Monday, November 16, 2015

Interactive Sites

I am always looking for new websites to challenge my students.  From introducing a concept to reviewing/reinforcing something we have done in class, my students enjoy the online activities I share with them - such as BrainPop's Food Fight!  My kids were so engaged with the game they wanted to do a tournament to see how could survive the longest.  We used the randomizer available at to pick our animals for each round.

My go to source for new sites is  They offer an assortment of websites for all subjects and topics.  I'm sure you'll find something new to use with your kids!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Coloring Book

Thanks to a subscriber on the Middle School Science E-group for sharing this cool resource ... Coloring with Cell.  This free download offers an assortment of coloring pages that can be used with your biology curriculum!  

Aso check out the Neurons at Play book.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Science Starters

Looking for a way to get each class off to a great start?  Try a Science Starter! Go to to access the main page.

Science Starters are PowerPoint files set up to use as warm-ups for your classes.  They are available on an assortment of topics. Some are used to review past topics, while others reinforce knowledge from recent lessons.   I also use some to build interest in new topics or access the level of background knowledge my students have when we start a new unit. 

I will be uploading new starters over the next year as they are created.  Do you have files to share?  E-mail them to me and I'll upload them to the website for everyone to access. 

NGSS Resources

As with many things in my life, things get hectic when it's time to head back to school. One of the things  keeping me busy is redesigning the curriculum for our 7th & 8th grade science classes.  New textbooks, the continuation of our 1:1 laptop program, and aligning our program with NGSS leads to lots of resources to examine to find those that best meet our needs and will engage the students in the learning process.

Visit my NGSS resource page at for some great links to help you align your lessons to the new standards.  One of my favorite resources is the Concord Consortium.  You can choose by topic or standard and find lessons, activities, and projects that are ready-to-use!  If you haven't already visited PBS Learning Media,  be sure to find time to do so.  This site offers videos, links to interactive activities, and classroom lessons on a variety of topics.  It is one of my first resources to check when I am looking for new ideas!

What are your favorite resources to use to find new ideas?  Please comment and share the URLs with all of us. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Another school year will be starting for me in a few days!  As with any new year, I am always looking for new ideas to start off the school year and get the students excited about science.

One of my favorite activities from last year was the First Day Survey (using Google Forms with our new 1:1 laptop program).  I used the student responses on the second day and went over my responses to the questions.  It was a great way to get to know the students plus they learned a bit about me and the things we have in common.  I also found ways to refer back to their responses during lessons and activities throughout the year. 

Here are some other ideas to try ...

The Nature of Science - I plan to try this one with my kids during the first week.  I love any activity that challenges students to think and work together to solve a problem - something I want them to do all year!  This activity also reinforces the notion that science is not always one answer and we discover new things every day!  

Biology Corner - Saving Sam - A great team-building activity that will challenge your students to think on the first day.  (Be sure to explore the rest of the website for tons of fabulous ideas!)

First Day Mystery - I love this idea and have a feeling the students will enjoy it as well.  They love solving mysteries during my CSI unit and I can start off the year with a few of my favorite ones in this format.

First Day of School Activities - There are several great ideas here that you can use throughout the first week. 

Please share your favorite first day activities by posting a comment! 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Interactive Science Notebooks

I have been  using ISNs in my 8th grade classroom for the past several years and love them!  My students also love using their notebooks and they help every child - those who love to organize and those that find organization a challenge.  Many of my fellow teachers (grades 5-8) have also been using them for math and language arts with great results. 

Go to to find a listing of resources you can use to implement ISNs in your classroom.   Scroll down the page to find a listing of tips & tricks as well as FAQs I have received from Science Spot visitors.  You can start simple and build from there.  Do a search on Pinterest to find other great ideas. 

Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions or need ideas to help you make the most of ISNs.  In my 25 years of teaching, these have been one of the most valuable tools I have utilized! 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Classroom Scavenger Hunt

During the second day of school, my students complete a scavenger hunt to help them learn more about grading procedures, make-up, and computer rules. They also discover the location of the generic kleenex (toilet paper), extra supplies, reference books, etc. After allowing the students time to gather the answers from signs and posters in the room, we discuss my expectations for the year as well as their questions and concerns. The assignment must be taken home and signed by a parent to earn a grade. This activity allows students and parents the chance to know my expectations from the start of the year plus the kids are exploring the room rather than listening to me tell them everything they need to know.

Sample Worksheet - Mrs. Tomm's Scavenger Hunt (pdf)
First Day Presentation - Welcome to Mrs. Tomm's Classroom (pdf)
NOTE:  I use several of the classroom procedures and an adapted version of the class rules from the Whole Brain Teaching method for classroom management. For more details, visit their website at and check out the First Tips or free downloads areas.


The first week ... One of my favorite activities to use with the students during the first week is Bioglyphs.

For this activity, students develop a face diagram using symbols. From hair color to birthdays, students share a little about themselves with their classmates. After all the bioglyphs have been completed, display them in the hallway or other area of your classroom and challenge your students to identify their classmates. Students may ask questions that require yes or no answers only! "Is this your bioglyph?" is not an acceptable question! After fifteen minutes, have each student write their name on their picture and allow time for them to check their answers. My students had a great time identifying their classmates and I enjoyed bringing a little of their history lesson about hieroglyphics into science class. I also refer to this activity when we discuss classification at various times during the year.

Student Worksheets: Bioglyphs (pdf) - Includes all the worksheets for this activity.
Also available ... Bioglyph PowerPoint - Use this presentation to help your students as they create their bioglyph.

First Post ... New Year Ahead

The start of a new school year is almost here and I am looking forward to meeting my new classes of students.  I have been surfing the web this summer for new resources and ideas to spiff up my lessons and activities. I am starting this blog to share my favorite ones weekly along with updates on new additions to my website at

Send me a message if you are looking for something specific or want to share a few of your own treasures!