Thursday, June 25, 2015

Getting Ready...Already!

Here in Arizona we are back to school already in July.  I hate it, but I love, love, love our 2 week end of quarter breaks, so I live with July.  This year teachers return July 14th.  So needless to say, as soon as the year is over, we here in Arizona already begin working on Back to School.  Yesterday our Target even was moving out the patio furniture and hanging back packs.  Both my kids nearly had a meltdown in the store.  They absolutely did not want to even go near it...they are 8 and 14.  There is a little drama there I think.  Anyway, now that I am beginning my 4th year in my new job, I've figured out what works and what doesn't.  What's worth doing year after year and what's not.  What is "junior high" and what is more "elementary."  It truly has taken this long.  So today I want to share some of the new things I will be trying to organize our back to school.  Students told me at the end of the year (I always loop with my 7th graders) that they would like more help with organization and making assignments available for download online.  The organization part I've got covered.  Making downloads available in a secure manner, I need some help with.  If you have something you use, I'd love to hear how it has worked for you!

Current Events!
I feel like current events are so very important to incorporate in science.  With the addition of ELA standards to science, I've finally put together something students will do weekly to prompt discussion and debate each Monday morning.  Each week student must bring in a current event that they have annotated and responded to.  You can download it here, if you are interested in looking at it and creating your own or up in the Freebie section.  I'm currently working on the instructions for proper ways to cite evidence and respond to the text.

Science Fair
Another huge project to tackle is science fair.  Since our students do most of their work at home, they told me that they need more guidance for each step and more intermediate due dates to help them keep on track.  So I delivered.  Using some of the past handouts along with information given out at the high school, I put together this guiding packet of information.

Lesson Plans
We are required to turn in lesson plans each week in a given format to the front office, but the format for me and a sub coming in just isn't working.  I need more space to make notes following the lesson and to easily find the resources needed as I'm setting up for labs or for technology based lessons.  The lesson plan format that I used as an elementary teacher just doesn't work in junior high.  I have two preps, not 10-12 and the depth and resources required for the class in much more involved than before.  This year, I plan on using a new format if only just for me.  I find it so helpful when I'm looping back to a lesson to see notes of what worked, what doesn't, and what extensions or resources might be needed.

Not too shabby for the first 3 weeks of break!  Come back later this week to see the extra credit and quarterly projects I'm planning for 1st quarter this year.