Wednesday, October 1, 2014

STEM in the Classroom: Natural Gases and Ripening

STEM in the Classroom: Circuits

STEM and the Next Generation Science Standards are designed to foster a love as well as knowledge about mathematics and science. This project brings circuits directly to students' notebooks.

One of my newest loves and discoveries is aluminum tape.  Where has this been all of my life?  I purchased it for a little under $8 from my local hardware store.  It is found in the plumbing and/or tubing section of the store.  One roll of aluminum tape is enough to last for an entire school year.  I also purchased these round batteries at the hardware store.

The LED lights can be purchased at an electronics store.

STEP 1:  To create a paper circuit, have students draw a pattern on paper.  On one side I drew the picture of a battery.  On the other side I drew a picture of an LED light.

STEP 2:  Cut the aluminum tape into thirds.  I used only a third of the width of tape.  If you are unable to find aluminum tape, aluminum will work just fine.  (A larger width decreases the flow of energy in the circuit.)  

STEP 3:  Place the aluminum on top of your circuit lines in the notebook.

Special Notes During This Step:
1.Do not let both sides of the aluminum strips connect.  This can cause a short in the battery.  The edges on my example come close, but they do not touch.

2.When you are attaching the aluminum foil to the paper, do not cut it.  Instead, fold the corner and continue to apply the aluminum strip.  Cutting the strips reduces the flow of energy.

STEP 4:  (Warning, this part gets tricky.  If your circuit does not work, switch the sides of the circuit that both metal prongs touch. And/or switch the overlapping of the aluminum in the circuit.  One piece of aluminum should touch the top battery.  The second piece of aluminum should touch the bottom battery.)

STEP 4 Continued...
Stack the batteries.  Place the batteries over the battery drawing, and place the LED light over the LED drawing. 

STEP 5:  You are all finished.  I had fold extra pieces of aluminum tape to connect each side of the battery to the circuit.  The sticky tape interfered with the conduction.  (I made sure that when I attached this extra aluminum, both sides of the circuit DID NOT connect as I was attaching the aluminum to the top of the batteries.  

You might have to press the batteries down to hold it in place.  

Remove the batteries and LED light when you are finished so that they can be used in another project.

I love this because students learn about circuits and conductivity from doing and not just reading about it in a book.  

Visit Literacy and Math Ideas for additional STEM in the classroom activities.

Demystifying Variables

Demystifying Variables (Part 1)

What are “variables” and why are they called variables?  Why do we need them and how are they used? Students often get very confused when the topic of a variable is introduced.  As the excellent math teacher that you are, it is very important that this concept is introduced in simple terms.  Here are some key points to consider sharing with your students. Variable comes from the word “vary”, which essentially means “changeable”. Something that is changeable can take on different values or quantities depending on other values associated with the calculation (we will look at an example soon).  On the contrary, something that is not changeable cannot take on different values and is thus fixed.  Something that is not changeable is called a constant.  Variables in mathematics are usually denoted with the use of a letter from the English alphabet.  In other advanced math subjects, letters from the Greek alphabet are used, and in some early math subjects symbols (such as a box or square) are used to simplify the concept of a variable.  

In math, another name for variable is “unknown”, “unknown value”, or “unknown variable”. All of these terms refer to the same concept of a “variable”.  The reason these different terms are sometimes used is because when a variable is presented to us in a math problem, it is in the form of a letter, and we therefore do not know what the value or quantity the letter (variable) represents.  In most cases, the objective of a math problem is to “find the value” of the unknown or to “solve” for the unknown variable.

Let’s look at an example of an equation with no variables:

2 + 3 = 5

In the above equation, we have no variables because each value shown is known to us.  Therefore from the above equation, we see that 2 plus 3 is indeed equal to 5 and thus the equation is a true a equation.  A “true” equation is one where the left side of the equation is equal to the right side of the equation.  

Here is an example of an equation WITH a variable:

2 + X = 5

The letter denotes a value that can change depending on the other known values on the left and right of the equation.

If X is equal to 3, then the equation is true.  Let’s say we had a similar looking problem like

2 + X = 8.  

Now, to make the equation true, x has to be equal to 6.  Notice how ‘x’ changed from being 3 in the first equation, to now being 6 in the second equation.  X is the variable that varied from 3 to 6.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Free Student Self Monitoring Forms

Can you believe that it is almost Wednesday? This week has moved so quickly.  I am back with a free resource.  

The self-monitoring form can be given to each student so that he or she can reflect on the skills that have been learned in a subject.   Students can also use this form to identify areas where they need continued practice. This is a useful tool for parent communication.  Click Here To Access This Freebie

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Math Task Cards That Teach and Review

There is only one of you, but are are many students.  You want to meet the needs of every child, so you spend countless hours planning and organizing lessons.   Literacy and Math Ideas is here to help!  These self-teaching math task cards are like having an extra teacher in the classroom.  Plus, they come with a printable, easy-fold box.  Using explanations, diagrams, and charts, students are taught how to understand and reason about math concepts. The practice task cards enable students to review what they have learned.  Click a link to access them.

Common Core Task Cards (These Teach and Review)

See Additional Self-Teaching Math Topics

Thursday, September 18, 2014

DIY Classroom: Plastic Worksheet Covers

Worksheet covers/sleeves are great for learning centers.  Students can slide a worksheet inside of the sleeve, write on it with a dry erase marker then erase it so that another student can use it.  This tutorial shows how to create this for the classroom for just under $5.  It will be enough to create a few of them for your classroom.

What You Will Need
  • Plastic Sheet Covering (It is located in the furniture fabric section of a fabric store)
  • A ruler or yard stick
  • duct tape

Step 1:
Worksheets are typically 8 1/2 x 11 inches in sizes.  To give a little extra room, I folded the plastic in half.  Then, I cut a 10 x 12 inch rectangle from the plastic.  Folding the plastic fist creates a front a back portion.

Step 2:
Tape both of the sides while leaving an opening at the top.

This is the finished product.  Visit Literacy and Math Ideas for additional money saving tips.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Grade 4 Daily Reading Comprehension Practice

This resource provides quick and convenient reading comprehension practice in just five minutes a day.  A weekly checklist is included to make progress monitoring so much easier. Many of the comprehension categories repeat across the weeks to keep reading skills sharp. Click Here To Access It

This is great for test prep and review.  Students can complete the daily practice when they first enter the classroom as attendance is taken.  Or, they can use it as daily homework.