Tip of the Week
science, physics, flight
September has been a busy month in the schools I have visited. With Hurricane Irene delaying the start of school in many districts, even up to an entire week, and certainly disrupting home life for hundreds of thousands of people, it seems like everything we need to do in a school has been compressed to an excruciating degree. But the children are happy, and ready to learn!
Here are some tips and tools that will make getting your Professional Learning Communities, Data Teams and Grade-Level Teams up and running smoothly this fall:
September Data Team "To-Do's"
Here is a list of things that most teams will have accomplished by the end of September:
- First Instructional Data Team meeting held; meeting schedule set for the year
- General look at end-of-year data or beginning of year data for incoming students
- Binder for data team minutes, forms set up
- Assessment calendar developed for the year (district and school assessments)
- Assessment portfolio set up or updated (optional; may be part of data team record)
- Universal screens and/or diagnostic assessments administered to new students
- First pre-assessment developed
- First pre-assessment scheduled, including date to analyze data
- First School Data Team held; school-wide goals set for literacy, numeracy and climate.
During September, teams may review with math and literacy staff the names of students identified for Tier 3 support the previous spring. Decision-rules may be determined for identification of students for Tier 2 support, with the help of outside consultants and literacy/numeracy specialists.
Tier 3 intervention groups begin as soon as practical in September.
October Data Team "To-Do's"
As September winds to a close, we begin to look ahead to the tasks for October:
- First pre-assessment administered, collaboratively scored, and analyzed by data team;
- First SMART Goal (literacy or numeracy) established
- Instructional plan for addressing prioritized student needs developed by grade-level teams
- Calendar set up for monitoring first SMART Goal; plans for developing additional SMART Goal (literacy of numeracy) scheduled, as time permits
- School Data Team revises or develops School Improvement Plan, schedule and plan for monitoring Instructional Data Teams
Tier 2 interventions usually begin in October.
Here are some tools that you might find useful as you begin your year with data:
- The Common Core State Standards are newly revised, national standards for literacy and numeracy, as well as literacy and numeracy in the content areas, that have been adopted by most states in the United States as their state standards. If your team has not previously used the CCSS to plan, begin this year by using the CCSS as you develop assessments, new curriculum and instructional plans in your data teams.
- When a task from a pre-assessment is complex or gives unusual results, a task deconstruction organizer is helpful to determine what students must be able to know, understand and do to be successful at the task. The results of this analysis can be used to determine the focus for the SMART Goal.
- When a strategy is selected to address a learning need, it is beneficial to write up an instructional plan, to ensure that all members of the team understand how to incorporate the strategy into an appropriate instructional sequence. Modeling of the strategy in use is helpful during this stage.
- To make sure that the focus remains on changes in adult behaviors, it is helpful to define indicators of success for implementation of the strategy, in terms of observable adult behaviors, student behaviors and evidence in student work.
The Blog Carnival for the The Little Green Corner, September Edition
will be extended for two more weeks, due to the delayed opening for many schools in the Northeast. I know that many of you have been accessing the newsletter and the nature study posts, and we want to give you all a chance to contribute to the carnival as you finish your studies.
Here are blog entries for suggested nature studies for the month:
Here are some additional entries that might give you some ideas for nature study:
Stay tuned for links to the September Nature Study #4: Moonwatching. In the mean time, check out these resources to add to your earth science studies:
Have a wonderful last week of September! Pick some apples! Make some applesauce!
, nature study
, outdoor education
, professional development
, team building
, technology, planning tools, resources
, science, physics, flight
, lesson plans
, data teams
, earth science
|(Reprinted from "A Child's Garden", August 1, 2011)
We are continuing the bird study from our June newsletter (from The Handbook of Nature Study
), by studying the blue jay and its cousin, the crow (see Outdoor Hour Challenge #2, Jays and Bluebirds
). We have also begun our Zoology unit with a study on wings and flight, from Apologia Science (Exploring Creation Through Zoology I: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day
[I am a science teacher, by training, and I absolutely love the
Apologia text books, as does my son -- high quality, very deep in
science content, and full of hand-on activities.] As part of our first
week of lessons, we conducted an experiment to study the effects of wing
size and shape on gliding distance.
First, we read our chapter on drag
and learned about the special shape of a bird wing (called an airfoil
and why the shape of a bird's wing (or a plane's wing, modeled after a
bird's wing) allows a heavier than air object (like a bird) to seemingly
float above the air. [Boeing has a great page on "How Do Things Fly?"
which is a great, kid-friendly reference on wings and flight.] Then we completed a Scientific Experiment Planning Sheet
, which followed the scientific method
, and listed our materials
. While we completed it, we decided which was our independent variable
(wing shape) and which was our
dependent variable (gliding distance). We formulated a hypothesis that wings that were long and narrow would allow the glider to glide farther than wings that were short and wide.
Next, we designed two simple gliders from common household objects. These gliders were identical in every way, except
for the shape of their wings (we learned that we had to make sure that
ONLY our independent variable varied, or we couldn't come to a
conclusion about our hypothesis).
We used an old cereal box to create the wings and tail fins, drinking
straws, and two identical blobs of homemade playdough for nose weight.
We taped the wings to the straw using adhesive tape. The only
difference between the two planes was the shape of the wings.
we needed to find a good place to launch our gliders. We knew that
gliders depend on height for distance, so Malik suggested that we climb
to the back porch on the second floor. You can see our gazebo and hedges
in the back yard.
It was important that we launched our gliders many times, to account for
strange things that might happen (such as one of the cats chasing one
of the gliders, a glider getting caught in the hedge, the blob of
playdough falling off a nose piece, and other things that really
happened). It was also important that the gliders were both thrown the
same way, each time, so Malik was in charge of launching, and Mom was in
charge of fetching (it was like being on a two-story Stair Master...).
We had a tape measure, but decided to pace off the flight path of each
throw, using Mom's feet as a non-standard measuring tool. Mom called out
distances, and Malik recorded on his
After we had thrown the gliders ten times, each, we calculated an average
distance for each glider. We accepted our alternative hypothesis
that long, narrow wings let an object glide farther (the null hypothesis
would be that wing shape had no effect on gliding distance).
We lost one nose piece on the last glide, but the wings were good for
another go-around on another day. How might we change our experiment to
learn more about lift, thrust and drag?
Notes from the science teacher
- Conducting a simple experiment is powerful science, for all
ages! Even small children can be taught to follow up a question ("Mommy,
what will happen if I mix red and blue paint?") with, "How can I find
out?" and "What do I think will happen?"
- Little kids can use pictures to draw what they think will happen,
and what actually happened. As children get to be 1st and 2nd graders,
tally marks can be used to take count data. Third graders and older
should learn how to create a simple data table (see the photo, above,
for our non-fancy, two-column data table).
- Introduce the steps and words of the scientific method early on:
hypothesis, materials, procedures, data, analysis, conclusion, dependent
and independent variable. Don't teach substitute words if the real ones
- Always tie the experiment back to the concept you are teaching. So
many high school students remember the experiment where they burned
something, blew something up, or added water, but they don't remember
what the experiment taught them!
For more information on conducting experiments with children, see the following resources:
For more experiments on flight, see these links:
We live minutes from the New England Air Museum
, which will be our next field trip (after successful completion of our bird study and flight lessons). We'll post photos!
We had a lot of fun together. It was educational, outdoors and exercised our bodies!
Under Creative Commons License: