Monday, February 28, 2011

Plate Tectonics

This week we dive into plate tectonics, one of the hardest things I teach as a 7th grade teacher.  I am trying to get some new ideas together for ways to teach this standard.  I will be posting some of my ideas here as we complete them.  For now I will just say I am going to have to be much more creative in teaching this.  I may just put some of my new ideas up on TPT after I have tested them.  One great site that has many powerpoints and lessons is  the Science Queen.  She is a teacher from Casa Grande, AZ (just down the road from me).  All of her lessons are geared to Arizona State Standards for science.  They are wonderful.  Here is a link to her site.
The Science Queen

Friday, February 25, 2011

Rock and Mineral Jeopardy

My classes have completed their rocks and minerals unit.  On Monday we will be playing rocks and mineral jeopardy.  Jeopardy works well at the end of a unit as a review or just fun.  There are also many Powerpoint and other web based games of jeopardy on the internet. These make it a lot less time consuming than trying to make a game yourself.  Here is one that even has the Jeopardy song from the TV game show.
Rocks and Mineral Jeopardy

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rock Cycle Comic Strips

As a follow up to "Riding the Rock Cycle" my students are now taking that information and creating a comic strip.  They all visited 13 stations in the rock cycle, so they will have 13 sections of their comic strip.  So far I have many very good comics, probably the best artwork and storylines I have seen all year.  I would really recommend using art and drawing in science.  It seems to solidify concepts!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ride the Rock Cycle

Today we did a rock cycle activity that works very well with middle school students.  It is somewhat like an activity from Project Wet on the water cycle.  Students go to different stations like: earth's interior, river, mountain etc.  and the roll a die that tells them where to go next.  Sometimes they stay at a station for a long time.  I had one student that was at the earth's interior station for three turns and he told me that it felt like he had been there a million years.  I said, "now you have the idea."  This activity can be found at

You will need to scroll down to the "R's" to get to Ride the Rock Cycle.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Motivating Students With Discrepant Events

One of my favorite discrepant events from the Princess Bride.  Of course the explanation is that the Dread Pirate Roberts put the poison in both glasses! Many science teachers use discrepant events to get students excited about science.  Last week I used a discrepant event in class and it went over very well.  Basically, I took a balloon and blew it up and lit it with a lighter.  It popped very loudly and my 7th graders loved it.  Then, I took another balloon filled with water and blew it up.  I suspended it over a student's head (another fun thing to do) and asked that they predict what would happen if I lit it with the lighter.  Most thought it would again explode and water would splash down on the unfortunate student.  One student even put her hood on. This event works because the specific heat of water prevents the balloon from  bursting.  It does leave a great black spot on the balloon, however.  I like to be very dramatic during these demonstrations which gets everyone in the mood for science!  Discrepant events work well because students will want to know why that event turned out the way it did.  I like to use the P.O.E. method while I demonstrate.  P = predict what is going to happen, O= observe what does happen, E = explain why it happened the way it did. 

Teaching With Games

I love teaching with games because students don't know they are learning.  They believe they are just playing a game.  Here is a game about the rock cycle you can download free. 

Rock Cycle Game

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Rock Cycle

My students are finished with rocks and minerals.  We will now ride the rock cycle for a few weeks.  I like to teach this with games and websites. I will link to my free Rock Cycle Game on Teachers Pay Teachers on my next post.  It is a very fun game where students learn that the rock cycle is not a "circular" cycle.
Here is a link to my rocks and minerals quiz on purpose games:  Rocks and Minerals Quiz
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