Category: Science

A Word on Missing Work in Science

Dear Parents,

Just a quick heads up: Many of you have been emailing to ask about an assignment that Google Classroom’s Guardian Summaries has told you is missing from your child.

Please note that those messages were sent in error.

When students have a missing assignment, I will let them know here at school — and if it is persistently late, I’ll email you directly.

I’m not sure why Google Classroom is showing that task as missing for so many students, but there’s no reason to be worried! The majority of your students are caught up on their work.

Hope this helps,

Bill Ferriter

Science Update

Dear Parents,

First, I hope you have a great weekend with your kids!

Second, here’s a few science updates:

(1). We have been working to finish up our paper towel labs all week long. Students had two separate documents to turn in for the lab. One (Lab-Paper Towel Planning) was due on Wednesday and the other (Paper Towel Lab Conclusions) was due today. I told students today that they could turn their Paper Towel Lab Conclusions in anytime before the end of next week because they had two tests in other subjects to prepare for. There will not be any more class time to work on these tasks, though.

(2). We started to learn two new vocabulary words this week: As a part of our study of the scientific method, we began practicing with the terms independent variable and dependent variable this week. Students have a handout that they will need to complete for a grade that asks them to identify the independent and dependent variable in five simple experimental questions. The task was harder for the kids than I expected, so most will need extra time to complete that. We will begin with that work in class on Monday.

(3). We went to the library for orientation this week: On Thursday, I took our team to the library to learn more about how and when they can sign out books. Your kids are now fully prepared to begin using our library.

(4). We will begin a density lab next week: One of the main concepts that repeats throughout our curriculum is density. It plays a major role in most of our units. Because it is such an important concept, we will spend time next week experimenting with density. There isn’t a ton of writing that goes along with this lab report, so it should be easy to complete.

Hope this helps,

Bill Ferriter

Materials Needed for a Science Lab!

Dear Parents,

One of the concepts that repeats over and over again in our science curriculum is density and its impact on the world around us.

To introduce density, I’d like to give students a chance to complete a hands-on activity where they experiment with liquids of different densities.

To pull that off, though, I’ll need your help with gathering materials that we can use in the lab.

If you think you can send in any of the materials found in this Signup Genius, I’d REALLY appreciate it. I’d love the materials by Thursday, August 16th if possible.

Thanks a ton in advance for your help.

Bill Ferriter

A Word on Science EOG Scores

Dear Parents,

Just wanted to drop you a quick reminder about the Science EOG scores that your child will get back at some point next week: The Science EOG test is REALLY hard — and that is because it is a collection of 40 multiple choice questions that review random facts from the entire school year. It’s difficult for anyone to prepare for a test that includes isolated facts learned over a full school year. Doing that as a twelve year old is even harder.

For perspective, the statewide average on the exam is usually right around a 66. The county average on the test is right around a 68. The school’s average on the test is right around a 73. Last year, the Gnomes average on the test was a 78.

So what I tell the students is if they make between a 68 and a 78, they performed at an average level on the test. That always feels weird to them because most students aren’t comfortable with making scores so low. Also, those are lower marks than they generally make on classroom tests and assignments. The difference, I remind them, is that our classroom assignments don’t force them to remember content from an entire school year.

And anything above a 78 is "above average." So students who come home with grades between 80-85 might see that as a disappointment, but in actuality, that’s a great mark for this test.

Anyway — I just wanted to help you put the marks that you will see into perspective. It really is a difficult test and sometimes students are discouraged because they earn grades lower than they are used to seeing.

Let me know if you have any questions,

Bill Ferriter

The Best Way to Prepare for Friday’s Science EOG

Dear Parents,

Just a quick heads up: The best way to prepare for Friday’s Science EOG at this point is for students to use the Socrative test that I posted online for them.

The test includes 30 questions that are on topics that frequently appear on science end of grade exams. Each time that your students give an answer, an "explanation" box will pop up with details reinforcing/reteaching the concept. If students answer the questions and read the explanations, they should be well prepared for the big ideas that appear on Friday. My guess is that completing the test and reading the explanations thoroughly will take about an hour.

Here’s how kids can log in:

Navigate to https://socrative.com/

Choose "Student Login."

Enter my class code: GNOMES6SCI

Hope this helps,

Bill Ferriter

Retaking Today’s Earthquake Quiz

Dear Parents,

Today in class, students took a quiz in a service called Socrative to show what they know about earthquakes.

Many students either didn’t complete the quiz or earned a grade they weren’t proud of.

To help with that, ALL students can rework the quiz if they would like. It will be posted again in Socrative at 2:00 PM today.

Reworks must be completed by Friday. There will be no class time provided to complete this task, so it is homework.

Students ARE allowed to use our classroom’s yellow science textbook, the Discovery Education Science Techbook and/or Google while completing the quiz. It is an "open book/resource" test. They may also work with a classmate if they have a neighbor who is in our class.

Hope this helps,

Bill Ferriter

Science Update

Dear Parents,

First, I wanted to say thank you again for sharing REMARKABLE kids with us. This week, we rolled up our sleeves and worked pretty darn hard and fast and your kids hung with me. They were positive and polite and happy and that’s incredibly cool to me. I appreciate them.

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

(1). We have started our lithosphere unit. That unit introduces students to the constantly changing nature of the earth’s crust. Your kids should be able to tell you more about the tectonic plates that make up the surface of the earth. They should also be able to tell you more about the origins of earthquakes, mountains and volcanoes. Finally, they should be able to tell you a little about the three main types of rocks and how plate boundaries help in their formation.

(2). We are going to study earthquakes and soil this week. Earthquakes are important in our unit of study because they are the primary way that we learn more about the interior of the earth. Soil is important primarily because it provides us with plant growth — which is essential for both food production and for cleaning our air of dangerous levels of carbon. Students will learn more about how soils are formed, why they are important, and what they are made of.

(3). Once we are done with our study of earthquakes and soil, we will move on to our space unit — which is the final unit in our curriculum. The space unit covers two main concepts: How do the earth, moon and sun interact with each other to cause things like seasons and tides and what are the characteristics of habitable planets. Kids are always completely fascinated by the space unit, so that should be a lot of fun.

(4). REMEMBER THAT YOUR KIDS SHOULD BE STUDYING FOR THE EOG EXAM: The science End of Grade Exam is probably the hardest exam that your kids will take this year. That’s because it includes 35 fact driven questions that come from the entire year’s worth of instruction. Remembering 35 isolated facts from 7 different units is REALLY hard for sixth graders to do. To prepare, your students should be using the Brainpop EOG review sheet posted in Google Classroom. I think they should spend 30-40 minutes two or three times every week in order to be best prepared to succeed on that end of grade exam. Please ask your child how many times they have studied so far.

(5). To free up time for studying, I will not be giving any other homework between now and the end of the year. All work that we start in class will be finished in class. My hope is that this will help both you and your child to find time for studying for the EOG using Brainpop.

Hope this helps,

Bill Ferriter

Science Update

Dear Parents,

Here’s what’s happening in Science right now:

We are finishing our ecosystems unit: On Monday, we will take our unit test. I think your kids will crush it. It’s a unit that resonates with them and that they have a bunch of previous experience with.

We are starting our lithosphere unit: On Tuesday, we will start studying the lithosphere. That unit covers the layers of the earth and the impact that the movement of the earth’s crustal plates have on the surface of the planet. We will be looking at things like types of rocks, soil formation, and the reasons behind earthquakes and volcanoes.

End of Grade Science Review Sheet Handed out Monday or Tuesday: Perhaps the most important thing happening in the immediate future is your students will get a Brainpop Review Sheet for the Science End of Grade Exam. It includes a list of videos in Brainpop — a service that all students have access to — that is sorted by our units of study.

I HIGHLY encourage students to work through the review sheet in the next month before our end of grade exams begin. The science EOG is by far the most challenging for kids because it has 35 questions covering isolated facts from the entire curriculum. It is difficult for kids to remember those facts without doing review — and Brainpop is the easiest, most direct way to prepare.

Let me know if you have any questions — and thank you for your kids. I really enjoy them!

Bill Ferriter

Science Update

Dear Parents,

Here’s a quick update about what’s happening in Science Class:

(1). We started our ecosystems unit: This unit is one of the easiest units for kids because they have studied ecosystems in other grade levels already. We review familiar concepts like food chains and energy pyramids. We also look at common cycles in nature — the water cycle, the carbon cycle and the nitrogen cycle. Finally, we study the parts of flowering plants that help them to survive, thrive and reproduce and we look at photosynthesis and cellular respiration.

(2). Your kids should be able to answer two questions today: If you ask your students, they should be able to tell you two things today: Why do human beings breathe in oxygen and why do plants breathe in carbon dioxide. Both of those questions are connected to photosynthesis and cellular respiration — and while kids often have general answers like, "We need oxygen to live," your kids should have specific details about how we use oxygen to help us survive.

(3). Lab due tomorrow / paragraph due on Friday: Your students have two tasks due for me this week. The first is a plant dissection lab. That’s due tomorrow. The second is a paragraph answering this question: Are plants nature’s most ingenious creation? That is due on Thursday. There’s been plenty of class time to tackle those tasks — so your kids might say they completed the work at school. If they are hard workers, that’s totally possible.

Hope this helps,

Bill Ferriter

Fresh Cut Flowers Needed MONDAY for Science Lab!

Dear Parents,

Starting next Monday (February 26th), we will be studying the parts of flowering plants. Doing so is ALWAYS more fun when we can actually look at flowering plants!

Would you be willing to pick up a bundle of cut flowers from the local grocery store or Sam’s Club and send it in for us to study?

If so, here’s a link to a Signup Genius:

http://www.signupgenius.com/go/904054eaeaf2ea20-fresh1

The types of flowers inside the bundle is not SUPER important — although Trader Joe’s has some Alstromeria right now that would be GREAT. I’d also love a bundle or two of Tulips — which are harder to find this time of the year, but really cool to look at.

If you could send the flowers in on Monday or Tuesday of NEXT week (February 26 or 27), it would be great!

I don’t want them to die over the weekend!

Thanks again,

Bill Ferriter