Local teacher wants students to be top on state standarized testWoodbury Middle School eighth graders are gearing up for the state standardized test later next month.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
Woodbury Middle School eighth graders are gearing up for the state standardized test later next month. And one of their science teachers is pulling out all the stops to ensure they do their best. He’s challenging them to be the best in the state.
Last year WMS students had the ninth best overall composite score, not including private or charter schools, in the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment II test. Nick George wants them to be number one.
“I’m not one to say that ninth isn’t good enough, but we want number one,” said George, who teaches eighth grade science at the school. “I’m very competitive and I have always been big into goal setting.”
It took some time for George to figure out what the school needed to do to make that jump from ninth to first — focus on the students who didn’t pass the test.
In 2009, 35 percent of Woodbury Middle School eighth graders did not pass the MCA test.
“The name of the game here is targeting our students who need the most help because that’s a huge margin to work with,” George said.
It was that idea that led George to come up with a day-long studying initiative he’s calling “V.I.P. Science Camp.”
“We’re going to roll the red carpet out in every sense of the phrase,” he said about the event that took place Saturday, May 1 at East Ridge High School.
Fun and studying
Students attended the camp by invitation only and met at the school for a day full of studying the four sections of the MCA test. They also participated in a game of “Science Jeopardy.” Food and prizes were the bait to hook students to come.
“We really wanted to make sure that it wasn’t taking notes for 12 hours,” George said.
About three-quarters of the 158 student invited to the event attended, George said.
George said amid all the interest generated over the all-day study session, students have begun developing a sense of pride centered on doing well on the standardized test, which will take place May 19-20.
“They know a lot of it will be riding on their shoulders,” George said. “They’re going to get confident, and they’re going to be tied into doing their best.”
Throughout the day students were treated to an assortment of food from two local restaurants, funded via a Target Services community education program and the Woodbury Middle School PTO.
Students who participated in V.I.P Science Camp also had the opportunity to win 29 different prizes donated from the community — including iPods and an X-Box 360.
Since the students took in a lot of material, George said the teachers and volunteers are made a point to link the material together so that the students will retain what they learned.
“If we cram everything down their throats, they won’t ever retain anything,” he said. “We know kids can do it, we just need to motivate them, make them feel prepared and confident.”
More science fun
For students who were not invited to the VIP Science Camp, George has organized a scaled-down version called MVP Science Camp, which will take place May 14 at Woodbury Middle School.