It's All About Science

Science.  After discussions with friends, in forums, and fellow teachers, I find that many have a love, hate relationship.  Kids LOVE science!  Especially when it's hands on, but the lack of support in the classroom seem to be the biggest challenge for teachers.  Programs seem to be one stop short of dismal or simply overwhelming.  Prep can spin a teacher into a tizzy!  I refuse to give in... 

This year I've turned one of my focus areas on science.  My first step was resources.  I just don't have enough science content for kids to enjoy!  Yes, I have the simple readers that align with our interactive science program.  They're great! Very informative but not terribly engaging.  Since the kids have to sit in the hallway reading from 8:30-8:50, I find the science readers are a perfect solution.  They're onlevel, provide simple questions, and keep the kids working towards my goal for at least 15 minutes!  I want something more for my kids to enjoy throughout the day. 

Have you heard of DonorsChoose?  I often receive messages asking how I get my projects funded.  I have to admit, it gets exciting writing a new project.  Let's be frank, a teacher's wishlist can be long.  In my experience, keep the projects small!  It's easier to get funded.  People are more willing to donate to a 100 dollar project that seems reasonable rather than a 600 dollar project that likely will fall short.

This year alone, I've had five projects funded.  Although you can start multiple at once, I find it easier to keep track of one at a time.  That's a personal preference.  I started with Let's Read and Find Out Science by Harper Collins Children's Books.  The series has several stages.  Stage one is perfect for K-1!  I've embedded the link so that you can see all the titles.  Stage two is perfect for 1-2!  These books are also embedded for you to preview.  I've use these books to guide my lessons in class.  When requesting the books, I asked for one set at a time.  Remember, keep it small.  

What I like about DonorsChoose is the match code provided the first week your project goes live.  This is a great way to kick start your project.  Although there is no data to support my thinking, I noticed that when I donated to my own project, my success rate grew exponentially.  Remember the match code?  I can easily put 25 dollars towards the books, use the match code, and receive a 50 dollar donation towards my project.  Who doesn't love that?  I'm willing to spend the money.  First, I believe in my project.  Second, to have donated 25 dollars and receive more than 100 dollars in books is a HUGE benefit.  Last, now my project has moved up the ranks on DonorsChoose project page.  Those that are near funding are featured.  In my mind, this is a think-win-win!

Since my first few projects, I've written and received vocabulary science readers, a complete learning science library, interactive smartboard games, and science tools.  

One of my newest, most favorite goodies is the above science tool. Instead of clapping or counting, I call out body parts, "touch your femur, your patella, your cranium, wiggle your metacarpals"! The kids love learning the "big kid" word for their bones. It's quiet in seconds. They know, on command, the name of the bones because we've been practicing since Kindergarten. Now instead of the words, I get to hold a visual which has made them think about the name by observing the bone!!!

I currently have two projects waiting to go live!  One for life cycle readers and a center since I'm gearing up for spring.  The second breaks my rule of staying small for projects.  Since I received the complete set of learning science readers, I'd really like to have the activity tubs to align.  If it were towards the beginning of the year, I'd request the tubs in small projects, but DonorsChoose will put a hold on projects funded in the summer. 

As for funding, I hate asking for donations. It's not my thing.  I don't host parties for the very same reason.  What works for me is Facebook.  Without posting pictures of my littles faces, I share lots of happenings on my personal Facebook page.  Not the fan page.  As I connect with friends from the past and family members too, I found that they are appreciative of my pictures because many have kids and enjoy trying out ideas.  I often receive comments about my passion for teaching.  Once a project goes live, I share the with my friends and family.  Don't forget to include the match code with the post!!!  I also include my project page on every classroom newsletter that goes home with the kids.  At the beginning of the year, I express my gratitude for their willingness to offer help, donations, and gifts; However, I just LOVE when their time and money are put into projects that directly impact our classroom.  Instead of gifting little bears, ornaments, trinkets, etc, I'd appreciate if they would put a few dollars towards the projects during holidays!

This brings me to my purpose of this post, my interactive science journals for K-2.  If you have followed Primary Graffiti this school year, you have seen my interactive journals.  I created the journals due to my district requirement for student journals.  

So what are interactive journals?

Interactive journals, better known as interactive notebooks, are widely used in classroom. If you were to walk in mine today, you would see interactive notebooks for reading, math, and science. The purpose behind these notebook is to keep students organized and assist in synthesizing lessons taught. It’s common to see vocabulary, notes, graphic organizers, and reflections. Overall, interactive notebooks is one of many important components to promote student learning!

As previously stated, I created the journals to meet my district expectations including a student and teacher side of the journal. Each district is different and many have specific expectations. Mine is no exception to the rule. I currently teach off the gradual release. One page from this file can be stretched over several lessons. It’s not intended to complete both teacher and student portions in one day. Expect to work on the teacher side for several lessons before the student side is addressed.

I currently have three journals...

I provided a link to the original post embedded in each of the above images so that you can see visuals of EVERYTHING included in each journal.  A direct link to TpT is provided from the original post!

This week the kids took a walk through their physical science journal entries today and discussed old topics, reflected on our input, and made a plan for taking their entries deeper with Earth science lessons!  The above image is a glimpse at their work!

After many requests, I have made the decision to bundle the journals into one purchase at a discount.

I sure hope this post wasn't overwhelming!  I really tried to address all questions, comments, and request in one nice blog post! I'd love to read your sweet comments!!!


Deedee Wills said...

Your journals look amazing Cheryl! I now have my eye on those Lakeshore kits too!

Love you sweet friend!

Mrs. Saoud said...

I just love you, Deedee! You are my teacher idol!

janed79 said...

The science journals look great! Would you know any funding ideas for science items? I have a kinder class at a small private school - Donors Choose only funds public schools. Thanks!!

Mrs. Saoud said...

I haven't tried it yet but there is adopt a classroom which partners with teachers for donations.

Susan Edge Gillespie said...

This looks so cool! I have looking for a way to get science into my curriculum. Love your ideas!!

Susan Cahalane said...

Your science journals look fantastic!! Thanks for sharing!
Science for Kids Blog

Jen R said...

wow- what a great post of wishlist items!! I totally want those lakeshore tubs now!
The Teacher’s Cauldron

Mrs. McHaffie said...

You are incredible! I {{LOVE}} your interactive science journals!! I struggle with incorporating enough hands-on math. Do you think those interactive games work on Promethean boards too? It doesn't say much on the Lakeshore site. Just curious! :)
Thank you for such a thorough and awesome post on science!!

Linda said...

Your interactive science journals look fantastic, Cheryl!

Jane Voss said...

Love your journals.