Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday's Teacher Feature: Sasha from Teaching Products

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.

Fill out my Google form if you would like to be the next teacher featured on my blog!
Happy Friday!

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