Three Story Eco-Bottle-Terrarium

Good evening Awesome TEACHERS!!!!

Here are a few three story terrariums for our ecosystem unit we built in class.  The idea originally came from a North Carolina Science Olympiad event years ago.  I thought I would Tarrrra-fy it and put the project on steroids.  So....

Originally the project calls for:
1. Students to build a two or three liter bottle biome.
2.  Include things that represent that particular biome.
      *There used to be a score sheet that was available to score the biomes and student journals on accuracy. 
3.  Take a station test where students answer questions about biomes.

I modified this project where the students had more hands on and more things to observe.  Lessons were definitely learned on all sides.

What we did in class:
1. We collected a million two liter bottles.  Not really, but it seemed like it.
2. Students cut the first bottle just under the nose of the top.
3.  Then they put a water biome in the bottom (freshwater).
4.  Next they cut the bottom off and put that bottle in nose down inside the water biome area.  They used a coffee filter to stop the dirt and pulled the filter down so it would touch and absorb water from the bottom.  This second area became our semi-moist humid environment.
5.  Then we cut the bottom off the next bottle, inverted it nose down with a coffee filter so it would get some moisture, but not a lot.  This became our semi-humid environment.  Added a coffee filter with dirt.
6.  The top area we did the same, but capped the bottle that went into the third layer.  This became our desert environment.  We initially put some moisture, but the water cycle would take place within the bottle biome to recirculate that.
7.  Cap off the top with a nose piece from the bottom part. 

(FYI) all the extra nose pieces make great recycled funnels if you need some.
My friend had a pot overflowing with succulents and she was generous to lend me a lot of desert like plants.  Our local community donated all the plant seeds for the different environments.

The student notes were amazing on this project.  As we completed their ecosystem unit, you could see their knowledge really coming forward in response to this activity.  Loved it.  I would love to do this with three liter bottles, but DO NOT want to encourage drinking that much soda... yikes... what to do?  Recycling facility... maybe? 

Have a great night!!!

~ Tara

Reader's Notebook Phase I

Good Evening Reader's... again,

I'm going to attempt to share with you how I have grown as a teacher using reader's notebooks.  The idea originally stemmed from an amazing teacher showing me how to use writer's workshop effectively in class (thanks a million AMY).  Since then, I have poured over that knowledge into a reader's notebook (marble composition) for many reasons.

Personal reasons to use a marbled notebook:
1. Very inexpensive if purchased on sale in August.
2.  Pages are not tempting to tear out, like other notebooks.
3.  Assembly is not required, similar to three hole punch binders.
4.  Durable
5. Smaller framed.
6. Cute covers now, if you don't want to decorate.
7. Easy to integrate reading and writing.

First, I'm going to show you where I started with my third graders last year.  Here are some pictures of the covers they designed.  They chose to use pictures or illustrations that showed their character.

Um... don't ask me why I can't rotate the second? 
My first goal using Reader's Notebook was to completely use a composition notebook.  I have used a composition notebook every year and NEVER, EVER filled it up.  Not even half way.  So...
 So, we began our homework from the back in a traditional style.  If you are looking to save paper, here is a perfect way.  No more copying reading homework logs.  It also allows flexibility if you have different students completing different styles of homework. 

For example, if you have a child reading nonfiction and poetry.  They may have different style to fill out for their reading. 

Students traditionally had homework Monday through Thursday, however, they love finishing the last grid.  For the older classes, you can expand your summaries or response by a couple lines if you want to do away with the Friday grid. 

On the far left they wrote the day of week abbreviation, month abbreviation and day and left room for a stamp.  On the far right they put the pages read ##-## and parent signature.  In the middle they recorded the title of the book (correctly capatilized and underlined) and a summary or chosen reflection for our menu. 

Happy teaching!

~ Tara

Helpful Mini Touch Lights... Instead of I have an idea... Assistance when you have time....

Good Evening Everyone,

Here's my Monday brainy idea.  Use these glow lights for students to notify you when they need help with group work.  They don't waste time raising their hands for help.  They simply try to work it out, when they need to move on they click the light.  As I make my rotations I can see a group that needs help and can assist them.  Meanwhile they have continued to work and they haven't lost instructional time.  Not sure if this is totally new... but I felt like it was pretty grand.  What do you think?  Do you have a 'keep working idea' for kids who love to ask for help?  I would love to hear your ideas!

~ Tara