Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Let's Rock and Roll!

Now that I am on Spring Break, I have all of this extra free time. Time to relax, spend time with my family, and catch up on my blog. I'm not going to lie, but I think that I could get used to this! Come on summer!

I have been pretty bad about blogging lately. I desperately need to catch up! So during my staycation, I plan on doing some reflecting and sharing. When you work full time and have a toddler on the loose blogging can be well... difficult. Anyhoo, here is what I've been up to in my classroom.

Before Spring Break. we finished our unit on Earth's Materials in science. During this unit, we explored rocks, minerals, fossils, and soil. It seems like I have taught this concept every year, so I thought that I'd share some of the resources I used to make this unit interesting, engaging, and fun for the students. Below is a list of some of my unit essentials.

1. Books, books, books!

I love having books about the current units my students are studying on display in the classroom. They are great to incorporate into the lessons, and my students love reading them! Here are some of my favorite books for my Earth's Materials Unit.

-As an activating strategy, I read my students the book If You Find a Rock by Peggy Christian. I absolutely love this book! This book makes me feel like a kid again, and the kids really develop that text to self relationship. This book tells of all of the different uses you have for rocks, and each use is represented by beautiful photography from Barbara Hirsch Lember. If you teach science, this is a great read aloud and a must for your personal library!

-The next book is a great read aloud during this unit, and it is about the teacher I wish I could be...Ms. Frizzle! The Magic School Bus Rocky Road Trip by Judith Bauer Stamper is a must for this unit. It teaches the students about rocks and minerals in only the way Ms. Frizzle can. My students really enjoy this novel. 

-Some other great books are National Geographic Kids Everything Rocks and Minerals: Dazzling Gems of Photos and Info That Will Rock Your World, Basher Science: Rocks and Minerals: A Gem of a Book, Let's Go Rock Collecting by Roma Gans, and Everybody Needs a Rock by Byrd Baylor.

2. Interactive Notebooks

I use interactive notebooks during science instruction. I like using interactive notebooks because they keep the students engaged and make awesome study tools! During this unit, I use my Rocks, Minerals, Fossils, and Soil Interactive Science Notebook. I use this notebook to guide my whole unit. It has a vocabulary section and includes ten entries/lessons on the following topics.

-Characteristics of Rocks
-Physical Properties of Rocks
-Types of Rocks
-Rock Cycle
-Mineral Properties
-Testing Minerals
-Layers of Soil
-Types of Soil
-Types of Fossils
-Renewable, Nonrenewable, and Inexhaustible Resources

This notebook even has a rubric for easy assessment of your students' entries. You can check out this notebook by visiting my TpT Store. I have some that I have created for other units as well, so feel free to check them out.

3. Apps

I have an iPad that I use with my Smartboard in the classroom. So, I am always looking for fun apps to incorporate into my instruction. Apps for this unit were a little scarce. However, I did find one that I really enjoyed using in the classroom. The Rocks HD app by Sprouts Labs, LLC Is awesome! This app explores rocks, minerals, soil, and fossils. It is well organized and student friendly. My favorite part is the list of instructional video clips it provides on each topic. I used so many of these clips in my classroom. This app is great, and I would recommend using it in the classroom! 

4. Fun Review

The final essential I am going to share is a fun review tool. I love using choice boards/learning menus in the classroom. They have students apply what they have learned without using worksheets, get students to use higher level thinking skills, and provide the students a choice in displaying what they have learned. At the end of this unit, I have my students complete my Rocks and Minerals Tic-Tac-Toe Activity Menu. This menu provides activities that review the major concepts we have learned throughout the unit and includes a rubric for easy assessment. You can check out this menu by visiting my TpT store. I have some that I have created for other units as well, so feel free to check them out.

I hope that these essentials help you in planning your unit!