Nitty Gritty Science has a new location...

Thanks for all your support - I hope you will join me at my new website where you will find all the same great science resources you've come to love from Nitty Gritty Science and MORE!!

Using Word Walls in Science

Making Vocab Connections

Word walls used to be a term heard only in elementary schools.  Nowadays it is more common that teachers of all grade levels are finding them effective and worthwhile for their students to develop and reinforce content area vocabulary.

In 2011, The National Research Council (NRC) developed A Framework for K-12 Science Education which identified practices of science and engineering that were essential for all students to learn.  One of the practices involved students obtaining, evaluating and communicating information.  It states:

Any education in science and engineering needs to develop students’ ability to read and produce domain-specific text. As such, every science or engineering lesson is in part a language lesson, particularly reading and producing the genres of texts that are intrinsic to science and engineering. (NRC Framework, 2012, p. 76)

By using a word wall in the science classroom, the teacher increases access to domain-specific text and can refer the students to it often.  Teachers should have students interact with the word wall to help develop concepts and demonstrate content mastery.  This can occur by adding arrows to show sequence, or group words together by categories.  By interacting with the word wall often, students will start making connections between the current science concepts they are learning as well as previously learned science topics. 

Visual Vocabulary

It’s important when making word walls that a picture or illustration is used alongside the vocabulary term to serve as a visual cue.  This is especially important to your English language learners who have been shown to benefit from increased exposure to print and language.

Limited Space?  Get Creative!

Sometimes wall space is limited in the classroom, forcing teachers to get creative.  One of the most unused real estate in the classroom is the ceiling – start building your students vocabulary above their heads.  At least when all faces are turned toward the sky, you’ll have immediate feedback that the word “ceiling” is in use. 

Using the back of the classroom door or fronts of cabinets will still allow students to see and interact with the scientific terminology.  However, words will need to be changed between each chapter or unit, so make it easy on yourself and place Velcro strips on surface and backs of cards for clean and easy exchange.

Download my FREE Nature of Science Word Wall to help you get started increasing your students' use of science vocabulary.  
Click to download

Looking for more?  Check out my Physical Science Word Wall Bundle with over 240 words to use throughout the school year.


Taking Nitty Gritty Science to Nashville!

When you think of Nashville, you probably picture country music, honky tonks teachers! Wait, what??  Well that's exactly what you found this past weekend during the 2016 NSTA National Conference in Nashville, TN.

I set out with the crazy idea of doing an exhibition booth for the first time, and you know what they say, "crazy loves company" (okay, no one says that) so, I invited my good friends Amy Brown (Amy Brown Science) and Tracey Graham (Smart Chick) to head to Nashville so we could share our curriculum and resources we design and create for our stores on Teachers Pay Teachers (

After months of preparation on our displays and products and getting our teams together, the day finally came and we weren't sure what to expect.  However, after the first hour of our booth being open, I think I can speak for all of us when I say the results were beyond our expectations.  We met so many teachers from across the fifty states and even across the globe!  Some would seek us out just to share that they used our products already, and it was humbling to hear how our products made their job so much easier in the classroom and how much the students were engaged using our science lessons.

I'm excited to say it was such a success that we'll be heading to Los Angeles for next years NSTA National Conference and will be making some state and regional appearances along the way.  I'll keep you posted of our future travels in case we swing by a conference near you!

I also want to congratulate the three winners Johnny M., Jill C. and Teresa G. for winning the Science Interactive Classroom Starter Pack (valued at $100)  through my giveaway hosted at my booth!  Did you miss the conference?  No worries, you can pick up my two FREE handouts here for a limited time - click on image below to download.

All rights reserved by author: Nitty Gritty Science, LLC

A personal thank you goes out to my my mom, Linda, who embroidered my NGS logo on our shirts/cardigans (which were a big hit by the way) and to my friend Carla Brooks, also a seller on TpT (check out her store Science Island) who stood with me for 21 hours this past weekend to help share Nitty Gritty Science interactive notebooks and resources!

Want more freebies and updates?  Make sure to sign up for my newsletter above!

Take care,

Making Editable Notes Work for You and Your Students

Taking notes in science class is essential for students to get the needed information of the topic being studied.  However, how students take their notes is key in how they retain and recall the information when they need it.

Many teachers are using Science Interactive Notebooks which feature notes, or Teacher Input on the right hand side and an interactive activity, or Student Output on the left hand side.  The Teacher Input side is where students are to put all the information you want them to understand.  So, the question now is - how is that information delivered?
bacteria virus protists
Life Science Interactive Notebook: The Microbial World
I've created an editable resource bundle for every chapter of my Science Interactive Notebook series (Life, Earth and Physical Science). Each bundle includes notes, PowerPoints and chapter tests which are all editable so you can make sure they meet the needs of your students.

The following are two variations on the guided note-taking method - Variation A is a guided outline and Variation B features a sentence completion strategy.  Choose one version that works for you, or use both if you feel some students need differentiation.  Guided notes provide a framework of the content but leave out key vocab or main ideas that students are responsible for.  They can either find the missing information through research, or by listening to the teacher as a lecture progresses.


This method allows you to take the editable notes and erase much of the main content, leaving students to find definitions, contrasting information and main details of the topic.  By giving them a guided outline, you have given clear structure of what information you want them to find, but at the same time have made them self-directed in their learning.  This method requires students to research the necessary topics to fill in the missing information.

science interactive notebook

Sentence completion, or fill-in-the-blank is another  note-taking format you can create from my editable notes that provide students with a more complete framework, yet still requires active listening skills during a PowerPoint lecture (as opposed to providing full copies of notes in their entirety that students just copy).  If this variation of notes is given before the lecture, it will require students to read through their textbooks or research online to find the important words/phrases that complete each sentence.  This is a perfect variation if you have ESLL students who are struggling with science vocabulary or if a student's IEP require that they have modifications for note-taking.

editable notes; editable resources; nitty gritty science

I get many questions like this one below:
"I've purchased your Earth and Space science interactive notebook and editable notes and PPT. I was just wondering how this looked in your classroom.  Do you typically go through the notes, then do the student output side second?... I just want to make sure I am using this resource to its full ability! Thank you!"

My answer:
Our school schedule was on block scheduling so this is based on a 75 minute period.  On test day, as soon as students finished a test, they would turn it in and pick up the next set of notes on my desk (Variation A) and return to their desk to use their textbook to look up the information.  I would set up this routine, so students understood that what they didn't finish in class was for homework that evening.  Once they returned to class, I could have a more engaging PowerPoint lecture since I would be able to teach information instead of just standing there waiting for students to copy.  This would allow lecture to be shorter, leaving time for them to work on the output activity which I would only give them an alloted 20-25 minutes.  Again, whatever was not completed was expected to be finished as homework.  Then I would move onto either pre-lab or another activity.  Using this method, students learned to use their time very wisely and very rarely did they have homework.

If you're strapped for time or have shorter periods, then just use Variation B of the notes and have students fill in as you go through the PowerPoint.

I hope this gives you a better understanding on what a powerful resource these editable notes can be and to let you know I'm willing to answer any questions or give clarification if needed.  This method can be done with any note set, but to help save you time, I've completed them for you.  You can check them out here:

Science Sub Plans

Like most teachers, you will find that a substitute teacher is needed every now and then. Sometimes the absence is planned and sometimes it is not. Substitute teachers have a very difficult job. Not only are they expected to cover a classroom full of often unknown students, but they also usually receive very short notice on the days they are to work.

substitute plans science teacherMore often than not substitute teachers find they are left with very little information and direction provided to them. Don’t be that teacher – set your substitute up for a successful day by utilizing my Secondary Science Sub Plans.  

This download includes two components: 1. An editable substitute handbook in which you can fill in information such as classroom policies, emergency procedures and contacts and even helpful students; and 2. Secondary science lessons that will engage students and allows them to be self-directed learners.

This resource will give a substitute teacher the tools he or she needs to make sure that both they and the students have a productive day.  I can promise you by showing the substitute teacher that you’re taking the time to help them, they will always be on call to help you.

substitute plans science teachereScience Lessons Included:

Communicating with Graphs - students are asked to either use different graphs to answer the questions, or use the data to complete the graphs (line, bar and age structure).

Arachnid Id - Students are given informational cards on 12 different spiders and are asked to read them in order to solve a puzzle that uses descriptions from the cards.

Periodic Table Word Search - Students are given element symbols and will need to use the Periodic Table to discover the name of the element  in order to search for it in the word search. you have the science lesson, but just need the editable substitute teacher handbook?  Click on the picture to check out this invaluable resource.
substitute teacher

Thank you for joining our featured event "Need Sub Plans?  We've Got You Covered" which is part of the monthly Secondary Smorgasbord Blog Hop hosted by Darlene Anne Curran (The ELA Buffet) and Pamela Kranz (Desktop Learning Adventure).
Please check out the TWO LINK UPS available for this month's event below:

TpT Sellers are GIVING BACK

2015 brought a lot of changes for my family and one of them was moving back to the northern East coast, which also meant moving back to cold and snow...brrrrrr.   I could not imagine heading outdoors this time of year without my scarf, mittens, hats and a warm coat, but unfortunately, I know many do because they are without them.  

My daughter came home this month and told me about a program her preschool class is organizing which collects winter clothing for other preschool kids who are in need.  When she started collecting her own mittens exclaiming, "I need to take these to my school for the mitten tree!" I let her know I had a better idea where we could help out AND she could keep her own mittens.

This season my family will be giving back to our local Head Start program through the Giving Tree program at my daughter's school.  So, on December 13, 2015, I will donate 100% OF MY SALES from my Nitty Gritty Science Store to help the children and families worry less about staying warm and worry more about finding the best place for snowball fights and sledding!

This holiday season if you have some items on your wish list, know that by purchasing them on December 13, 2015 you will not only be getting a fantastic lesson plan, but you will also be helping children in a most fantastic and warming way!  

Please make sure to check out other seller's stores as many will also be donating a percentage of their sales that day!  Look for this logo on store pages to see who's participating or check out the Link-up below.

Sellers: Please use this dropbox link to download logo to use on December 13, 2015.

5 Days of Holiday CHEER!

I got a sneek peek, and guess what?  You're on the NICE LIST...well, of course you are, you're a Science teacher!  Well, then you deserve something extra special, like the 5 Days of Holiday Cheer coming to your inbox December 7 - 11!  

Wait, you haven't signed up to receive the Nitty Gritty Science Newsletter?  There's still tons of time! Once signed up, you will not only receive some AMAZING deals and resources during this 5 Days of Cheer, but you can expect exclusives, freebies and science resources all year long!  

Since your here, let me give you an early gift... enter below for a chance to win a $25 Gift Certificate to use in my Nitty Gritty Science store too.  This is going to be fun - let the holiday season begin!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...