Category: Science

Update on Science EOG Exam.

Dear Parents,

Your children completed the science end of grade exam today in class. The VAST majority of the students that I had in class today felt really confident about their performance — so that’s good news!

I’m not exactly sure how scores will be reported, but I THINK your students will get a percentage score for the science and social studies exams and I think we will be sending those scores home at some point next week.

That’s similar to how grades have worked on our team all year long, but very different from how performance on Language Arts and Math end of grade exams are reported. A percentage tells you how your student did against this year’s version of the exam. The scale scores (1, 2, 3, 4 or 5) that you receive for Language Arts and Math end of grade exams are drawn from ranges that are determined based on the average performance of students who have taken the test in previous years.

In many ways, I think reporting percentages alone can be deceptive. For example, a child that is used to making all As in class might feel really bad about earning an 83 on the science EOG because it is a lower mark than they are used to earning. But if the statewide average on the exam is a 63 and the county average on the exam is a 66 — which was the case the last time that Wake County gave the sixth grade science end of grade exam — an 83 would actually be a great grade.

To better understand your child’s performance on this year’s science exam, I will share as much information with you as I can. That way, you will get a better sense of how your child’s performance fits in as compared to other sixth grade students taking the same exam.

And to better understand your child’s performance in science this year, I’d encourage you to look at more than just their end of grade exam scores!

They’ve earned dozens and dozens of grades, completed dozens and dozens of assignments, and taken a bunch of quizzes and tests on the content in our required curriculum. All of those individual marks are just as important in making an informed decision about how will your child is mastering sixth grade science content.

Hope this helps,

Bill Ferriter

Science Extra Credit, Grades, and EOG Exam Updates

Dear Parents,

Just a reminder that students can turn in extra credit tomorrow to raise grades in science class. Any score below an 80 can be raised up to an 80. This may be the last time to turn in extra credit this quarter, so please be sure your kids take advantage of it if they have an average that you are disappointed with.

The best way to do extra credit is to find a Brainpop video connected to the topic of the assignment that they are trying to raise. For example, if your child had a low grade on their matter test, they can do a Brainpop video related to matter, take the quiz for the video, and complete one of the activities for the video. Quiz scores that are an 80 or higher are worth 3 points and activities that are completed accurately are worth 7 points.

Also, please know that our science grades are close to complete. We are likely to have one or two more practice tasks related to our space unit — but those tasks will do little to change your child’s overall average in class. So if you check your child’s grades in Powerschools now, you will get a pretty accurate picture of what their fourth quarter average is likely to be. Missing work will be accepted until June 19th.

Finally, please continue to encourage your child to spend 20 minutes per day studying for their science EOG exam. The test is probably the hardest EOG exam that they will take because it is mostly a remembering test — and students are expected to remember content covered over the course of the entire school year.

The best way to study for the test is to watch 2 Brainpop videos per night, take the quizzes associated with those videos, and complete one activity for each video. Brainpop videos do a nice job covering the biggest concepts in the required curriculum in short, semi-entertaining videos. Brainpop also creates a record of the concepts that students have mastered and the concepts that they are still struggling with. Students can find a list of all of the videos in Brainpop that are connected to our curriculum and sorted by unit posted in Google Classroom.

If students don’t want to use Brainpop to study, there is a practice test posted in Socrative, there are Quizlets (vocabulary practice activities) for every unit posted in Google Classroom, there are individual lessons posted by unit in Discovery Education, there was a vocabulary review sheet passed out in class on paper, and students can write review questions for our end of the year Quiz Bowl. All of those study tools can be helpful too.

To make this studying possible, I am not sending any homework home between now and the EOG exam. All required work for our ongoing unit will be completed during class time. Also, if students don’t have time to study at home, they can study during Spartan Time here at school.

Hope this helps,

Bill Ferriter

Science Update / Extra Credit Available

Dear Parents,

Here’s what’s happening in science:

Finishing our energy unit: We spent this week talking about sound and light waves and how they transfer energy from one place to another. We also started talking about how heat energy transfers between objects of different temperatures. We will finish talking about heat on Monday and that will mark the end of our heat unit. There will be no unit test for energy simply because we need as many days of class time as possible to work through our Space unit.

Starting our space unit: We will spend the last two weeks before EOG exams studying space. Our unit covers two big ideas. The first is how the earth, moon and sun work together to create things like seasons, phases of the moon and tides. There is also a quick review of how we get day/night and years. The second big idea in our space unit are the characteristics of habitable planets. We study each of the planets in the solar system — but through the lens of, “Why are these planets NOT able to support life?”

Extra credit available and being collected on Thursday: If your child is unsatisfied with his/her fourth quarter average, they can turn extra credit in on Thursday of next week. The easiest extra credit to do will be to complete Brainpop videos, quizzes and worksheets on topics from our matter, energy and space units. For every quiz that students score an 80 on in their FIRST attempt, I will add 3 points to a low grade. For every worksheet completed accurately, I will add 7 points to a low grade. You can find a list of all of the videos connected to the matter, energy and space units in our EOG review handout.

The key here is that students must score an 80 on the video quiz on their FIRST attempt. It’s not uncommon to see students take the quiz 3 or 4 times before earning an 80 and then asking for extra points. Instead, have your students watch the video 3 or 4 times before taking the quiz — and consider encouraging them to take notes and/or complete worksheets BEFORE taking the quizzes.

The goal for students doing extra credit is to prove that they’ve learned material that they originally struggled with. That’s a lot easier to do if they can show mastery on Brainpop quizzes the first time that they take the quiz.

Hope this helps,

Bill Ferriter

Science Update / Studying for EOG Test?

Dear Parents,

First, here’s to hoping that your Memorial Day weekend was restful and relaxing!  I was at the pool for the whole weekend, so I’m heavily chlorinated (and caffinated!) this morning.

Second, here’s what’s happening in Science:

Continuing to move through our energy unit:  We are right at the end of our study of energy.  We have looked at the ways that light and sound travel — and at the ways that our eyes interpret light.  Today, we’ll be looking at how our ears interpret sound.  Then, we’ll spend a day or two talking about the way that heat travels and we’ll be at the end of energy!

Moving into a unit on Space:  Once we are done with energy, we’ll move into a study of space.  Specifically, we look at the earth – moon – sun system (things like tides, day/night, seasons) and the characteristics of habitable planets.  There are tons of cool things to study during our space unit given all the space exploration going on right now — so the kids really dig this unit.

Studying for EOG test:  Are your kids spending 20 minutes a night studying for their science EOG?  If not, they should be!  The EOG science exam is really challenging because it is nothing more than 35 isolated facts from across the entire year’s worth of studying.  The best way to study is for students to watch two Brainpop videos, take two Brainpop quizzes and do two Brainpop worksheets every single night between now and the exam.  There is a tracking sheet listing all of the videos connected to our curriculum currently posted in Google Classroom.  I’ve been reminding students to do this every day during class.

A quick reminder:  You can also learn more about what we are studying by checking out this site — where I’ve been sharing short ( > 2 minutes) videos about our content and our curriculum almost every day.  You can also have your kids watch these videos for review.

Hope this helps,

Bill Ferriter

Science Update / Are Your Kids Studying for the EOG?

Dear Parents,

Just a quick update on Science happenings:

Pushing through light, sound and heat: Our current unit covers the way that energy travels. We explicitly study light, sound and heat. Right now, we are nearing the end of our study of light. Your students should be able to tell you all about how color works, what happens to light when it enters a new medium, and what the parts of a light wave are. We will be moving into a study of sound today and tomorrow and we will finish with a study of heat early next week.

Lots of demonstrations/questions available online: I’ve been posting 2 minute videos covering the topics we are studying in class each day on Twitter. Those videos are also cross posted online on this blog. Consider checking it out — or having your child check it out — on a regular basis. It’s a great way to review topics that we are reviewing in class.

Grades posted: There are a TON of new science grades posted in Powerschools. Be sure to check those out. There are tons of missing assignments right now that are having a negative influence on grades.

Studying for EOG exam: PLEASE don’t forget that your child should be spending 20 minutes EVERY night studying for their end of grade exam. The best way to study is to use Brainpop. Every student has their own copy of this handout, detailing all of the videos that are connected to our curriculum. I’d recommend that students watch two of those videos — starting with the topics they are the least familiar with — every night, take the “review quizzes” associated with those videos, and complete one of the “activities.” If you want your child to do additional studying, they can use our science textbook — which is found in Discovery Ed

Want to Know What’s Happening in Science Most Days?

Dear Parents,

Not sure if you’ve seen it yet, but I’ve started creating a bunch of short videos highlighting demonstrations and concepts related to the topics that we are studying in science class. Those videos can all be found online here:

http://64gnomes.blogspot.com/

It could be a great way for you to get a sense for what we are studying. It could also be a great way for your kids to review the concepts that they are learning on a day to day basis.

I can’t promise that I’ll make a video every day, but it’s definitely something that I’m striving for.

Give it a look,

Bill Ferriter

Reminder: Volunteers for Rising Sixth Grade Open House

Dear Parents,

Just a quick reminder that many of your students have volunteered to teach rising sixth graders how to open a combination lock at tomorrow night’s rising sixth grade open house. They should all know who they are by now! I’ve gotten paperwork back from all of your families.

If students are joining us for pizza dinner, they should be in my classroom at 5:15. They can eat and then practice with one another one last time before rising sixth graders show up. If they are not joining us for pizza dinner, they should be in my classroom by 6:20. The open house starts at 6:30 PM.

You can pick your child up in the bus loop at 8:15. If your child has to slip out early, that’s fine with us — just be prepared: There’s going to be a TON of traffic around here. Open houses are busy nights.

Students can stay in my room after school if necessary — they just need to be prepared to keep themselves busy! I’ll have some preparation work for the open house to pull together.

Hope this helps — and thanks for sharing your kids with us!

Be well,

Bill Ferriter

Extra Credit for Matter Unit Test

Dear Parents,

Students completed their matter unit tests in class today. Their grades have already been added to PowerSchools — so you can login there to see how your child did.

Any student who earned less than an 80 can do extra credit to raise their grades. Here are three extra credit options:

(1). Students can complete the proof boxes on their Matter unit overview sheets.

(2). Students can complete Brainpop videos AND score 80s or higher on Brainpop quizzes for topics that they missed on the test.

(3). If your child is working on our digital portfolio pilot project, they can do a written reflection on his/her test score.

Extra credit will be collected during Silent Reading on Thursday of next week.

Hope this helps,

Bill Ferriter

Flashlights Needed Next Week

Dear Parents,

We are currently preparing to move into our next unit — which is on light, sound and heat. One of the first activities that we will do is to study the way that light works in different mediums. To pull that learning off, we spend two days working in the dark!

If your child has a flashlight that they can bring to school for all of next week, that would be SUPER helpful. We’ve only got about 12 at school.

They will bring their flashlight home again — but if it can stay in their lockers from Monday to Friday, then they will definitely have it whenever we get to our "dark days."

Thanks,

Bill Ferriter

Additional Review Source for Your Kids

Dear Parents,

Over the last several days, I’ve been recording short video messages that highlight things that we are learning about in class.

Those videos are being automatically posted online here:

http://64gnomes.blogspot.com/

I’m planning to keep this up through the rest of the year — so the collection of videos will grow.

I wanted to share this with you because your children might dig checking out these videos daily as a way of reviewing the content that we are studying in class. You may also dig checking out these videos to get a better sense for what your kids are learning in class from day to day.

Hope this helps,

Bill Ferriter