Tuesday, January 12, 2016

ACT Test Taking Tips

With March fast approaching and the statewide ACT assessment coming up, I thought I would share strategies for taking the ACT.  Sometimes its not just what you know on the ACT, but how to take the assessment in collaboration with what you know.  Here are some tips for each section that I have collected and provided to students.

ENGLISH Section Tips and Strategies
75 Questions (Containing 5 passages that cover a variety of writing styles) – 45 Minutes

·         You should allot 1.5-2 minutes to skim the entire passage and 30 seconds to answer each question.
·         Be aware of the writing style (5 types) used in the passages.  Consider the style when selecting a response.
·         BE AWARE of questions with NO underlined portion: In responding to questions cued by a number or numbers in a box, carefully consider the writing decision described.  Best to answer these questions when skimming the passage as a whole.
·         For underlined portion questions
o   First check to see if stated question precedes answer choices.  If so, carefully consider the writing decision described.
o   Determine what aspects of writing are included in the underlined portion of the passage.
o   Read the text before and after the underlined portion to get a sense of the writer’s intent and the passage’s organization at that point.
o   Do no select a response that corrects one error but causes a different error.
o   If you are unsure of a response, reread the section of the passage, substituting the answer choices for the underlined portion.
o   Do not be afraid to choose “No Change.”


READING Section Tips and Strategies
40 Questions (4 Passages) – 35 Minutes

·         Do the easy passages first – If one interests you or something you know well, do it first.
·         Concentrate on paragraph opening and closing. 
·         The topic sentence is often located near the beginning of the paragraph. Sometimes, too, the final sentence of the paragraph suggests the main point of the paragraph. 
·         You should allow yourself 3 minutes to read each passage and 30 seconds per question to answer.
·         The 4 passages are separated into four categories: Social Studies, Natural Sciences, Prose Fiction (passages from Short Stories/novels), and Humanities
·         Carefully read the passage before attempting the questions.  It is important to read every sentence than skim the text.
·         Be conscious of relationships between or among ideas.
·         Underline or make notes about major ideas in the passage as you read.
·         Answers to some questions will be found by referring to content explicitly state in the text
·         Some questions will require you to determine implicit means (What does the author  strongly suggest the existence or truth of)
o   You should refer back to the passage before you answer any question.
·         Jump around within a set of questions in a passage to the ones you can answer easily.  DO NOT LEAVE A PASSAGE UNTIL YOU ARE SURE YOU HAVE ANSWERED ALL THE QUESTIONS

MATH Section Tips and Strategies
60 Questions – 60 Minutes

·         Answer all the questions that are easy for you and then go back to the hard ones.  The ACT DOES NOT go from easy questions at the beginning to hard questions at the end.
·         Pace yourself.  Do not spend too much time on any one question.  60 Minutes for 60 questions doesn’t mean a minute per question
·         Come up with your own answer choice first with the information provided in the question.
o   This will help avoid being influenced by the answer choices.
·         If the above does not work, eliminate wrong answers and plug in answer choices to the equation when applicable.
·         Watch out for the answer choice "cannot be determined." It is rare and when you see it, it's very likely wrong. It's almost always wrong in a question that comes with a diagram or for which you can draw one.
·         Don’t be afraid to use the areas to the right of the problem to complete figuring and draw diagrams.
·         Avoid Partial Answers – often answers to the first part of the equation are given as an option.  Mark those out if it is an answer for one step of the problem.
·         A calculator isn't required for any of the questions, so if your solution absolutely depends on one, you are probably headed down a time-consuming and incorrect path.
·         Have a good understanding of MATH Rules and Basics

SCIENCE REASONING Section Tips and Strategies
40  Questions (7 Passages) – 35 Minutes

·         Use the three-stage method (previewing, reading, reviewing) to get the most out of each science reasoning passage
·         In data representation passages, focus on what is being measured, relationships among variables, and trends in data.
·         Don’t be confused by irrelevant information or technical terminology – most passages have them and can ALMOST ALWAYS be ignored
o   Once you get past the language, the questions on this test tend to be fairly straightforward and simple to answer.
·         Read the passage or look at the data presentation quickly.  Do not stop to study in detail any part that you do not understand.
o   Look at the provided charts to see which factors or variables are represented. 
·         Answer the first question in the group.  The first question in each group will probably be a simple test of understanding. 
·         Skip the hard questions.   Do not initially spend more than 30 seconds or so on any question.
·         If the answers are numerical, use estimation; Calculation takes time. 
·         A few key questions you should ask yourself when reading a science passage are:
o   What is being tested?
o   Why is it being tested?
o   What are the variables?
o   What are the factors that stay the same?
·         Base your answers only on the contents of the passage.  All of the information you need to know is in the passage.  External knowledge can harm you.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Just How Far Has Educational Technology Come in a Short Time?

It has been a while since I wrote anything on this blog (just two post in 2014 all together) and while at home one day, I decided to look back at my blogger account and check out what used to be.  Upon looking at the most popular posts, I came across my "Doing a Flip Across the Curriculum" Post.  you can click here to see the post.  The post was about the use of FLIP cameras in the classroom.

Here we are, four and half years later, where are FLIP cameras?  Gone, because technology has moved that quickly.  Now, they are in just about every student's phone.  So when you go back and look at some of those suggestions on using a FLIP camera, it seems like these educational technology ideas would be so much easier with just the use of cellphones.

Four years ago, we were looking at Clicker systems and working to embed those into the curriculum.  Here we are today and we have the same occurrence.  Clickers are now our students cellphones.  There are so many options out there for clicker systems that it can be overwhelming.  Free Technology for Teachers has provided a useful post and as well as broken them down into a chart for identifying the best option that will work in your classroom.

It appears that my time away from blogging about Educational Technology has greatly impacted my own ability to keep up with the rapid changes in how we can embed technology into the classroom.  It is amazing to see how quickly technology has changed in the past 5 years.  Makes you wonder what will be next.

What changes have you seen?  What is out there now that we didn't have just 4 years ago?  What was all the rage 4 years ago that has seen its impact decrease?  What has still kept up with the changes?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Google - A Year in Search

Every year, Google recaps the previous year based on the most popular searches.  This would be a great opportunity for teachers and students to reflect back on the previous year and the events that marked 2014.  There are several events that I had already forgotten about while watching the video.  You can learn more on the official Google Blog or visit The Year in Search Google Trends home page for more information.  You can also see the video posted below.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Air Scanner - Wireless Document Camera App

Air Scanner is an App I discovered from a Facebook ad of all places.  It allows users connected to a Wifi to easily turn their iPhone into a mobile document camera.  The app provides a numerical web address that users can type into their browser.  Within the browser, whatever the camera is showing will appear within the browser window.  There is also an option to freeze the image if need be and turn on the camera's flash.

I could see Air Scanner being used by teachers to showcase student work from the desk or students could use the App to zoom in to presentations that were created on a Poster Board.  This is a free method for teachers to get a document camera and not be limited to a single location in the classroom.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Google Zeitgeist for 2013 is Available

Every year in the month of December Google releases their Year in Review based on Search popularity.  The purpose of this list is to provide people an opportunity to reflect on the people, places, and moments that caught people's attention throughout this past calendar year.  The first review I suggest viewing is the Year in Review Video which is embedded below.  This video would be a great video to show for a free writing activity, or as an introduction for a research project where students research the major events during their birth year or in another time in history.

When you examine the search history of Google you realize that is provides valuable information into what has happened in our world over the past year.  Below are the top ten global trending searches of 2013:
  1. Nelson Mandela
  2. Paul Walker
  3. iPhone 5s
  4. Cory Monteith
  5. Harlem Shake
  6. Boston Marathon
  7. Royal Baby
  8. Samsung Galaxy s4
  9. PlayStation 4
  10. North Korea
For the year 2013 users can also examine the 3D Global Map that will allow users to discover popular searches for by day for cities around the world.  This would make for an interesting examination of what is popular for different regions of the world and be a popular activity in Geography or Sociology classes.  To examine previous years top searches and stories, visit the Google Zeitgeist Home Page for direct links to 2013 or the Trends Home Page for previous years back to 2001.
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