A fun, hands-on experiment with changing states of matter, that your students will love!

Changing states of matter. Teach this fun experiment to Year 3 students with this downloadable lesson plan, worksheets, posters and more.

Year 3 Science ACARA tells us that students need to investigate how liquids and solids respond to changes in temperature and, like any task for young students, the best way to demonstrate this is through a fun hands-on activity.

No child can resist chocolate, so you have your lesson hook already!

Here are the steps I undertook recently to teach this concept to students using the Chocolate Experiment Flip Book available in the Year 3 Chemical Sciences pack.

Changing states of matter. Teach this fun experiment to Year 3 students with this downloadable lesson plan, worksheets, posters and more.


1. We reviewed our prior knowledge about solids and liquids

After a discussion we undertook a quick cut, sort and paste to refresh ourselves on what these concepts were. We also reviewed the criteria for a solid and a liquid, whilst reviewing different states of matter.

Changing states of matter. Teach this fun experiment to Year 3 students with this downloadable lesson plan, worksheets, posters and more.

2. We posed questions

We took our flip books out and cut and pasted them together (super quick and easy) and began to pose questions about turning a solid into a liquid. 

Teacher note: It's important for students to understand that science is about posing and answering questions and there is a Scientific Process we need to follow with any experiment (free posters available here).

3. We tried to predict what might happen during the experiment

We thought about what we knew about hot and cold, solids and liquids; and then tried to predict what might happen when solids were heated or cooled.

Changing states of matter. Teach this fun experiment to Year 3 students with this downloadable lesson plan, worksheets, posters and more.

4. We undertook the experiment and observed what happened when we heated the solid

We melted the chocolate in the microwave (this took a few attempts to get the timing right - around 2 minutes) and then observed what happened to the solid. Was it a liquid? How do liquids behave? How do solids behave? We marked our observations against the criteria in the flip book. 

Changing states of matter. Teach this fun experiment to Year 3 students with this downloadable lesson plan, worksheets, posters and more.

5. We then cooled the liquid and observed what happened.

Teacher note: spray some oil on to the ice cube tray before pouring the melted chocolate in, it will come away much easier after it has frozen. 

Changing states of matter. Teach this fun experiment to Year 3 students with this downloadable lesson plan, worksheets, posters and more.

6. We recorded our observations

While the chocolate was freezing we decorated our flip books and practised writing our observations using key scientific terms. 

Changing states of matter. Teach this fun experiment to Year 3 students with this downloadable lesson plan, worksheets, posters and more.

7. We examined the results of our experiment

We looked closely at the results of our experiment and made some observations about how the state of matter changed from solid to liquid (with some students eating the experiment afterwards!).

Changing states of matter. Teach this fun experiment to Year 3 students with this downloadable lesson plan, worksheets, posters and more.

8. We concluded our experiment

We finished our experiment by concluding what we had found about about solids and liquids, how we knew this to be true and how we can communicate our findings in writing. 

Teacher note: this is where you can use the vocabulary cards that come in the pack to help students with their writing. Make a Science Word Wall on one of your walls in the classroom and encourage students to come to the wall to write down the key terms and use them in their written response. 

Changing states of matter. Teach this fun experiment to Year 3 students with this downloadable lesson plan, worksheets, posters and more.

You can find the flip book used in this experiment, full teacher instructions, posters, worksheets and more flip book experiments in the Year 3 Chemical Science pack.

There are free Scientific Method Posters available here.

Changing states of matter. Teach this fun experiment to Year 3 students with this downloadable lesson plan, worksheets, posters and more.

Changing states of matter. Teach this fun experiment to Year 3 students with this downloadable lesson plan, worksheets, posters and more.  #techteacherpto3 #teaching #science #experiments #elementary



How to discuss Remembrance Day with young students

How do you discuss very difficult concepts on life and death with very young students? Here are my tips for teaching social studies through Remembrance Day.

Remembrance Day 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the Armistice which ended the First World War (1914 - 1918), which makes this year a major event in any social studies calendar.

As part of the Australian Curriculum HASS for Foundation Year, Year 1, Year 2 and Year 3 studying community celebrations and commemorations here and around the world is a large focus, so all year levels can benefit from studying Remembrance Day.

Any discussion about war and death can be difficult topics for young students to explore, however, they are essential foundations of knowledge that early years' students need to have in order to understand the 'why' of how we commemorate. So what key points do you need to keep your students focus on when teaching about Remembrance Day and how can you do this in an effective way? Here are some of the ways I unpack this event for primary school students.

REMEMBRANCE DAY IS A COMMEMORATION NOT A CELEBRATION

During the lead up to ANZAC Day I heard many people talking about the upcoming ANZAC Celebrations... we DO NOT celebrate ANZAC Day, we commemorate it. Likewise we commemorate Remembrance Day (in the United States Veterans Day has  replaced Remembrance Day as a celebration). It's so important that students understand the difference between the two types of events. If you need to teach this to students you will find this pack particularly useful for sorting the two types of events. 

How do you discuss very difficult concepts on life and death with very young students? Here are my tips for teaching social studies through Remembrance Day.

WAR CAN BE SCARY AND WE MUST NEVER FORGET THIS

The phrase 'Lest we forget' is important to teach to students. Yes war is scary. War is dangerous. Many people die in a war. Lest we forget this - for if we do, it can so easily happen again! Students must understand this line because it is key to why we commemorate Remembrance Day and ANZAC Day and state the ode during official assemblies.

How do you discuss very difficult concepts on life and death with very young students? Here are my tips for teaching social studies through Remembrance Day.

THEY WILL NEED TO STAND IN SILENCE FOR TWO MINUTES

Standing in silence can be almost impossible for young students, however, it's important they understand this tradition and observe it. On November 11 I always tell students early in the day, that they will need to stand very still at 11 am for 2 minutes silence. I explain that this is a time we are to spend reflecting on the sacrifices made by our armed forces and the impact war can have on people's lives.

I've always found this video to be particularly powerful for showing students that standing still during the traditional 2 minutes silence is respectful and appropriate.

How do you discuss very difficult concepts on life and death with very young students? Here are my tips for teaching social studies through Remembrance Day.

THE POPPY IS A SYMBOL OF REMEMBRANCE DAY

Although we are now seeing the poppy as an acceptable flower to help commemorate ANZAC Day, it is still the traditional and widely recognisable symbol of Remembrance Day. The history of why the poppy was chosen is a difficult one to explain to young children (the red symbolises the blood-soaked battlefields of northern France and Belgium during the First World War) but there are some picture books that cover this topic in a child-friendly manner.

Some of my favourites include...

How do you discuss very difficult concepts on life and death with very young students? Here are my tips for teaching social studies through Remembrance Day.

How do you discuss very difficult concepts on life and death with very young students? Here are my tips for teaching social studies through Remembrance Day.

How do you discuss very difficult concepts on life and death with very young students? Here are my tips for teaching social studies through Remembrance Day.

How do you discuss very difficult concepts on life and death with very young students? Here are my tips for teaching social studies through Remembrance Day.

Crafting a poppy can make a fun final activity and these poppies can be used in a whole class display or as part of a writing prompt for students to display their learning.

You can download a free Poppy Craft activity sheet here.

How do you discuss very difficult concepts on life and death with very young students? Here are my tips for teaching social studies through Remembrance Day.


INVITE A MEMBER FROM THE ARMED FORCES TO YOUR SCHOOL - PAST OR PRESENT

Not only does an incursion of this kind allow students to practice their questioning skills (older students should be working on developing open questions by now) having a real person to ask questions to can be a fantastic way to make this a real experience and put flesh on the bones of history.

Students might like to find out about the different branches of the armed forces and how these differ from country to country.

How do you discuss very difficult concepts on life and death with very young students? Here are my tips for teaching social studies through Remembrance Day.


If you're unable to get a person from the armed forces to attend, past or present, then let your students write to a member of the armed forces currently serving through the Message to the troops page. Students can write a postcard or a letter to service men and women to thank them for their courage and ask them questions - they might write back!

How do you discuss very difficult concepts on life and death with very young students? Here are my tips for teaching social studies through Remembrance Day.


Interesting facts
  • Did you know that the United States do not commemorate Remembrance Day on the 11th November each year, but instead call this day Veterans Day and it is a public holiday.
  • In the United States Remembrance Day was initially called Armistice Day but was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.
  • Veterans Day is a celebration and honours military veterans who have served in the United States Armed Forces.
  • Veterans Day in the Unites States is not to be confused with Memorial Day, a public holiday in May, which is a commemoration of those who died while in military service. 
How do you discuss very difficult concepts on life and death with very young students? Here are my tips for teaching social studies through Remembrance Day.

Powerful picture books on natural disasters

Powerful picture books on natural disasters. Use illustrated texts to engage elementary students in History, English Language Arts, Science and Visual Arts. Ideas for teachers for engaging primary students.

Picture books are a highly undervalued teaching resource, with many teachers leaving them to the early years teachers. However, having taught all grades, I can let you into a secret - picture books are powerful!

Nothing tells a story quicker than a picture book, because pictures DO speak louder than words. Facial expressions, colour and paint techniques, shades of light and dark - all of these things can be expressed to students through good quality picture books. By exploring communication through not just words but pictures, students develop a deeper understanding of text structures. They can also build their visual comprehension skills, which are vital for all subjects throughout their school years. 

I want to show you 4 books by the wonderful Australian author Jackie French, each one a visual feast on the raw emotion a natural disaster can have on a community. 

I have used these picture books for teaching English (visual and reading comprehension), Visual Arts (the use of colour and line to express meaning), Science (exploring natural disasters) and HASS (seasons weather patterns and their impact on the landscape).

Fire by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley 
You can purchase it here

Powerful picture books on natural disasters. Use illustrated texts to engage elementary students in History, English Language Arts, Science and Visual Arts. Ideas for teachers for engaging primary students.

Powerful picture books on natural disasters. Use illustrated texts to engage elementary students in History, English Language Arts, Science and Visual Arts. Ideas for teachers for engaging primary students.

Beautiful illustrations compliment this book so well. Bruce Whatley really captures the feeling of a real fire. Perfect for discussing the use of colour and tone to give the impression of heat. 

Powerful picture books on natural disasters. Use illustrated texts to engage elementary students in History, English Language Arts, Science and Visual Arts. Ideas for teachers for engaging primary students.

Raw emotions are captured well. Great for a discussion about body language. What are they feeling and why? How do they know what? Encourage students to look deeper and explore the visual imagery as evidence to support their statements.  

Fire by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley 
You can purchase it here

Powerful picture books on natural disasters. Use illustrated texts to engage elementary students in History, English Language Arts, Science and Visual Arts. Ideas for teachers for engaging primary students.

How do you show something is drenched in water? What does it feel like to be in a flood? What are the people in the flood feeling? What are the colours of a flood? The images evoke a powerful imagery of what is it like to live through a flood. 

Brisbane teachers may want to pull up videos of the huge Brisbane flood of 2011 and watch some videos of the Mud Army (who helped clean up). You don't always need to focus on the negative of a natural disaster, these things actually bring people together and it's important to show students both sides of a natural disaster. 

Powerful picture books on natural disasters. Use illustrated texts to engage elementary students in History, English Language Arts, Science and Visual Arts. Ideas for teachers for engaging primary students.


Fire by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley 
You can purchase it here

Powerful picture books on natural disasters. Use illustrated texts to engage elementary students in History, English Language Arts, Science and Visual Arts. Ideas for teachers for engaging primary students.

A cyclone is a terrifying experience and one that can be difficult to discuss with very young students. However, these are life experiences some of them may have already discussed with family members. Find out what they know about cyclones before discussing them. Great for older students, this book shows the emotional impact of a cyclone on families but isn't too graphic. Students often explore the scientific reasons for cyclones but talking through a book like this helps students explore the multidimensional aspects to natural disasters. Who is affected and why? How can they prepare themselves for next time?

Powerful picture books on natural disasters. Use illustrated texts to engage elementary students in History, English Language Arts, Science and Visual Arts. Ideas for teachers for engaging primary students.

Fire by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley 
You can purchase it here

Powerful picture books on natural disasters. Use illustrated texts to engage elementary students in History, English Language Arts, Science and Visual Arts. Ideas for teachers for engaging primary students.

As Australia is experiencing another drought filled year, how does the drought impact on your students? This text would tie in so beautifully with any study on where food comes from. Where do your students get their food from and how will the drought impact on their food choices? Why is it important to help the farmers? 

In addition to exploring some big newsworthy topics, this text has the most endearing illustrations. The emotion on this farmer's face is full of worry, sorrow and anxiety. Drawing dry/arid objects is also another challenge so worth using topical book studies to tie in with any Science study of the properties of objects as well. 

Powerful picture books on natural disasters. Use illustrated texts to engage elementary students in History, English Language Arts, Science and Visual Arts. Ideas for teachers for engaging primary students.

I just love these text from Jackie French and Bruce Whatley, they are so versatile for primary classrooms. How do you use yours? 


Powerful picture books on natural disasters. Use illustrated texts to engage elementary students in History, English Language Arts, Science and Visual Arts. Ideas for teachers for engaging primary students. #foundationintofirst #teacherblog #teaching #ideas #picture #books

Why teaching part time could work for you!

Have you ever considered teaching part-time instead of full-time? Every wondered what the benefits or pitfalls could be? Take a look at this blog post with information for an experienced part-time teacher.

Teaching part-time has a lot of really interesting benefits for both teachers and students. I've been a part-time teacher for a long time, so if you've ever considered taking up part-time teaching let me list the benefits and pitfalls as I see them.

1. CAN YOU COPE WITH LESS MONEY IN YOUR PAY PACKET EACH FORTNIGHT?

This is typically the biggest reason a lot of teachers don't teach part-time. Sometimes they think they can't cope with less income but then once part-time realise they can, if they adjust their budget. Alternatively, many teachers just cannot afford to have a reduction in pay each fortnight so rule part-time teaching out completely. Do the sums and see if you can manage even 3 or 4 days a week rather than 5.

Options:
  • Use up your Long Service Leave for the remaining days you don't teach
  • See if you can do tutoring after school for extra cash
  • Consider selling your teaching products on Teachers Pay Teachers
  • Take up relief teaching 1-2 days a week when you're strapped for cash.

2. TEACHING PART TIME GIVES YOU MORE ENERGY

Part-time teaching generally allows you more energy for students and the stresses of the day-to-day issues that classroom teachers face. When you're working on a reduced week, you naturally have more enthusiasm for teaching because your work/life balance is more in-tune with your needs. This isn't to say ALL full time teachers lack energy but from all the teachers I know that have reduced their days, they have far more energy in general for their students, partners and life in general. This energy gets passed on to the students and a love of learning.

3. YOU CAN GO DEEPER INTO A SUBJECT

One option for part-timers is specialist teaching either on several classes within grades or across grades. I worked as a specialist part-time HASS teacher for many years and you can really get to grips with your subject. Even now, as a classroom teacher, both my teaching partner and I can really become masters of the subjects we take charge of. We have both taught the same subjects for many years and know them inside out and sideways! We know the essential skills our students need right from the start of the year and can hone in on them, enhancing our students' knowledge of the subject matter both because we have more time outside of school to prepare material and the energy to do so.

4. PART-TIME WORKERS TEND TO BE HAPPIER

My teaching buddy recently changed to part-time teaching and the first thing she said was 'Why didn't I do this earlier!?'. Teaching part time has really helped her with the demands of being a mother and wife. She can now devote energy to all parts of her life and more importantly HERSELF! Okay I don't have the data to support my statement but I do have first-hand real-life experience and rarely do part-timers wish they were full time again. Ask them!

5. TEACHING PART TIME MAKES YOU MORE RELAXED

The stresses and strains of school paperwork, parents and students are only endured for a couple of days a week. After which, you can unwind and de-stress. Teaching part time is perfect for those who are emotionally worn out or just need a break. You can recharge your batteries and therefore become more relaxed with students and co-workers.

What are your experiences with teaching part time?

Have you ever considered teaching part-time instead of full-time? Every wondered what the benefits or pitfalls could be? Take a look at this blog post with information for an experienced part-time teacher. #teaching #teacher #primary #elementary #ideas

How to get the most out of your planning days

How to get the most out of your year level planning days. Teachers working through the curriculum during meetings need agenda, minutes and a set time frame. Read more at #teacherblog #foundationintofirst #teacher #meeting #planning

Planning days. Every term they are essential to teachers. If you're placed in a very lucky school, you will receive either an afternoon or a whole day off class for planning. During that time it can be difficult to feel like you are progressing with group discussions going off track, time pressures and other distractions slowing your planning day down.

I have attended many planning days, some more successful than others.

Here are my observations of how the BEST and MOST PRODUCTIVE planning days occur.

1. SET AN AGENDA AND STICK TO IT!

Setting an agenda is a must for any meeting and, in order for agendas to work, you need to create a culture within your school of sticking to them. Do NOT let anybody railroad this meeting. Send a request for agenda items out a week before the meeting and let people add items they want to talk about. Then collate the information into one list and send to all who will be attending. If anybody wants to talk about an off-agenda item it can be discussed during 'other business' at the end - if there is time!

2. PICK A MEETING COORDINATOR

Somebody needs to steer the direction of the planning meeting. This could be your HOC or Year Level Coordinator or just somebody who is good at sticking to the plan. Look at the personality types in your year level. Who enjoys the job of leading the group and ensuring everybody sticks to the agenda? It's often easier for a person who is not part of the year level team to steer the meeting and prevent topics falling off course.

3. RECORD DETAILED MINUTES

Minutes are vital for effective meetings and let everybody know what was discussed, what the outcome of that discussion was and who was responsible for undertaking any action and by when. These points are essential for making the most of your planning day. So many meetings I've gone to have not had adequate minutes recorded and we're often left wondering who was responsible for what and when! Select a team member to type minutes as you discuss issues and create action timelines for outcomes. You can download some free templates for minute taking here.

4. COME PREPARED

Ideally a head of subject area should have been selected prior to the meeting and that person is responsible for studying the next term's assessments for that subject. Often year level teams will only have one person for Maths and another for English, however HASS, Science, The Arts, Health and Digital Technology (plus STEM/STEAM) also need some discussion. If you feel your Maths and English are going to dominate the planning day then have some mini-planning meetings on one the other subjects in the lead up to your big planning day.

If you're selected to be responsible for a subject, you need to know that subject inside and out. Understand the good and bad points of assessments (it's great if you can find assessment copies from last year to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the assessment). Research resources that might be useful and bring copies of those along as well. You can find a wealth of free resources on Teachers Pay Teachers but remember that if you are sharing copies of any paid resources around your year level you MUST stick to copyright licensing agreements. You can do this by purchasing extra copies at a reduced rate or your school can purchase copies through the TPT schools program (yes - let your school pay for them!).

5. STAY ON TOPIC

When discussing a subject area, stay focused on what students need to achieve and how they must demonstrate their knowledge of it. Always work backwards from the assessment! Backward mapping is essential in order to cover all the concepts and skills that students must demonstrate.

6. NOMINATE A TIME KEEPER

Agree on one person at the meeting who will keep their eye on their watch. This person should give five minute warnings about needing to wrap up discussions and keep the agenda on track. If more time is needed, agree to adjust the agenda as a group and extend or reschedule the time to discuss that topic further.

7. PARK IDEAS

An effective idea for meetings is to place a large piece of butcher's paper in the middle of the room with a pile of sticky notes. As topics come up that are off agenda, encourage members of the team to write them on a sticky note and 'park' them on the paper in the middle of the table. At the end of the meeting allocate some time to reviewing the sticky notes that have been parked.

8. BE HONEST BUT RESPECTFUL

If you know an assessment item for a particular subject doesn't work for students, now is the time to speak up. Do not sit by and say nothing. It's important that you voice your opinions and suggestions for adjustment of assessments. Team members need to be open to some flexibility. Simply saying "Well my students just loved that assessment last year!" is not productive and doesn't give an air of openness to change. Often what works for your students one year may not work for other students. Be open to change and respectful of other's opinions.

9. CONTRIBUTE TO THE TEAM

Being silent in a team discussion is almost as counter-productive as being dominating. Those teachers that say nothing or very little at meetings are not working as part of a team. Everybody has an opinion so now is the chance for you to have your say. Don't let one or two people dominate the discussions and if this happens, try to open the floor to everybody to hear others' opinions.

How to get the most out of your year level planning days. Teachers working through the curriculum during meetings need agenda, minutes and a set time frame. Read more at #teacherblog #foundationintofirst #teacher #meeting #planning

What do you think? How do your year level planning meetings go? Do you work in a well-oiled machine or are there one or two personalities that dominate planning meetings?