So how do you reel your kids in and help them take in those challenging concepts and terms? Well, let's explore a few ideas to see if there are options you might work in to your unit this year.
Use Text Sets to Expand Learning
Let's face it. Not all of our fourth graders are on grade level and above with reading, and yet, they're all tested on the same content. One way to extend concepts and/or reteach concepts is to gather a collection of nonfiction titles that include the information your students need in bold, appealing, and child friendly ways. How do you find appropriate books to include? Well, I love yard sales for this type of thing, but I also keep my eye out for related books at consignment shops and when I see Scholastic's dollar deals. Naturally, you can also borrow from your local library, school library, or school tradebook room too. When you're gathering up your books, don't overlook the magazines or audio books. Time for Kids and National Geographic for Kids are two of the best. They have specialty issues that target many of our standards. Below, you'll see some of the books I'd recommend you pull. My favorite authors for nonfiction are Gail Gibbons, Seymour Simon, Anne Rockwell, National Geographic Readers, and DK Kids.
Extend Science Learning Across the Curriculum
Okay, I confess. I am old and began teaching during the "Whole Language Era". Gasp! I will say that one of the best things from teaching at that time was learning to plan thematically. I guess that's why I enjoy Thematic Thursday on my blog so much. Well, in my experience working with struggling readers, I have found that for them to retain the concepts, they really need to interact with text in a memorable way. Our school has the Benchmark Learning Leveled Library, so there are many book options that work with the weather unit, but don't forget to look for other options too such as close reading sets or readers' theater. I love using readers theater scripts with my kids. We can practice multiple reads without boredom, work on building fluency, and improve comprehension too. Because I bring science into our guided reading time, we also get to work on that challenging vocabulary. This close reading set in my store targets the fourth grade standards for weather instruments, cloud types, the weather cycle, and general meteorology concepts.
Experiment, Experiment, Experiment
Science learning is not intended to be done out of a textbook, so having simple experiments ready to roll is a great plan. Have you seen this website? What a great collection of activities. I love all of the tech resources. What a huge help!
[This Pinterest Board] from Carol Emerson includes a ton of links to experiments and other hands-on projects, and Rockingham County Public Schools has a wonderful database of options too. Here is my Pinterest board for Weather Resources:
Call Upon Your Resource Teachers
I think in the rush of planning, grading, communicating with parents, creating, and copying, we often forget to include our resource teachers. They are a GREAT resource to us too.
Back in the day A few years ago, we extended science units into music, art, and even PE. In music, the kids sang songs from the period in history or that tied into our science unit, and our art teacher may have had the kids make a weather vane or displays of the different cloud types. The PE teacher might have come up with themed games to play too. Of course, they have standards to follow too, but even so, you'd be surprised at some of the options they could do. Just look at a few of these examples:
I looked for weather themed games, and alas, there just wasn't much out there. I did find Weather Tag and Winter Dress Relay on Teacher Web. You could also try tying in weather trivia questions as the kids warm up with jumping jacks or chants to help the kids recall concepts. Connecting movement to learning helps kids remember too.
Tie in Tech
I shared the link to SOL Teacher and to Rockingham County's website links, but certainly youtube clips are a huge help in providing students with a visual model to concepts. My friend, Teresa from Confessions of a Teaching Junkie linked up [this post] with my weekly Thematic Thursday post last year, and her list of videos is fabulous. For other weather ideas, you might look back at her post and that week's Thematic Thursday on my blog.
The Virginia is for Teachers blog authors have a few weather resources that might be helpful to you too. Check them out by clicking the images below.
|Powerpoint and Notes Sheet|
$3.00 from The Techie Teacher
|Weather Vocabulary Cards|
$3.00 from Owls and Lesson Plans
Now, I believe you are all set. I hope you find these ideas helpful and that your kids are engaged and learning. See you next month!