Starting the Year Off Right: Science Ideas for Week One

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Great post from the Science Penguin Blog on preparing yourself and your students for the first week of Science. It’s much better to set your expectations high from the beginning and Ari gets you going with some great procedures and advice. Check it out!

So what do I actually do with my students the first week?  Well, I have four main goals during the first week of school when seeing 5th grade students in a departmentalized setting.

1. Set up notebooks and make expectations clear.

2. Set up cooperative learning and make expectations clear.

3. Set up our routine and make expectations clear.

4. Get to know my students…and make expectations clear.  🙂

I’m not a fluffy teacher.  I never have been.  I expect a lot out of my students and we are going to get to it right away.  During the first weeks of school, I incorporate cooperative learning, procedure practice, expectations review, routines, and getting to know my students while beginning content.  This approach seems much more natural to me than JUST working on “getting to know you” and procedures.  Also, students know really quick that we will be working.

Here’s how I would use my time for a one hour class period.

Day 1 Classroom Stuff

Students complete an Interest Inventory when they arrive. Welcome students and introduce classroom procedures (restroom, pencils, getting up/staying seated, talking, etc.).  Here’s a video with more info.  Do some “getting to know you”.  🙂 Set up science notebooks.  Work on the cover page only.  I take the opportunity to explain how to use supplies in my classroom and what a quality cover page looks like.  This is the first of 80 million times I will say the word “quality”.Work on procedures and rules.  Learn about different parts of the room.

Day 2 Notebook ExpectationsWarm-up:

What is one thing you want your teacher to know? Review procedures and expectations discussed yesterday. In science notebooks, make a table of contents, number the pages, and glue in the rubric.  As I go through all of this, I’m teaching them how to use supplies.  We also thoroughly discuss the rubric and look at my visual rubric. Review expectations, parts of the room, and work on procedures.

Day 3 Working as a Team Warm-up

Tell me how you will glue something in your notebook while in this classroom.  Seriously. Introduce Lab Team Roles. Practice Lab Team Roles while doing the Cup Challenge from Science Gal.  This went SO well last year.  It was THE perfect activity for us the first week and I blogged about it last year. Write our first entry in our science notebooks about the Cup Challenge.  Go step by step in how to fill out the Table of Contents, write the title on the top line, skip one line and use sentence stems to describe the activity.  Seriously.  Step.  By.  Step.  I’m not going to introduce input and output and all that yet.  We’re just writing stuff down today.

Day 4: Safety and Diagrams Warm-up:

What lab role did you have yesterday?  How did you contribute to your team? Review procedures.  Introduce “mirror” and “mirror and repeat” based on Whole Brain Teaching. Start iLearn Science with safety PowerPoint.  Record notes in notebooks.  Go over how to record notes.  It’s like 2 minutes worth of information but we spend about 10 minutes to make sure they know what’s up. I do this next part in workshops and it’s difficult to explain and much easier to model…forgive me.  This is the first time they will do “output” in their notebook and it’s extremely guided.

Goal:  Make a diagram of a person following safety rules.

1. Go over ABCD Rule for diagrams.

2. Model counting the lines to figure out how “tall” your person will be.  Sketch out your person.

3. Have them sketch their person.  Check on their sketches while they draw.  If it’s too small, have them erase and fix it.

4. Talk about what feet should be doing in the classroom.  Draw an arrow and write it out neatly.

5. Have them do the same.  Walk around and check on it.

6. Continue drawing arrows and labeling safety expectations.

7. Give students about 5 minutes to color it and make it as great as they can.

8. Write a sentence stem and show them how to complete it.

9. Students assess their work.  I ask them very specific questions about what they did and they draw a small star in the corner of their notebook if they did that. For example, I might ask, “If you used at least three colors, give yourself a star.  If you drew and arrow to the hands and wrote gloves, give yourself a star.”  I’ll do like 5 of those and then have them count their stars.  Since you held their hands through this, hopefully they get at least 3 stars.  Have them “turn and talk” about how they will earn their stars the next time they draw a diagram. After holding their hands through the process last year, the drawings were actually pretty promising!  Some were really great!

Day 5 Science Communication Warm-up

What safety rule do you remember from yesterday? Set up Vocabulary Notebooks.  This is helpful because I have some place to actually store the Weekly Warm-ups that I do starting the next week. iLearn Communication PowerPoint and Notes. Read Aloud: S is for Scientists and go over expectations for read alouds, sitting on the carpet, leaving the carpet, etc.

Notebook Entry: Glue in Big Money Words page.  Teach students one word in context of something we’ve discussed or that has come up that day.P ractice talking scientifically.  Use an accent if you want…they like that. Output: Sentence Stem for how we communicate using formal communication. Do something fuzzy to end the first week.  I would probably let the kids collapse because they have to work nonstop to keep up with me.

Any of this on your To Do List?

Source: Starting the Year Off Right: Science Ideas for Week One