I have been teaching 5th grade science in North Carolina for several years and I love it! Except I don’t love the science EOG. It’s brutally long and makes the science way too complicated (and not enjoyable)! Students usually love science and typically are very good at it but the EOG can be such a beast and students can feel very defeated if they don’t do well. Here are 3 strategies I use throughout the school year to help my students be successful on the EOG!
1. When in doubt, Draw it out
This is a very simple strategy but can make a huge difference in helping students to understand the question. Sometimes when students read the question on a science exam they read it so quickly that they really don’t comprehend what is happening in the question or what the question is asking them. A phrase we use in my classroom is “when in doubt, draw it out”. Students draw a quick sketch of what is happening in the question. This requires them to slow down and re-read the problem and make sure they really understand what is happening in the question. This is especially helpful for physical science type problems where it’s asking about things that are hard to see (forces, matter, heat, etc). I have found this strategy especially beneficial for my ESL students. When using this strategy it’s important to remind students that they do not need to be an artist; a quick sketch with maybe some arrows or quick notes to help them understand is all they need.
2. Focus on Vocabulary
If you have been teaching 5th grade science for any amount of time you know how many new vocabulary words students must learn! Last time I counted there were over 150 new words I had to teach during the school year (yes I really did count them)! That doesn’t include new vocabulary words from ELA, math or social studies!
In my classroom I make sure to address vocabulary often. There are a lot of great websites that you can use to teach vocabulary and great activities too. One of my favorite activities is to challenge students to define a science word in only 3-5 words. If you have to define it in just a few words it requires you to really think carefully about what that word means and focus on the most important elements.
One of the activities I love to do in the month prior to the EOG is give students a science vocabulary book. In that book it has every science vocabulary word we learn that year. Each morning leading up to the EOG I assign one page of vocabulary words. Students try to write a 3-5 word definitions of as many words as possible. If they don’t know it (or aren’t 100% sure) they should just skip it. After giving students some time I will then ask the students to tell me what words were challenging that they weren’t able to get a definition for. We will see if any other students came up with a good definition and then students can write down that definition if they need it. It gets student collaborating, supporting each other and is a great way to review all the words prior to the EOG. It also helps us with ink thinking (see next strategy).
This vocabulary book is available FREE! Click here to grab yours!
3. Teach students to INK Think
If you ever speak to any of my students (former or current) they will tell you “don’t ever turn in a science test without ink thinking first”. I must say the phrase “ink think” thousands of times in a year. I feel very strongly about it and believe many students have found success by using this strategy. When I tell students to “ink think” this is a 3 step strategy they must do for EVERY multiple choice type question on a test.
Step 1: Define every science vocabulary word
Sometimes the questions on the EOG can be written in such a challenging way even though what you are being asked is not that difficult. Sometimes it’s easy for students to just skip over unknown or unfamiliar words. This is where defining each vocabulary word comes in.
To do this students must find every science vocabulary word and write a short definition to it. This is where that science vocabulary book from above comes in handy! If students have forgotten the meaning of a word they can go back and reference it in their science vocabulary book.
When students have to define the vocabulary words it forces them to address all those words they really just want to skip over. It makes the question more clear and easier to understand.
Step 2: Simplify long & complex answers
Every time I see a multiple choice question with super long answers I cringe because I know so many students are going to read the answers so quickly and pick the best sounding one (or not read it at all – insert face palm here).
In this step students will take very long answer choices and simplify them to be more concise and to the point. Not only is it forcing them to comprehend the provided answers it’s also making it easier for students to select an answer because they can read their short snippets the wrote.
NOTE: This step doesn’t always have to be done. If the answers are already short and simple there is no need to complete this step.
Step 3: Eliminate 1-2 incorrect answers
The last step is to eliminate answer choices. In my classroom we refer to it as “slash the trash”. I have students reread the question and answers will all their notes and push them to find at least 2 answers that are most likely wrong. By having them eliminate the wrong answers they can zero in on the last 2 answer choices and pick the correct answer.
In the beginning teaching students this strategy takes time and repetition. When they are doing it on a test for the first few times it can take them awhile to do. I teach students to ink think on their very first multiple choice test of the school year. Halfway through the year they have the process down and it only takes them 1-2 minutes per question to complete.
Using these strategies throughout the year has led to outstanding results! My students growth for the science EOG typically exceeds growth and it’s so amazing how when they finish that EOG they say “that was so easy”.
I hope you have found some strategies that you can use in your own classroom! Below are some other resources you might find helpful to help your students review for the science EOG.
P.S. Don’t forget to grab the FREE science vocabulary book! Click here to grab yours!