6 Ways to Prepare for the Science EOG

The 5th Grade Science EOG is coming quick, are your students ready? Here are some ideas of activities you can do to help prepare your students for the upcoming EOG.

1. Vocabulary Practice

If you have been teaching 5th grade science for any amount of time you already know how much new vocabulary there is. For students to be successful on the EOG knowing the vocabulary is going to be critical.

I work hard all throughout the year to provide constant vocabulary review but at the end of the year I still continue that practice. One of the activities I love to do is review a couple vocabulary words each day and challenge students to write a definition in 3 words or less.

For example, the definition of convection is “the movement of heat through liquid and gases”. If a student were trying to simplify that word into three words or less they might say “moving heat in fluids”. That example technically has 4 words but I don’t count like “is, the, in, and, etc”. If the word is really challenging I’ll let them go up to 5 words. It’s a great way to get them thinking about what the word means and having them focus on the key characteristics.

To specifically prepare for the EOG, about a month prior to the EOG I give students a science vocabulary book with all the vocabulary words we have learned that year. Each morning leading up to the EOG I assign one page of vocabulary words where they will write that 3-5 word definition. 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.

We will pull out this booklet any time we are doing any kind of test prep that might bring up these vocabulary words. Students can quickly refer to it to ensure they really understand the question.

Daily Review

A quick daily review that includes test type questions is a great way to review a lot of information in a short period of time. About 20 days before the science EOG I start to give my students a daily countdown in Google forms. It includes 3 questions a day of science EOG style questions. I try to include questions with a variety of DOK levels. When students finish we can review the results as a class and clear up any misconceptions students might have had.

Study Guides

I love study guides! I love study guides because it pushes the responsibility of learning back on to the student and really shows them what they already understand and what they still need to work on. I give ample class time for study guides and give students a list of resources they can use to find the answer. I prefer to use digital study guides because it saves paper and allows me to include great visuals to support students comprehension.

Games

Whole class review games are a fun way to break up all the hard work and thinking students are doing. It’s also great to help improve those teamwork skills. Here are a list of some of my favorite online review games that you can make for your class. 

  • Quizalize
  • Kahoot
  • Quizizz
  • Blooket
  • Quizlet Live 
  • Gimkit

Choice Boards

Who doesn’t love a choice board? Students are much more engaged with their work when they are given a choice. I design choice boards very carefully. I typically include 9 options with students having to choose at least 3. I make the first row very simple and straightforward activities, the middle row is a little more challenging and the last row is usually a small project where they must create something. I do this to ensure students are practicing activities of various DOK levels.

Small Group Instruction

When you think of small group instructions you are probably thinking of math or reading; but they can definitely be done in science too! As we approach the EOG I love to do small groups 3-4 days a week. During those small groups I do a variety of activities including vocabulary practice, multiple choice questions, error analysis and opinion/justification type questions. I do group students by ability based on how they have performed in science so far during the school year.

To Summarize

Preparing for the EOG doesn’t have to be hard. I hope I have provided you with some ideas to help you prepare your students for the EOG. If you are wanting to implement some of these ideas but don’t want to take the time to make your own resources you can click the links below to find resources available for purchase that will fit the activities mentioned above. Wishing you and your students a great rest of the school year!

Follow me on TpT, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest and make sure to join our North Carolina Teacher Support Group on Facebook for a community of NC teachers!

5 Reasons You Need to Use Digital Notebooks in Science

Digital notebooks became very popular when the pandemic hit 2020. I have been using digital notebooks in my science class since 2017 and have loved using them ever since. Here are 5 reasons you need to be using digital notebooks in science today!

1. They Save Time

When you use paper interactive notebooks you have to first create the foldables and interactive pieces you want students to glue in their notebook. Then you have to make copies for each student. Then during your lesson you have to stop for what feels like an eternity to give students time to cut, glue and fold the papers in their notebook.

With a digital notebook much of the work has been done for the teacher and the student. Teachers just need to assign the notebook in their preferred learning management system (Google Classroom, Canvas, etc) and students focus on putting in the content rather than cutting and glueing.

2. They Include Visuals

Science is a very visual subject. Teachers can always print out images for students to cut and glue into their notebook, but unless you have access to a color printer 100% of the time you will likely be left with black and white images that are grainy and difficult for students to see.

With a digital notebook you can insert high resolution pictures that increase students understanding of the content. This is perfect for your ESL students who rely on visuals to improve their comprehension of the information you are teaching.

3. They can be Personalized

With a typical interactive notebook, students can’t add much of their own content. They can certainly write down anything they need to; but they can’t print out more images and glue them into their notebook. They certainly can’t add a video into their paper interactive notebook.

With a digital notebook students can do all those things and much more! You can ask students to find and insert images from the web that represent what they are learning about. They can also take a picture of the activities they are doing in class and add it to their digital notebook so it not only includes the content they are learning but shows what they have been doing in class. Finally, that video you showed them Monday morning…they can add that to their notebook so that they can rewatch it anytime they want!

4. They can’t be Lost

With a paper interactive notebook, they are so easy to lose! In fact one year I wouldn’t let students take their science notebooks home because they kept losing them or forgetting to bring them back to school. Even if students don’t manage to lose it, their notebooks can turn into a mess after long. Papers come unglued and are spilling out the side, papers are torn out, the pencil writing gets smudged and you can no longer read the text. The list of what can happen to the notebooks are endless.

If you have digital notebooks in Google Slides like I do it is so hard for students to do permanent damage to that notebook. First, everything is auto saved and housed in their Google Drive. Even if students happen to accidentally delete it, it will be in their trash for them to recover. Second, the revision history feature has saved my students so many times. If students delete slides, or make some other big changes they didn’t mean to, they can go to the revision history link next to the help button. It will show every single change they ever made and at the exact day/time they made it. If students need to revert their notebook to what it looked like in the past they just have to click 1 button.

5. You Don’t Have to Worry about Helping Absent Students get Caught Up

If you use paper interactive notebooks and a student is absent; the next day you have to try to quickly get them caught up with what they missed the previous day.

If students had a digital notebook, the pages would already be in their notebook. They can work with a peer to get the information to get their notebook up to date.

Summary

I’ve been using digital notebooks in science for several years and they have taken me a lot of time to make but if you are ready to try digital notebooks in your science classroom you can check out some of these notebooks I have created for 4th and 5th graders.

I love using digital notebooks in science and I don’t think I will ever go back to paper ones. Have you been using digital notebooks in science? If so, tell me what other benefits there are that I might of missed in this post!

Follow me on TpTInstagramFacebook and Pinterest and make sure to join our North Carolina Teacher Support Group on Facebook for a community of NC teachers!

Ideas for Teaching Ecosystems

Teaching ecosystems is one of my favorite units to teach my students and it’s usually the something they love as well. Here are some ideas that I use in my classroom that you can take to your own!

Introducing Your Lesson

Usually the first time I introduce students to ecosystems I start by taking them outside. I ask them to collect something small while we are outside. Then we will go back in the classroom and I ask them to sort them based on if they think they are part of nature or not and if they are living or not. Students love the change of scenery of going outside and love discussing what they found while outside. It leads to a good discussion on what resources are part of nature and if they are alive or not.

I like introducing the each day’s lesson with a question. It’s a great way to get students in the right mindset for the day but it’s also a quick and easy way for me to quickly gauge my students knowledge on a subject. Then I can adjust my lesson based on the knowledge they seem to have (or don’t have). Sometimes my questions are very direct to see what the students know and then sometimes they require students to analyze and think critically.

Allow for Exploration

I am a firm believer that before being explicitly taught, students should be given an opportunity to explore the content and try to learn the material themselves first. This give students ownership of the process and allows the teacher to focus on clearing up misconceptions. Students also tend to learn the content better when they can teach themself and learn from their peers. Below are a list of some of my favorite go to resources for articles and videos relating to ecosystems.

I like to give my students a list or resources and have them conduct their own research on the topic. Typically I let them work in groups. This allows them to practice their research and technology skills as well as practice working in groups. Give the students a list of resources and a graphic organizer and send them on their way!

Explicit Teaching

After my students have had an opportunity to learn about a topic I like to discuss it as a whole group. It not only gets them engaged but it helps me to understand what they understood well and what they need more support with. I’ll let this conversation lead to the direct teaching portion of my lesson. I personally choose to use digital notebooks in science. I have been using digital notebooks in science since 2017 and find that it’s not only easier for me and students (no cutting and glueing) but it provides amazing visuals for students that I couldn’t normally provide with a black and white copier. In my direct teaching portion of my lesson I review key vocabulary words and make sure to explain my teaching points for the day.

Practicing What They Have Learned

Hopefully at this point students have learned a lot about a topic and are now ready to apply what they have learned. There are a ton of different ways to have your students apply what they just learned. Here are a list of my favorite ways.

Sorts– I love to do sorting activities, but when I do them I tend to do them in Google Slides. First it saves time and paper since we don’t have to cut and glue. Second it allows students to see real images. Finally, they can add their own photos from the search function.

Create a Food Web – I love to give students some pictures of different organisms from an ecosystem and have them create a food web on their desk using them. I let them use their dry erase markers and write right on their desk! Even if you don’t have pictures handy, they can simply write the name of the organisms right on their desk. Increase the rigor of this activity by asking your student to create a few questions related to their food web that another student could answer.

Venn Diagram – Venn diagrams can be a great way to help students make sense of a lot of information, but have you tried a triple Venn diagram? They are great for comparing and contrasting biomes. The first time your students do them they might need more support making sense of all the inner pieces; but you will find these to help your students to really solidify the new information they have learned.

Be the Teacher – Allow students to be the teacher by creating their own test questions based on what they just learned. I always tell students if their questions are good enough I might just really use them on a future assignment.

Formative Assessments

Every good lesson has a way to track how well students understood the lesson. Here are some of my favorite ways to assess students understanding.

Exit Ticket One of the simplest ways to check for understanding is to display a question and ask students to write down their answer on an index card. You can make it easy on yourself and just re-write the lesson’s objective in the form of a question. I like to collect students cards as they walk out the door and then I review the answers right as they walk out.

Google Forms I like using questions in Google forms because when students finish I can show a summary of the class results (without showing their names) and we can review any misconceptions there might have been.

Writing – Writing is a great way to see what students understand about a topic while allowing them to be creative as well! You can take almost any topic and turn it into a writing assignment. When teaching ecosystems my favorite type of writing is personal narratives. To show what students know about a biome have them write a personal narrative in which they end up in their favorite biome for 24 hours.

I hope you have found some ideas to help you when you teach your ecosystem unit. These resources come from my personal ecosystem lesson plans that I have been using for years. If you would like them for your own classroom, check out the links below.

Follow me on TpTInstagramFacebook and Pinterest and make sure to join our North Carolina Teacher Support Group on Facebook for a community of NC teachers!

3 strategies to ace the science EOG

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!

Follow me on TpT, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest and make sure to join our North Carolina Teacher Support Group on Facebook for a community of NC teachers!

Teaching Science in Plan C

Shortly before school started my county announced we would begin in Plan C (with the hope of moving to Plan B when covid-19 numbers got under control). Soon after our county provided our daily schedule; they had allotted only 15 minutes a day for science! If you have taught 5th grade science in NC previously you know how science is an important subject since it’s tested at the end of the year. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how I was going to teach science in just 15 short minutes 4 times a week. As I write this public schools have not been given a waiver for testing and it’s possible that we will be giving the EOG at the end of this year. I had to figure out a way to make the most of those 15 minutes a day!

Lesson Plans

I quickly decided that I was going to have to plan this all out very carefully to make the most out of every minute. Thankfully I have so many science lesson plans that I have created over the years that finding resources was not an issue. I would just have to figure out the best way to implement it. If you have used any of my lesson plans you know that I follow the 5E model (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate).

Engage & Explore

Engage and explore involve students exploring a topic and hopefully getting hooked and want to learn more. I have students do this during their independent assignments for the week. This typically includes videos, articles, brain dumps, etc.

Explain

Explain is the direct teaching portion, where you clear up any misconceptions and fill in any gaps from when students explored the topic. During the 2nd week (during my live lessons) I use their digital notebook and we discuss what they learned last week during their independent work. During this time I get right to the teaching points and make sure students have the basics down. During this time students can also ask questions about things they were wondering when they were exploring the concept on their own

Elaborate & Evaluate

During the 3rd week students demonstrate their knowledge of what they learned by applying it while completing task cards, worksheets, creating models, exit tickets etc.

You are probably thinking, that all sounds great, but does that mean it takes you three times as long to teaching a single science concept during plan C then it would if we were in the classroom? NOPE! I’m still keeping up my usual pace. So how do I do it? I do it by having a fluid system in which what I am teaching live is not the same thing as what they are exploring that week, or what they are being evaluating on. Take a look at the table below that shows what concepts students would be working on during a 5 week period.

If we look at week 3 a little closely, you will see that students are touching on 3 different topics for the week. They are exploring the nervous, skeletal and muscular systems on their own. When they meet with me we are discussing and taking notes on the digestive, circulatory and respiratory systems (that’s what they explored in the previous week). Finally, they have some activities during their independent work time that they will complete to demonstrate what they learned over the previous 2 weeks about cells.

When I first thought of this plan it seemed like too much and I was so nervous that students were going to be so confused with all the information going in their heads; but the opposite was true! They enjoyed exploring on their own and brought great questions to our live lessons about what they had learned about! I was even able to incorporate the articles into reading to make the best use of EVERY minute! Below is copy of my lesson plans that I used in week 3 so you can see exactly what it looked like when I used it with my students.

Thankfully I have so many lesson plans I have made over the years that finding and creating resources was never an issue for me. When I’m in the classroom I am used to have 50 minutes a day to teach science. In Plan C I only have 90 minutes a week (live and independent) for the whole week! Since my time is shortened significantly i’m not able to squeeze in every activity from my lesson plans; but I am able to cover all topics and students are mastering the concepts! Fortunately, the plans I have created were already very digital friendly so I have only had to modify a few things to make this work in Plan C.

Teachers we are all in this together and I hope you have gotten some ideas of how to teach science during plan C. If you need some lesson plans to get you started, I have lesson plans for 4th and 5th grade (aligned to NC standards). These plans will not only help you get through Plan C but can be implemented when you are back in the classroom too!

Follow me on TpTInstagramFacebook and Pinterest and make sure to join our North Carolina Teacher Support Group on Facebook for a community of NC teachers!