It’s back to school season here on the west coast! I like to change up what I do during the first week each year, because I get bored of using the same thing over and over. Generally, science teachers kick off the year with topics including lab safety, scientific method, metrics and graphing review, or CER practice. I’ve compiled a list of my favorite back to school resources to kick off your new year.
Back to school science resources to try:
C.E.R. (claim, evidence, and reasoning) is a critical thinking skill that students really need to know. Students often struggle with it in the beginning (especially the reasoning section) so why not practice from the get-go? Check out these fun Youtube clips you can use to practice CER with your students the first week of school. (Looking for the template pictured? Find it on my website or on TpT).
Want a fun way to review metrics? Check out this FREE metric system scavenger hunt. Students are given a set of measurements, and they have to find objects around your classroom that closely match the given length, volume, or mass. It is a great way to assess how well they can use a ruler, graduated cylinder, or triple beam balance (and estimate!) You can find it on my website or on TpT.
If you teach biology, you might start off the year by introducing the concept of “what is life?” What is the difference between living and nonliving? Dormant or dead? In this lab activity, students are given a set of 8 objects and need to determine if the object is currently alive, dormant, dead, or non-living. They also need to come up with an experimental test for life. I love using this activity BEFORE introducing the 8 characteristics of life. You can find it on my website or on TpT.
Do your students struggle with writing CLEAR scientific procedures? The best way for them to get better is…. practice. And then practice some more.
I created these 20 writing prompts to help students practice writing clear, specific, repeatable procedures. Students are given a prompt such as “does organic food mold faster than processed food?” and they have to design an experiment and write procedures to test the question. You can find it on my website or on TpT.
Do your students know the difference between an observation and an inference? How to collect both quantitative and qualitative data? In this back-to-school data collection activity, students are given a set of objects. As they rotate through different stations they are asked to either make observations and inferences, or collect qualitative and quantitative data. (This lesson is fully editable so you can choose any objects you have available). You can find it on my website or on TpT.
How are your students’ graphing skills? Are they coming in knowing when to use a bar graph verses a line graph? Can they calculate the slope of a best fit line? Check out this 8 station activity students rotate through and have to identify parts of a graph, how to improve given graphs, write appropriate titles, and more. You can find it on my website or on TpT.
If you teach upper grades, you will hopefully have students read a journal article or two throughout the year. But do your students know how to navigate a journal article? Do they know what goes in the abstract or discussion sections? Check out this interactive diagram that walks students through the parts of a journal article, and ends with a self-grading Google form quiz. You can find it on my website or on TpT.
Note: I have spent a large portion of my teaching career teaching high school biology. I do not start the year teaching students how to use microscopes. Read why here.
I hope your school year gets off to a great start! Rock on,