Sunday, August 12, 2012

Science Help Guides

I try to limit the quantity of paperwork that I distribute to students at the beginning of the year. I like to keep things streamlined and simplified, distilling classroom guidelines and expectations down to the bare essentials. Additionally, I don't distribute this paperwork to students on the first (or even second, or third…) day of school—it's better to jump right in and get the science started, giving students and me a chance to collaborate and socialize.

Once we are ready to talk about the classroom nuts and bolts, one of the most important documents I distribute are my Science Help Guides. These guides are a collection of standards of excellence for various tasks that we utilize throughout the year. Thanks to continuous feedback from and observations of students, these help guides have evolved over the years to their latest and greatest iteration. I tell my students annually, "These are the best help guides ever because they reflect the collective wisdom of every group of students who have preceded you."

Image credit: Microsoft Clipart
This year's help guides include the following:
  • How to Be Successful in Science Class
  • Standards of Excellence for Science Writing
  • Masterpiece Captions
  • Connect the Dots
  • Data Tables
  • Graphs
  • Show Me the Math!
  • Bibliographies and Picture Credits

I am proud of these help guides. They give my students and me a common language to share, work from, and build upon. While the help guides provide structure and support, I strive to ensure that they don't completely stifle opportunities for individuality. They are meant to be guidelines, rather than rigid rules. Student creativity beyond these guidelines is welcomed and encouraged.

Students and teachers alike are free to download and use these help guides. They are published under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). I only ask that my copyright is honored and respected, and that I am given proper credit for the guides. Otherwise, I hope they are beneficial…

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