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Science: Sharing What Works. Breckinridge County High School Presented by Melody Mingus, Barbara Ezzo, and Nick Carter. Our History. Breckinridge County High School is located in Harned, Kentucky. We are a true community school, but things have changed over the years. More transient students

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Science: Sharing What Works

Breckinridge County High School

Presented by Melody Mingus, Barbara Ezzo, and Nick Carter

Our History

  • Breckinridge County High School is located in Harned, Kentucky.

  • We are a true community school, but things have changed over the years.

    • More transient students

    • Transitioned from an experienced staff to a relatively new staff

      • Average years of experience- 11 years

Where we used to be

  • From 2006 until 2010, our school’s accountability scores fluctuated between a 72 and 75.

  • In 2010, we bottomed out and barely missed becoming a PLA school.

    • This development forced us to take a hard look in the mirror before moving forward.

Our School’s Response

  • In spring 2011, we began laying the groundwork to work in PLCs starting in August 2011.

    • Common Planning

      • Weekly Team Meetings

      • Pacing

      • Common Formative Assessments

    • Daily Guided Study Period

      • Intensive Interventions

Quality Professional Growth

  • We have sent three teams to PLC at Work Conferences

    • July 2011

    • October 2011

    • June 2012

  • Sent three teams to John Antonneti Student Engagement trainings over the last three years.

  • Sent two teams to John Antonneti Higher Level Task Development trainings over the last two years.

  • Sent multiple staff members to ACT Inc. Quality Core trainings over the last two years.

  • School Leadership has attended multiple quality trainings as well.

Preparing for the ACT

Preparing for the ACT

  • Representative from the Science department/team attended an ACT workshop.

  • Examined ACT questions for the first time

  • Discovered only science skills are important – no knowledge of science content is required

Preparing for the ACT

  • We now teach ACT science skills to freshmen, sophomores and juniors.

  • Freshmen science classes introduce graphing and data tables and use some PLAN practice questions toward the end of the year.

Preparing for the ACT

  • Sophomore classes build on the freshmen foundation by:

    • Teaching more complex graphing and data tables

    • Teaching experimental design

      • Independent and dependent variables

      • Inference and observation

      • Deductive reasoning

      • Drawing conclusions


  • TitleThe Effect of ____________________ on __________________

  • (5)Independent variableDependent variable

  • IntroductionWhat in real life would cause one to have questions that this experiment could answer? (15)

    What do you specifically want to find out from this experiment?

  • What is your hypothesis?

  • ProcedureList the steps in numerical order that you will follow to complete the experiment. (20)

  • Check your list carefully for accuracy, completeness, and precision.

  • ResultsComplete a data table and an appropriate graph for the data.

  • DataMake a table containing columns for the independent variable

  • Tableand dependent variable. (5)

  • (15)Order the values of the independent variable from smallest to largest. (5)

  • Record values of the dependent variable. (5)

  • GraphDraw and label all necessary parts of the graph including:

  • (15)Independent variable on x-axis (with units) (2)

  • Dependent variable on y-axis (with units) (2)

  • Title (The effect of IV on DV) (1)

  • Subdivide axis and number (5)

  • Plot points and draw a best-fit line or curve (5)

  • Conclusion (30)IN YOUR OWN WORDS and in a paragraph, Describe the purpose, major findings, an explanation for the findings, and

  • recommendations for further study.

  • Use these six questions to guide your writing of the conclusion

  • What was the purpose of the experiment? (5)

  • What were the major findings? (5)

  • Was the hypothesis supported by the data? (5)

  • How did your findings compare with other researchers or with information in the textbook? (5)

  • What possible explanation can you offer for the findings? (5)

  • What recommendations do you have for further study and for improving the experiment? (5)

Preparing for the ACT

  • Sophomore classes use PLAN practice questions weekly until the fall PLAN test

    • Dissect some questions to see where in the text to find the answers

    • Compare different types of PLAN questions and their difficulty

    • Use a timer for practice questions so students get a feel for how long they have on the test.

Preparing for the ACT

  • Junior science classes currently use Kaplan Foundation to introduce/review elementary graphing and data table work.

  • Kaplan Advantage is then used to introduce ACT questions and a method for solving them.

  • Released ACT questions are used as quizzes throughout the year.

Preparing for the ACT

  • Junior science classes dissect released ACT questions to understand methods for solving problems

  • Junior science classes are given timed practice science ACT tests to introduce them to the style of testing and allows them to practice methods for solving the problems

  • All juniors are given a practice ACT that is the full length of the actual ACT

Preparing for the ACT

  • All junior science classes emphasize the importance of the ACT beginning the first day of class

  • Junior science teachers express how the ACT can impact their lives in the near future and possibly later in their lives

  • Juniors are given support by administration, teachers and other staff preparing for the ACT

Preparing for Biology End Of Course Assessment

Preparing for Biology End Of Course Assessment

  • Step 1

    • Set Goals for End of Course Assessment and determine what needs to be done to best meet those goals.

    • We originally set a goal for 80% of our students to make a 60% or better on the end of course assessment.

    • That would mean that 80% of students would get a B+ or better according to state recommendations.

Preparing for Biology End Of Course Assessment

  • Step 2

    • Mapping the EOC objectives back to our curriculum.

    • Limiting what is taught: there is not enough time to teach all content to mastery.

    • Decide collaboratively what is most important and teach that content to mastery.

Preparing for Biology End Of Course Assessment

  • Step 3

    • Creating Common Assessments that match curriculum and the EOC objectives

    • Use EOC test bank questions from the ACT website to set the standard.

    • Use some lower level questions that are below standard, but require some evidence of learning.

    • Use some higher level questions to show which students have not only mastered the standard, but have surpassed it.

Preparing for Biology End Of Course Assessment

  • Step 4

    • Finding and Creating Activities that really teach the objectives.

    • Using common planning time to plan the curriculum activities

Preparing for Biology End Of Course Assessment

  • Step 5

    • Reteach

    • During in-school intervention time, reteach students who did not demonstrate mastery on particular common assessment objectives.

    • Retest students after reteaching to provide evidence of mastery of objectives.

Preparing for Biology End Of Course Assessment

  • Step 6

    • Reflect, reflect, reflect

    • What worked best? What needs revision? Why does it need revision? How do we fix it?

    • These questions must be addressed to continue to improve.

    • We use common planning time to reflect and revise.

Administrative Support

  • Administrative support is crucial to ensuring success.

    • Student Reward Plan

      • Reward students for good effort and positive attitude.

        • Treats, hat days, shorts days, field days, etc…

        • Attendance rewards on testing day.

    • School-Wide Apathy Plan

      • Operation Zero- students who have zeros are given a deadline and assigned detention if the deadline isn’t met

      • Student-Response teams- teachers send names of students failing classes and the teams meet to determine how to intervene

    • Protect instructional time

      • Fire Drills, class meetings, club meetings, pep rallies, and other events occur during the twenty-five minute guided study period.

  • EOC Power Review Weeks

    • Occur after spring break and students receive intense reviews

Final Exemption Plan

  • Students are able to earn a final exam exemption to be used the following school year for each benchmark met on the ACT, PLAN, or EXPLORE test.

    • Example- 11th grade student meets two benchmarks- two exemptions to be used the following school year


  • Effective communication from the school is essential.

  • The school must set and communicate a goal, expectations, and a rewards plan in order to be successful.

    • Example- We met with our tenth grade class on September 19th to go over PLAN test goals, expectations, and the rewards plan.

Brag all the time…

  • Nothing beats positive energy in a school.

  • Don’t be afraid to brag about the school and students at all times.

  • We have to make sure our students know we believe in them first and foremost.


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