Friday, May 10, 2013

Planning for Next Year

     State testing has concluded for my classroom, and just like every year, those tests tend to remind me how close I am to completing my time with these kiddos, which leads to thoughts of next year. Even though I know I will continue in my fifth grade STEM position, I do not know if I will continue to be "only" math/science, or if we will move to a self-contained model.  Always in question at this time of year is which teachers will be teaming together.  We've had our faculty "end of year requirements" meeting, so I have a long to do list to prepare my classroom  for summer, which led me to the spending of teacher supply money (separate from what I am given for student classroom supplies like crayons and scissors) as well as our PTO request forms.
    We are  lucky to have a very involved PTO who each year grant us requests from out wishlists.   So here is what I'm thinking for the fall:

 This kit offers blueprints, and balsa wood cutter, and about $125.00. My thought was to get two (recognizing I may have to buy one myself) and relate it to area/perimeter, scale (not a fifth grade standard, but something that fits in and would be good to introduce) and perhaps character setting.  I might NOT have the kids follow the directions, but may also look for a source of cheap balsa wood sticks (not finding it yet) to allow groups to design one based on their own.  I'm still mulling it over.

Another possibility is the Engineering Is Elementary  books on the Earthquake and the Oil Spill. If you have any experience with these I would love to know because I need to know if they are REALLY good. I'm going to try the Stick in the Mud book again, but I'm going to have to work on it because it didn't go well for me this year. The earthquake one looks good, and would pair with a novel we read very nicely, but do I really need two landform type simulations?  The oil spill unit might be workable with our ecosystems unit, especially for how people impact the environment.  

     The Snap Circuits kit also appeals to me.  Electricity/circuits are not a 5th grade standard, but after perusing so many maker projects I think I need to keep the ideas in the students' minds as something to
continue to investigate.

     I've started compiling a list of novels that I already use, or need to get in the future that are fiction and carry a math/science/engineering theme of some sort.  I have a couple already that I'll blog about next year, but if you have any wonderful suggestions let me know.  One idea I'm kicking around is to use a variety of survival novels right at the beginning of the year and have the students work on a lashing project we did this year. I'll write more about that this summer as well as I plan for the unit, but I'll have to find a source for long bamboo poles.  I doubt I'll add novels to the wishlist at this time, but may decide to use a different allocation for those. 

    If you have any opinions of the above products I would love to hear from you.  Next week I'll be blogging from the STEM conference in St. Louis.  I'm  excited to be going and can't wait to gain a lot of new ideas.

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