One of the first assignments I had my 5th and 6th grade students complete was something called Save Fred. If you haven’t heard of it, the basic premise is that Fred the Gummy Worm was out boating when his boat capsized. His life preserver has become trapped under the capsized boat, while Fred clings to its top. Students must figure out how to get the life preserver out from under the boat without knocking Fred off. The catch is that they can’t use their hands — they can only touch Fred, the boat, and the life preserver using four paperclips. Students have to work together to find a solution, trying out different strategies and evaluating what works.
Afterward, I directed students to the Next Generation Science Standard’s eight practices of science and engineering, identified in the NRC’s A Science Framework for K-12 Science Education. Students Think-Pair-Shared, and then as a class we discussed, which skills students had to use as they worked through the activity. We talked about how the “Scientific Method” is not always the linear series of steps they had been taught — sometimes (most times!) scientists used these practices out of order.
Overall, the activity was a great “ice breaker” for the beginning of the year. Students were able to do something fun, get a little treat (they ate Fred and his gummy life preserver afterward), and begin developing those scientific practices right off the bat!
Wow. This is my second year at OLC, and you’d think having done it all before, it would be easier — or at least less work… Not at all. I feel like I have been running around like crazy since school started — and even before it began!
I got back from my month-long stay Honduras at the very end of July and within days was back to work — working with a 4th grade student to complete 35 hours of tutoring, as well as teaching night classes at my second job. That did not leave a whole lot of time to get my room ready, and I was determined to clear all the junk and old stuff out of all my cupboards, countertops, and filing cabinets. I took over last year for a teacher who had retired, which was a blessing overall (she left me ALL of her stuff!) but at the same time presented its own challenges. Not having the time to do a total and thorough cleaning, most of the stuff remained in the cupboard all year. This summer, the very first thing I did upon my return was pull EVERYTHING out of the cupboards.
And I mean EVERYTHING.
On top of all the stuff I already had, I was hooked up with a fellow NSTA member from the Erie area through the award I received last April. This retired teacher was cleaning out her own cupboards and offered to donate bags and bags of things — student rewards, books, science kits, magnifiers, craft supplies, etc — to my classroom. Yay! And also: Uhhh, where’s this all going to go??? Anyway, I had lots of STUFF and it was EVERYWHERE.
With the help of my hardworking mom and aunt, and the company and only slight distraction of my slacker boyfriend (he played with magnets while I worked on my room), I did manage to get it all done! I kept a lot of the decorations and organization elements from last year, but I also revamped a lot of my systems and switched to a slightly different color scheme (gray and blue, compared to last year’s brown and blue). While I still have a ton of STUFF in my room, I think I’ve avoided a “clutter” feel, which I sometimes thought about my room last year.
Here are some of my favorite additions and revamps:
In addition to the NEW stuff I’ve shared above, here are some of the elements I kept from last year:
Oh, and here is me on the first day of school (what a geek!):
Hope you all had a fabulous first day, first week, and first month!