Science Newsletter – February ’18

How does water shape our world? This is the title and subject of our current science unit. The students and I have been discovering how water moves in our world and how water shapes the land and landforms around us.

We’ve used national parks – specifically Grand Canyon National Park and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to begin the study of landforms and how water moves through these two national parks and has shaped landforms. In the coming weeks, we’ll be using three additional national parks to look for patterns, similarities, and differences: Shenandoah, Rocky Mountain, and Isle Royale.

When we returned from winter break, we used the Vernier Labquest2 hand-held technology and relative humidity sensors to measure the water vapor in the air. We were fortunate to have a cold dry day followed by an unseasonable warmer (10°C / 50°F) January day with relative humidity readings well above 50% in the building and outside. It was an excellent experience for the students to work on their science data collection and analysis skills. The groups used the data to continue to develop their science presentation skills by whiteboarding their group’s results.

Continue reading “Science Newsletter – February ’18”

Science newsletter – November ’17

First quarter and parent-teacher conferences have come and gone. It’s always good to meet the parents and share how their child is doing in science. One of the most common questions during conferences is about homework and that their child rarely seems to have science homework.

As a result of conversations about homework and how parents can help their child in science, I’ve changed how I will announce homework in science. Each homework assignment will be an assignment on Google Classroom and it will be visible in the calendar of Google Classroom. In fact, all of your student’s homework assignments will appear in the Google Classroom calendar.

I will continue my practice of checking homework for completion. It’s a five-point grade and half credit if it is not completed in time for class. I will also continue to provide five to ten minutes of class to begin the assignment. Most of the homework I assign should take no more than 15 to 20 minutes and the purpose is to prepare for the next day’s class when we will review and correct the assignment. Students are encouraged, and expected, to correct their original work in the science workbooks using a different colored pen or pencil – mark their misconceptions and write the correct answer.

Lately, I’ve been helping students overcome a couple of misconceptions. The first is the difference between mass and weight. Continue reading “Science newsletter – November ’17”

Science Newsletter – September ’17

Happy Science Friday!

We’ve been busy in science this year. Science is a hands-on experience and this past week we began exploring the pendulum.

To begin the school year, I introduced the ISN – the Interactive Science Notebook – the notebook we’ll be using this year in science. The ISN has writing space for class notes and information provided in class, as well as writing space for their observations, lab notes, and content the students discuss in their table groups. The left-hand pages ar for their notes, reflections, and for the students to write responses to prompts in science – it can be for their ideas, drawings, and lab notes. The right-hand pages are for content I provide in class via lecture notes and science content I need them to have to provide a base for their understanding of science concepts.

During the first week, I asked students to copy a quote from Rachel Carson, the noted American marine biologist and conservationist whose book Silent Spring and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement. If you were at curriculum night, Rachel Carson’s photo was over one of the tables in the back of the classroom.

“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later years…the alienation from the sources of our strength.”         Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder

I plan to foster a sense of collaborative learning in science class where students develop the skills and confidence to ask questions and be curious and wonder. It’s a BIG WORLD out there with many unknowns. It is going to take a great deal of curiosity, grit, and persistence to be successful in the 21st century.

We’ll finish the exploring the pendulum next week and then we’ll begin Unit 1 – How will it move? The unit explores forces and motion and each student will receive a workbook which includes readings, drawings, diagrams with space for students to respond to questions and record their observations. We will continue to use the ISN for extended responses. Continue reading “Science Newsletter – September ’17”