Winter blues

I've said it before and I'll say it again- this time of year is hard. We lose an hour of sleep for daylight savings time, there is no vacation or time off in March, and students start their first rounds of high stakes testing. The kids are feeling saturated, the faculty is tired and worn out, and everyone is so over the cold winter weather. Thank goodness it's almost April, which means it is almost April vacation. Wahoo!

On a more cheerful note, I won my very first blogger giveaway today! I am so excited. Cynthia at All Things Teachery hosted a 200 follower giveaway, and I won the package for grades 6+! Can't wait to use all the awesome products I won. 

This week, I started reviewing all the important science concepts my students have learned in their short academic career. Fifth grade students in Massachusetts take their first science MCAS in May, and our curriculum map vaguely tells us to "review all concepts" until the MCAS begins. What a huge task! It's so challenging to assess where my students are at, what we need to develop, and when they're ready to move on when reviewing so much information. To start the unit and try to get an idea of where my students are at, I decided to try something I called a "dry erase discussion." I had the kids sit silently for 2 minutes and think about everything they knew about the moon. I let them take notes, if needed. Then, I gave them 4 minutes to write what they thought of on the whiteboard. They all had to write something, no matter how small, and they had to remain silent. I also instructed them to read what their classmates wrote to see if it help them to remember other things. They were allowed to get up and write additional facts or thoughts as many times as they wanted. I have to say- I was impressed with how much they thought of!

Half the whiteboard- lots of great ideas!

A close up of some of their thoughts

I loved this activity because I could quickly see what they knew, and what they needed to be taught. I could also address any misconceptions right away, like the student who thought the moon changed shapes as it rotated around the Earth. The kids loved it because they got to write on the whiteboard (who knew that was such a valuable incentive?). They learned from each other, and really had a chance to think about their knowledge. Such a successful activity!


  1. Such a cute idea. Thanks for sharing. I think I am going to try this when I start my science unit in two weeks.
    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  2. I feel you on being ready for a break. Here in Louisiana, our break isn't until the end of April, which is just about three weeks before the end of the school year. Seems silly, huh? We finished part one of testing last week, so we're in the home stretch of review. Everyone is exhausted... April, please come soon!!

  3. I like this idea! I think I'll use this before our math MCAS :)


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