Thursday, April 18, 2013

Engineering Fest

Have you heard of STEM? It stands for Science Technology Engineering and Math. Earlier in the year I set aside an entire day to celebrate the field of engineering. The students rotated through stations. Each station highlighted a different field of engineering and had a lab to showcase the specific field. All of the labs were inquiry based with very little teacher intervention. Each one helped to build critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. One of the labs was a the Windmill Challenge. Students had to make a windmill that would pull as many pennies as possible. They had different designs to choose from and had to figure out how to make it pull pennies. They had to work through the entire Engineer Design Process.

We carried the theme through lunch. Students made a solar oven and cooked their own hot dogs for lunch. This was not an inquiry activity. I walked them through the entire process. You can grab a copy of my solar oven design by clicking on the picture. You could easily turn this into an inquiry activity and also align it with the Next Generation Science Standards by letting the students design and test their own solar ovens. I'm thinking I might try it next year. This one was a super simple version and worked really well.
If you'd like to check out my Engineering Fest that includes 7 STEM activities, an anchor chart, station signs, and student booklets, just click on the picture. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Common Core Camp-out

When my students got back from Spring Break, I had the room completely transformed into a outdoor camp. I could not believe how excited they were. One of my sweet boys said, "I was really not happy about having to come back to school, but then I walked in and saw the tent, and I knew everything was going to be great." Totally made the three hours I spent decorating worth it:) I also had a big banner outside the classroom welcoming them back.
This was my smoke and mirrors trick for sneaking in some test prep. I disguised it all with a camp theme. They really enjoyed it and it made the test prep tolerable.

I got most of the decorations from Oriental Trade. Since I had to take everything off the wall for testing anyway, I thought I would put up some decorations that could stay up. I put up a mountain backdrop, some pine trees, and camp signs. I even put some camp tablecloths on the tables for a little while. Those didn't last long because they aren't really practical for classroom use.. I also bought little camp journals for taking notes on test taking strategies. They loved them.
I put together a huge unit that covers several Common Core standards all with a camping theme. This product has six math, 5 reading, and 6 writing activities. I included several craftivities that would be great for the hallway. All of them aligned to Common Core standards.These activities are perfect for review, too.  There are enough activities to keep you busy for a full week. If you would like to check it out, click HERE

.Testing is next week for me. I'm feeling really positive going into it. My kids have worked so hard! We are having our Testing Pep Rally on Friday,  and they have a song and dance they are going to perform for the whole school. I even got them neon hats and shades. They are so excited. If you can't tell, I adore this group of kids. I'm already starting to get a little teary eyed thinking about sending them to 5th grade.
Have a great week and good luck with your testing!