Finally, the new reference materials/formula charts for the Science STAAR/EOC Tests are available on the Texas Education Association’s (TEA) website! The previous charts were designed before the TEKS for Biology, Chemistry, and Physics were rewritten this past summer, so they did not reflect the actual content we anticipate will be on the STAAR/EOC test. Essentially, the old formula charts aligned with the old TEKS and it has played havoc on us this school year. As a chemistry teacher, I have been concerned about many formulas that junked-up the old formula charts. They are often a distraction to many test takers. It is nice to know what they finally look like, get them printed, and into the classroom.
You definitely want to get a classroom set copied and laminated and refer to them whenever you are teaching the material as soon as possible. Additionally, always allow the kids to utilize the formula charts when they are quizzing and testing too. They must become totally familiar with the document during the course of the year. Be fair to the kids. If the kids see the formula chart for the first time the day of their EOC test it will be a major overload of information and they will freak out. Essentially, all the TEKS’ information is squished onto a set of 2 formula charts, 1 constants list, and a Periodic Table. The more often the kids use it in real time the more confident they will be when using it on the actual test. Howver, there are a few changes on it which may frustrate you as you will have to rethink, rewrite, and resave some of your existing worksheets, quizzes, and tests.
First, the Periodic Table page is pretty much the same, except the main group naming using Roman Numerals is gone. The state chose to go with 5A versus VA and so forth. Next, it seems physics has won the debate and frequency is now officially listed as a little f and not a nu. The poor nu has always looked too much like a little v for velocity and confused everyone. Bye-Bye nu, I will miss you! The state also added a great deal more polyatomic ions and expanded the solubility chart, which I am personally grateful for. Now we can definitely focus on the kids utilizing the information on an application level rather than the memorization of information. If the information is going to be provided for them, we should focus on teaching them how to use it and not worrying about them memorizing it. However, they must know where to look for the information, thus the argument for using it throughout the year. Additionally, I love the way the charts look now. Everything is so much more concise and it reads like it’s divided more appropriately. Whomever worked on it did a great job. The gas laws are much easier to read, solutions stand out, and we finally can see the state wants us to teach Q and enthalpy in regards to Thermochemistry because the new TEKS certainly didn’t help us figure that out on our own.
This test is going to be difficult for us all and especially the kids. Use the newly released formula charts as your light house to help you from crashing into the rocks. You will have to change some of the things you have been doing for years, but if you have been teaching that long you should be used to change by now.