Angela Buffington, PhD

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4th GRADE SCIENCE OVERVIEW- Info for parents
Learning in the natural world is driven by curiosity. The TVS LS Exploratorium is where children FIRST investigate questions of a social, physical, geological, chemical, and biological nature- following the processes that scientists do. SECOND we learn about the knowledge that has been gathered by scientists to explain the natural world. THIRD we apply science knowledge to tinker, innovate, and create, solve real world problems, and communicate ideas to others. By May your child will be able to write testable questions about the natural world, design observational and experimental investigations, investigate, gather results, display results in tables and graphs, analyze results for patterns, develop claims, support claims with evidence, and evaluate investigations. These science processes not only lay foundations for future science, they prepare for the logic of prealgebra, geometry, problem solving, argument/ debate, and critical thought. When we learn by doing science we fail, retry, become frustrated but don't quit, get messy, and move from risk shy to innovative full of the grit that comes from meeting a tough challenge. It is this process from curiosity to discovery that pulls children and scientists to move from question to DO SCIENCE.
SCIENCE EXPO calendar and description- See green handouts in PROJECTS section of science binder for details.
4th Weekly Notes Start with the blue 4th Notes from the Friday Folder, a description of weekly topics and major events.
SCIENCE HOMEWORK Is written on the blue wall under HOMEWORK near the door. And posted HERE.
TOPICS and RESOURCES The Exploratorium is a project-based science learning space, so I do not rely on a textbook. Find a synopsis of class for study at home HERE. A great place for supplemental OPTIONAL READINGS is here DK findout! Science
RADs INFO is provided here, a handout is also in the INFO section of the black science binder.
RADs 10 Inertia Demos Video
BLACK COMPOSITION BOOK- SCIENCE JOURNAL Learning in progress, spot checks, and vocabulary development are organized in the Science Journals we keep in the classroom.
Title Page Name, Homeroom Teacher, Grade
Table of Contents date, title, page number for pages added
Daily- activities, investigations, practice, quick writes
Notes- sketches with labels to connect ideas, listings to show how topics are arranged, ideas in progress
Quick-Writes- Students respond in their journal to five questions related to recent Daily Work. My goal is to push students to begin reflecting on their own learning. During a Quickwrite I remind them to ask their brain, do you understand this? Do you know the answer? If you don't, be sure to pay close attention to the QW discussion, ask questions, and make corrections.
Glossary- In the back of the journal we add new science words and develop definitions based on our experiences. Words are only added when they are usable within our class disussions and context.
The Science Journal may be taken home for study. Please send it back to school promptly as we use it every day.
BLACK 3 RING SCIENCE BINDER The science binder has five sections to organize papers. Students bring binders to science every day, home on the weekend, and return them Monday.
Clear front cover- Papers here are for homework, parent initials, or corrections.
INFO- Information pages for Safety, RADs, Grading Info
DAILY- individual or group work to share what we are doing, QuickWrites that are longer than a journal page.
RADs- graded RADs
QUIZ- Review Sheets sent home in Friday Folder, In-Class Reviews, graded Quizzes, Quiz Correction Instructions

PROJECT- Information pages for projects such as the Science Expo.
The black 3 ring science binder should come home Friday and be returned Monday.


ABSENCES/ MAKEUP WORK Missed handouts will be placed in the group folder or journal to be completed upon return. Papers may also be sent home with instructions. Please contact me if additional guidance is needed for a child to reach comfort level on work sent home. Children are encouraged to drop in before school or at brain breaks. I teach K-4th so my day is busy!

ASSESSMENTS Marks on papers have three levels. I assess groups and individuals in a variety of ways. Here are the levels.
CHECK + evidence of skill and knowledge mastery
CHECK developing the skill and knowledge
CHECK - not showing evidence of mastery, needs consistent guidance
ZERO no evidence of understanding, assignment is missing, very incomplete, or incorrect

WEEKLY HOMEWORK (RADs)- RADs INFO In science students have one homework assignment per week. RADs are skipped prior to a Quiz during Science Expo, and Optional over holidays. Read RADs Info to learn more about the nature and purpose of RADs.

CLASSWORK COMING HOME? Work not completed during class due to inability to manage time management may come home. I will send a note of explanation and a due date via email. Students may spend a brain break on science if they have a brain break during science.

PROJECTS In-Class Projects- Our 4th grade curriculum involves process and content. The process of science is learned by doing projects involving investigating or designing. Most projects are with a partner or group, other projects are individual. Students may collect ideas, items, or resources from home but work on most projects with my guidance in class.
Home Projects- SCIENCE EXPO is an individual project completed with my guidance. In Late September students will begin to prepare for the Grandparent's Day event. Science Expo Info HERE

QUIZZES Individual development of skills, process, and knowledge is assessed and reassessed in a variety of ways. Quizzes are one way to gain evidence of learning and are given on a Thursday once a month.
How can I know when there is a quiz? See the blue Notes from 4th Grade in the Friday Folder. Students should also be writing homework in their assignment books. Quizzes are also posted on the Homework link on this site and written on the board.
What should be studied? To study at home for quizzes use the Review Sheet I send home on Friday prior to the quiz,  QUIZLET and the Topics and Resources links of current info provide further explanation.
QUIZLET  Join 4th Science 2018-2019 here 
How will a quiz look? Quizzes assess a variety of levels such as fill in the blank, identify, matching, short answer, draw and label graphs, and explaining in sentences. Students may physically use instruments, construct a table, construct a bar or line graph, draw and label a sketch, interpret a picture or graph, or describe patterns.
What about Quiz corrections? Scored QUIZZES are returned with a Check + as Mastery, Check as Approaching mastery, Check - is Needs Support. The Quizzes reflect the areas and levels of the science portion of the 4th Grade Report Card. Students receiving less than a Check + will be asked to missed items and return the quiz. Details for completing corrections are on the ORANGE Quiz Correction sheet attached to returned quizzes.
BEHAVIOR MANAGEMENT- PINK SLIPS  I expect students to be curious and excited 4th graders, but also thoughtful, respectful, careful, focused, and safe learners. Small consequences make a huge difference with TVS students. We are lucky to have good kids and supportive parents! At the beginning of the year students take home, review with parents, agree to, and sign the Science Safety Contract.
The Safety Contract outlines class expectations to promote respect, responsibility, and safe learning for all students.
WARNINGS: A child not meeting expectations will be asked to move back and watch. Once in control they will be given a chance participate using objects and instruments so long as they can make better choices. I handle minor issues in class.
PINK SLIPS: Children unable to find self control will be given a copy of the Safety Contract (printed on pink paper) and asked not to particpate for the rest of the day. This PINK SLIP will be followed by an email to parents with instructions to review and sign.
If a student begins to collect Pink Slips we will investigate reasons and devise another plan or additional consequences.
Signed Pink Safety Contracts are to be handed directly to Dr. Buffington so they are immediately seen.
Major Content Areas and Skills- The order and details of content areas is flexible. As students come up through our TVS K-4th science program the curriculum is evolving to build foundations and challenge limits of what they can do. This outline of 4th grade will be flexible to our evolving program.
1st 9 Weeks Science Senses Observe Infer Bar Graphing Measurement Physical Properties- safety, observations and observing, inference and infering, properties, bar graphs, classify, testing senses, surveys, sense parts, information from the senses, observational science and experimental science, organizing survey information into tables, organizing information into bar graphs, interpreting graphs by observing and inferring, volume, mass/weight, distances, measuring instruments, metric system intro
2nd 9 Weeks- Matter, Physical Properties and Changes/ Experimental Science- Science Expo, temperature, phases, magnetism, density, dissolving, experimental science, experimental question, procedures, cause and effect, controlled factors, line graphs, graph interpretation and analysis, inferences supported by observations
3rd 9 Weeks- Chemical Properties and Changes, Force Motion & Energy- dissolving, physical vs chemical properties and changes, creating 2D and 3D models, atomic model, periodic table of elements intro, properties of 10 elements, energy types and sources,testing chemical properties, chemical changes, chemical reactions, reactivity, flammability, reaction with acid, measurement, simple machines, forces, Newton's Laws of motion, inertia, gravity, friction, momentum, speed, energy stored and in motion
4th 9 Weeks- Organisms & Ecosystems- classification, observation and experiments, tables, bar and line graphs, claims, evidence, reasoning, living processes, photosynthesis, plants, growth rate, wildflowers, parts and functions, life cycles, insect classification, adaptations, food webs and chains
The kitchen is a great place to practice science thinking and skills. Kids can learn procedures using recipes, instrument use with kitchen tools, and how to investigate by changing and testing recipes. Figure out the instruments of cooking- measuring cups, tongs, hand-mixers, can-openers, food scales, and graters. Connect the design of tools to their function, "backward engineering."
Entertain questions about process... Why do you boil an egg? How is this different from scrambling an egg?
Rather than Google, innovate by adding parmesan cheese to Grandma's meatballs, or design and test 20 homemade pancake recipes. What about bacon pancakes, banana, peanut butter, raspberry, cinnamon and apple, or wheat, raisin ,and shredded carrots?
No Googling? Science isn't just about facts already known. The process of science addresses questions that have yet to be answered. Research scientists learn read about what is known then figure it out what is not yet known. Scientists must creatively solve problems, innovate a new designs, or develop a new theory to explain. Science learns by eliminating the solutions that do not work, so failure is part of the process. Edison is famous because he eliminated 1000+ ways that would not become a working safe light bulb. What if he quit at 900? Failure guides us closer to a solution or explanation that works!
WHO IS DR. BUFFINGTON? I have two degrees in Biology, worked as a field biologist, a university biology and integrated science faculty, and have taught science to students from 3 years of age through elementary, middle school, high school, pre-service teachers, in-service teachers, and premed students. I authored and published three laboratory manuals that used an inquiry approach to teach environmental science and integrated sciences at Texas State, and Baylor University. My son was born while I was a biology faculty member at TCU. My route to TVS began when Logan entered Kindergarten with Harriet Moore in the class of 2021, and my daughter Kaela followed the next year in the class of 2022. The fall Logan entered Kindergarten I began work on a PhD on full scholarship at TCU. For three years I was hired as a researcher at TCU's Andrews Institute to evaulate science teachers using the inquiry approach. We observed and interviewed hundreds of K-12 science teachers across the state and evaluated their understanding of inquiry science, curriculum, and developmentally appropriate science processes. My PhD is in Curriculum and Instruction- Science Education. I live an inquiring life, and teach from a constructivist philosophy using an inquiry approach. Daily I spend time in nature and am always busy learning something new. My greatest passion is to bring children to inquiry about natural world themselves. To show them how to ask and answer questions and be the scientist. They should not be consumers of what others have discovered, but make their own discoveries. In the LS Exploratorium we will be challenged but laugh as we learn together. If we are successful our learning experiences will spread and grow likes curious science seeds in our lives and those of friends and family.
WHAT IS A SCIENCE EXPLORATORIUM? Most of us know science as a body of knowledge produced by scientists we memorized in school. We learned facts, cycles, diagrams, and vocabulary. Learning ABOUT science is not the same as learning to THINK and DO science. Traditionally science teachers pass along what they know to students. Anyone who has watched a toddler has seen children investigating the natural world, humans do this innately. According to Piaget's work in the 1960s we learned that children begin to inquire at birth and understand the logic of experimentation beginning about 8-10 years of age. Who would ask a child to learn ABOUT riding a bike but not ride a bike? Knowing the name of a pedal, seat, and handlebars serves a purpose, but vocabulary only gives us a common language. They do not teach us how to balance, go faster, brake, curve, or skid a black mark on the driveway. Only through riding a bike can we learn how to ride. Creating opportunities for chidren to do science is what I love. I don't need to be on stage, with care and thought I hand some control over to my students so they can feel what is its like to wonder, tinker, explore, and create. I know they are engrossed in learning and doing when I call time to clean up and they Groan!
WHY DID TVS CHOOSE AN EXPLORATORIUM? The methods used in the TVS LS Exploratorium are based on the last 30 + years of science education research. Children are born to learn through sense-based experiences. Exploring is the first step in learning. Once children enter school their ability to explore and observe are at a higher level. Now patterns are identified quickly and meaning is developed. My job is to have students slow down, pay attention to their observations. Can they notice the difference between catching a pingpong ball and a golfball going the same speed? If so, they can create a reference point in experience to understand force and motion. I can then move them to understand how and why force, motion, inertia, velocity and mass are related. In this way they can come to know science as a process, a set of skills, and the knowledge gained.
In addition we learn how science is applied in our daily lives. Current trends in Maker, STEM, and inquiry science are have moved science education toward the methods, practical skills, equipment use, language, and thinking foundational to engineering. These trends have recognized that in this information age facts are easy, assumed, and at everyone's fingertips. The future will be chosen, crafted, and maintained by those capable of practical applications, innovation, and higher thinking. Through investigations and projects children see how things are made, learn to use tools, follow design thinking, and move from safe and easy to risky innovative, and creative.
We do and learn much in the Exploratorium, let's get started!
What is meant by process/skills as compared to content knowledge? Process and Content
What are the benefits of investigative science education?
If your child comes home with questions, thoughts, and science experiences to share with you... I consider that success!