Saturday, March 4, 2017

5 Components of an Effective STEAM Lesson and a freebie!


Welcome back to my series on STEAM! If you missed the first post What is STEAM? Check it out HERE.

Has your school or district gone full steam (pun intended) ahead with STEM or STEAM but isn't providing training or a framework for what exactly makes for an effective lesson?


Well that is where my district is currently by requiring summer school courses to be STEAM based. Sadly, this seems to be a common problem for districts.  

 What I am sharing with you is from a Professional Development I did for my district on STEAM.  It is five components of an effective STEAM lesson.  These are the five components you should STRIVE for in a STEAM lesson.  However if it doesn't include all five you can still do the lesson to begin to infuse STEAM.

There are 5 components of an effective STEAM lesson


STEAM lessons should always be working to solve a problem.  There should also be criteria to meet.  Criteria is anything students must include in the final project.


STEAM lessons should always use the flexible engineering design process.  This allows students to approach the task with a clear plan and look for solutions.  The steps may vary slightly based on grade level or what resource you use.  The Engineering design process is essential to STEAM. It is the only letter that should ALWAYS be included!
To learn more about the Engineering Process check out the next post in this series.


STEAM lessons should generally be partner or team activities.  The students should always be provided with materials to create something (a solution) whether real or digital.  The lessons should not have a “right” answer or a “correct” solution. The more open ended the better!


STEAM lessons should always have a science or math objective. Include meaningful vocabulary, ELA, social studies & art standards where appropriate.  Math and science are often related so both will usually appear in STEAM lessons. This is excellent for students to see that they are not isolated subjects but they and other subjects often work together to solve problems.


STEAM lessons should allow for redesign and reflection.  Redesign is SO important for students. The first product engineers create is never their final product so why would we expect students to do this?  Build redesign into your STEAM lessons by including it as a step and or saying ”ok you have 30 minutes until we test so you can redesign”.  Students should also be allowed to reflect on the entire process. This can be written, as a presentation (video etc.) or simply turn and talk to a partner.

If you have made it this far CONGRATS!!! I hope this helps in planning an effective STEAM lesson!  And I have something to help you even more.............

A FREEBIE! 
Click HERE to go to my TPT store for the freebie to help you both evaluate STEAM lessons you find and a guide for planning your own! You can also click on the picture below.


Forever Freebie STEAM, STEM Lesson Evaluation Lesson Plann
This includes an evaluation for lessons you might already have to see if they are meeting the STEAM components and also an area for you to plan ways to help add the missing components. There is also a lesson planner to use when planning a STEAM lesson.





Saturday, February 25, 2017

What is STEAM? - Getting Started with STEAM Series

Welcome to my series on STEAM!  This is the first in a series of blog posts that were originally a PD presentation for my district. I have turned them into a series of blog posts to reach teachers who are searching for help with STEAM!  With so many schools going FULL STEAM (pun intended) ahead into the STEM, STEAM world it's important that we know what exactly it is we are doing and that it's not just an acronym or buzz word we throw around!

I was introduced to STEM when I was one of the teachers who previewed the Next Generation Science Standards before they were released to the public.  I have been using STEM challenges for 4+ years so I was asked to lead my school's STEAM team.  We then had a build your own PD day put on by 4 schools in our district with teachers presenting on different topics and I was asked to present on STEAM. 
STEAM is an acronym standing for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math.
Let's briefly look at each of these.
You probably already have a dedicated science time in your day, this is a great time to do STEAM activities or lessons because science is a natural part of STEAM and an easy part to incorporate into lessons!  With the introduction of the NGSS or Next Generation Science Standards, STEAM is easier than ever to incorporate! For NGSS Checklists click HERE.
I LOVE that this doesn't mean just computers, ipads, and more screens!!!!
The engineering process is VITAL to STEAM and is a heavy focus of the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) if your district has adopted those take a look at them for STEAM ideas!  I will do an ENTIRE blog post on the Engineering Process! - Stay tuned!
The Rhode Island school of design is leading the way to integrate the Arts into STEM creating STEAM.  You can read more about it HERE.  My district chose STEAM so that's what I am doing.  Designing is part of the engineering process so it is very easy to weave the arts at least visual into STEM.  The STEAM initiative takes a stronger approach including music, theater and visual/graphic arts.
Math often tags along with Science but you can focus your STEAM lesson on Math if you wish!  As with Science you probably already have a dedicated Math time in your day, this again is an excellent time to do a math focused STEAM lesson.  Ideally you could have your science and math times back to back and plan your STEAM activities for then.
STEM initiatives have been around since Sputnik, with the launch of Sputnik the US created NASA & an increase in Science, Math, & Engineering across America.  Since then the nation has had a focus on education in those areas. Technology has also grown rapidly. The acronym STEM was introduced in 2001 replacing METS which stood for the same thing. The Rhode Island School of Design began an initiative to have the Arts added to create STEAM which was included in the latest education bill. 

Implementing STEAM is easy, you can start very small such as posters and STEM challenges that you can find on Pinterest!
These are the posters I use in my classroom.
I just put up STEM to start. Next year I will switch to STEAM.
This is my entire Science bulletin board. I have the STEM posters on the right and Scientific Method on the left. In the middle I put anchor charts that we create on our current topic.
You can get the STEM posters HERE.  The set includes A and R as well as a banner and Engineering Process Posters.

Try adding a STEAM extension to a Science activity such as my Peeps Science Activities with STEAM extension.  They are in my TPT store. Click on the picture below to go to my store.
In the next post I will be sharing the 5 components of an effective STEAM lesson, be sure to check back next Saturday!



Saturday, October 8, 2016

Making Sense of Teaching Sight Words




Sight words, High Frequency Words, Popcorn Words
Whatever you call them chances are if you are a primary teacher you have a list of them that students are supposed to learn! If you are a parent your child has a list of them that you are supposed to help with!
Sight words are ESSENTIAL for becoming a fluent reader!
And becoming a FLUENT reader is essential for understanding (comprehension) text books as well as other meaningful written language for the rest of your life!
According to this info graphic from Samson's Classroom over 50% of most every piece of written text is composed of sight words!
Sight Words Statistics
In 1996 Dr. Fry published a book called "Fry 1000 Instant Words". Dr. Fry found the following results through his research:
25 words make up about 1/3 of all written material
100 words make up about 1/2 of all written material
300 words make up about 3/5 of all written material
I don't know about you but I want to know those 300 words! And I want my students to know those 300 words!
Have I convinced you sight words are a necessary evil yet?
Good let's move on.
So we know we want our students to know these 300 words that make up 65% of all written language. We even know what words they are thanks to Dolch and Fry!
BUT
How do we teach our darling little students them?
Cause they are words like 
COULD
WAS
and  OF.
Words as I tell my students that -  Don't Play Fair!
For the record when I taught Kindergarten we called them Popcorn Words because they POPPED up in books all the time, and we would BUTTER (highlight) them in our little mini books - It was great!
but these words don't play fair. So as a teacher, and especially a reading teacher. I want every strategy known to teachers up my sleeve to use to help my students learn these oh so important words!
This post is NOT about which words you should teach in what grade or how many or anything like that - that is a BIG topic but not one I want to delve into I want to help you teach WHATEVER words to your students!

 So here it is my strategies for teaching sight words!


1. Explicit, intentional, purposeful PHONICS instruction.
WHAT?!?! 
Yes that is right. Phonics instruction can help with sight word instruction.
Not every single letter in every single sight word breaks every rule! In fact only about 4% of words have to be learned completely visually (Hanna, Hanna, Hodges & Rudorf: 1966). 
(Yes OF does we will get to it in a minute)
I feel like this was my biggest mistake when I taught Kindergarten for six years, 6 years ago. I have grown as a teacher and I have learned! Many sight words have pieces or parts that play by the rules!
If your students are taught phonics they can apply those strategies to help them figure out or at least start to figure out some sight words!
This includes secondary sounds for letters such as C, Z, and G along with teaching them the strategy of FLIP THE SOUND or try a different sounds this is also great for VOWELS and Y!

2. Identifying what a SIGHT WORD is. 
There are words on that list of 300 that absolutely can be sounded out, and they are absolutely good to learn! But they can be sounded out with phonics skills and are therefore phonetic words and not SIGHT WORDS (recognize by sight).
Word sorts are a great way for students to identify those words that can be sounded out and those that can't, and even a third group where parts can be sounded out! These sorts will change depending on your level of students as they learn more phonics rules. For example my Kindergarten kids would say NOW breaks the rules but my second graders wouldn't because they have been taught the OW dipthong.


3. Word and letter shape. Due to the high reliance on the shape of the letters that form the words, especially for SIGHT words and especially in Kindergarten using boxes that are tall, short, etc. with the same number of boxes as letters is a GREAT way to help students begin to visualize the difference in words and therefore begin to recognize words by sight!
There are dozens of activities on TPT that focus on just such a skill.

Including my Box It Up Sight Words which is pages of words that have the boxes like show above in the BOX IT portion!



4. Seeing it in context or giving it meaning.
If you have read my Just Say No to Nonsense Words post you know how I feel about words and meaning. But how do you convey meaning of the word THE to a Kindergartener.
You put it in the context of a sentence, and you compare the sentence with and without the word in it!
This is where our "buttering" (highlighting) our popcorn words came in to play when I taught Kindergarten. It also helps with visual discrimination.

To Grab the set show in the picture above click this link HERE to go to my TPT store and grab it!


5. Repetition, Practice, Repetition and Practice. Students need to be exposed to sight words over and over and over and over! They need to continually work with these words and be exposed to and assessed on them. Especially struggling students who with the addition of new sight words sometimes get confused with the ones we "thought" they had already learned.

Every student in my class has their own ring of sight words and we add to them and take ones out that they have mastered.  
In case you want to make these in two days with Amazon Prime shipping click the pictures below to get the notecards and rings! (affiliate link)





Some more fun ways to get in repetition are shown and linked below.
Watercolor Sight Words
Watercolor Sight Words, Fun, Engaging, End of the Year, Su
Watercolor Sight Words is sure to be a hit with your students! They use watercolors to fill in the sight words!
Roll and Read Sight Words
Sight Word Roll & Read - Fun, Engaging, Activity Kindergar
Students roll the dice, and then read the word and color it in after they read it correctly! A fun one for partners!
Rainbow Write
Rainbow Write Sight Words
Rainbow write with 100 different sight words!
Box it up Sight Words
No Prep, Sight Word Practice Activity, Fun, Engaging
This one is EXCELLENT for Visual discrimination as students must match letter shape!
I hope this helps you make some sense of teaching sight words!



Saturday, September 3, 2016

5 Teacher Must Haves!

If you are a new teacher or even if you've been teaching for a bit you are sure to find something on this list to add to your amazon cart and make your teacher heart happy!  These are MY must have teaching tools. I use these products weekly if not daily in my classroom. They are worth whatever the cost!  I have included my affiliate links to Amazon, so they resources are easy to add to your cart!  These are great for just about ANY teacher though they are definitely geared towards K-6!


1. Flair Pens - one of my teaching partners inquired about my large assortment of flairs at our first planning day and I was shocked that no one had introduced her to Flairs! This perfect blend of pen and marker is every teacher's new BFF.  They come in every color you could ever want and a package usually lasts me all year with planning, grading and notes!  My mother had me addicted to these at a young age. They are the pens she uses in her HS classroom!
2. Dry Erase Boards - I could NOT teach without individual whiteboards for each of my students! I use them all the time for math, spelling, grammar, writing, sight words I could go on and on! Buying a little bit nicer ones to start out will save you time and frustration in the long run! My first year of teaching I bought the shower board and ended up buying nice ones the next year!!!
3. Post-it Chart Paper - I will admit this is a LUXURY for me as it is for most! I use my PTA money for this most years and am never sorry! I love being able to take my anchor charts and stick them just about anywhere! I also love this one with the easel!  When I present for our building or district I can take it with me to use!
4. Reusable Dry Erase Pockets - I love these so much! Invest in these and you will never run out of copies again!  I love using these for Work on Writing and Math Rotations. With the different colors you can also color code your groups for easy differentiation!
5. Crayola Power Lines Markers - Can I let you in on a little secret? I don't love Mr. Sketch Chart Markers! GASP! It's true! I have always struggled to get my anchor charts to look as good as I wanted until I was subbing and the teacher had these Crayola Power Lines Makers! OH MY GOSH! I love them!  And the black? No more stinky licorice, welcome Crispy Marshmallow!  Welcome to anchor chart happiness!