Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Classification Activity

At the beginning of our Living Organisms unit, we study Animal Classification. The students do very well with this unit (I have not met many 4th graders who don't love some sort of animals!!), but I like them to have a greater understanding of the process of classification. It also helps them to understand why some crazy creatures, like the platypus, are in certain groups even though they have characteristics of others. This year, we used a variety of beans and left it open to the students to determine how to classify each type of bean. The students had a blast, and it was great to hear them defending their classification groups!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Wild and Wacky Weather

I am currently finishing up plans for my science unit on weather. I always find that my students do really well with understanding the concepts of this unit, and I am sure it is because weather is all around us all the time! I am especially excited this year because I have seen such a huge spark of interest in meteorology since our assistant principal asked our class to monitor and record data from the rain gauge that is housed at our school. The students are in charge of checking the rain gauge every day. They then go online to record the data on the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) website. The students have LOVED looking at patterns of rain and comparing our rainfall to nearby (and far away) places. Without even realizing it, some have become mini-meteorologists making predictions about upcoming rain, analyzing and hypothesizing about why some areas didn't get as much rain as we did, etc.

For my unit, I will start out with review of the Water Cycle. My intern already spent some time on this, so I am planning to use a Smart Notebook activity I found on Smart Exchange as a review. Students will use their Science Notebooks throughout this unit, and I am working on some fun ways to incorporate notes/vocabulary and creative output ideas. We also have to study the three major types of clouds, so I usually have students make models of the clouds with cotton balls. It may seem a bit "young" for 4th graders, but it is a great way for them to really focus in on the characteristics of each of the clouds (cirrus, cumulus, and stratus). Any and all "art" activities are a hit with the majority of my class. We will also build our own weather instruments and hopefully use them to collect some data and make some predictions. To wrap things up, students will be researching hurricanes, tornadoes, or thunderstorms and creating a product to share their findings with the class. I am still not 100% certain what activities they will choose from, but I think they will do a detailed poster/infographic, a commercial, a brochure, or a web-based presentation (Prezi, PowerPoint).