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Hey everyone! It's Friday TEACHER FEATURE TIME! I would like to welcome Sasha from Melbourne, Australia!
So, without further ado, here's Sasha!
My name is Sasha from Teaching Products and I currently teach a delightful group of 8-12 year old Special Ed students. Their learning needs are incredibly unique and include both physical and learning difficulties. Academically, they range from two-year-old ability to fourth grade. Catering to such a diverse group certainly can be challenging and differentiation is key to engaging all of my students in their learning.
I have several students who struggled with structured writing lessons; they actively refused to participate in any form of writing and behavioral problems increased whenever students knew we were about to begin a writing lesson. After several disastrous writing lessons I knew that I needed to find a different way to engage my students.
One day a student came to school and told the class how she made honeycomb with her parents over the weekend. I noticed the other students were interested, especially when she said the honeycomb “exploded all over the kitchen and made a huge mess”. I thought about how to replicate this interest in the classroom and decided to implement weekly science experiments. We started by making Invisible Ink (you can get a copy of the experiment here). Straightaway my students were interested. They asked questions. They watched, mixed, recorded and discussed. Before long they were hypothesizing. We wrote their hypotheses, their findings and their thoughts. Students who had previously refused to even touch a pencil were asking to write their own reports. I photographed our experiments and we slowly began to write basic science reports which we compiled into student-made books.
Fast forward a few months and all of my students are now active writers. We have expanded our writing activities beyond science and our classroom library features several student-made books all about our science experiments. These books are always the first books that students pick up when I ask them to read quietly; they are also great books for reading success.
Since beginning these lessons, I’ve also noticed an improvement in reading skills across the class. Students are interested in and borrowing the library science books. They are asking their parents to help them complete experiments at home (huge high five to the parents that do this!) and then sharing this with the class the next day.
The experiments we use are carefully selected to ensure they require minimal materials, need little time (our focus is on the writing, not the science!), and are engaging for the students. We’ve made and experimented with Crazy Putty, Egg Bubbles, Crystal Stars, Gravity Free Water, Invisible Ink, Lava Lamps, Melting Ice, Hot Air Balloons, Lung Capacity, Bath Salts, Glowing Water, Quick Sand, and Making Rainbows. My Writing with Science Growing Bundle is now available for purchase in my TpT store and you can download a free sample experiment with scaffolded writing pages here.
I’m amazed at the difference such simple activities have made in my class! Writing skills, reading skills and student engagement have all improved and behavioral problems are now a thing of the past. What activities have you used in your classroom to engage students in writing?
Be sure to check out Sasha's Teachers Pay Teachers Store by clicking on the image below.
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Hey everyone! It's Friday TEACHER FEATURE TIME! I would like to welcome Sharon from Fredericksburg, VA!
So, without further ado, here's Sharon!
Exploring New Terrain
Thank you, Rebecca, for welcoming an English teacher to Science Girl Lessons! As part of my newest project to write informational text and close reading activities, I’m exploring new terrain by venturing into science!
I really got interested in writing about science topics this summer while admiring the beautiful pictures and reading the NASA updates about the New Horizons spacecraft and its long-awaited visit to Pluto.
It was fun seeing the photos change as the spacecraft got closer and closer to Pluto and interesting to read about the suspense as the scientists waited to see what information would arrive here on Earth from New Horizons (and the picture of Pluto with the “heart” was cool).
I thought kids would really enjoy reading about this adventure too, and so my first few science resources are about Pluto and the Solar System. I now have both informational text resources and close reading resources about space!
For my informational text resources, I create a magazine-style page with one or two short articles and a few other text features such sidebars, charts, graphs, and photos. Then, for the students to work on, I add a page of multiple choice questions and a graphic organizer that focus on text features and also text structures such as cause and effect or sequential order. In addition to my Pluto Informational Text, there is a free sample of this type of resource in my Teachers Pay Teacher store called “Let it Snow! Let It Snow!” I didn’t particularly have science in mind when I made this one, but the short articles are about types of snowflakes and thundersnow, so I guess it is about science!
For my close reading resources, I write one full-page article and then include text dependent questions and a follow-up activity (either a graphic organizer or a writing prompt) for each of three readings. These resources ask students to look at the reading in depth and require text-based evidence for many of the answers. There is a free sample of this in my store, too. This one is social studies related; it’s about women winning the right to vote, but it’s free, so you can see what the format is like. So far, I have two science close reading resources for sale; one is a single article about Pluto and the other is a set of four articles, Exploring the Solar System.
As an English teacher myself, I know what English teachers look for in reading resources, but I don’t know as much about what science teachers look for. I would guess that requiring kids to use text based evidence is important, and I imagine that certain topics lend themselves to student readings more often than others. But I’d love to know more about just what science teachers look for in supplemental reading materials!
So, if you don’t mind, I’m going to take the opportunity of being on a science blog to ask a few questions. Any responses, comments, or suggestions would definitely be appreciated!
With what topics (general or specific) do you most like to have your kids do additional readings?
What kinds of follow-up activities do you most like to use (graphic organizers, writing prompts, hands-on activities, etc.)?
Do you use multiple choice questions or more open-ended ones? Do you like the questions to specifically ask kids to identify text-based evidence for their answers?
Would task cards with reading passages about science topics be another useful resource?
It's always interesting to explore new terrain (even if it is close to home), and for someone who enjoys writing, working with pictures, and reading about all kinds of things, writing these science materials has turned into a fun project for me. If you find any of my resources helpful or if you have suggestions, I would love to hear from you, and I definitely appreciate the opportunity to share my ideas with science teachers on Science Girl Lessons!
Guest post by Sharon Fabian, from the Classroom in the Middle blog. Sharon has spent over 20 years teaching English, reading, and other subjects to middle school students. She loves having more time now to create and write about resources for teachers – especially materials for teaching reading, vocabulary, and writing to students in grades 4 through 8.
Be sure to click on the image above to visit Sharon's TpT store Classroom in the Middle!