Middle School Science

a resource for grades 5 - 8
Chemistry | Earth Science | Life Science | Physics
Odds and Ends




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Plan Book


Odds & Ends

MSS Group


5th Grade HW
Science Starters

New for 2009-2010 - I started a blog for the lessons I use in my classroom. Once school starts, I hope to add pictures of the actual activities we do, as well as reflections.

For my science background and teaching experience - click here
Scavenger Hunt:
I made up a scavenger hunt worksheet for the first or second day of school.  This is a fun ice breaker and makes the kids feel welcomed and it satisfies their curiosity about their new classroom.  I let the kids search for about 15 minutes and they see how many items they can find.  We go over the answers together and find out who completed the most questions. PDF format: New 2008 version: scavengerhunt.pdf   

Daily Trivia:
My students loved doing daily trivia, it is a great way to start class.   What I like about it is that you can cover a lot of different topics and important facts that the kids may encounter when they take standardized or multiple choice tests or you can use it to review concepts that you are learning that term.

Science Starters - We will do Science Starters at the start of each class
instead of Trivia this year.

Challenge Puzzles: Frank Schaeffer Everyday Physical Science, Life Science, Earth Science, Biology, etc.. I absolutely love this series of work books.  I photocopy puzzles related to what we are studying and have them on a bulletin board for students to earn challenge points. They can work on them alone, or with a partner quietly in the lounge area when they are done with their class work. They can also do them outside of class. I also use these when I have days where I don't have a whole class present or a whole class period available. They are out of print but you can still find copies floating around.  I just bought some for less than $2.00 each online. I grade them and the kids earn points according to how hard they are.  I change them about every 2 weeks.

NEW for '09-10 - Science Scramble Challenge Puzzles.  Love Science? Love to play Scrabble? Try these out!

Puzzles # 1- 71 with .docx template and master list

Krypto: This is a fun math game that I have posted on a small bulletin board and is one of my challenge activities.  As soon as it is solved, no one else can solve it using the same method.  More than one answer is often possible. I post the answer and the person who solved it and keep it updated.  A "Super Krypto" is when the problem is solved using the numbers in the exact order they are posted. This is much harder and does not happen often.  Here are the slips I use Krypto (pdf)

Lab Safety Posters: Click here for the lab safety posters I use in my classroom.  I LOVED my Wild Goose Safety posters that I had in my old science classroom, but they are no longer available. I also have the scientific method posters.

"What are we doing today?"
The infamous question!  Students want to know what's going on, what to expect, to be prepared.  Every morning I list what we are going to do and what materials they need for the day.  This works so well that I can change modes very easily in one class period and it cuts down on wasted time.  Here is an example of what I might have on the board:

To do today:
  • Take out hw
  • Copy hw  assignment
  • Get your lab book, lab sheet, colored pencils, ruler. ( Meanwhile I am stamping their homework and recording who has it and who doesn't)
  • Pick up review sheet
  • Work on completing the lab for 15 minutes
  • Review for tomorrow's quiz for 15 minutes


So in one class period, we corrected the homework, worked on finishing a lab, and reviewed for the quiz.  Little time was wasted between checking the homework and doing the lab, and then the lab and review.  Everything that the students needed was at hand, plus they knew what was next. 

Absentees: I have hanging wall files labeled: (Thanks to http://sciencespot.net for the idea!)
  • While you were absent
  • Make-up work to be graded
  • Graded make-up work
Students are responsible for maintaining these papers.  When a student is absent, their lab partner fills out a "While you were absent form" and staples everything together, then places it in the wall file.  Students come back and pick up their packet.  They place completed work in the "Make-up work to be graded file" by the due date.  We have science 4 days a week.  If the student is absent on a Monday or Tuesday, work is due Thursday.  If the student is absent on a Wednesday or Thursday, work is due Tuesday.  If students are gone more than 2 days in a row, special arrangements are made.
  • Half Page Format - PDF
  • While you were out - Full Page (pdf)

New for 2009-10: Science Buddies, my version of Clock Partners

I have students change their seats about once a month.  I have had mostly positive responses from the students, they look forward to the change. Reasoning behind this?
  1. Mixes up the classroom so that they do not have the same lab partner all year long.
  2. Mixes up the lab groups.
  3. Eventually everyone gets to work with each other.
  4. Allows students of different abilities to interact.
  5. Change of scenery, allows them to view the classroom from a different perspective.  For example, instead of being in the back of the room all year, they get to sit up front.  top
Lab Groups: I have 4 students per black lab table, or 3 if I have an odd number. top

Textbook:(I do not use textbooks with my classes now, but this worked well when I did!)The first day that I give the students their text books, I tell them that I do not want to see it again till June.  I usually get a confused look from them.  I tell them to take it home and keep it in a safe, dry, and warm place.  I don't want it in our class.  I don't want it in your locker.  Home. Period!  I have a class set (about 10-12) for 25 students that they share if we need the book in class.

Reasoning behind this:
  1. Science books are too heavy to carry around.
  2. Less wear and tear, have you seen a middle school student's locker?
  3. Textbook is used for homework reading assignments, outlines, question and answer.  If its already home, they can't forget it in school, therefore they CAN do their homework.  top
Supplies: I have bins for each lab group, everything is labeled with their group number and they are responsible for keeping track of all items.  I check their bins before they leave to make sure everything is in order and available for the next class.  This is especially important in Life Science when you have slides and scalpels to keep track of!I also have bins for regular supplies such as rulers, calculator, colored pencils, etc.  Everything is labeled with their Group #.  top

I do NOT collect daily homework because I would literally drown in paperwork!  At the beginning of class the students take out their homework and put it on their desk.  I walk around and skim each one and I stamp it with a STAMPER.  It takes about 5 minutes and while I am doing that, they are writing down their homework assignment for that night, checking their folders for papers that are being returned, getting their lab book and supplies for the day, etc.  In my grade book, I stamp the column so I know what stamp I used for what assignment, and record a "+" if they have it or a "-" if they don't.  The students love getting their papers stamped and always ask what the stamp of the day is!  We then go over the homework and correct it as a class.  top

(I don't use these anymore, but will keep it posted if it is something that you may be interested in using.) Hall Passes: Keeping track of students is very important for many reasons, the main one is safety.  These are some suggestions that work for me:

Make a sheet with a table on it, the columns are labeled: Date, Name, Destination, Time Out, Time In.  (Or just print out this one! PDF)  Photocopy a whole bunch, then put them on a clipboard with a pencil tied to it.  Students simply fill out the chart, take a pass (I use wooden ones) when they need to leave.  I feel that middle schoolers are a bit to old to raise their hand to have to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water.  I have simple guidelines that they must follow, anyone caught abusing those guidelines loses that privilege, end of story.
  1. One person at a time
  2. Can not go during a quiz/test
  3. Can not go when we are correcting homework
  4. Can not go out more than once, (if not feeling well, I send them to the nurse)
Passes for Lunch Detention, Extra Help, Study Hall, & Nurse's Office:
These passes are the most important to keep track of because they are leaving a supervised area for an extended amount of time.  I use a phone message book, the kind that has about four messages per page, and they have carbon copies, like the ones that the main office usually uses. These are great because you have a written record of every pass you write for the day, and eventually for the whole year.  Plus, they are really hard to forge since you have every pass documented.  When the students come in, I check off the carbon copy to note that they did show up, and see who didn't show up.  top

Nurse Passes
-These are EXTRA important, because sometimes when a student is really ill, they can be gone almost the whole class period.  I use the phone message book for these as well.  I write the exact time they leave, the nurse then fills in the exact time they leave her office and also initials the pass.  That way there are no "mysterious disappearances"
Each pass has the following information:
  • Name
  • Date
  • Time
  • Reason
  • Room #
  • My initials  top
Discipline: Parental contact is very important.  I have a binder filled with a student information sheet on each student that documents everything. For example:
  • lunch detentions
  • removed from classroom
  • lab safety violations
  • all phone calls home with the date, time, reason, esp. if you leave a message on the answering machine.
  • Save all sent/received emails for documentation

Science Fiction
lesson plans for the novel "I, Robot" by Isaac Asimov : Lessons

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updated 8.4.08