Saturday, April 28, 2012

Oreo Cookie Moon Phases Lab

Last week, I promised my very difficult, out of control 8th grade class a lab activity if they would be quiet and pass a Moon Phases quiz.

Well, they weren't exactly super quiet, but for the 20 kids that passed the quiz... they were able to participate in the Oreo Cookie Moon Phase Lab.

The lab went surprisingly okay... as okay as it can be for a troubled 8th grade group of almost ALL BOYS.  (Honestly, when they put this group of kids together, someone should of slapped somebody because you can't get a worse group of troublemakers together.)

I found a great worksheet to use with the Moon Phase Lab, but if you google Oreo Cookie Moon Phases Worksheet - you'll have a lot of options to choose from that will fit your class/curriculum/etc.  I made my students partner up and gave each student four oreo cookies... this way I could save some money and buy a few less oreos.  Each partner had to make half of the moon phases with their cookies, then check their partner's work and copy over what they made on to their final paper.
I had my students use toothpicks for the scraping because that seemed like the easiest and handiest tool to use.

Final Thoughts?  It was a good lab, I would refrigerate the cookies before hand because as you can tell from this picture, the frosting gets pretty nasty by the end.  My students were very happy because they got to eat the cookies at the end (except, they expected me to buy them milk too!) and they were able to finally stop complaining about the lack of labs in my class.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

State Testing...

IS FINALLY OVER!!  ::cue trumpets::

My students are totally fried from testing, reviewing, prepping, changing schedules...  I'm so very happy that it's finally over because now I can focus on having my students complete projects.

They are currently working their Animal Research projects - becoming an "expert" on one particular animal.  The final project will have them create a "Standing Cube" foldable with all their work displayed on it.  From what I'm seeing, I'm hopeful that the outcomes will be fantastic!  (This is also their Open House display project too!)

I'll have pictures soon!

PS:  Waves to any new people stopping by.  Thanks to for the pin!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Animal Classification Foldable

I actually meant to upload this post awhile back, but then State Testing madness and prep hit... so I didn't get a chance to post this.

My students were studying Animal Classification Systems and I decided to have them make this foldable that would help them practice seeing and using the 8 levels of classification!

I started out by using an animal they were all familiar with - the average house cat.  I pulled up the official classification levels for a house cat as my prep to the lesson.

To start, I told them the quick story of "Sparky" my mom's cat that she rescued from death... who repaid her kindness by peeing all over my parents house.  They all loved to hear about Sparky!  Then, we started folding.  I did a common flap fold - this time separating the fold into eight "windows."

Actual directions:

  1. Fold in half - Hot Dog Style
  2. Place one finger on the paper and fold your top flap back... up to your fingertip.  This will leave a small unfolded/uncut section for your title.  You can see in the pic to the left - this section is where you put your title!
  3. Cut!  In half, in half again and so on, until you have four bottom flaps.  Then repeat to the top section.  I numbered my flaps, which helped them see what they needed to end up with.

    (I always model each one of these steps in front of the class before my students fold or start to cut.  Then I walk the room to make sure they are folding/cutting correctly.  Usually, I'm able to fix the problems before they mess it up so badly they need a new paper.)
We filled in the information together and this is what mine looked like!  Honestly, I wish they didn't turn in this so early... it would have been great for their Animal Projects they're working on now.   

What is everyone else's favorite foldable to use in class?!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mini Quiz, Exit Slips, Plot Charts

As a middle school teacher, it's so very important that I know where the students' understanding of the daily concepts falls.  Some days, I know that none of my lower end students had any idea how to solve for X, subtract decimals, or solve the Pythagorean Theorem.

So, I started using exit slips or 4 question mini quizzes to test their knowledge.

4 Question Mini Quiz
I love the 4 question mini quiz because it's a straight shot at their comprehension of the basic problem.  Plus, you can make your own 4 question mini quiz in about 4 seconds without any copying!

1.  Ask the students to fold a new paper into hot dog style, then hamburger style.  You should end up with your paper in fourths.
2.  On your paper - place 4 quick comprehension questions for the kids.  I usually try to do two types of problems, so they have two attempts at each type.
3.  Let them get to work!

I love the setup because sometimes, they write their problems so messily that I can't read their work.  The 4 boxes really help me clearly see how they are working through the problem.

Exit Slip
The exit slip really works well because it allows the students to reconnect with their learning target (or learning goal) and work through a problem for you.  Also, I've included a section where they can discuss how they felt about the problem, which is always so insightful to discover their "true thoughts!"

The key to a good exit slip session is not forcing them to rush doing it out the door.  It really works best in a Cored Setting, where they have to complete the exit slip before moving on to another activity that's not whole-class in nature.

I've attached my copy of an Exit Slip for everyone to download here!  Since I work in a cash-strapped district, my exit slips are a little small and 4 up on a page.  That way I can save my precious paper (....preciooooouuuuussssss....) and copy limits!

Plot Charts

I designed this Plot Chart for my Language Arts classes last year because I needed something that would hit all the elements of a story we needed to discuss AND not waste a million copies doing so.  (Again, cash-strapped district... I'm lucky I don't have to beg for white paper on the street corners!)

I'm pretty happy what I put together, combining a form my neighbor made along with my plot graph idea and summary section.  It's available over at TpT!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Position Change... and NETS

Recently, I put in at my school site to switch to the Computer Elective position for next year.  This is a little bittersweet for me, because my friend who teaches this position offered to switch with me last year and I had declined.  If I had agreed to move LAST year, I would have been "saved" from my moving nightmare this year.

So, moving to electives (where I have my supplementary credential) should take me out of the multiple subject credential switcheroo madness.

At least I hope?!

Tonight I decided to make some posters that I could set up in my new computer classroom next year.  I designed a set of NETS (National Educational Technology Standards) posters.  They are very much inspired by Ladybug Teacher's CRAFT bulletin board.  I sat around and wished that I could teach Language Arts again after I saw her work, it was so freaking awesome.

If you teach technology in your classroom, go and take a look.  I'm trying to put more of my teaching resources up on Teacher's Notebook to try and make a little bit of extra money, but so far I can't even buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks! (Hahaha!)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hello, Hello

Yeah, I know... I've been really GONE lately.  Life has been crazy, but I'm hoping that it has settled down to the point where I can blog again.

I just created a Middle School Animal Research Project and uploaded it over at my TpT store.  Check it out!  I had to make it because I searched Google and Pinterest alike to no avail.  Sometimes, you just gotta make what you're looking for.

I'm planning on trying and uploading all my forms and documents that I've created for my classroom to my TpT store this summer.  Maybe you guys will be interested in my obsessive form creation abilities! :)

In other news... my son on Easter was so super cute that I just have to share him.  Dance!  Dance!

Link Up!

Life in Middle School
<div align="center"><a href="" title="Life in Middle School"><img src="" alt="Life in Middle School" style="border:none;" /></a></div>


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