Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Interactive Science Notebooks Two Ways

I am really excited to be successfully starting out the school year using science notebooks for both chemistry and biology. The two are slightly different in format and use, but both seem to be working well. With this post I want to give you an overview of what I am doing with these notebooks, eventually I will try to post some of the specific activities we have done in them and some pictures of how we have set up the books. .

Set-Up for both classes:
  • 100 page composition notebooks
  • Table of contents in the beginning
  • Pages must be numbered and dated
  • Resource pages for the front: grading policy, FAQ's, notebook requirements
  • Envelopes attached to front and back cover to make pockets for things like vocabulary cards, homework papers, etc.
  • Long ribbon attached to back cover to be used as a bookmark.
  • Students can glue or tape materials onto pages
  • I am not trying to do the left/right input/output system. Often my notes take two pages anyways or when students are writing things they take up different amounts of space based on handwriting, so I don't find for me that this system works well.
What goes in the biology notebooks:
  • Daily objectives and catalyst pages are attached and written on each day. These are being attached because many of my group have a bad habit of loosing these two documents mid-week.
  • Notes handouts that I have printed with the paper horizontally so that it can be cut in half and attached. Most notes are fill-in style for my current level class.
  • Lab planning, observations, sketches
  • "processing" activities such as foldables, vocab sorts, concept maps, short writing prompts etc. Some of these will be done as a whole group others students will have choice on.
  • Weekly class reflections - usually wide open prompts that require students to reflect on the activities and their own personal learning experiences for the week.
What goes in the chemistry notebooks:
  • Notes handouts, labs, activities, writing prompts (many of the same things as biology)
  • HOMEWORK practice problems - if they do it out of the text book it goes in the notebook. I am not collecting these assignments this year. Instead we go over the homework each morning and students are encouraged to correct their work if needed. Then about once a week we do a notebook check quiz which are open notebook. Some of the questions require them to synthesize or apply information from the week. Other questions simply ask them to copy the answer from a particular problem, this allows me to know who not only did their homework but who was paying attention and corrected mistakes when the problems were gone over. This is a mature and motivated group and they seem to be responding well to this system.
I am sure as the semester goes on I will find new things to put in their notebooks. My biggest concern right now is that my biology class is putting in so many things that we may run out of room before the end of the semester.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

First Days of School

The last 5 days have been a whirlwind! School started last Wednesday so we have had 5 full days of class so far. Things are going well, I have gotten through all of the required lab safety activities and we are now in full swing with the curriculum.

For chemistry we are working on our properties of matter, this is a quick unit as a lot of it does end up being review. However, I have lots of fun lab activities for this including "Why does Popcorn Pop" and the "Viscosity Challenge". Eventually I might get those activities worked up for TpT. So far those are going really well and I am excited to keep working with this group of students.

In both sections of biology we did a quick study of the properties of living things and are pushing forward into cellular structure and function. I just bought 'Cell Organelles Mix & Match Game' on TpT that I am really excited to use. I also do the celery challenge during this unit, you can get some more details about that here. Since there is a lot, and I men A LOT, of vocabulary with this unit students are also plugging away on their vocabulary cards. Right now they have been getting a few cards done at the end of classes or if they happen to finish an assignment early. Hopefully these will get done by the end of the week so that next week we can use them for some review type activities.

My final note is that I have been pushing forward with using interactive science notebooks this year with both chemistry and biology. So far it is going well and I will be doing a full post about that soon!