Next Generation Science Standards in Kindergarten

Hi everyone!
   Last month, as I working on my January lesson plans, I decided that I wanted to tackle one of the new Next Generation Science Standards.  To be honest, I have read over all of them, but haven't really analyzed them to the fullest extent.  We obviously don't have new science curriculum yet, but I thought I would give it a shot.
Looking at the standards of K-PS3 Energy I tried to create some activities that would meet this standard.  The first one that I came up with was a review of the sun's benefits for us on Earth.
We reviewed the things that the sun provides us with, and then did a little matching activity.
The next day, we discussed the sun and the dangers of too much sun exposure.  We also completed an activity for our interactive science journals in which we sorted pictures based on their ability to protect us from the sun.
Finally, we built shade structures to "reduce the warming effects of sunlight on an area."  I collected the recycling at my house for a week of two and brought in some materials for them to use.  They began the project by sketching the preliminary design for their structure. Most of my groups just created a simple model on the paper, one group decided to make a "shopping list" of the items they wanted from the recycling pile.

Rollers, bottles, and cardboard : )  After they made their lists or pictures they got what they needed from the recycling pile and got to work.  I walked around with tape for them to use and observed them making their creations.
This groups final design came closest to their preliminary drawing!
Only two girls in this group, so of course it had to look like a house, complete with a front door!
Sorry for my horrible iPhone 4s pictures!  One more month until I can get the iPhone 6!

Overall, I was extremely happy how these turned out.  I gave them very little direction and it was amazing to see the ones that just had a natural talent for engineering and spatial reasoning.  It was also very interesting to see which students could visualize what they wanted before creating it, and which ones had to get their hands on the materials to manipulate them in order to see the direction they wanted to go in.

I know that there is a lot more to this standard than these activities.  Each NGSS is multi-layered and requires research and in-depth study, but I am happy with our start on this one!

If you would like a free copy of these activities to help you get started on this standard, click HERE

Check out my Kindergarten Interactive Science Journals for more kindergarten science fun!

Snowman Craft and a Freebie!

Hi Everyone!
   I am enjoying a rare San Diego rainy day! I get to sit home and in my cozy yoga pant with a Starbucks, and not have to worry about indoor recess, the hyperactivity from the rain crazies, or the having to go to the bathroom every 5 seconds because you see the rain outside (that one's my problem : )
   Last week we worked on a super fun snowman craft that I'm sure you have seen all over pinterest.  I pinned the idea from HERE.
I love how they turned out!  Being the obsessive person that I am, I have a problem not utilizing a template for an art project.  I created this quick template for the body, nose, and scarf for my kids to use.
After they cut each piece out and glued them to a sheet of black construction paper, the students chose whatever color they thought would word best with for the stripes on the scarf. 
After all the pieces were glued, I gave each table a paper plate with both white and black paint, and each student a Q-tip.  They added in smiles, buttons, and the snow, using the Q-tips.
I added in the words "It's SNOW secret....We love Jesus! and voila, January bulletin board done (even tho it never snows in San Diego : ) The kids had a blast doing this one, and it was one of my least messy paint projects I've ever done!
If you would like a free copy of the snowman template, click HERE.
Have a great week!


I've got the standerdized test scores what do I do?

Hi everyone!
   I devoted today to getting caught up on school work! I wouldn't say that I am caught up, but at least my mind is back in the right place, and wrapped around the fact that Christmas break is over ... sleeping in is over, and all day long yoga pants wearing is over : (

  Before the break, all of our standardized test materials came back.  Since I work in a private school, we take our tests more towards the beginning of the year, in October.  The theory behind this, is to see where your class is needing some extra instruction, and what areas of the curriculum you need to beef up to get your students up to speed in areas they may be lacking.  The test as used as an assessment on the class, rather than a job performance indicator for the teacher.

   As the Vice Principal of Academics, it is part of my job to be the test coordinator, and analyze the results when they come in.  This year especially, seeing as how we are up for accreditation, it becomes even more vital to represent the data properly.  I put all of the information I gain into pretty little graphs that look at trends over the years, and trends within the quartiles. 
   Before this year (being the kindergarten teacher), I did not worry too much about these results, I looked over them, especially with the second grade teacher, and made adjustments to my curriculum on the things that the second graders were low in. This year has truly been an education on standardized testing and analysis, and I have learned so much!

   The next step in my process is to share the information with the other teachers.  We have a lot of new teachers on staff, and I want to make sure that they fully understand how to read and analyze the results.  On top of that, and most importantly, I want them to truly gain knowledge from the reports and use it to inform their teaching.  Next Friday, we will be having a staff meeting, and I decided to come up with a form that will help the faculty look at the results with a critical eye, and make goals based on the information they acquire.
   I created this form to help focus the teachers minds around some critical areas for improvement, and hopefully allow them to create actionable items that will have a positive impact on student learning.  Here is an example one that I created:
   I think that too often, we look at our test scores, and analyze them, but nothing tangible comes out of the process.  I'm not saying that standardized tests are the end all be all to understanding and analyzing student achievement, but they are a tool, a little window we can peak into to inform our teaching.  If we take the time to interrupt our school schedules and spend a couple weeks immersed in these tests, then we should give them the proper attention when the results come in.

  How do you analyze standardized test data at your school?  Do you feel like it is efficient and gets the results you are looking for?  I would love to hear how other schools do it!

If you would like a copy of this form to use with your faculty, click HERE


Center Area Re-do

Hi everyone!
   Christmas break is almost over, and it has flown by just like every other year!  I got a lot done on my to do list, but it's still a mile long, oh well : )  One of the things on my to do list was to re-design my center area.  Previously, I had all of my center material in plastic shoe boxes, which worked out okay, put they were always breaking, and if the students didn't put the lid on and hear the two snaps, then we would often have an avalanche of tangrams!  To solve this problem, I purchased some sliding bins from IKEA.
Initially I wanted the set of bins that are all at an even level, not the stair steppers, but the even level ones were $70 versus this stair stepper frame that was $35. My cheapness won out, and I got the stair stepper one obviously.  The bins were $3 each, so all in all it wasn't too expensive of a project, especially since the organization will save me a little bit of sanity with my kiddos.
I use the sliding drawers on the top for the students to turn their work in once they are done with their center.
To label my bins, I created simple tags that I hot glued on.  The tubs are a really bright color, so I didn't want the labels to clash too much with the tubs.
I am absolutely loving this new look, and can't wait for the kids to get back and see it!  They are a really excitable class, I can't tell you the number of times they have clapped after a read-aloud, which always makes me feel like the best story teller in the world! : )
If you would like to grab these center labels, I am putting them in my TPT store, and they will be on sale for the next couple of days as well.  Here's a preview of some of the labels.

 I also added some center material labels too (like my big red bin that holds the clipboards!)
You can get the center labels HERE in my TPT store.
Have a wonderful weekend, and enjoy the last couple of blissful days before it's back to reality!