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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Springing Into Science Blog Hop - It's Time to Integrate

If you just hopped over from Laura's blog at Differentiation Station Creations, welcome to The Research Based Classroom. I am really excited about this blog hop because this is exactly what we are doing right now. Hopefully you will find some interesting ways to integrate science into your classroom during this hop.

I wish I was a little more relaxed as a teacher. I just feel the pressure to get so much done with my young class that I find it frustrating to get all of the great things scheduled that we could be doing. This is where integration has become my best friend out of necessity. There just isn't enough time in the day to do it all.  Right now as the year begins to wind down my biggest goal is to help my readers become stronger and there is nothing like a little science motivation. First graders love creepy, crawly bugs so what a great way to turn some of that spring fever into energy for learning. We started out by gathering all of the insect books in our classroom and in the library to begin our study.
We started reading and gathering information about insects and adding the information to our R.A.N. chart (Reading and Analyzing Nonfiction). It's similar to a KWL chart, but I like it a lot better. It comes from Tony Stead and Linda Hoyt's book Explorations into Nonfiction Writing, Grade One.  You can see we are still in the middle of it. When we finish all of our reading, we will have moved all of our background knowledge into the confirmed column or the misconception column and the chart will be a lot fuller.

Integrating nonfiction reading about insects into our Daily Five helps us find time to get our research done. As students move to Read with Someone, they can read nonfiction books about insects and record new information on sticky notes together. Plus with two young readers, they have just dramatically increased their chances of making sense of some of that hard science vocabulary. Some students will also choose to read from here during Read to Self. At the end of our literacy centers it takes about 10 minutes to talk about and put all of the new information on our chart. And if two or more students write down the same information, we just stack them on top of each other. As one students shares their notes, I always ask, "Does anyone else have the same information?" so I can hang them all up together and save the time of having kids repeat the same fact.

Next it's time for an order at Insect Lore.  In the past I have ordered the $15 live butterfly kit where you get about 5 caterpillars, but this year I splurged and ordered the school kit so that everyone has their own caterpillar. Both ways are fun, but let's just say more is more fun. They actually ship eggs but since I'm too cheap to pay for overnight shipping, they have always hatched during shipping. This year's caterpillars were so incredibly small that one escaped out of the tiniest pinhole in the top of the cup they were shipped in. But this is them after 6 days. They grow so fast!
You can't see it in this picture, but I have actually used a large paper clip to poke a hole through the lid. This is so after the caterpillar forms into a chrysalis on the lid, I can use the hole to hang it in our butterfly cage. I just take a small paperclip and bend it to form an S hook. You can easily hang them on the sides of the cage. Last year we had to poke the holes after the chrysalis was hanging from the lid and it just made it harder. Don't try taping the lids to the sides of the cage-been there, done that! But if you get the small set, you can tape the paper onto the top of your cage and the tape has always worked.
Now that we have our caterpillars to watch grow, we are starting to narrow our research to just caterpillars and butterflies. We are recording our observations and new learning into student butterfly observation journals. Here are a few pictures from the student journal:
They are being done individually, Emet is just the name of his caterpillar.


I love his description of the caterpillar.
My Lifecycle of a Butterfly research journal is available at my TpT and TN stores, but you can enter to win it this weekend.  There will be 10, yes 10, lucky winners. It includes all the pages for a student journal plus large pictures of the lifecycle of a butterfly to use in interactive writing.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Now we definitely aren't done without some arts & crafts integration. We have used liquid starch and tissue paper for our butterfly craft.
That is about 3/4 liquid starch and 1/4 water in the baby food jar. Paint the starch on the paper, lay down the tissue paper and then paint another coat of starch.
They need a few hours to dry. Then we glued on the black butterfly frame and smashed
them under a stack of heavy books from our reading series. 
The students cut out around the frame and we hung them out in the hall.

The caterpillars are also done with liquid starch. Just use die cut circles of tissue paper.

The net on the side has holes just big enough to fit a small paper clip through without ripping it.
While we are waiting for each of our caterpillars to turn into a chrysalis you will definitely want to head on over to Life Over C's to see more ideas for integrating science into your curriculum.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

What Size Cookie Would You Like?

Stop at the store and buy a package or two of those chewy Chips Ahoy and don't forget to bring a knife. This has got to be my favorite way to introduce fractions.  I've taught fractions before at higher grade levels but have only been teaching them for a few years in first grade. These young mathematicians have no concept of what a fraction is, so it makes this introduction all the more fun and important because I want to do something that really sticks in their brains.
I started our math lesson by having everyone sign up for the size of cookie they would like. Some years I have everyone on the one-eighth but this year one of these young mathematicians was trying hard to convince everyone that he has a fraction place mat and he is sure one-half is bigger. Some believe him but most see that 8 and sign up for one-eighth anyways. Now comes the fun.  I pull out a cookie and place it under the document camera as I explain that I need to cut the cookie into 8 equal parts so everyone can have one-eighth. As soon as I start cutting, these mathematicians are beginning to groan. One-eighth is so small they say. But I give everyone exactly what they signed up for and start on cutting a cookie into fourths. The students who signed up for one-fourth are excited knowing they get more but they quickly realize that one-half would be better.


By this point my students know they don't want to cut the cookie into more pieces and they are starting to understand the meaning of a fraction. We end by dividing all the cookies that are left over and eating them too.  We'll wait for another day to talk about dividing sandwiches. Fractions just go so well with food!

Today we started back up our introduction into fractions by discussing what we already know about fractions.
Our list included 3 things:
1. Fractions have to be equal parts.
2. The number on the top tells how many you get.
3. The number on the bottom tells how many parts there are.
Wow! This is getting close to using numerator and denominator. We aren't there and we won't even go there this year but these 6 & 7 year old mathematicians are coming pretty close on their own. So the problem for today is to discover how many ways you can divide a sandwich into two equal parts. I had a stack of 4-inch papers already cut and ready for them. It didn't take long for them to come up with a way and soon everyone had discovered these two ways.

We glued them down and labeled the fractions before I asked if they were sure there were no other possibilities. Everyone agreed there were only two ways until I asked again. Then some students started to waiver. So I pushed a little more and made everyone who was sure there were only two ways stand up. Four hesitant boys stood up and showed some visible relief when I announced I couldn't find another way either. Then we changed the problem to dividing a sandwich into fourths. I made sure to use the words fourth and quarter interchangeably. Right away everyone wanted to make sure they found all of the ways. Someone quickly blurted out that there were only two ways with the half, so there must be four ways for the fourth. I kept my smile to myself and let them go forward with a vengeance trying to find a fourth way. They were determined to find it.




 It took a while before they gave up on discovering a fourth possibility and conceded that there are only three ways to divide the sandwich. We even had a sixth grade student come in, take one look at what we had discovered and claim there was another way. We gave her a few minutes to show us but my students were pretty proud when they proved her wrong. So we labeled our fractions and looked back over our work. We talked about the importance of having equal parts and were just cleaning up when I overheard my favorite quote of the day, "My mom didn't even know we could do fractions."
I think we have laid the foundation for a good, strong understanding of fractions. A little more practice in our math centers with making pictures using whole circles, half circles and quarter circles should be perfect for giving them a little independent practice with the concept of fractions.

This was a great multi-day introduction but if you teach something a little higher than first, you should head over to Beyond Traditional Math to look at how she introduces fractions to third graders. Homemade brownies? Mmm mmm mmm! But beware in my class we won't choose an eighth of a brownie, we know better now.

Beyond Traditional Math