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!