Monday, 7 August 2017

Secondary Science Giveaway 2017

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  I LOVE Back to School season.  The excitement, the planning, the shopping!  From organizing the classroom to selecting that first-day outfit, it’s simply magical to me.  I am so blessed to be teaching the subjects that I care so much about at the high school I attended as a teen, with an outstanding staff. 

This year, my schedule looks like it will bring lots of opportunities to work with a diverse population of students.  I will be teaching Grade 12 University Physics, Grade 10 Essential Science and Grade 10 Applied Science in semester one.  Semester two brings Grade 12 College Physics, Grade 10 Applied Science and Grade 9 Essential Science. 

For the Physics courses, I will be incorporating some modelling (not THAT kind of modelling!), doodle notes for dual coding and Physics Workbooks.  It’s a huge saver of prep and class time to print out entire units of workbooks at a time.  As I complete the doodle notes and workbooks, I’ll be adding them to my TpT store, including in the Growing Physics Bundle.'s%20Binder%20Blog%20BTS%202017&utm_campaign=Mrs.%20Brosseau's%20Binder%20Blog%20BTS%202017%20Doodle%20Notes

For my Science courses, I cannot wait to introduce them to the Science Bell Ringer Journal!  Brittany, of The SuperHERO Teacher, and I created 275 creative prompts to foster writing, reading, graphing and inferencing skills throughout the year.  I am also going to be changing up my room a bit to include a horseshoe table for conferencing and some flexible seating options.  Flexible seating in a high school science class?! Yeah, I’m up for the challenge!'s%20Binder%20Blog%20BTS%202017&utm_campaign=Mrs.%20Brosseau's%20Binder%20Blog%20BTS%202017

Those are just a few of my plans.  I have SO many ideas after being on maternity leave this past year.  If you’d like to see how I run my labs, organize my lessons and operate my classroom, please follow my Instagram account @mrsbrosseausbinder
And sign up for my new mailing list!  I’ll send you quality updates and free activities that are classroom tested and student approved!

Now for more fun… Back to School Giveaways!
I’m teaming up with my #squad of incredible science sellers.  La crème de la crème! We’ve got a blog hop with some RAD prizes. 

FIVE $100 TpT gift cards!

And many of use will have our own resources to giveaway as well!  Here’s how the $100 gift card giveaway works.  Each blog will have a secret number and word. 

Mine is “18. questions.”

The number tells you where the word falls in the secret sentence.  Collect the words from each blog, write them down in number order, and copy the secret sentence into joint rafflecopter giveaway.  This rafflecopter form is the same on every blog, so you only need to enter once from any one of our blogs!

Bonus Giveaway!
For my individual rafflecopter giveaway, I'm giving away three $25 store credits to my Teacher Pay Teachers store Mrs. Brosseau's Binder.

There are multiple ways to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fine print: Giveaway ends August 11th, 2017 at 11:59 PM EST. Open to Residents of the Earth only.  Winners will be selected at random and be notified by email. Winners have 48 hours to confirm their email addresses and respond before a new winner is selected. The product offered for the giveaway is free of charge, no purchase necessary. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation.  Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are in no way associated with this giveaway.  By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to me and me alone.  I do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner.

I wish you the BEST school year yet!  Stay in touch!

Friday, 16 September 2016

Lab Report Alternatives: Clever Ideas to Cut Down Your Marking!

If you’re a science teacher, I’m sure you’ve been there: sitting at your desk with a stack of lab reports taller than the coffee mug you’d need to refill ten times before getting all of that marking done.  Let’s try to avoid that and explore some other options, shall we?
 Now, don’t get me wrong.  Writing lab reports are important!  Technical writing is a necessary skill that our young scientists need in university and can transfer to other courses.  But does every single experiment we do with our class require a full lab report?  

If you asked your students, “why do you think we’re doing this experiment?” what would they say?  If they said to get a good mark I think that’s exactly what we’re missing.  Experiments are opportunities to teach, to learn, to explore and discover.  If all we’re looking for is a mark, well, marking is all you’ll be doing - and then you might resent experiments and spiral into a hands-off science class.  Or, students may dread labs because they know 5 hours of lab report writing is in their future.  Yikes!  Let’s avoid that.

Purpose is the first thing students write about on their lab report, but science teachers should be evaluating the purpose of the lab long before the students begin.  Why are we doing this lab? What does it provide for the students?  The purpose of labs in high school will generally fall into one of these two categories:
To learn a skill, or,
To discover a relationship

Learning a Skill
Skills need to be built upon in order for or students to continue with their scientific careers.  Imagine a surgeon operating without ever having done a dissection.  Eek!  Anything from finding the mass of a substance, to performing a titration, to dissecting a frog, to planning an inquiry experiment classifies as a skill.  If this is the purpose of the experiment, consider these as some alternatives to requiring a full, formal lab report.

Talk about ease of assessment!  Teach the skill, let’s say a titration.  Have the students practice it (as opposed to starting with an experiment that requires titration as a prerequisite skill).  When students have had practice with this, get part of the class working on some seatwork, and another part performing the skill.  Can you assign a mark to an observation?  You bet!  Just make sure to have clear guidelines and document anything they need to improve upon.  I print off a class list, write the few skills I am looking for at the top and leave lots of space to write notes.

Student-Instructed Teacher Demonstration
Have your student guide you, the teacher, step by step.  Follow their instructions exactly.  When something is unclear - do it in the worst possible way!  I’m talking Mr. Noodle on Elmo’s World bad.  Students will learn quickly they need to be very detailed in their instructions.  This one would eat up a lot of time, so I would recommend doing this once with a whole class, to encourage them to be precise in their description.

Video Analysis
If you’ve got access to any sort of video taking technology you have a lot of options.  Have the students create a video of them performing the skill.  Obvious, but here the marking can be done when it is convenient for you.  Some variations of this include having some students record something incorrect with the skills they are trying to learn (AS LONG AS IT IS NOT UNSAFE).  Students in different classes, or in subsequent years can be quizzed on what was done incorrectly, and how it needs to be improved.  I also like this as a teaching method:
Record your students proficiently performing and explaining a scientific skill, then use that video in stations to teach skills.  This is best with simple, non-dangerous skills, like finding the mass, setting up ticker tape, or using a mortar and pestle.

Write It
Students can write the procedure for performing this skill in different ways.  Consider having students write their own wiki-how article on the skill, a letter home, or pair it with the next option and have students create a manual with descriptive steps and visuals on Google Docs.

Illustrate It
If you’re looking for the correct order of steps, could you have your students represent it in a visual way?  Have them take pictures and describe the steps, create a storyboard of the procedure or even draw instructions IKEA-style.  The hidden advantage here is that you can reuse this in subsequent years for students who need visual instructions.

Sections of the Lab Report
It’s not rocket surgery: if the skill is procedure writing, have students turn that in.  Choose an interesting lab with a procedure complex enough for the level of your students.  With my Grade 9s, I like the borax bouncy ball experiment.  If the skill is graphing, then that’s what they should submit.  Just make sure the success criteria is clear and students know exactly what is being assessed.

Discovering a Relationship
If you want students to discover a relationship, be sure to steer them in the right direction.  Having students graph data is an effective way to discover the relationship.

If students are performing their own inquiry experiments, they can create a short presentation that goes over the experimental design and materials they used.  Then they can show how data was obtained and the relationship they’ve discovered. Open it up to Q&A from the class.

Children’s Book
Students can explain the experiment in simple terms through a story and have their characters discover the relationship.  This is great if you want to turn your STEM into STEAM!

Have students create a website or blog.  After each lab they can report their findings here and BOOM - digital portfolio for the whole course.

News Report
Here in Ontario we have the Grade 10 Literacy Test that students must meet provincial standard on in order to graduate.  One of the components is a News Report.  I give my students practice on writing news reports in Grade 9 and 10.  Have the students write a news report about their discovery, including a headline, subtitle, byline, direct quotes and indirect quotes.

Be really picky here.  If all you’re having your student submit are calculations, make sure they align and organize their work, include all of their units and encourage them to learn an equation editor if they are typing this up.

Sections of the Lab Report
You know your labs best, so if you want your students to discover the relationship between angle and hang time have them graph it and describe the graph.  Discussion questions about their findings are effective for assessing their understanding of a relationship.  Writing a full RERUN conclusion covers a lot of bases as well.

Error Analysis
So they didn’t find a clear relationship... what went wrong?  Have the students examine their reading, random and systematic errors.  Have them redesign a procedure with these in mind.

I hope these ideas keep you from burning out when it comes to assessing labs. They are good alternatives to throw in the mix from time to time, but definitely still have your students write out formal lab reports! It is an important skill that my Scientific Method Bundle can help you out with.
Do you have any more ideas? Share them in the comments below.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Secondary Science Giveaway: Back to School 2016

When students ask me, "what is your favorite holiday" I wish I could say, "Back to School!"  Though it's not an official holiday, it is a time to celebrate.  I will be on maternity leave this year, with Brosseau Sprout 2.0, but that's not stopping the party!  I still go shopping for school supplies and put together a few backpacks for students in need.  I want to help you out too - so I've got an awesome giveaway for resources from my TpT store PLUS my blogging buddies have teamed up to giveaway $100 TeachersPayTeachers gift cards to FOUR Secondary Science Teachers!

In order to win the $100 gift card, you've got to be a 6-12 Science teacher and find the secret phrase formed by the secret code words on each of our blogs.  I've strategically hidden my secret code word to the entry of the $100 gift cards draw somewhere in favorite back to school resources below.
May I suggest:
Scientific Method Bundle
Secret code word: #10. of

Make sure you check out my friends' giveaways below. Oh boy!  Do they have some good stuff too!

The number tells you where the word falls in the secret sentence.  Collect the words from each blog, write them down in number order, and copy the secret sentence into joint rafflecopter giveaway.  This rafflecopter form is the same on every blog, so you only need to enter once from any one of our blogs!
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

For my individual rafflecopter giveaway, I'm giving away $25, $15 and $10 store credits to my Teacher Pay Teachers store Mrs. Brosseau's Binder

There are multiple ways to win!
Get the rest of the code words by visiting the blogs of my friends, these incredible TpT sellers and teachers:

Friday, 29 July 2016

Why Physicists Should Build Catapults

I can never contain my excitement for anything really - but catapult launch day is one of my favorite days in Physics class!  There is always so much buzz about it in the class and in the halls.

Check out the free, editable resource that includes the project outline, lab requirements, teacher suggestions and the Google Form I use to mark the project.  It's all available for free at my TpT store.
You should see some of these amazing catapults, trebuchets and ballistas that my Grade 11 students built.  One part of their task was to design, build and calibrate a projectile launcher that could hit various targets.  If the student worked alone they had to hit 2 targets at 4.0 meters and 6.0 meters.  Partners had to hit these two targets and a third target at 8.0 meters.  Three students is the largest group I'd allow and they had to hit four targets - the previous three and 10.0 m.

I keep a theme throughout this course where the students are basically in Jurassic Park (I call it Cretaceous Park to be more accurate and less copyright infringe-y) and trying to survive using their knowledge of Physics, these are the targets they had to hit:
 I printed these off at the local copy center across two tabloid-sized papers, taped them together and laminated them to use year after year.
 I recorded whether students were able to hit the center black area, or the green area to see how well they calibrated their launchers.
 It's far too difficult and dangerous to try and read the actual number they hit.  I'm happy to report that no one was hit by a projectile!
We had these taped down to the cement in our courtyard at the various distances the students needed to hit.

Why should you have your students build things in Physics class:
Learning new skills
Lots of students told me that this project had them learn how to use a drill or a saw (under their parents' supervision of course!)

Time with parents
If there is one thing Physics students want, it's marks - how do you get those marks?  By learning and working with your parents, apparently.

Ability to persevere
It's a big project with lots of complications, but the kids are motivated to see it through.

Ability to problem solve
So your catapult doesn't hit 4.0 meters?  Students didn't get any sympathy from me, but we did have a chat about changing factors and they all were able to figure it out.

Learn to calibrate
They probably have never had to calibrate anything before to achieve consistent results.  They would have to problem solve and test in order to hit the targets on launch day.

Learn to time manage
This is not a project that can be done in a day.  Students use Google Docs to track their progress and I can check in on them to see how they were progressing.  What a great real-world skill to develop!

Learn to work with others (or not)
Some students choose to work with others, and that's great!  They'll experience division of labor and cost.  Their workload is proportionally greater as they need to hit additional targets.  Some students chose to work alone, and they'll experience a different side of project management.

Create a reproducible test
In addition to the target shooting portion, I have the students design, implement and write a formal lab report for an inquiry question of their choosing.  They need to design their own test in order to achieve reproducible results and discuss the reading, random and systematic errors associated with the design of their lab.

Get ready for engineering courses
Gosh, wouldn't it be horrible if a student went into engineering without having ever built anything?  Hmm.. they probably wouldn't even have an interest in engineering if they have never tinkered with something.

In addition to this, as the number of Physics students ebbs and flows, I love the buzz the catapult project creates within the school!  Students, teachers and administration come down to watch the target shooting portion.  Whole classes toured our classroom to get a closer look at the catapult designs, and even watched the longest shot competition from their windows.  What a great way to get more students interested in Physics!

I want to share with you the outline I use for the project, the lab report, some suggestions and even the Google Form I use to assess the project.  It's all available for free at my TpT store.  Click to check it out!
When it comes down to it, whatever your students are building - catapults, hover crafts, or Pan flutes - they are gaining valuable experience far beyond how to solve math problems!

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Rollercoaster Physics - that DOESN'T take weeks to complete!

I'm sure you've seen those paper rollercoasters that some students make  - they're about a meter high and have all sorts of turns and loops.  Pretty neat - but who has the time?!  

Not I.

So instead of spending weeks sitting and waiting while my students cut colorful cardstock and glue and tape I do a version that only takes a couple of days to complete and is far more rigorous in terms of the Physics calculations.

After doing some research (like going to Canada's Wonderland) the students sketch out a rollercoaster ride that they would love!  Once they've got a nice shape that loops back to the beginning they need to come up with the dimensions for this rollercoaster.  

They'll do all sorts of calculations, but need to make sure that the rollercoaster meets certain restrictions:
-Max speed between 135 and 150 km/h.
-At least two hills – one high hill and one no higher than half the height of the other.
-A power calculation showing the power required to pull a 12000 kg train up the first hill.
-A calculation to show the deceleration of the train in no more than 10.0 m.  (They’ll have to determine the initial speed)
-A work calculation to show the work done by the brakes to slow the train to a stop in no more than 10.0 m at the end of the ride. 
-Optional: (Level 4) Includes a loop where the rider feels 2-4 gs.
-An obvious theme.
-A title.

To put it all together in a neat presentation, here's how the students layer their rollercoasters to show all the different features and calculations.
Layer 1: White board
Draw the rollercoaster to scale.
Layer 2: Plastic (clear drop cloth for painting or dollar store shower curtain works well)
Label the heights of all hills and loops.  Label all speeds at the top and bottom of hills and loops.  Label the power, deceleration and work as listed in parts 3, 4 and 5.
Layer 3: Plastic
Show all calculations for speeds, power, deceleration, work.
Layer 4: Plastic, optional
Any other cool design features, scenery, additional awesomeness.

These student came up with such great themes, drew everything to scale, calculated velocities, energies, work and power, made sure that the riders wouldn't experience too much speed or g-forces and added incredible design details - all in TWO 75-minute periods of class time!

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