, including the geographic region where the tribe was predominantly found.
  • Dog training and/or Redbone Coonhound breed

 

I offer a complete novel study to accompany Where the Red Fern Grows for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.

This is a great novel to use in the classroom to help show students the power of setting a goal and working with all your might toward achieving it. A touching story to see how perseverance will overcome adversity.

Your Brain on Math!

Your Brain on Math!

I came across this article that discusses how children’s brains go through different transitions as they age in the ways that they interpret and figure out math. Some excerpts that I found interesting from the article are below:
“Students start off at the foundation of counting fingers or objects to figure early problems. “Healthy children start making that switch between counting to what’s called fact retrieval when they’re 8 years old to 9 years old when they’re still working on fundamental addition and subtraction. How well kids make that shift to memory-based problem-solving is known to predict their ultimate math achievement.”

“Stanford University researchers first peeked into the brains of 28 children as they solved a series of simple addition problems inside a brain-scanning MRI machine. The children were tested twice, roughly a year apart. As the kids got older, their answers relied more on memory and became faster and more accurate, and it showed in the brain. There was less activity in the prefrontal and parietal regions associated with counting and more in the brain’s memory center, the hippocampus. The stronger the connections, the greater each individual’s ability to retrieve facts from memory,” said Dr. Vinod Menon, a psychiatry professor at Stanford and the study’s senior author.”

“Next, Menon’s team put 20 adolescents and 20 adults into the MRI machines and gave them the same simple addition problems. It turns out that adults don’t use their memory-crunching hippocampus in the same way. Instead of using a lot of effort, retrieving six plus four equals 10 from long-term storage was almost automatic, Menon said.”

“If your brain doesn’t have to work as hard on simple math, it has more working memory free to process the teacher’s brand-new lesson on more complex math. ” The study provides new evidence that this experience with math actually changes the hippocampal patterns or the connections. They become more stable with skill development,” she said. “So learning your addition and multiplication tables and having them in rote memory helps.”

“Stanford’s Menon said the next step is to study what goes wrong with this system in children with math learning disabilities so that scientists might try new strategies to help them learn.”

The quote: “If your brain doesn’t have to work as hard on simple math, it has more working memory free to process the teacher’s brand-new lesson on more complex math.” really stuck out to me. I have always felt that math instruction needed to combine both the rote memory of basic facts and give students a good foundation in number sense and higher-order math skills. Unfortunately many of the different math curriculums out there today don’t emphasize both. It always seems like it is basic facts vs. high order thinking. Problem is good math students have BOTH of these skills in their repertoire and good math curriculum should contain both as well!

What are your thoughts regarding helping students become fluent in the basic facts? What are your tricks and tips?