Back to school resources for middle school science teachers

Back to School Resources Every Middle School Science Teacher Needs

It’s that time of year again. The new school year is just around the corner and teachers everywhere are heading back into the school building with boxes of classroom supplies and a list of last minute classroom “to-do’s.” When it comes to back to school resources every middle school teacher needs, everyone has their own opinions. You could read a million blog posts detailing the classroom supply list materials. digital resources, and other wonderful things that will make the start of your school year a success! 

Here’s the thing…

Each of those lists will be different. Sure, there’s overlap in all lists. For example, any back to school list you’re likely to read will suggest that you stock up on basic supplies such as dry erase markers and pens of different colors (pink is always my favorite grading color.) But beyond the basics, every teacher has their own opinions on what items and supplies are truly “ESSENTIAL.”

Here are mine…

BASIC CLASSROOM SUPPLIES

During back to school season, most teachers have their minds set on refilling classroom essentials. These include your basic office supplies, like a good stapler, pencil sharpener, and an assortment of binder clips. You’ll probably also want art supplies such as markers, glue and scissors. Being science teachers, there are additional supplies required for the unique hands-on activities we are fortunate to do with our students. These might include meter sticks, microscopes, etc. 

In brainstorming back to school resources every middle school teacher needs, I’ve put together a list of classroom supplies to help you prepare for this upcoming year of teaching! 

LESSON PLANNING RESOURCES 

At the risk of stating the obvious…it doesn’t really matter how many stacks of sticky notes or packs of beautiful multicolored pens you have if you lack the resources to put together effective and meaningful lesson plans.

To help with this, I’ve put together unit resources for many of the standard units taught within the middle school science curriculum. These resources include: 

  • Unit Guides with pacing suggestions 
  • Google PDF slides presentations 
  • Assessments 
  • Guided reading activities 
  • Vocabulary practice
  • Labs and other hands-on activities 
  • Data analysis practice 

Here are a few samples: 

​Alright…it just doesn’t feel right to have a section dedicated to lesson planning without taking a moment for teacher planners! I love a good planner!!! Here are a few of my favorites (both traditional paper and digital versions.) 

DIGITAL RESOURCES

When it comes to starting the off on the right foot, I find two things to be critically important: Pre-assessment and classroom management. These two things are my primary focus in the first weeks of school and they truly help lay the foundation for a successful year. 

Pre-Assessment 

When you begin the year with a fresh set of middle school students, it’s important to know where you are starting. 

  • What do your students already know? 
  • Where are their gaps in their content knowledge? 
  • Are there specific skills they are still struggling with? 

Sure, we have learning standards that tell us what they SHOULD know before getting to your classroom, but as any experienced teacher will tell you…just because they should have mastered a particular skill or developed a deep understanding of a particular topic does not mean they actually DO have that knowledge at a proficient level. 

This is where making time for a pre-assessment can be SO SO helpful! 

To help with this, I’ve created a NGSS pretest used to assess students’ abilities on the 8 core science and engineering practices (SEP) embedded through the entirety of the NGSS standards. 

Assessed standards are as follows:

  1. ASKING QUESTIONS (SCIENCE) AND DEFINING PROBLEMS (ENGINEERING)
  2. DEVELOPING AND USING MODELS
  3. PLANNING AND CARRYING OUT INVESTIGATIONS
  4. ANALYZING AND INTERPRETING DATA
  5. USING MATHEMATICS AND COMPUTATIONAL THINKING
  6. CONSTRUCTING EXPLANATIONS (SCIENCE) AND DESIGNING SOLUTIONS (ENGINEERING)
  7. ENGAGING IN ARGUMENT FROM EVIDENCE
  8. OBTAINING, EVALUATING AND COMMUNICATING INFORMATION

You can grab your own copy of the NGSS pretest below: 

Classroom Management

As a new teacher, I struggled HARD with classroom management! (Sound familiar?!) My first year teaching (okay, first YEARS teaching) were spent trying to find good ways to get my classroom full of middle schoolers to listen to me. Through a lot of trial and error  and some great ideas from more tenured teachers, I finally found a classroom management approach that works for me…and let me tell ya, it starts on the first day of school! 

Classroom policies and routines are key!

My set of classroom routines and expectations were born out of countless hours spent in a full classroom with 12 year olds. I’ve pretty much seen it all! These are the expectations that I now use at the beginning of every single lesson. 

Want more?! 

I’ve put together my Ultimate Guide to Classroom Management in an effort to support fellow teachers in impelementing a classroom management approach that actually works. The 118 pages of this book are the result of my 8 years teaching middle grades. Every tear I‘ve cried and every conversation I’ve had with other educators has contributed to the production and publication of the words you’re reading here. I’m passionate about teachers who are new or struggling because I know what it feels like.

Chapters Include:

  1. SELF CARE
  2. SETTING EXPECTATIONS
  3. ENTERING THE CLASSROOM
  4. FEEDBACK LOOPS
  5. DIFFERENTIATION
  6. ENFORCING BOUNDARIES
  7. REWARDS
  8. PARENT CONTACT
  9. CONSEQUENCES
  10. GETTING A HEAD START
  11. CHERISH THE CHILD
  12. CHOICE
  13. DON‘T ENGAGE
  14. BUILD RELATIONSHIPS
  15. PRAISE PUBLICLY, CRITICIZE PRIVATELY
  16. HOW TO WIN OVER THE BAD KID (FREE IN PREVIEW)
  17. POSITIVE FRAMING

Let’s Stay Connected!

Continue the discussion in my Facebook Group for Middle School Science Teachers or my Classroom Management Facebook Group.

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