Bigger, Better Writing on the GED Test

This afternoon in DC, we’ll divide into two groups, then switch mid-afternoon. Educators will have the chance to get on GED Academy and respond to both an RLA Extended Response and a Science Short Answer item. Directions:

Folks in the classroom will practice using rubrics and samples to improve writing instruction. And hopefully improve scores on the GED Test!

How are your students doing on the writing portion of the GED Test? Let me know in the comments!

Science is Awesome! Scoring and Teaching GED® Science Test Short Answer Responses

Welcome to the VAILL Conference, either in person or online!

What can test-takers expect on the GED® Science Test? TWICE in Science the test will present a short text or visual (called the stimulus) and recommends that test-takers use no longer than 10 minutes to write a response according to the directions (called the prompt).

GED® Testing Service created a Science Short Answer Response Resource Guide that includes:

  • Two samples of readings and prompts.
  • 6 real responses from simulated test takers.
  • Detailed information on the scores provided by Subject Matter Experts.

We will explore portions of this guide to understand and practice scoring, then consider some instructional activities from Teaching Adults: A 2014 GED® Test Resource Book to prepare adult learners for this portion of the test (and life).

And here’s an additional graphic organizer that isn’t even in the book!

Beyond the Textbook: Additional Texts for GED® Test Preparation

Participants in my session on (Re)Writing History: Scoring GED® Social Studies Test Extended Response asked this great question:

In addition to published textbooks, where can I find quality non-fiction stimulus text and visuals as the basis for lesson plans and assignments?

For their (and your!) future reference, here is the list we generated:

Many newspapers also have lesson plans available for their content subscribers. This can engage adult learners while supporting journalism in our communities.

Newspapers to subscribe to for lesson plans/activities:

Do you have additional resources to add to this list?

Six FREE Amazing Websites for GED® Test Prep

There so many websites for excellent, free content for GED® Test Preparation!

ProLiteracy Education Network

Free online resources and professional development for adult education students, instructors & administrators by ProLiteracy.

Example: 26 Tips for Working with Your Child’s Teacher

The Beehive

“Free help with money, housing, jobs, health and school. Available in English and Spanish.”

Example: Digital Basics: Learn How to Use the Computer and Internet Safely and Intelligently

Video: How to use the beehive


“TV411 is a collection of entertaining videos and engaging web activities, all designed to help you reach your learning goals. Pick a topic—reading, writing, vocabulary, math, science, or finance—and get started.”

Example: Fractions and Rhythm

GCF Learn Free

Quality online tutorials and courses for “anyone who wants to improve the technology, literacy and math skills needed to be successful in both work and life.”

Example: GCF Literacy Project

Khan Academy

Free videos and practice problems, mostly focused on mathematics but slowly expanding. The unique part of this site is not its content, but how students (and teachers) can track their progress using a free Facebook or Google account.

Example: The Beauty of Algebra

It can be hard to narrow your choices which content to use. This is especially true on sites like YouTube. Before you start, ask yourself this question:

What am I trying to teach or learn? What skill or piece of knowledge do I (or my students) need to know? Be specific!

Got it in mind? What is it? The Bill of Rights? How to find the lowest common denominator? Understanding poetry?

Now use your answer to focus your search through some of my favorite free websites for adult education & GED® Test Preparation. There are literally thousands of videos, tutorials and courses available here, so have fun searching:

YouTube…for Education!

Example: Why does a cat always land on its feet? A physics lesson from Smarter Every Day

Find what you were looking for on these sites? Please let me know!

GED Science: Energy from Respiration

For the GED Science Test, you should know that respiration is a process in plants and animals to create energy. So those are your GED vocabulary words: respiration and energy.

I watched a bunch of YouTube videos on respiration to find the most clear, visual explanation for you. The first minute of this video is basically all you need to know about respiration for the GED Science Test:

One minute too long? Here’s the 30 second version:

There are two parts to respiration in the human body. But it’s really all part of the same process.

1. Breathing in and out: exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide. This is biology. Humans breathe in oxygen (and a lot of other things) and we breathe out carbon dioxide (and a lot of other things). Try just paying attention for your breathing for a few minutes. Go on, take some deep breaths. It will help you focus. What is going on? This is your respiratory system at work. Air is coming in and out of your lungs. That allows the oxygen from the air to get into your blood stream, then into the cells in your muscles and your brain.

2. Cellular respiration: once the oxygen gets into your cells, then it starts a chemical process. So now we’re in chemistry instead of biology. The oxygen interacts with glucose, which comes from food. So your glucose from eating and your oxygen from breathing recombine to create carbon dioxide, water, and ENERGY! Then your blood stream brings the carbon dioxide from the cells, back to your lungs, and you breathe it out.

So the respiratory system (think of your lungs) brings oxygen in and carbon dioxide out of your body. Those chemicals from air are used in the chemical process of cellular respiration, which creates ENERGY. And you are using that energy to read and understand this post right now! Good work. Now let’s check if you understand it:

Got it? That’s all you need to know about respiration for the GED Science Test. However, if you want to get a job or a degree in the health sciences you should probably understand respiration in more detail. If that’s the case, I suggest you check out these introductory videos on cellular respiration:

One last unrelated comment: guys are always explaining the science in these popular videos I found. What’s up with that? The one with the girl has her playing the role of the confused student. So is it a big surprise that we have trouble getting girls and women to join scientific fields if our public role models are men? There’s no reason women can’t be the ones explaining advanced scientific concepts.

Free Online GED Science Test Preparation

One of my GED Scholarship recipients took the test and didn’t pass the science test.  She was determined  to pass, wanted to be part of the GED graduation in June, and has specific classes picked out for this summer to learn how to work in a dental or medical office.  Her dedication inspired me to do some research for additional online resources to support her self-study:

Find GED Science Test preparation books at

Before you use these links, a warning: At these sites don’t give away your email address, sign up for any accounts or contests, or click links for ads.  They are free website because they post advertisements or sell GED materials, and most of the ads are selling fake diplomas, overpriced courses, or degrees you don’t need yet.  Focus on the lessons and don’t get distracted.  Consider the ads like someone talking really loudly on the sidewalk outside the window while you’re taking the GED test.  Don’t waste your time even looking at them!

Some helpful study materials online:
  • McGraw Hill’s GED Science Student Center: Click a chapter, and you will see links on the left-hand side of the page for Chapter Outline with definitions to learn, online flashcards to practice. AFTER you have studied the chapter outline and flashcards, do the chapter review quiz, and GED practice quiz: give yourself 15 minutes for each quiz. Note: This is a companion to the McGraw Hill GED Science book that you can purchase at Amazon (I recommend you get it used: save some $ and the planet).
  • McGraw Hill’s Science Vocabulary to Memorize You can practice flashcards online, but I recommend writing them down yourself to help you remember better–you can use index cards or scrap paper cut in four pieces.
  • GED for Free’s GED Science Prep Lessons (note: you do NOT need to “sign up” to view the lessons)

Here are a few links for FREE online GED practice tests.  To time yourself online at the library you can go to this Online Stopwatch, click “Count Down” and set the timer for 10-30 minutes per test.  To figure out the amount of time, look at the number of questions and multiply it by 1.5: for example, 10 questions x 1.5 = 15 minutes, or 20 questions x 1.5 = 30 minutes:

Here are some good tips on:
I also recommend you read some science topics and take notes you can review any time at home.  If you make a habit of reading your notes, rewriting notes, or using vocab flashcards for 15-30 minutes per day for 40 days, you will be very ready.  Pick the same time of day, set an alarm on your cell phone, or tape a note to the milk in the fridge…anything to remind you to study EVERY day.  Not only will you be ready for the test, you will have practiced a study skill you can use to learn for the rest of your life!
If you come across science terms you don’t recognize, search in  You can get a decent dictionary at the local Dollar store, but look for a “College edition.”  If you have a question or want a concrete example of something use good old Google or your search engine of choice.  For example, from McGraw Hill’s GED Science Student Center, Chapter One, Chapter Outline, I wanted to know “What is an example of equilibrium in everyday life?” The first search response on Google was this blog post on Equilibrium in Everyday Life with examples like a toaster, seesaw, walking, fish, etc.  It included a few more science terms you might want to look up like fulcrum and V3 neurons, but I learned something new from it, too!
Don’t pressure yourself to read all the lessons and learn all the vocabulary and topics to pass.  To keep you motivated, focus on one thing at a time that interests you.  Use the dictionary, draw pictures, re-read the passage, and search for additional information online until you feel like you know that topic well enough to teach it to someone else.  Pretend that instead of studying, you are creating a lesson to teach to your niece or nephew or to train a new person at work.  Rewrite it in a way to be able to explain it to someone else.  But as soon as you find yourself hearing your cell phone timer go off because it’s study time, and you say, “I don’t really want to,” then switch to a new topic and say, “I’m going to learn something new today that will help me pass the GED test!”  Or reward yourself after 15 minutes studying with chocolate or a hot bath…whatever it takes to keep yourself motivated.
You can do this!!!!!

Staying Safe in a Toxic World

Announcement: New Issue of the Change Agent The Change Agent Issue 32 Staying Safe in a Toxic World
Staying Safe in a Toxic World, Issue #32 of The Change Agent

“This issue of The Change Agent, produced in collaboration with TERC’s Statistics for Action project, will explore the local environment and will tell our stories of environmental clean-ups and community efforts to identify pollution sources and deal with them. With an emphasis on math and science, activities help students think about large and small numbers, percents, ratios, and scale. A one-pager on “Smart Moves: Take Control of Math” offers strategies for confronting difficult math problems-while avoiding an attack of brain freeze.

Using short narratives, interviews, cartoons, illustrations, and photos, this issue roots reading, writing, and math lessons in content that is relevant to adult learners. Background pieces and interesting facts provide opportunities for students to extend their learning. Lesson plans and discussion questions give teachers classroom-ready material that will engage students and provide an important forum for critical thinking, sharing, and achieving understanding across diverse experiences.

The magazine is free online at .”

For more information, please contact Cynthia Peters at

Tour the Oceans with Google Earth

Only 5% of the world’s oceans have been seen by human eyes. What we do know is now being shared on Google Earth using tours like the Ocean Showcase.  To view the ocean tours, you can either download the browser plug-in or the entire Google Earth 5 software to dive in to the newest frontier in human exploration.  Each tour has a highlight version that you can view in your browser, or a longer version that you can download.

Google earth logo

Each tour sends you spinning around the globe to view YouTube videos tagged to that oceanic location.  Data-heads will enjoy some of the straight-mapping information, but for the general browser, it’s not nearly as exciting or helpful as Google street view.  But I could see its usefulness to perk interest in a well designed educational activity, perhaps during an introductory lecture to oceanic zones or a webquest.

What are your ideas or resources to use the Oceans tours in Google Earth as a teaching or learning tool?

Free Cool Online Tool: McGraw Hill GED Online Learning Center

Find GED Test Preparation books at Amazon.

McGraw Hill-Contemporary offers one of the most popular GED preparation books series.  McGraw Hill offers FREE online supplements for this series that matches the books chapter-by-chapter.

Each book has a website with a Student Center (practice tests, chapter overviews, flashcards) and an Instructor Center (web links, teaching tips, correlations to the GED test):

Contemporary's Complete GED
Click to buy GED Complete from

You can find the books at for as little as $10-20.  If you are looking for extra practice problems in just one subject, they also offer exercise books for $1-10.  Get a used book marked “like new” or “very good” condition so you can write all over it!

Don’t forget your Casio fx-260 calculator!  It’s the official calculator used for the GED test.

Purchase GED Complete
Purchase GED Science OR the Science Exercise Book
Purchase GED Math OR the Math Exercise Book
Purchase GED Reading OR the Reading Exercise Book
Purchase GED Social Studies OR the Social Studies Exercise Book
Purchase GED Writing OR the Writing Exercise Book

Want even more practice?  Check out this post on Free Online GED Science Test Preparation.

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