Friday, March 20, 2015

Weather Study: Barometers and Air Pressure

We just began our unit on weather this week. I have to admit that it is not really my favorite science unit (shhh, don't tell the kids!). In the past it has lacked something... I couldn't figure it out, but I wasn't pleased. I want to LOVE this unit this year.

This means it's up for revamp! Yay! And new activities! Whoop Woop! More experiments! Boom!

And, this year in addition to the unit on weather, my class is going to put in a musical called The Weather Show (it's a Bad Wolf production. If you haven't checked them out and you want to do EASY musicals with your kids, you should! Their stuff rocks!) in late May.

So to spice up my weather unit and help with the learning of the musical, I decided to teach my weather unit in order of the topics in the songs in the musical. Im so organized, right?! Lol!

So, up first: meteorologist and their tools. We discussed what a meteorologist does, watched a weather report, read Gail Gibbons Weather Forecasting and made a few anchor charts.

Up next: Barometers and air pressure.

That takes us to today! Have you searched barometers on Pinterest lately? 

I found a great Bill Nye explanation of barometers and air pressure. Jackpot!

I also scored with a DIY barometer how to (thanks Scholastic!). 

Now... Can 1st graders do it??

You bet! Take a look!

Barometer supplies at the ready!

Gathering the necessities.

Cutting the balloon to fit.

Stretching it over the jar.

Making the tracking triangle and attaching the straw.

Barometers at the ready!

Taking our measurements.

1st grade scientists hard at work!

We took measurements four times during the day. Each time recording where the straw was and what kind of weather was happening. By the afternoon the straw had moved ever so slightly with the warming temps and the sun coming out (it was overcast when we started). 

Air pressure is a pretty tricky subject for kiddos, so we were really focusing on understanding that it is the changes in weather that effect the air pressure, not so much the high/low aspects of air pressure. This experiment did just what I wanted and the kids had a blast!

Next week we wil focus on rain and evaporation!

Have you tackled a weather unit with your students yet?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Dr. Seuss Week

March is, by far, one of my favorite months in school. There are so many fun things to celebrate!

We kicked off last week with a little Dr. Seuss fun.

We did this great directed art project. Each year they come out perfectly unique. There is no real lesson, I look at the image on the cover of the Cat in the Hat and just describe the line to make and demonstrate. Then the kiddos do it :) Nice and simple. I do make them use a marker. NO PENCILS ALLOWED. There is a little anxiety to begin with, but not being able to erase makes them really listen in and think about how I describe the type of line to make. Let's just say you can hear a pin drop during this lesson! And in all of the times I've done this lesson with the kids, I have never had to give anyone another piece of paper *knock on wood*.

And as a college basket ball fan, I thought we might get in on a little March Madness ourselves. I saw an image of a book bracket contest on Pinterest.  I had to do it too! I chose 8 Dr. Seuss easy reader books, some familiar and a few more obscure ones and three 1st grade classes participated.

We read two books each day Monday through Thursday. Every day before lunch the kids voted for their favorite of the two. When they arrived back from lunch, the winner had been advanced. Oh the excitement!

We hung this beauty in the hall way to keep the kids posted on the advancing books. It became quite the talking point on campus! Many kids would check in each day to see how the 1st graders were voting and if their favorite book was winning.

On Tuesday, end of day, we voted for the winners from the Quarter Finals. The results were posted in the morning. We did the same on Wednesday and Thursday. Thursday afternoon we voted on the Semi winners. Friday was the big finals vote- I Wish I had Duck Feet was our big winner!

What did you do to celebrate Dr. Seuss?


Build It! with the Big Bad Wolf!

Where does time go? The year nearly over! It's been a while since I've checked in, but I'm here and that's what matters, right?!

Let's back it up a couple weeks...

Our language arts program includes a great version of the Three Little Pigs which gives us the opportunity to have a little 3 Little Pig fun!

I usually do the standard readers theater, piggy art project, version compare contrast, etc... This year I spiced it up with a great build it group project.

I started out by letting my students know that they would need to build their own version of a house that could withstand the blow of the Big Bad Wolf.

I let that sit with them for a couple of day. The suspense! The kids were dying to know what was going to happen. Would the Big Bad Wolf really come to class?! Oh, 1st graders ;)

 To prep for this project I purchase: brown paper bags, mini marshmallows, toothpicks, pop-sticks, gum drops, rolls of tape and play-doh. I put 15 mini marshmallows, 20 toothpicks, 5 pop-sticks, a handful of gumdrops, 1 roll of tape and one mini container of play-doh into a brown bag in each group.

On project day, I broke them into groups. Now, I'm usually down for the kids to choose their own groups, but for this project I pre-selected my groups. It allowed me to break my more dominant kiddos up and set everyone up for success.

I gave very simple and ambiguous directions: "Use what you need from your bag to build a house that will stand up to the blow of the Big Bad Wolf."

Then they get to dive in. The looks on their faces were priceless! I know they were expecting clay, Legos or some other normal building tools.  Some even asked, "What are we supposed to do with this?" and "Can I have (insert normal building tool)?" HaHa! I just kept repeating the same simple direction.

Eventually they gave it a go. It was hard work for them. They had to go through many plans and still work together. Some got discouraged, but luckily their teammates encouraged them to keep going. My favorite words for the day..."Let's just think of something else. Onto plan H!" LOL!

Along the way some students realize hat they don't need to use EVERYTHING in the bag. Others, would have used double the stuff! HA!

Now they would have worked FOREVER, but I put a time limit on it. When time was up, I collect their houses and bring in the Big Bad Wolf.... my hair dryer :) This kills the kids! I turn the hair dryer on high and try my hardest to knock down their homes. Some stand, some don't.

At the end we discuss what they think made the standing structures stay up, what tools were necessary and what they could have done without or used more of, and what idea they might "borrow" from one of the other groups if they were to build again. To calm them down from all of the fun I have them write about their experience or what they would do differently next time.

All in a all it is a huge, long, messy project. But it is worth EVERY bit of it, I mean, did you see those smiles!

Number talks, dot cards and subitizing, oh my!

Hi All!

This year my district is really investing time into Number Talks (Math We have been to a few trainings, watched videos and tested them out on each other. Now we are doing them with the kids! If you haven't heard of Number Talks, they are 10-15min student led classroom discussion in which the kiddos reason their way through math problems. It looks a little different at each grade level, but the idea is the same.

In first grade, my goal is for the students to develop strong number sense, communication and math courage (being brave enough to be different and knowing that they may not always be right) during Number Talks. I currently do them 1-2 times a week and hope to work them in more often as the kids become familiar with our classroom routines.

Most of the time of the time (80%) have them on the rug in a "U" formation. This allows me to see everyone and for them to look at the speaker when another student is talking-the whole eyes on the speaker thing- perfect for building that communication!

Now we Number Talk!

Right now we are working on subitizing (looking for groups). They are usually quick to pull out combos seen on dice. Subitizing helps them think of combinations to make a whole and reinforces that we can solve the same problem different ways.

I flash them the card. I usually give them between 3-5 seconds before I take it away. Then I ask them "How many dots did you see." If I think they will all/most have the correct answer I solicit it whole group in a whisper; as the answer in this version of Number Talks is not quite as important as the process of finding the answer. If I think they may have differing answers, I have a few share their answers.

Then, we begin the reasoning and constructing of arguments. Right now we are only working on reasoning with math language and agreement. :) They can agree with someone using a special hand signal if they solved the same way.

I ask for one kiddo to explain how they counted and I notate. Then I solicit a different way and notate. And so on.

Once we have discovered all the ways or have exhausted their ways, we are done! Then I use the math talk to identify skills that appeared (one kid counted by 2s, one child is still counting each one) and use that information to guide my math workshop.

Do you Number Talk?