Welcome! Whether you are brand new to teaching or you’re just new to middle school science, I’m passionate about helping you. I’m going to assume this blog is a safe space and admit that my first years teaching (grade 7 science) were extremely rough. There’s so much to learn from specific computational inputs specific to your school like attendance and grade entry to SPED laws to lesson creation to classroom management. Let’s just say I didn’t do it gracefully, and even still I struggle keeping all the balls in the air.
With that being said, I designed this bundle to make your workload a tiny bit smaller. It’s filled with some helpful resources that should get you through your first week with students!
I’ll explain how I use these resources.
Hands on activities. Most teachers begin the year with a little bit of out of your seat fun. They like to see how the students work together as well as give them a chance to practice the kinds of appropriate classroom behaviors that are being established at this time too. In this bundle I’ve included 4 hands on activities, each with a science focus:
- Team Building: Whale Band Aid
My personal favorite is the whale bandaid. Group students into 4-8 and have them all stand on a twin bedsheet or a stretch of bulletin board fabric. They have to flip the fabric over without any of the team stepping off onto the floor. Minimal materials, anyone can do it, and it’s sure to get a laugh!
- Engineering Focus: Tower Build
A classic hands on STEM challenge is the marshmallow and spaghetti tower build. I’ve recently switched it up though and started using about 2 feet of aluminum foil and a few pieces of tape instead. It’s easier for me to bring in and less messy on the clean up. This activity is great for teamwork and even better if you plan to start the year with an engineering unit.
- Inquiry Focus: Dog, Goose, and Bag of Corn
I love this assignment! With manipulative cards showing the dog, the goose, and the bag of corn students must determine how the poor farmer can get all three across the river without leaving any of the two forbidden pairs alone together on one side. Problem is: he can only carry one thing at a time! Students get so frustrated in a good way! Great for perseverance in problem solving and allows students to take a close look at HOW they think through a problem. Even better, no outside materials required!
- Attention to Detail: Blind Building Activity
This is such a fun activity, but it does require a little more planning. You’ll need some toys that can be broken down and built again. Lego, K’Nex, anything in that realm. Students need a partner (but I think groups of 4 would be ok too). Partner A is the one who will give instructions and Partner B will follow them. When you begin, send all the Partner B’s out of the room while Partner A simultaneously disassembles the toy and writes instructions on how to reassemble it. When the Partner B’s return, all A’s must exit. Only the written instructions can be used to rebuild. (No photos!) This activity is frustrating and fun. Students will learn a lot about attention to detail.
Policies and Procedures. Every teacher I’ve ever known either has a written document describing their policies and procedures, or they’ve just got it up in their head. Everyone has a way they want things done. For me as a new teacher, this was INCREDIBLY difficult to think my way through without the experience of years of failure. I’ve included this one in the bundle to give you a place to start thinking. It’s editable of course.
Lesson Plans. Unless you’re going to start in your first week with a pretest (which I find quite cumbersome), I’d advise jumping right in to teaching and learning. Coming back from the summer with little to no structure, the kids will be more grateful than you know to get right back to their regular routine. I have traditionally always begun the year with the basics of scientific inquiry and/or engineering design. Here’s what I’ve included for you:
- Scientific Method Presentation
A quick overview of the scientific method and all the parts of an experiment. I’d generally have the students make a foldable following the whole group learning portion which can go in their interactive notebooks if you use those. It would be fun to do the Dog, Goose, and Bag of Corn after this lesson as it connects well.
- Scientific Investigations with Minecraft
A good practice for students in determining the parts of an experiment (independent and dependent variables, controls, etc.) which can be used following the lesson on the scientific method.
- Engineering Design Process Presentation
Another presentation I’ve included is on Engineering Design. With the growing focus on STEM in science classrooms, I’ve designed this lesson to show the similarities between the scientific method (discovery) process and the engineering design (technology) processes. Follow this lesson up with the aluminum foil tower build!
This bundle is designed to be affordable and useful to most teachers new to middle school science. Please leave feedback as to how I could better serve the teachers of the future through this bundle or the creation of new resources. While I love helping new teachers in any way I can, I’m particularly passionate about classroom management.
Teaching is a weird job. I’d love to connect and discuss our successes and failures on my instagram (@stemstrength). Please reach out and ask me anything.