The Science Behind Chalk Talk

Students don’t get many opportunities to use chalk, so when you say, “Hey kiddos, were going outside to play with sidewalk chalk”, don’t be surprised if you instantly become everyone’s favorite teacher. As the weather starts to warm up, it’s the perfect time to get your students to go outside to show what they know by drawing models or examples of the science topics you are studying. Chalk Talk science task cards combine art and science. Each science topic contains 20 task cards with a drawing task (the chalk part) and a discussion question (the talk part). There are over 15 Science topics to choose from. Here’s why they work.

1. Students Love to be Outside

Learning doesn’t always have to happen in the classroom. Take your students out on a beautiful day, the sunshine will invigorate them and motivate them to try something new.

2. Students get to Draw

No, this isn’t your normal textbook/worksheet day. This is a fun day (or at least that is what they think…) Drawing is just another way for students to show what they know. Instead of drawing a model on a sheet of paper (yawn…bor-ing), think of how exciting it will be to draw a large-scale model with chalk!

3. Requires Students to Speak

Students will also get an opportunity to practice their communication skills when the answer the discussion question that goes along with their drawing.

4. Makes the Campus a Colorful Place

The art that the students make is truly beautiful and creative.  The chalk stays on the sidewalk until it gets washed away by the rain (or unless you wash it away). You can have different classes put their artwork in different areas of the campus grounds like car rider line, bus ramp, front office, cafeteria, etc. so everyone can see your student work displayed!

5. Art work becomes a Review

After all the students are done in the class, you can have a gallery walk. Every time a student passes some art work, they will stop to check it out. Students will be so excited to show their friends their drawings. It’s like a constant review for students (without having to say, “Take out your notebook and review your notes.”)

Chalk Talk Tips:

Chalk is cheap

You can get a giant tub of 20 pieces of sidewalk chalk for $1.00 at the dollar tree.

Use sidewalks

The beautiful thing about using sidewalks as your canvas is that it is already divided- no complaints about other groups’ drawings invading another group.

Have different classes draw in different areas

This prevents students from copying other groups from another class.

Have a bucket of water/ spray bottle

You can’t exactly erase sidewalk chalk. The only way to get rid of something written with chalk is to get it wet.

Check out the full list of Chalk Talk Task Cards including Chalk Talk Task Cards for State Testing


State Testing Tips and Testing Motivation

I’m sure that your students have heard test taking tips and strategies every year, from every teacher since the moment they were old enough for state testing. They are told it (shoved down their throats) so often, it starts sounding like requirements and one more thing they must remember and do, instead of helpful ways to prepare and be successful on the test.  I’ve created a free Test Taking Tips color sheet for your students to take the edge off of testing. It allows your visual learners to read the tips and your students the opportunity to color, which can be calming during this stressful time. If you are limited on time (cause you know… state testing and all) just send the students home with it. They’ll read it- I promise. Some students have too much time? Its perfect for early finishers.  I’ve listed a few of the tips below. Which tips do you think are most important to hit home with your students?

1. Eat Breakfast

2. Take Small Breaks

3. Pace Yourself

4. Answer Carefully

5. Check Your Work

Enjoy this Test Taking Tips for Students freebie. You may also enjoy these State Testing Motivation Posters and Signs.

Hosting A Gallery Walk

With over 130 students, you may think there is just no way to display all student work like projects all the time. But you totally should- and you totally can! Displaying student work is a form of affirmation, and there is no easier and faster way to share student work than a gallery walk. For those unfamiliar with a gallery walk, it is simply giving students time to share their work. There are different ways to do it, but usually students will just leave their work on their desk and move freely about the room checking out their classmates’ work. Here are some tips to have a successful and meaningful gallery walk.

1. Set the Expectations

For our first gallery walk, I always ask students what are the expectations for people when they go to a fancy art gallery? What are the likely consequences they break a rule? Their answers most often become our gallery walk expectations.

  1. Use quiet voices/ no talking
  2. Do not touch any of the artwork
  3. No running or horseplaying
  4. No eating or drinking
  5. Don’t stand over someone’s shoulder when they are looking (1 person per exhibit/ student work)
  6. If you see something wrong, alert someone immediately

2. Have Look Fors….

Give your students something to think about.

  1. What are things you like?
  2. What are things that you dislike?
  3. What was something creative?
  4. What is a great idea that you might consider doing next time?

3. Set the Timer/ Play Classical Music

Set a timer or play classical music. Sometimes, when I am not strapped for time, I just watch the students and when they begin to look like they are just wandering, then I end the walk.

4. Share Thoughts

Have students share their thoughts and share their look fors. Be sure to emphasize, that they should not name any names or be specific about particular projects… just speaking generally.

Gallery walks are a great way for students to share their creations with an audience and to see how their projects compare to other student projects. Students will put in more work knowing it will be on display for more than just the teacher to grade and to hand back immediately. Your students’ creations will constantly evolve as they learn the characteristics of a good project from their peers. I’m willing to bet that the quality of your student work and projects will increase if your students are consistently participating in gallery walks. That is a tremendous gain for giving up 5-10 minutes of your time!