Back to School: Featured Lessons – Grades 6-8 Math & Science

However you might be kicking off the 2020 school year – in person, hybrid, or virtual – we thought we’d take a moment to highlight some relevant content for you. Check out some of our back to school lessons, as well as subject specific content!

Back to School

Back to School: Middle School

Grade(s): 6, 7, 8

Subject(s): ELA, Social Studies

This Back to School unit is all about inspiration. Help inspire and empower your students for a school year dedicated to growth and learning.

Each step in this activity begins with a short motivational video to help set the tone for the school year. Your students will get to know each other through community and “getting to know you” activities, then they’ll each create their own motto for the year. Starting the school year the right way can make a huge impact on your classroom environment!

Qualities of a Model Student!

Grade(s): 5, 6, 7, 8

Subject(s): ELA, Social Studies

Use this critical thinking activity to have students decide which qualities make a model student. It can help students to think about how they can improve their own attitudes and behaviors in class over the coming year.

Students answer questions about and discuss some of the qualities of a model student and then rank them according to which are the most important. Students drag and drop a curated list of qualities to rank their choices and use reasoning skills to justify their decisions. They can then compare to the class average.

Qualities of a Great Teacher!

Grade(s): 5, 6, 7, 8

Subject(s): ELA, Social Studies

Use this critical thinking activity to have students consider what they are looking for in a teacher and why. It can help you to guide your own practice with a class and focus on what they are looking for from you over the coming year.

Students answer questions about and discuss some of the qualities of a great teacher and then rank them according to which are the most important to them. Students drag and drop a curated list of qualities to rank their choices and use reasoning skills to justify their decisions. They can then compare to the class average.

6-8 Science Lessons

Info Circles: Close Reading with Nonfiction Text

Grade(s): 6, 7, 8

Subject(s): ELA, Science, Social Studies

Interpreting large amounts of information in dense text can be difficult for students. Inference, citing evidence, summarizing, predicting, and questioning are real world skills that unlock more meaning from text, but they need to be practiced.

Info Circles are loosely based on literature circles, but the roles are aligned with modern standards. From the Quizzical Questioner and Sage Summarizer to the Lexicon Sleuth and Graphic Artist, readers learn to attack the text from different perspectives, and to interpret and build deeper meaning. A final role called Time Traveler can be used to build a timeline for a longer perspective of history or science.


Build A Lunar Lander

Grade(s): 6, 7, 8

Subject(s): Science

Exploration provides the foundation of our knowledge, technology, resources, and inspiration. It seeks answers to fundamental questions about our existence, responds to recent discoveries and puts in place revolutionary techniques and capabilities to inspire our nation, the world and the next generation. Landing safely and learning to live on the Moon or other planetary bodies would give us a head start in exploring Mars and other destinations in the solar system.

In this project, students assume the role of NASA aerospace engineers, using the engineering design process to learn steps for designing, creating, and improving equipment. They design and build a shock-absorbing system that protect two marshmallow “astronauts” when they land. By doing so, they come to understand some of the challenges of lunar landings.

Homer-Ostasis

Grade(s): 6, 7, 8, 9

Subject(s): Science

Keep the level, color and temperature the same in a leaky cup of yellow water – maintain homeostasis to keep ‘Homer’ alive!

Homeostasis is traditionally a tricky concept to teach. This is a memorable and successful way to finally get this central need of life across to students with a fun challenge. It’s tried and tweaked, easy to resource and links the lab to the way their bodies work. It can work as the starting activity to any level of physiology course, within the characteristics of life unit at the start of middle school life science, or toward the end of a unit on cells.

6-8 Math Lessons

My Life as a Rational Number

Grade(s): 6, 7, 8

Subject(s): Math

Take on the persona of a rational number and share your number’s relationships, patterns, trends, ethics, details, and/or rules! Who is in your family? Who is a distant cousin? Are you disrespected because you are negative? Is your life boring because you do the same thing all the time?

Knights of the Road: Tell A Tachograph Tale

Grade(s): 7, 8

Subject(s): Math, ELA, Science

Graphs tell stories and students use a graph of speed against time to tell a realistic story of a trucker’s day. This is where the rubber meets the road with English and math standards in science class. Plus it highlights a central job in our economy: if you bought it, a truck brought it.

Rescue the Roadkill Cafe

Grade(s): 6, 7

Subject(s): Math, ELA

n this project, students will work with a partner to form a restaurant rescue business that will recommend how the Roadkill Café can improve its menu, improve the cafe’s profit, build storage space efficiently, and select a bank loan. They will then present their improvement plan, citing their mathematical evidence, and make recommendations for the owners.

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