Friday, April 24, 2020

Life Science Plant Specimen Dissection or Separation of Parts by a 6th grader

Welcome to Science Grades 6 to 8 from USA Heartland! I'm Becca S, the blog owner. This post is to share some photos of a 6th grader's efforts at home with a variation to my suggestion for gathering some plant specimens for a small collection. When the remote learning switched from plants to invertebrates with earthworms as a topic, I made a Google Classroom comment about earthworms being one of the very first things I learned to dissect in Biology I. This female 6th grader started exchanging comments with me fascinated on how to open a worm.

At home this student isn't quite dissecting but she is gently pulling apart and separating then identifying parts with labeling. She's doing all this on her own as an extension activity (extra; not required). I'm impressed. She's formatted everything neatly which was something learned in science class before Act of God Days and Remote Learning. Permission has been received to share her photos from 2 recent days:



*parts that make a whole
*identifying parts
*labeling parts
*formatting; layout organization
*documenting by collecting a specimen
*documenting by photography
*use of technology by sharing digitally the photograph with teacher

I'm making this blog post short and sweet to let the amazing work of a 11-12 year old speak for itself.

Thanks, mystery student!

Teaching and Learning in the USA Heartland:

Becca S
Illinois certification endorsements:
FACS grades 6-12
Birth to Grade 3

General Science grades 5-8

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Life Science Plant Specimen Photography by a 6th grader

Welcome to Science Grade 6 to 8 from USA Heartland! I'm Becca S! I live, teach, and do science in the Midwest. Crazy temperatures last week in the midst of a crazy world fighting to stay alive. The focus of this post is not the pandemic but some amazing closeup photographs snapped by one of my 6th graders. Student "C" has taken on the challenge of doing the extensions I've suggested, which means this is extra. It's not required as part of the pass/fail system that our district has during Remote Learning Days.

My extension suggestions for each JH grade have been a scientific lab-related skill that they can safely do at home with minimal fuss and supplies.

The 6th graders have just switched from plants to animals (invertebrates) in the past 3 school days, so collecting or photographing plant specimens got continued for a few more days.

Student "C" provided facts about each plant along with a full specimen photo and a closeup pic. The quality of the snapshots have been fantastic! I've really enjoyed receiving this student's yard tour!

Remember this is a sixth grader. 3rd quarter we've tried to work on lab drawing and realism art skills like accurate details, sizing, and scale. This student has remembered to tell me the plant name, where it is commonly found, and several characteristics of it. By taking the photograph, "C" is documenting and by relaying it to me, "C"'s sharing his work. And now with his and his parents' permissions, internet technology is giving us the opportunity to share with a larger audience. (THANK YOU.)

Enjoy Earth's variety on this Earth Day evening:

And the final one I've saved is a 'lone wolf'=

There have been a few others I've seen but I failed to save. However with these that are featured in this blog post, please take time to click on the closeup photos to zoom out in order to be amazed at the intricate details that can be observed.

Thanks for taking time to read and view how a few of us are DOING science in the USA heartland!

--Becca S
B.S. Secondary Education-Home Economics proficiency and M. Ed. Elementary Ed w/ ECE emphasis
Illinois State Board of Education = 
*approval for general science grades 5-8
*endorsement in ECE/Birth to Grade 3
*endorsement in FACS grades 6-12

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Physical Science Pre Chemistry Mixtures or Solutions Demonstration shared by student

Welcome to Science Grades 6 to 8 from USA Heartland blog! I'm Becca S and I have several blogs about different educational interests, genealogy research, and paper-crafting projects. This particular one focuses on sharing hands-on experiences with current junior high science students--even remotely delivered. Yes.

Before Act of God days and now in Remote Learning days designated during stay at home orders, eighth graders had started some pre-chemistry topics about mixtures and solutions. I thought proceeding might be too difficult for students to do on their own so I switched to sound and light waves and electricity basics worksheets during our first 3 weeks. Now that the students have received their textbooks during a school district designated curbside delivered pick-up, I've backtracked to assign textbook reading and questions in order to further their understanding.

However I thought a great extension or extra they could do would be to send me photos showing examples of household tasks that they believe demonstrates a mixture or a solution. So far I have 3 students of 16 who have attempted this and 1 has sent me some phenomenal sequenced pics that I asked her for permission to share with my blog readers.

This is from "A"=

Yesterday she demonstrated chocolate milk made with Ovaltine and skim milk. The photos were sequenced just like the montage seen above.

I just thought this was a phenomenal way to have students still DOING science.

She's documenting, sharing results, using technology for the documenting and sharing, demonstrating sequential formatting, etc.

LOVE this!

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Life Science Grade 6 Plant Specimen Drawings

Building skills of lab drawings, charts, illustrations, and/or timelines

During the last 7 weeks of third quarter in winter-early spring of 2020, junior high students have had skills challenges on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the first 10-20 minutes of class related to weekly content.

Just before the stay-at-home orders for Covid-19 virus, the sixth graders had skills challenges to recreate illustrations of root tip, internal view of phloem and xylem for a plant stem, and 2 others before being given the challenge of a 20 minute specimen drawing to fill a full page! 

Three different plants were placed at different lab tables with 6 students at each plant. Students were divided on each side of the plants and were told to strive for realism from the perspective of their location. 

At this junior high, having a weekly art class stopped at the end of 5th grade. So even though this was assigned to develop their lab drawing skills before they reach 9th grade biology or honors biology, it benefitted the students with creative learning styles tremendously. [and I realize some of you would be baffled about the time span between 3rd quarter sixth grade and 1st quarter ninth grade, but now after 2 weeks of being homebound, I'm so VERY thankful for the time we did have and the progress that I was already seeing, especially with this age group.]

At this age and stage, I still have 3 boys and 1 girl who are very heavy handed with their lead pencils! Their skills progression to be precise, accurate, and finely detailed has been painstakingly slow. 

I don't have photos of the finished drawings, yet, but these are from their drawing time as I was walking around and monitoring their work:

Each plant has the same container with a bit of dried floral moss but the type of plant and size vary greatly.

6th graders!!! Involved!

100% student engagement! The students didn't want to stop which says a lot for the progress they've been making from the first skill challenge back in late January! I would have heard moaning and groaning complaints like I can't draw that!, I can't draw for 20 minutes!, Do I have to?, etc. (tee-hee; oh, my brilliant plans are coming together perfectly, my little chickadees!!!!)

Teaching and learning in the USA heartland,
Becca S

aka Mrs. S. or Mrs. Sadler


Saturday, March 28, 2020

Science Grade 7 Rock Layers with Geologic Time Scale Model

Making a model using simple kitchen sponges, paper, and 2 small toy dinosaurs

An important emphasis in science is giving the students opportunities to create models. During a chapter about formation of rock layers (after learning about the 3 types of rocks), I set some time in our schedule for groups of 3 to 4 students to create a rock layer model based on the type of tiny plastic toy dinosaurs (2) were randomly given to them. [This was with 7th graders and made about 2 months ago, maybe...I'm thinking end of January to first week or so in February...]

This [identifying dinosaurs] required a quick online search and then referral to the text copy of the GTS. Does the dinosaur belong to the Jurassic, Cretaceous, other period? If both are from the same millions of  years span or different ones, where were they to be placed? They were instructed to use the sponges as thick layers and have at least 2 thin layers [shown] using sections of yellow copy paper. Sponges were to be labeled on at least 1 side.

The models aren't very glamorous but they were effective in students working together to ask questions and solve the mysteries of which eons were going to be represented:

Students didn't really understand the connection between the fossil record and the geologic time scale until creating this model. 

What are your hands-on visualized ways to help students cognitively start comprehending in some small way the enormity of how the Earth was made?

Teaching and learning in the USA heartland,
Becca S

aka Mrs. S. or Mrs. Sadler

Science Grade 7 Astronomy Simulation about Age and Distance Between Stars

Using Raisin Crème Cakes for simulation activity in Astronomy

Another quick post about an activity with 7th graders that occurred about 2-3 months ago when learning about stars, what their colors signify about their age and their distance. 

The Holt module text teacher edition had an activity suggestion that sparked my thoughts about using Little Debbie's Raisin Crème Cakes to measure distances of raisins as the stars.

100% engagement!!! Students used notebook paper or copy paper to trace a circle around the perimeter of their crème cake. They also needed to draw accurate sizes and locations for each raisin/star that was on the surface of the top part. They were instructed to identify a starting point and label each raisin star with a letter of the alphabet.

Next came the measuring and recording of distances between stars. Because this was 7th grade level working in a 40-45 minute class period, I had them do the measuring from A to B, C to D, E to F, etc. If I remember correctly, maybe 2 or 3 added some extra distances. An accommodation for IEP students were that a minimum of 7 measurements were to be part of their recording sheet.

Students could only eat their crème cake after I deemed that all the required data was completed.

Living in land-locked central Illinois, this was a great hands-on laboratory type activity to be included in our lessons about astronomy. A month before this they had to pick a star to study for a diorama presentation titled "A Star is Born". Learning about white dwarf, red dwarf, blue, and yellow stars became a bit easier with the cake portion representing the sky/outer space and the raisins as stars. Traveling to a planetarium wasn't possible. Looking at NASA website helped. Looking at some marvelous paintings by my talented cousin trying to capture the night sky helped. Plotting and measuring the distances of raisins definitely helped the 7th graders conceptualize the significances of color and age in stars.

Teaching and learning in the USA heartland,
Becca S
aka Mrs. S or Mrs. Sadler

Life Science Grade 6 simulation for slime molds

Using oobleck to simulate texture of slime molds

About 2 months ago in 6th grade science the module textbook about Microorganisms-Fungi-Plants, identifying slime molds was part of a section included with bacteria, molds, and viruses. I thought using oobleck has a simulation activity for the texture would be helpful for this age of student.

At the time student desks were arranged in pods. This class has 18 students so the room has 3 sets of 4 desks and then 2 sets of three. Each pod received a bowl with cornstarch, a beaker with water, and a plastic spoon for each container (with strict orders not to mix the spoons up and 'contaminate' their supplies). Each student received paper towels to protect their desk, a clear cup, a spoon for mixing and stirring.

Food coloring was distributed about midway to make sure the students got their basic oobleck made.

Some students because of their hand size being too big, ended up cutting off the top half of their cups in order to use their fingers to get ahold of the mix better. 100% engagement with this activity. On my end, I was leading a discussion and asking questions about how this reminded them of photos seen in textbook and online about slime molds

Students' comments were interesting and they understood the analogy. 

Here are two pics taken during the activity:

I found a form online that goes through the steps and cautions students to use a little bit of water when adding to the cornstarch. That was read before supplies were distributed. 

Overall, this was a great opportunity for the students to have a hands-on and safe activity for their chapter and it also led to discussion about how this would work for other science topics (physical and chemical changes). 

Teaching and learning in the USA heartland,
Becca S
aka Mrs. S/Mrs. Sadler

Life Science Plant Specimen Dissection or Separation of Parts by a 6th grader

Welcome to Science Grades 6 to 8 from USA Heartland ! I'm Becca S, the blog owner. This post is to share some photos of a 6th grader ...