Welcome back to the first normal week of the school year and the second week total. What I mean by normal is that all of the kindergartners will be here full time from this point forward. It also means that we are jumping full speed into the official curriculum, at least as far as science is concerned. I am scheduled to do social studies about three times a week so if I am not able to start this week, I will for sure the next.
Today's lesson: 4.P.1.1 (It is the North Carolina Essential Standard. It means: 4th grade, Physical Science, Standard 1, Substandard 1
"I can explain how magnets interact with all things made of ? and with other magnets to produce motion without touching them"
The students came in for the first graded assignment of the year in the guise of a warm-up. The following is what the students saw as they came in to begin class:
Please note that since today was an introduction, it is assumed that most students know about magnets but little about magnetism. Therefore, the students were not graded on whether or not they picked the "right" answer but instead on HOW they answered it. In other words, DID they explain WHY? Were complete sentences used? As the unit progresses and students learn more, the warm-ups will be graded more on accuracy since they will, by then, be expected to at least know the material that will have been covered up to that point.
Once the papers were collected, it was time to find out. The question of the warm-up was whether or not water and/or air made a difference in a magnet's ability to be attracted to something.
What I did was to try to replicate the activity in the warm-up by submerging a magnet in a bowl of water followed by paper clips. The students saw that magnetic attraction indeed works underwater and I asked them if they thought that magnets would work in a vacuum (no air at all). Below is a still shot and then a brief video from my third class:
Yes! I then showed them the answer key:
Afterwards, I asked the students to discuss in their groups what they think a magnet is and what magnetism is. After we discussed it, I showed them the video below which is an old "Bill Nye the Science Guy" episode.
After discussing the video, we got down to the independent activity. Each student was shown the graphic below and copied it onto a new page in their science notebooks. While I could have printed out copies and distributed one to each student, I felt it was better to try to conserve the copy paper that I do have, especially since it doesn't take long for students to copy a simple graphic organizer.
Each group of students was given a small plastic cup with various small items. The first part of the activity was to predict which of the items would be magnetic, or attracted to a magnet and which items would not be. Each group sorted the items according to their prediction. Some of the items were: plastic bead, nails and screws (steel and brass), wooden peg, space blanked piece, etc.)
Then, each group was given a magnet to test their hypotheses. Once they tested each item using the magnet, they sorted accordingly. The remainder of the class was spent on answering the two reflection questions below in their science notebooks:
1) What do the objects that are attracted to a magnet have in common?
2) What do the nonmagnetic objects have in common?
Though this was strictly about the students writing down their thoughts, the video taught them that magnets attract iron (plus nickel and cobalt).
I did go over the expectations and procedures again and will do so for the rest of the week. I am planning on doing one more focus on the Tuesday after Labor Day just to reinforce it.
Today is also the day that I officially began using ClassDojo. My homeroom is now at 20/22 or 91%. Thanks!
Below is a slideshow of the students from all three classes in action.
The first week of the 2015-2016 school year is now coming to a close and the students are beginning to settle into a routine. While the first week is filled with beginnings, next week we truly return to normal. As I had mentioned in my weekly email to parents today, we will utilize ClassDojo and begin the first unit in science. We will also get social studies introduced.
I am now up to 18/22 or 82% of my parents who have at least initially logged in. Thank you! This is a very useful communication tool.
In science, we reviewed the expectations and procedures along with the scientific method. Then I had them copy down important dates from my calendar into their agendas, including dates where quizzes and tests will be administered. This way, the students will know in advance and take more responsibility for their education. It also means that there is no excuse for claiming to not know about a quiz or test, especially when I will have reviewed everything consistently as well as mentioning it.
Afterwards, we did the experiments. The first experiment was more open-ended since there is no one correct way to answer the question: how many drops of water does it take to completely cover the surface (heads or tails) of a penny without spilling over?
The students updated the table of contents in their notebooks and added two pages. Then, they wrote down the question, studied the penny, and made their hypotheses.
The second experiment was to answer the question: will a Gummi Bear® expand faster in hot water, cold water, or will temperature make no difference?
Each student was given two of the same color and studied their sizes and even measured them first. Upon my signal, they dropped one bear into a beaker with hot (warm actually) water and the other into a beaker with cold water. In each group, each student was given a different color in order to make it easier to observe.
After a few minutes, they used plastic spoons to retrieve their bears and compare the sizes. After eating them, they wrote in their notebooks.
On Monday, there will be a warm-up for the first graded assignment of the year so it is important that each student does his/her best on it to get off to a great start.
Below is a slideshow of the students from all three classes in action.
While yesterday was busy, today was still productive. This entry is going to be shorter than the previous one since there is less to report, unlike before.
We again reviewed the expectations and procedures for the students. It is very important that this gets internalized sooner rather than later. While we do allow for more leniency during the first week, our expectations will be much higher on Monday considering that the students will have had a whole week under their collective belts.
Afterwards, we reorganized the science notebooks and updated the table of contents in order to ensure that all students are on the same page (no pun intended). This process should now go much more smoothly from this point forward.
The last activity was a preview of magnetism since that is the focus for next week. This first week of school is dedicated to introducing the students to science and the scientific method but the following week is when we start covering the standards.
Last month I received an invitation for a free one year trial subscription to a new service called Mystery Science. So, I used their magnetism unit for today.
I do encourage you to check out the syllabi page though I am going to update it since there are some more experiments/activities that I would like to add. I will let everyone know when the update is available.
Please periodically check the calendar on this website since it has quiz and test dates. I do update it as frequently as I can.
Lastly, as I write this I see that 11/22 or 1/2 of the parents have signed up for ClassDojo. Thank you! If you haven't yet done so, please do as soon as possible because I am planning on it being fully implemented on Monday morning. If you are not sure where the code is, please email me and I will send it to you.
This was a busy and action-packed day for the students! After we reviewed expectations and procedures, we had to finish up with the parachute activity from yesterday. This time, the students actually tested them out in different ways (tossing them in the air, holding it upright in their hand before snatching the hand away, etc.). The students then did a brief reflection on how well it worked and more importantly: what changes could they make to improve the performance?
The students wrote a reflection piece in their notebooks about what worked, what didn't, how would they make changes, etc.
Then, we reviewed the scientific method. Each student received a copy of the following for their science notebooks:
So then we did the first experiment by exploring this question: will shining a light on a piece of paper increase its temperature? Two things about science need to be dealt with. In order for the experiment to work the conditions (control/experimental) need to be as equal as possible. In this case, I used two equal sized sheets of paper that had the exact same yellow color in order for the results to be reliable. The second thing is that there needs to be a consistent unit of measurement in order to analyze and communicate the findings.
I decided to use the familiar Fahrenheit unit of measuring temperature rather than Celsius though I will be using that too later in the year.
So I had two sheets of the exact same yellow paper each held in place to the board by a single magnet. They were separated in order to avoid the light affecting the control paper.
Students wrote down the question in their science notebooks and then made their hypothesis about whether or not shining a light on a piece of paper would increase its temperature.
Now for the experiment: I used a high power halogen bulb spotlight as the light source. I could have used a regular flashlight but this one is more dramatic both in presentation and results. I used an infrared non-contact thermometer to take temperature readings of both papers and had the students record the numbers.
I shined the light for 2-4 minutes depending on the class period and then after turning off the spotlight, I again used the infrared thermometer to take the temperatures. As most students predicted, there was a difference! The control paper's temperature remained either the same or had a slight increase. The experimental paper had a definite increase in the temperature.
I then discussed with the class how this is a preview of what will be covered later on in the year with light. Light can be reflected, refracted, or absorbed. Since the paper is opaque and no light can pass through, it absorbs the light. The light energy continues to collect on the paper and with nowhere to go the temperature increases.
The second experiment was the favorite by far! The question: is there a difference in temperature between the surface of a candy bar and its center? I used Three Musketeers bars for this experiment since they were light and fluffy enough to allow the easy insertion of a thermocouple probe.
Students again wrote the question in their notebooks and formulated their hypotheses. The only change was that they could choose between yes, no, and trace.
Each student was then given an individual-sized candy bar and a tissue to place the unwrapped candy bar on for sanitation purposes. When instructed, the students unwrapped their candy bars and placed them on the tissue. I went around and used the infrared thermometer to get the temperature of the surface of each candy bar. Each student recorded the surface temperature as I came around. Then, I inserted the thermocouple probe in each candy bar and the student recorded the interior temperature. We then compared. Interestingly enough, the interior was slightly cooler due to the fluctuations in room temperature. I did explain to the class that heat always transfers from warmer to colder (6th grade science preview) and not the other way around. If the candy bar was placed in a refrigerator for a long enough time period then both temperatures would be roughly equal.
The second day of school began more smoothly and it shows that students are already adjusting to the routine. The nice thing about today is that it marks the first normal day of school. Normal? Yes! Special area classes began today with my homeroom going to the media center.
This day's focus was still on reinforcing expectations and procedures. Then, I gave the students a tour of my Weebly page to get them familiar with the site and its contents.
Afterwards, we began the initial science notebook set-up. We started at the beginning with the cover page where they designed it themselves. The rule? Make it your own! We then did the second page which was the table of contents.
The science lesson was more STEM-related in which the students build parachutes out of a coffee filter, four pieces of string, a washer for weight, and tape. That's was all! We managed to get them assembled so we will finish tomorrow with the actual testing. So, tomorrow will be very action-packed with trying to get a lot done. I thought that 90 minutes would be so much time to plan for but instead the time just flies by.
Below is a gallery of some of the students' work in various stages of progress with the different activities today.