Friday, March 25, 2016


My school has a lovely tradition called "Grand Day."  The Thursday before Good Friday, grandparents are invited to school with their grandcildren.  There is a nice breakfast and fine arts performances for them.  In the classroom, we design a lesson that the kids can do with their grandparents.

In my class, we do a variation of Bunnycopters.  The kids can explain to their grandparents how we design experiments and control and manipulate variables.  The grandparents really get into it, and the kids have a great time explaining experiments.  I use bunnycopters because it is right before Easter.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Finding Authentic Reading Passages

One thing I like to do in my classroom is provide students with reading passages that explain current issues in science at an appropriate level.  I am fortunate to have access to Discovery Education materials at my school,  A boatload of articles are at my literal finger tips.

However, sometimes I need or want somethng even more current, or different.  With discvoveries happening every day, it's hard to keep up.

There are two wonderful sources for articles for students.  One of these is Newsela. Newsela provides articles on all sorts of topics, not only science.  There are also multiple Lexile levels for each article is easy to differentiate for your students.
Each article includes a ready-made writing prompt and a quiz.  You can create classrooms and monitor progress.  There's even a app.  This is all free, but there is a subscription service that gives you reposts and such.  

I don't use all of the features Newsela offers.  I generally look for the article I want, and make up questions or a graphic organizer to go along with it. 

My other favorite source for articles is Science News for Students.  These aren't leveled, and there aren't as many resources as Newsela, but the articles are wonderful; very engaging for my middle school kids.  One of my favorite parts is the "Explainer" - when the article uses a term that may need more explanation, it's highlighted to the side with a link for more details.  There is also a glossary of "Power Words" at the end of the article.  I find this extremely helpful.

Other great places to find articles for middle school students -