Where did September go? Here it is October 1st and the month has just flown by. I have met my new group of students, started to build a community of learners, had Meet the Teacher, ran Terry Fox and survived the school having a new roof installed during the hottest September on record.
As many of you know, I spent my summer creating science centres for a variety of grades. Having taught in combined grades for many years, I knew that there was a way not only for both grades to be active and engaged, but for the teacher to be able to deliver quality content for more than one science topic. Enter science centres. Back when I started teaching, I had to find or create the materials that would go inside the centres, and that made it really challenging. I used to say spending two weeks finding the materials and setting up the centres saved me several more weeks trying to use direct instruction for both grades. Using my knowledge of the curriculum, of instructional design and of having spent the last 25 years in education, I created centres that would make teaching and learning the science topics fun and engaging.
How do you get started with centres? It's easy. I start with teaching the vocabulary and terminology the students will encounter during the unit. I project the illustrated word walls cards I have created and have the students create their own mini-dictionary in their notebooks. I encourage them to copy down the definitions and add illustrations to each entry.
Student also created a cover page for their notebook. I think these are fantastic!
After discussions about the new vocabulary and what students already know about the topic and want to learn about the topic, we did some critical thinking and problem solving with the Save Fred investigation. I enjoy doing this before we start with centres the first time, so that I can see how the students work in pairs or small groups and how they approach hands-on investigations.
We are ready to start with centres on Monday! Here is how I set up my centres in my classroom.
I got the bins at a local store and after printing and laminating my centre cards, I added the materials needed and students will be ready to work anywhere in the classroom. They take the bin and materials, work with a partner and record their investigations.
This is how to print and set up the student booklets.
|Printed booklet~ all pages folded in middle|
|Print pages back to back, double sided|
|Printed booklet seen from back|
|I use a bulldog clip to hold all the pages together.|
If you staple, some of the full sized pages are difficult to use.
My students use the booklets I have created to record their learning and then transfer the finished thinking into their notebooks. When we are finished the students have a wonderful artifact of all the hands-on, minds-on learning from the unit.
Be sure to pop back and visit during the next few weeks. I plan to post pictures of the centres in action and write more about how to engage students in inquiry as part of the centres experience.
These are pictures of my friend Jeff Laythorpe's students as they delve into inquiry projects which are part of the
Hands-On, Minds-On Science Centres.
Be sure to click on the image above to grab this