The week to come...
I am also taking one day to have them look through the work in their portfolios and complete a reflection sheet. I am experimenting with student-led parent-teacher conferences in the sixth grade. I'm going to have them reflect on their strengths and areas for improvement, find evidence within their work to demonstrate these things, reflect on their behavior, and then complete a "script" for a parent-teacher conference. They aren't required to stick to the script but it will be there to support them in giving a full description of their progress. They will practice their conference with another student role-playing their parent. Then, on conference night, I am going to have two or three conferences occurring simultaneously, while I circulate and talk to parents when they want to know more than what their child is saying.
We'll see what happens. I had hoped to give them two days to prepare, since this is the first time we're doing this, but what with the half day and the rollercoasters taking longer than expected, this is the best I can do.
Meanwhile, I'm taking over an additional 7th grade class again, as I did at the beginning of the year, as we have still not hired anyone for the position. Mr. Richter is relieved to hand them off to me, and I'm kind of dreading it. It means four fewer free periods per week, plus more planning and grading than normal. I've done a lot of planning for the weather and climate unit that we are starting on Monday, but it's never enough.
We are going to begin with a weather & climate book pass, followed by the kids making K-W charts about the topic. We are also going to start weather journals, which will be the warm-up at the start of class for at least three weeks. At the beginning, they will record just the temperature (I bought an indoor-outdoor thermometer) and some predictions about the weather to come. Later, we will add air pressure readings, cloud observations, precipitation observations, and more. I am having them work in partners, so that if one partner is absent, the other can still gather data.
From there, we will begin talking about air and the atmosphere. We're going to try to show them that gases have mass and density by creating a balance out of a meter stick and two paper bags, one tied to each end. Then we will create a bunch of carbon dioxide by mixing vinegar & baking soda, and we will "pour" the carbon dioxide into one of the bags. With any luck, the more dense carbon dioxide will displace the air in the bag, and it will sink relative to the other bag. Then we can discuss why this happened. They will also read and answer questions about the contents of air - nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, trace gases, water vapor, particles, etc.
The next day, we're going to do the soda can crush demo. You fill the bottom of a soda can with a bit of water, heat it, and then invert the can into a tub of cold water. The heating evaporates the water, which takes up more space in the can, driving some of the air out of the can. When you invert it in cold water, the air inside the can cools and the water vapor condenses again, only this time, air cannot flow back into the can to equalize the pressure. Thus, the pressure inside the can is less than the air pressure, and the can should crumple. For homework, we'll show them these pictures and ask them if they can explain what happened to the tanker.