Night shot of illuminated pumpkins in front of a house

Fun Free Resources for Halloween and Day of the Dead!

Click on the images below to download fun holiday activities and resources you can print out and share with your students, from Day of the Dead masks to stencils for pumpkin carving.

Day of the Dead Mask (English)
Máscara de Día de Muertos (Spanish)
Halloween Anagrams
Pumpkin Life Cycle Display
Pumpkin Carving Stencil—Skeleton
Skeleton Word Search
Skeleton Decoration
Pumpkin Carving Stencil—Space

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Two children working together to make things

5 Collaborative Strategies for STEM Learning

The skills we want to help young students develop don’t just include those directly connected to the subjects being taught. Modern science standards give guidance on how students should investigate matter, forces, and living things, of course, but they also emphasize skills like working in teams, collaboration, and engaging in argument from evidence. But what makes these such a crucial part of well-rounded science classes?

Science lessons—even virtual ones—provide great opportunities to give students investigative problems they must work together to solve. The engineering design process is a perfect opportunity to encourage students to team up, develop and test ideas, appreciate each other’s creativity, and talk about their successes and failures.

As students work in teams, they’re learning to communicate, to respect the ideas of others, and to understand why everybody’s role is important. These are essential aspects not only of classroom collaboration, but also of being part of society. Good teamwork improves students’ social skills. It makes them more self-confident. It even reduces bullying. And it helps children to go on to become successful adults.

That’s why we made teamwork, communication, and collaboration fundamental components of the Twig Science program. It’s there in all of our story-driven investigation modules, and we also created special 3-D Team Challenge mini-modules totally focused on teambuilding and how scientists and engineers work in teams. In doing so, we came up with some useful ideas for increasing the collaborative value of lessons that we thought we’d share with you—you’ll find all of these in the Twig Science Team Challenges and investigations, but they can be adapted for any lesson.

Here are our favorite five ideas:

1. Student-agreed “Science Expectations”—Children hate being told what to do when they don’t understand why they’ve got to do it.

It’s a good idea to get students to discuss the factors that create a productive learning environment. Guide them to come up with their own ideas for how investigations should be carried out in an environment that encourages collaboration and respect. Children hate being told what to do when they don’t understand why they’ve got to do it—but if they are included in creating the rules, they respect and learn from them. Twig Science mini-modules include sections where students brainstorm “Science Expectations.” They think about what good teamwork involves and how it could work better, and they produce a Science Expectations poster to display in the classroom throughout the year. Examples of Science Expectations could include “We respect each other,” “We let everyone share their ideas,” “We encourage each other,” or “Everyone helps to clean up.”

2. Team-building exercises—Prepare students for just about every situation they’ll ever encounter in their professional and personal lives!

Before getting students to embark on in-depth, full-length engineering investigations, it can be helpful to have them take part in shorter, low-stakes team-building exercises. In Twig Science mini-modules, we suggest various icebreaker activities, storytelling games, and classroom discussions. These get students engaging in civil discourse, deliberating, debating, building consensus, compromising, communicating effectively, and giving presentations. These are incredibly valuable skills that not only prepare students for the long-form storyline investigations that make up the main Twig Science modules—they prepare them for just about every situation they’ll ever encounter in their professional and personal lives!

3. Reflection points – Students review and discuss their work as a form of self-assessment.

Involving students every step of the way in thinking about what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and how they could do it better helps to embed the skills that they are developing. We made sure to put frequent reflection points in Twig Science to give students a chance to discuss how teams are working together and whether everyone is getting their chance to take part. The important thing about reflection is that it’s a form of self-assessment. You’re not grading the students, and there are no correct or incorrect responses. The purpose of the discussion is for students to think about the investigation processes and to share and reflect on different ideas. What have they enjoyed? What was easy and what was challenging? How do their experiences in their teams connect to experiences outside the classroom?

4. Real-world connections –  Get students acting out behaviors that they’ll be able to use again and again throughout their lives.

A big part of Twig Science’s collaborative investigations is how they connect to the way real-life scientists and engineers work in teams. Giving students this real-world connection adds meaning and purpose to what they’re doing. As they take on the roles of scientists and engineers, they’re acting out behaviors that they’ll be able to use again and again throughout their lives. They’ll understand that scientists, too, have team roles. They listen to each other. They’re respectful when they disagree. They build on each other’s ideas. Students will associate these attitudes with success as they act them out and become used to recognizing them in the world around them.

5. Language routines – Communication is a fundamental component of teamwork.

How students use language is an important indicator of their levels of understanding and respect. Communication is a fundamental component of teamwork, which involves a careful balance of being able to express ideas and opinions and also listen to those of others. It’s directly connected to our social and emotional development because language is our primary method of expressing what we feel about ourselves and each other and describing what we agree and disagree about. Twig Science includes a number of repeated language routines (e.g. Turn and Talk, Collect and Display) that structure the way students use language in investigations. They’re encouraged to use the words they feel comfortable using—without the need for formal “perfection”—while given the support to connect these to scientific vocabulary when they’re ready. The language routines support English Learners—and other students who lack confidence—to take part fully in discussions. Communicating in an inclusive, encouraging, understanding environment leads to confidence, and confident communication increases students’ ability to work well as team members in the classroom and as successful and respectful citizens.

To find out how you can implement Twig Science in your school or district, get in touch today.

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Anchor Phenomena and Investigative Phenomena in Twig Science

In Twig Science, every module has a storyline that sets its module anchor phenomenon in a grade-appropriate context. The storyline is introduced near the start of each module through a module trailer video. This video is not a replacement for complex observable events that students must investigate to solve or explain, but an engagement tool to get students excited about the challenges and phenomena they are about to explore.

Every module’s anchor phenomenon is scaffolded through a sequence of smaller investigative phenomena and problems, known as Driving Questions in Twig Science.

In every grade and every module of Twig Science, observing and explaining phenomena and designing solutions provide the purpose and opportunity for students to engage and drive their own learning.

Grade 4, Module 3: Time-Traveling Tour Guides

For example in Grade 4, Module 3, students make sense of the module anchor phenomenon: How have weathering and erosion sculpted some of Earth’s most interesting landscapes?

As per our instructional design, the investigation of this anchor phenomenon is resolved over several weeks of instruction. The students’ first exposure to it is carried out at local level in the module’s first lesson, when students take part in an outdoor investigation in their schoolyard, recording their observations for changes that might have occurred over time.  Afterward, in a class discussion, they connect their findings to the first investigative phenomenon (Driving Question):  What makes landscapes change over time?  They begin to understand how landscapes change, and they identify water, wind, and ice as possible agents of those changes.

In Lesson 4, the scale of what they’ve seen and discussed changes both in terms of size and time as they explore geological features of the Grand Canyon.  Students observe 360-degree photographs of the Canyon. They generate wonderful questions about this phenomenon.   The module trailer video is shown in Lesson 4, introducing the storyline in which students take on the role of tour guides and explain what they learn about the Grand Canyon to visiting tourists.  

Students continue their investigation to explain the geological features of the Grand Canyon in subsequent Driving Questions.  

In Driving Question 2 (Why do we see different rock layers in the Grand Canyon?), students make physical models of layers of rock at the Grand Canyon containing different fossils within different layers.  Students come to understand that rock layers represent different periods of geological time and that layers further up the canyon are more recent.  They figure out that fossils help us understand what landscapes used to be like. Students begin to connect the component parts of a landscape and the evidence available to them as to how it was formed.

In Driving Question 3 (How did the Colorado River sculpt the Grand Canyon?), students make stream tray models to observe the phenomenon of how the movement of water causes erosion, connecting it to nature by looking at satellite photos. They figure out that water can change the land (including carving river channels) by modeling the water flow of a river in a stream tray and making observations. They figure out that there are variables (stream flow, steepness of slope) that affect the rate of erosion. Students have now investigated one of the key agents of erosion that sculpted the Grand Canyon. 

In Driving Question 4 (What other amazing landscapes have been sculpted by weathering and erosion?), students extend their investigations of landscape change beyond the Grand Canyon.  They explore the investigative phenomena How do wind and ice change the land? They use physical models to help investigate natural phenomena such as Yosemite Valley and connect their findings to real-world examples. They figure out that the movement of ice and the wind can dramatically change landscapes, finding evidence for this in the models they create: observing changes in clay when a block of ice is moved over it and in sand when blown by a fan.

In exploring these anchor and investigative phenomena in Time-Traveling Tour Guides, students revisit the topic of landforms, explored in Grade 2 in Twig Science, and investigate erosion and weathering. They also look ahead to the H2O Response Team module in Grade 5, in which they build on their Grade 4 ideas about how water and wind affect Earth.

Want to find out more about Twig Science? Contact us today.

5 Ways Twig Science South Carolina Makes Your Life Easier

From the start, we designed Twig Science South Carolina to be a pleasure to use, from its clear, colorful design to the straightforward navigation between lessons. There are lots of cool features that help to make the Twig Science South Carolina experience feel streamlined and effortless, and we’re adding more all the time—many at the request of teachers using Twig Science South Carolina right now.

Here are some you may not know about…

1. Breaking Down SCCCR Science Standards

Twig Science South Carolina was designed from the ground up for three-dimensional SCCCR Science Standards framework. We’ve built it in such a way that teachers don’t even have to think about the standards, if they don’t want to. As you teach the program, every standard is broken down into clear, achievable learning goals that you cover as you proceed through the lessons and assessment. You don’t need to worry about covering every Performance Expectation—the alignment is built into the program, which ensures that every student hits all of their three-dimensional targets, from Science and Engineering Practices to Disciplinary Core Ideas to Crosscutting Concepts.

 Find out more about how Twig Science South Carolina supports your SCCCR Science Standards adventure by reading the program overview here.

2. Twig Coach and Video Labs

Bite-sized video lessons and lab sessions bring highly engaging phenomena through high-quality in-class or remote STEAM investigations—fully aligned to the SCCCR Science Standards. Features include:

  • On-demand instruction with Twig Coach video lesson
  • Virtual hands-on video labs
  • Flexible instructional uses for in-person or hybrid classroom settings

Hands-on science lab videos allow students to take part in experiments from home, to support the teaching of hands-on science.

Find out more about Twig Coach Assign and GO video lessons here

3. Digital Twig Book

One of the Twig Science South Carolina features we’re most proud of is the Digital Twig Book. This allows students to fill in answers directly into their own personal workbooks on their computers or tablets. You can view any of your students’ individual Digital Twig Books to see their work, and you also have a version of your own—called “My Copy”—which you can add your own notes and answers to.

These features mean that the Digital Twig Book can be used as a streamlined, all-in-one version of the program. You can even teach straight from it. Alternatively, combined with the great new hybrid learning features described below, the Digital Twig Book makes a flexible independent study tool.

Accessing the Digital Twig Book couldn’t be easier. In any lesson, click on “Twig Book” and select “Digital.”

Find out more about sharing Digital Twig Book lessons with your class by clicking here.

4. Presentation View

Twig Science South Carolina features a fantastic way to control all the events and assets that make up a lesson in one easy-to-use view—it’s called Presentation View. This feature can be used in a classroom or via distance learning through screen sharing, and it gives you a way of presenting assets to your students so that they have maximum visual impact. There’s no clutter—the students see what they need to see and nothing way. It gives you an easy way to navigate through all digital assets that belong to a lesson, enabling you to teach the lesson quickly without needing to wade through instructions.

Presenting a Twig Science South Carolina lesson is really straightforward. Simply navigate to the lesson you want to teach, then click the “Present Lesson” button:

Alternatively, click the “Present” button on any asset thumbnail:

To learn more about presenting lessons in Twig Science South Carolina, click here.

5. Accessibility Features

The accessibility panel provides many features, such as a screen reader and font adjustment controls, to provide a great user experience for all.

These features can be turned on by clicking the accessibility button on the bottom left-hand side of the screen.

A pop up panel will appear, giving you access to a screen reader and the ability to change many aspects of the site.

Read more about Twig Science South Carolina accessibility features—click here.

To implement Twig Science South Carolina’s range of ease-of-use tools in your school or district, get in touch today.

Topical Science—August 2021

With a brand-new school year drawing closer, we’ve put together some fun topical science content to get you inspired for the month ahead! 

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Saturday, August 7

National Lighthouse Day

Every year, National Lighthouse Day is celebrated to keep alive the bright heritage of lighthouses, their keepers, and their light, which has guided so many ships safely to shore. On this day, why not inspire your students with the history of the lighthouse? Learn more.

Thursday, August 12

World Elephant Day

World Elephant Day brings attention to the planet’s mightiest land animals, the Asian and African elephants. The international campaign not only celebrates the iconic animal but also asks that we pledge support toward bringing better protection against threats such as habitat loss. Learn more about elephants by watching this video: Watch now.

Saturday, August 14

World Lizard Day

With more than 5,500 species of lizards found around the world, from urban areas to the Amazon rain forest, World Lizard Day is a day to acknowledge and learn about these fascinating cold-blooded reptiles. Why not learn about the agama lizard this week? Learn more.

Monday, August 16

National Roller Coaster Day

National Roller Coaster Day, first celebrated in 1986, brings together the thrill seekers of the world. Did you know that many roller coasters don’t even have engines? On this day, why not teach your students about how roller coasters work.

Thursday, August 19

National Aviation Day

Did you know that the world’s first successful flight flew just 120 feet? On a day chosen to honor the first airplane pilot—Orville Wright—National Aviation Day celebrates both the history and evolution of aviation and aims to bring support to pilots worldwide. Learn more about planes by watching this video: Watch now

Saturday, August 21

National Honey Bee Day

Despite what their name might suggest, honeybees do much more than make honey. In fact, they play a crucial role in our food chain. National Honeybee Day aims to bring awareness to how vital this species is to our ecosystem. Why not teach your students more about environmental awareness this week? Learn more.

August 23—28

World Water Week

World Water Week brings together more than 33,000 participants from around the world to discuss the escalating water crisis. This year, experts will be focusing on finding solutions to the world’s most urgent water issues. This week, why not learn more about water as a resource? 

Saturday, August 28

International Bat Night 2021

Did you know that bats use soundwaves and echoes to find their way through the night and locate prey, otherwise known as echolocation? Since 1997, International Bat Night, organized by Eurobats, sees worldwide gatherings of people searching for and learning about bats in their natural habitat.  This week, why not learn more about the marvel of animal senses?

Monday, August 30

National Beach Day

Founded in 2014, this event highlights the deadly implications on seabirds and ocean wildlife caused by rubbish left on our beaches and celebrates all of the sandy beaches that our planet has to offer. Why not wave off summer by learning why beaches are made of sand? Learn more

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Weld North Education Acquires Twig Education

Weld North Education, the largest provider of digital curriculum solutions in the US, has announced the acquisition of Twig Education, creators of high-quality science curriculum products designed to improve science literacy globally. Based in the UK, with a strong team in the US, Twig’s flagship product, Twig Science Next Gen, is a highly engaging, multimedia-rich, digital-first science program, grounded in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), with unique partnerships with Imperial College London, Stanford University, and BBC Studios.

The acquisition of Twig is an important step forward as Weld North continues to expand its digital core curriculum offerings, delivering on its mission to empower educators to drive learning breakthroughs and support each student’s unique learning journey. Founded in 2009, Twig entered the US market in 2018 with an innovative program designed to meet the NGSS, integrating visual, digital, and hands-on learning. Today, Twig has a 30% share of the elementary science market in California with plans to expand across the US. Twig CEO Catherine Cahn, based in California, will continue to manage the business.

 “Our purpose—to ignite learning breakthroughs—has never been more important as we partner with schools, districts, parents, and students to unlock the power of digital solutions to enrich the learning experience,” said Jonathan Grayer, founder and CEO of Weld North Education, “Twig’s engaging science curriculum fits perfectly with our other K–12 core offerings in math and English Language Arts—LearnZillion and StudySync—and has an exceptional reputation among educators using the program. By expanding Twig’s footprint across the country, we can inspire more students to understand the world around us and pursue STEM careers.”

Twig Science Next Gen is a phenomena-based core science program embracing the investigative, hands-on nature of NGSS, with a focus on storytelling and making science relevant for learners through a multimedia-rich product that is visually appealing. It has been adopted by major school districts, such as Irvine and Garden Grove, CA; Beaverton, OR; and Oklahoma City.

“In Weld North we have found a partner who shares our goal to improve global science literacy and understands the important role that science education plays in the development of 21st-century citizens,” said Catherine Cahn. “We are excited to introduce our products to many more classrooms across the US through Weld North’s unrivaled reach and to provide teachers the tools they need to create aha! moments for their students.”

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