Thursday, July 14, 2016

STEM Day - Water Rockets

It has been way too long since I have wrote a post on here. I am finally getting around to blogging about our last STEM Day of the year. We did this over two full days at the end of the year. It was the best time to do it. The kids had a blast and was an overall great experience. It really helped hammer in what we had been working on with force, motion, and speed.    

On my TpT page, I have included the lesson plan I followed (with Marzano elements embedded) and a PowerPoint. The lesson plan is detailed and includes student handouts as well.  The PowerPoint will guide you through the lesson (so you aren't reading from a lesson plan the whole time) but also let's the students have access to what they need to see during the lesson. 


The students had to design a water rocket from materials given. They had to build a prototype of a rocket ship which will travel the greatest distance in the least amount of time to deliver more fuel and necessary supplies. They had many different materials to choose from and worked together in their groups to come up with their designs. Overall, the kids had a great time and it was a great way to end the year. You can get the whole lesson plan and digital resources on my Teachers Pay Teachers. 


*I did this with my fourth graders. However, it can be done with 2-5 if students have the basic background knowledge. I have included many slides and resources for background knowledge in the lesson plan.

Here are some pictures and videos of my class working on the STEM activity!














Below are the pictures and videos of the water rockets being launched. Since I have a co-teacher, she launched the rockets while I timed them and took the video/pictures. The re-design was crucial for my class. The first day, only 1 rocket launched. However, after the re-design, all groups launched their rockets. Enjoy!






video

video

video


video


CLICK HERE!!



-Kate!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

One-Pager (Native Americans)

We have started doing One-Pagers in my class and it has been a huge hit!

After a week long study of Native Americans, my students got to pick between different tribes and complete a One-Pager. The students used their notes to help them. Their notes came from different texts, videos, and online research.

Since our unit was completed, I thought a One-Pager was the perfect fit. It is a great strategy to see what they learned and if they can identify the critical content about their tribe.

For this One-Pager the students had to include:
1. a title
2. a picture of something important to the tribe or a tribe member
3. 2 questions and 2 answers about their tribe
4. 1-2 facts

This is a great strategy for ELL's and ESE students as well. More than half my class is ELL and I have 5 ESE students. It was great to see these students come to life while creating their One-Pager!

I was so impressed by what they had come up with. The students loved doing the activity and I think it was a great way to end a unit.

It also hit on some great Marzano elements (#6 and #12).

Here are some great examples of their One-Pagers!









-Kate!





Sunday, January 31, 2016

Main Idea and Key Details

Main idea has always been a struggling for my students....actually, a struggle for our whole school. We have taken it down a notch to see if we can break it apart for better understanding.

In our class, main idea = topic + point & details.

We color code it to help. The topic is blue, point is red, and details are green.
Topic= who or what the text is about
Point= what the author is saying about the topic
Details= key details that support the topic and point

My students don't have trouble finding the topic. The issue is when it comes to the point. So, we were working on a passage and split into 5 groups. Each group was assigned a paragraph. It was their job to read the paragraph and first find the topic. Once they established the topic, they went to find the point. While looking for the point they were also looking at the key details. For the first day, they picked one detail and made a three column chart. They wrote the topic, point, and detail. Then explained it in their own words and drew a visual. It is very important for my ELL's to have visuals.

Look at their thinking in action!










As we moved forward with the next few days they continued finding the topic, point, and key details.
They learned that sometimes, the details need to come first if they point is explicitly stated. Afterwards, we then all got together and shared. Then we figured out the main idea of the whole text. It was awesome to see how much they understood. They saw the connections between the paragraphs and the main idea of the whole text was very easy to find. We did this multiple times throughout the week until it was 100% on their own and not group work.

Here are some more pictures of their work and thinking!








- Kate

Saturday, January 9, 2016

STEM Day- Weathering and Erosion

At the end of every 9 weeks, my class participates in a STEM activity that includes things we have been working on during that quarter. For the first 9 weeks, we did a Weathering and Erosion STEM activity.  The whole day was dedicated to this STEM activity. The kids had a blast and was overall a great experience. It really helped hammer in what we had been working on. 

On my TpT page, I have included the lesson plan I followed (with Marzano elements embedded) and a PowerPoint & Smart Notebook. The PowerPoint and Smart Notebook guide you through the lesson (so you aren't reading from a lesson plan the whole time) but also let's the students have access to what they need to see during the lesson. I created a Smart Notebook and a PowerPoint so everyone could use it (depending on what your school offers).  There is also an additional PowerPoint that includes information on weathering, erosion, and deposition. 

We started the experiment by brainstorming what weathering and erosion is. We watch a video on weathering and erosion and cleared up any misconceptions. As we moved forward, students had to design a way to stop erosion on a beach. They had many different materials to choose from and worked together in their groups to come up with their designs. Overall, the kids had a great time and it was a great way to end the 9 weeks. You can get the whole lesson plan and digital resources on my TpT.

*I did this with my fourth graders. However, it can be done with 2-5 if students have the basic background knowledge. I have included some slides and resources for background knowledge in the lesson plan.

Here are some pictures of my class working on the STEM activity!

First they worked on designing their ideas and then building them. After they completed the test, they were able to re-design and change up their original ideas to be more successful. 













- Kate

Sunday, September 13, 2015

DonorsChoose...Tips and Tricks!

All of my teaching career has been spent in Title 1 schools. Unfortunately, most of the schools that need the most, have the least. I found out about DonorsChoose in 2011 and have had 25 projects funded, totaling over $14,500! It is insane to think about everything my class has received and the difference it has made in their learning. As teachers, we spend so much of our own money on things from pencils and paper to iPads. It is nice to have something like DonorsChoose to help offset what we spend as teachers and still get amazing supplies for our students.




About Donors Choose
DonorsChoose.org is an online charity that makes it easy for anyone to help students in need. Public school teachers from every corner of America post classroom projects requests on the site, and anyone can give any amount to help fund the project. You can create a project for things you and your students need. Anyone (including businesses) can donate to your project. Once your project is funded, your materials are sent to your school. Remember, it is completely free for teachers! Click HERE to learn more and see how to sign up!

My Experience with DonorsChoose
As I stated before, I have had 25 projects funded and they totaled over $14,500. I have received items for classroom supplies, Leap Frog items, tons of books, a globe, math and reading center games, 4 iPads, and even a Chromebook. My highest funded project was $1,430 and it included pretty much everything I would need to teach Science that year.

Tips and Tricks
Since I have completed over 25 projects, I have found out the basics of Donors Choose and have accumulated some pretty good tips.



1. Title- When you create your project it is important to put a catchy title. I like little phrases to draw readers in to my project. It is just like what we teach our students for their writing! Some of my favorite titles have been, Leap into Reading, Show Me the Money - Learning About Finances, Creating STEM Scholars, and What is Financial Literacy? Titles are important, it is the first thing a reader will see when looking at your project so draw them in!

2. Opening Sentence- Another important part is the starting sentence for your project. DonorsChoose suggests quotes or questions... I agree. I will normally asks a question or use an educational quote. It gives the reader an idea of what your project will be about and once again, it draw them in.

3. Cost ($500)- It can be so exciting shopping for your project but it is important to remember the statistics. The average cost of a funded project is $673 and the average donor gives $58. I recommend keeping your project around $500. I have had larger projects funded but it is difficult and doesn't happen often.

4. Take Your Time- When you are writing your project, take your time. People donate to projects that they feel are from the heart. They want to help projects that they truly see that students need. It is important to write from the heart and check your spelling errors!

5. Realistic- This kind of goes along with cost, but remember to be realistic. A project over $2000 probably won't be funded. A project asking for a bunch of iPads will probably be overlooked. However, you can ask for an iPad along with other things like books or supplies. People are more likely to donate to things over than technology. Projects relating to books, music, art, math, and science are funded most often.

6. "PIMP" Your Project- I linked my DonorsChoose account to my Facebook. Anytime I post a project, get a donation, or get a project funded, it automatically posts to my Facebook. This has helped me get countless donations. Family members and friends see the need in my class and want to help out. Sometimes it is $5 or $50 but it doesn't matter, any amount helps! If you are in a school with high parental involvement, share the page with your parents. They can send it out to their friends and family as well!

7. Quality Thank Yous- After your project is funded, you are required to write a little thank you (online) and post pictures. When I first started, I was so heartfelt with my letters and wrote way more than required. Due to this, I had the same people fund more and more of my projects because they saw how much it meant to the students and me! Unfortunately, I got busy and my letters weren't as good as they good have been and I saw the change with my projects getting funded.

8. *MY BIGGEST TIP* Match Offers- When I first started, I tried to get projects funded without Match Offers. It isn't impossible, but it is really difficult! Match Offers are companies or foundations partner with DonorsChoose to give 50% off of your project! So if your project is $500, the Match Offer will take it to $250. There are rules you have to follow to get this, but they are simple. You can see the current offers by looking at the Partner Funding Opportunities page and looking for your state. I live in Florida and right now there are 6 Match Offer opportunities currently available! Out of my 25 projects, 24 have been funded with Match Offers!
There used to be Almost Home Offers where your project would drop from whatever cost to $90 if it met the qualifications. However, I haven't seen any of those since 2012.
Also check out for match codes, these codes are what people can put it in when funding your project. The codes normally double the donation up to $100.


I hope this helps you get started with DonorsChoose or get more projects funded for your classrooms. If you have any other questions, just ask!

-Kate