Top Quality STEM Resources Science Teachers Need to Engage Students

Looking for you next great classroom lesson or activity? Check out these bestselling STEM resources from 2016 in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. You'll want them all too!

What's on YOUR TpT Wish List?

It's that time of year again. The holidays can seem overwhelming for some of us. Especially teachers. With families, friends, students, coworkers, and more to buy for - how can we possibly stay on top of it all without going into "Grinch Mode"?

How To Introduce the Engineering Design Process Easily

This post gives so many ideas and tips for encouraging students to think and act like engineers. A great way to introduce the Engineering Design Process and promote teamwork, cooperation, and perseverance while having FUN!
I love so many of the team building activities out there, but I always feel pressed for time. A couple of years ago I decided to embed my team building into a STEM mini-challenge during the first week of school. Students LOVE getting to "dig right in" and I LOVE that I can teach them my expectations and have them immediately practice them while working as a team.


Back to School: Student Introductions

If you're like me, you struggle to find a way to get to know your students at the beginning of the year while teaching a myriad of rules and procedures. This activity has been a success in my classroom every time I use it! Students are engaged and excited about learning about each other while practicing important technology classroom procedures.
If you're like me, you struggle to find a way to get to know your students at the beginning of the year while teaching a myriad of rules and procedures. This activity has been a success in my classroom every time I use it! Students are engaged and excited about learning about each other while practicing important technology classroom procedures.


DIY: Door Latch Covers

DIY Teacher Hack: An easy and inexpensive way to make door latch covers out of items found around the house. Use to prevent classroom doors from automatically locking. These could even be great to use at home on those doors I don’t want my little ones to get locked behind accidentally.
Are you looking for a way to cover those latches on the door that cause it to lock? I spent about 30 minutes this morning making these easy and inexpensive covers from items I had around the house. Read about how totally simple it was, and then go find some items you can use to make your own!


Tech Tip: Using Bitlinks in the Classroom

I realized as I was talking to some fellow teachers that the use of to shorten really long URLs is NOT a commonly known strategy. So I thought that I would share how easy it can be and how much time and frustration is saves me when sending students to websites and other documents.

Tech Tip: Use a free online service to shorten long URLs for use in the elementary classroom. Read about how simple it is to customize links to be easier to remember and simpler to type for younger students.
Maybe you're thinking, "WHY does any of this matter to me in the classroom?"
Well, I've found bitlinks to be helpful in several ways.


Songs in the STEM Class {Solar System}

I absolutely LOVE teaching about the planets. It's one of my favorite units. And my students LOVE learning about the solar system too. Sometimes I go "a bit" beyond what the Tennessee State Science Standards require because I think it's just too interesting to skip over. Students have been actively engaged throughout this unit - even when it's a day of "doing math" to figure out how old they would be or how much they would weigh on another planet.
If you aren’t using music in the classroom yet, you should be! Songs are a great strategy for teaching science concepts and vocabulary. A catchy tune will help those concepts stick. Solar System | Planets

10 Ways to Pass the Time While Monitoring Students During Standardized Testing

Our district just completed our "first round" of standardized testing for the year last week, and let me tell you - it was no picnic. For me or the kids. Blah. Double blah. I just HATE this time of year. And now we are taking tests like this TWICE each year. Boooooo.

Okay, I do understand WHY we are required to test our students. I just don't like it. I wish I could change it. But I can't. So, as I paced slowly around the classroom last week for hours on end, I had to come up with some "creative" ways to keep myself from going brain-dead from boredom while not breaking any of the test security rules that could get me fired. Um, yeah. I need my job still. 
Every teacher dreads standardized testing. Especially being bored as you monitor students during testing. This blog post shares a teacher hack: 10 things to do while monitoring students taking standardized tests. Try a few the next time you’re stuck walking up and down the rows in your classroom. Definitely a teacher sanity saver. My favorites are #3 and #9!
So today I'm sharing ten of the ideas I came up with.
Hopefully you'll be able to use some of these while monitoring your own students during the upcoming state testing that we all dread.


Weekend in Review {2016 French Lick Blogger Meet-Up}

One of my goals this month was to take some time for myself, and I definitely did that last weekend. I had the most amazing opportunity to attend a blogger meet-up in French Lick, Indiana with around 200 other teacher-bloggers.
Before the event, I was asked to share some of my thoughts. 
In a video. 
To be shared at the meet-up.
I was asked to share was why I liked attending meet-ups and collaborating with other teachers. 
Well.....I kinda shared something else instead.


Songs in the STEM Class {Kinetic and Potential Energy}

Last month I shared one of my favorite teaching strategies: using songs to review and reinforce concepts in science. Read more about it here. The short version? I find that students retain basic information better when it is put to a catchy (albeit sometimes annoyingly so) tune.
If you aren’t using music in the classroom yet, you should be! Songs are a great strategy for teaching science concepts and vocabulary. A catchy tune will help those concepts stick.
This month I want to share another song that I found while scouring YouTube for something to accompany my Energy Unit.


Slow Motion Videos

First and foremost, I have to give my husband credit for this idea...sort of. 
(He insisted.)

The other night, we had Family STEM Night at our school (but that's another post for another day). One of the activities that students got to try had to do with an object's center of mass. My husband (whose phone is permanently attached to his hand) decided to record our kids using the slow motion feature of his camera. It was actually pretty cool. I had honestly never thought to use that feature on my phone before. Hence, he gets to claim credit for the idea...sort of.
Teacher Tech Tip Hack: Using slow motion videos to teach about Newton's Law of Inertia. Student activity that shows the impact inertia and gravity have on a moving object.
I'm currently teaching students about forces, motion, friction, and energy. I absolutely LOVE teaching about Newton's 3 Laws of Motion. Every year I collect so many ideas for demonstrations, videos, and lab activities on my Forces & Motion Pinterest board that I have a hard time making a choice of what I will actually use!


My Teaching Style Metaphor

I've come across several great lists where people compare teaching to other things.
It got me thinking. But not just about what teaching is like.
Instead, I started thinking about my own TEACHING STYLE and how it is unique to me.

My teaching style metaphor: PIZZA! This is such a fun way to think about what I do as an elementary science teacher. Self-reflection | Humor | Food
So today I share with you...
Why I think my teaching style is a pizza!
Keep reading...
I know you're curious.


LEAP Frog: Integrated STEM Lesson

I know, I know.
Leap Day is today.
Kind of late for me to be sharing this.
But you have to understand...
My very BEST ideas come to me about 20 minutes before class starts. 
Leap Day only comes around once every four years. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have students investigate forces, motion, and distance by making their own origami leaping frogs. It ended up being an amazing and engaging integrated STEM lesson for my fifth grade students!
So what happened was...
All the lower grades were planning fun Leap Day activities. 
I was jealous.
But I teach fifth grade STEM - a tested subject in a tested grade.
So I had to stick to my standards.

Leap Day only comes around ONCE every FOUR YEARS!
If I didn't do something today, I would have to wait another four years.
Well, that wasn't gonna happen.


#IG2016GOALS - February

Since I blogged about accomplishing each of my January #ig2016goals HERE, I was really hoping to report that I was JUST as successful at reaching my goals in February. Um, not so much. But not a COMPLETE failure!
If you're like me, you struggle to meet your goals. Do you feel like you bite off more than you can chew? I do! Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail.
So for February I had big plans.

How to make a silhouette in 5 easy steps

How to make a silhouette in 5 easy steps: Elementary teachers need to learn this DIY hack for creating simple, meaningful keepsakes for mothers, fathers, grandparents, and more. Includes extra ideas for teacher gifts, student activities, and holiday projects.
I can remember having my silhouette made when I was a kid. You know, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth? (as my son would say) My teacher would turn the lights out and shine a bright light at the wall. We would have to stand really still while she traced our shadow onto construction paper with a piece of chalk. After she cut out each profile, we got to glue our head to a piece of colored paper. I think I gave mine to my mom. She probably still has it.


Sunday Scoop {02.21.16}

It's been a bit, but I'm linking up with Teaching Trio for Sunday Scoop tonight.
Yeah, it might be an effort to avoid lesson planning, but who's worried about that, right?!?
Sometimes I feel like I can never get caught up. Here’s my to-do list along with a recipe for the only potato salad I am willing to eat! Update: I’ve added a link to a great beginning of the year activity for elementary, middle or high school students that integrates technology.
So, let's review...


Songs in the STEM Class {Layers of the Earth Rap}

I'm super excited to start sharing one of my absolute FAVORITE teaching strategies with you: using songs (specifically cheesy YouTube music videos) to teach and reinforce concepts in science.
If you aren’t using music in the classroom yet, you should be! Songs are a great strategy for teaching science concepts and vocabulary. A catchy tune will help those concepts stick.

Think back to the last unit you taught. Let me guess...
You learned the content so you could teach it effectively. You spent a lot of time planning engaging activities for your students. You made copies, arranged demonstrations, set up inquiry investigations, invited guest speakers, and basically taught your little heart out.


Journey to the Center of the Earth {teaching strategies}

My most recent unit involved teaching about the different layers of the earth. Students are required to know that the earth consists of these layers: a rocky outer crust, the mantle in which hot materials move, an outer core made of liquid metals, and a dense, metallic core. 
Teaching about the layers of the earth doesn’t have to be boring. Here are three great teaching strategies for use in the STEM class. Using YouTube video clips, interactive notebook activities, and visual vocabulary posters will help students with this earth science topic.

#IG2016GOALS - January

Back at the beginning of the month, some amazing "instagrammers" that I follow suggested making monthly goals rather than just a few BIG resolutions. This was perfect for me. Usually I set the same resolutions each year. You know the ones: lose weight, eat right, spend time with family, don't take work home, organize the house, etc. Well, I tend to do really well for about a month and then I become the biggest slacker! So, the idea of monthly goals was exactly what I needed to get my butt in gear. And posting those goals publicly on Instagram was a good way to really commit to them.

Today I officially completed my January list of goals!
Yay me!
So I thought I would share a bit about this journey with my bloggy friends.
Are New Year's Resolutions something that you struggle with? Try this strategy for goal setting. It's motivational and realistic.


Currently January 2016

One of my New Years Resolutions is to blog at least once a month. I wish I could promise each post will be well thought out and incredibly inspiring, but we all know how busy life gets. So I'm starting small and getting myself back into the groove of blogging regularly.

For my (first) January post, I'm linking up with Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade to share my CURRENTLY.
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