Every quarter we are expected to give a science test. One might think this is no big deal because kids need to be tested on what they learn. The problem is no one has time to teach science. There are certain state standards that must me taught before the “high stakes” state testing date. On my district’s pacing guide there are 65 English Language Arts standards, 34 Math standards and 10 Speaking and listening standards. That’s 107 standards!
Those of you that are math whizzes did the math and realized that’s only about 3 standards a week. That would be true if the test was given at the end of the school year, but is usually given about six weeks before the end of the school year. Fifth grade teachers in Arizona are expected to teach 3.5 to 4 standards per week. No big deal? Below is an example of a fifth grade state standards:
Demonstrate understanding of figurative, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
a. Interpret figurative language including similes and metaphors in context.
b. Recognize and explain the meaning of common idioms, adages, and proverbs.
c. Use the relationship between particular words (e.g. synonyms, antonyms, homophones, homographs) to better understand each of the words.
That’s a lot to teach with three other standards in one week.
Unfortunately, there is no time to open the science kit. Many say science can be integrated into teaching the reading standards. That’s correct but it’s no fun reading about catapults and force. It’s so much more fun building them and using them, but it takes up so much time.
All this is leading up to some funny answers that I got from students from one of the questions on the science test:
Mary, Sue and Janet wanted to have a contest on who could throw a ball the farthest. They all brought balls from home. Mary had a football, Sue had a basketball and Janet had a baseball. They drew a line on the ground that they could not cross. Mary threw the football standing behind the line, Sue took two steps and threw the basketball and Janet took a running start and threw the baseball.
How could you change the contest to make it fair?
I would let the air out of the football and basketball.
To make the contest fair I would make them all bake a cake since they are girls. (This answer was written by a girl. Apparently being in an all girl class hasn’t taught her the importance of not stereotyping.)
To win the contest I would take all the balls and I would run. I would run like the wind. (This student may not have understood the question but she showed me that she knows how to use similes to strengthen her writing.)
Apparently, you need to be teaching the effects of variables on competitions.
The Flip Side
BALLS! You said balls! Tee hee hee hee . . . . .