Bear Branch Junior High School

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Art

This contest involves the study of paintings from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and paintings or pictures from selected Texas museums. The Art Smart Bulletin, published every other year, is the source for study of history and art elements relative to the 40 art selections and is the final authority in the spelling of artists' names and titles of art works. As part of their study, students will demonstrate an understanding of art history and interpret ideas and moods in original artworks while making informed judgments about the artwork.

Part A of the contest requires the contestant to identify the names of 15 selected artists and titles of pictures selected randomly by the director from the official list of 40 pictures. Part B consists of 30 questions about art history and art elements characteristic of the 40 art selections.

The Art Contest is in the second year of a two-year cycle. Prints and the Art Smart Bulletin were new for 2013-2014. Both divisions (grades 4-6, grades 7-8) use the same prints and bulletin, but different tests are provided for each division.

Calculator Applications

The Calculator Applications Contest involves a thirty-minute test comprised of 70 mathematical problems that are solved with a handheld calculator:

  • 35 numerical,
  • 21 stated,
  • 14 geometry.
Chess

News and Updates

  • Chess Puzzle is no longer a pilot event – it is now an official part of A+ Academics.
  • The A+ Invitational materials set now includes Chess Puzzle.
  • Contest materials for district meets are now ordered in the same format as other A+ events, and will be provided in printed packets (for orders submitted by prescribed deadlines).
  • Texas Tech Chess has partnered with UIL to provide study and practice material for A+ Chess Puzzle. See the link below under Study and Practice Resources.

Contest Format

  • Chess Puzzle is offered for grades 2-8 in three divisions: grades 2-3, grades 4-5 and grades 6-8. As with other A+ events, districts may choose to structure with these as combined divisions or may choose to offer a separate division for each indvidual grade level.
  • Each division will take a 30-minute objective test plus a separate 5-minute tiebreaker section. A different test is provided for each of the three divisions. The tiebreaker section is identical for ALL divisions.
  • All Chess Puzzle test questions are now multiple-choice format, to allow for a broader scope of questions and increase the educational value of the contest (and make grading even easier).
  • Scoring is simple. For the main test and tiebreaker sections, contestants receive one point for each correct answer. There are no deductions for incorrect or unanswered questions. All grade levels will take the same tiebreaker section. Tiebreakers need only be graded for contestants actually involved in a tie.

Study and practice resources

There are thousands of other chess web sites available online, many that include chess puzzles, and many that are designed for kids.

What is Chess Puzzle Solving?

The benefits of chess are well documented for players of all ages, and especially for young people. Chess teaches problem solving, hones concentration and encourages analytical and strategic thinking. Chess can be a lifelong pursuit.

Chess puzzle competition is very different from tournament chess play. Contestants in a chess puzzle contest receive a paper-and-pencil test that includes a series of chess boards with pieces in particular positions. Questions are based on analysis of material or possible moves in each given diagram. See links above for sample tests and other resources.

A chess puzzle event provides an avenue for chess participation that does not require the time and resources of actual tournament play. The fixed time limit makes it practical to include in a district meet schedule, and the availability of free resources allows any school (including those that do not currently have chess programs) to include chess puzzle in their slate of A+ events at minimal cost.

Dictionary Skills

Thorough knowledge of the dictionary is a way to increase a student's ability to find the information that is needed for classwork as well as everyday living. Each Dictionary Skills test consists of 40 objective and short answer questions to be completed in 20 minutes. Contestants use dictionaries during the competition, which may be tabbed. Contest questions cover word origins and histories, parts of speech, pronunciation, variant spellings, plurals, alphabetizing and other such elements. Test questions are also taken from charts, tables and lists contained in the dictionary.

The subject matter of all tests is taken from the Merriam Webster's Intermediate Dictionary, 2004 and subsequent editions. Contestants may use other dictionaries in the contest, but the contest subject matter will be found in Webster's Intermediate.

The Intermediate Dictionary is available for purchase at a discounted price through Texas Educational Paperbacks.

Practice tests are included in the A+ Elementary and Junior High Study Materials booklets, which are available for purchase using the A+ Academic Study Materials Order Form, or through the UIL Online Store. Other practice materials are available from independent vendors.

Editorial Writing The Editorial Writing Contest is designed to develop the persuasive writing skills of the participants. Students must advocate a specific point-of-view in response to a prompt. Sixth, seventh and eighth-grade students have 45 minutes in which to complete their editorials.
Impromtu Speaking

This contest provides opportunities for students in grades 6, 7 and 8 to evaluate speeches given by others; to explore the use of the voice and body in speaking situations; to examine the different purposes for speaking; to organize ideas; to prepare and deliver various speeches; and to develop self-confidence.

Contestants will draw three topics and have three minutes to prepare a speech, which must be presented without any notes. The contest gives participants experience in thinking, organizing, formulating clear thoughts, and delivering those thoughts to an audience effectively.

The maximum time limit for each speech is five minutes. There is no minimum time limit. Students who exceed the allotted five minutes shall be penalized one rank.

Sample Topics

  • A good parent...
  • A law should be made that...
  • Courage is...
  • Freedom is like the ocean because...
  • If I could only accomplish one thing in my life, I would like to...
  • If I wanted to impress someone, I'd tell them about my...
  • If I'd known my parents when they were teenagers...
  • Little Red Riding Hood should have...
  • Loyalty should be given to...
  • Other cultures...
  • Professional athletes' salaries...
  • Teenagers would be better off...
  • The one world event I remember most about this year is...
  • You can make a child feel special by...
  • If I could be president for a day, I'd...
  • Of the five senses, my favorite is...
  • If I played a role in a TV show, I'd play...
  • If I taught junior high school, I'd...
  • If I were an author, I would write about...
  • If I were the leader of a new settlement on the frontier, I'd...
  • If I were the opposite sex, I'd...
  • If I wrote a personal mission statement, it would say...
  • To get respect...
  • It's OK to rebel when...
  • People often stereotype...
  • The strength of America lies in...
  • To me, success in life means...
  • Why people are afraid to fail...
  • Teenagers smoke because...
Listening

The listening contest is designed to help students in grades 5,6,7 and 8 recognize the importance of effective listening skills and to identify problems they may have in listening effectively. It also provides a challenging format to test the improvement of their listening abilities. Through preparation for the contest, participants will listen actively to a variety of material and learn to analyze and evaluate a speaker's message critically. Tests will include, but not necessarily be limited to, language arts, fine arts, natural sciences and social studies. The objective tests will measure skills such as identifying the main idea and supporting ideas, drawing conclusions, distinguishing fact from opinion, and mastering other listening and thinking skills.

Contestants will listen to a script ranging from seven to ten minutes in length, take notes as needed, and use their notes to answer 25 multiple choice, true/false and short answer test questions. A variety of subject matter will be used for the listening tests.

Maps, Graphs and Charts

The maps, graphs & charts contest is designed to help students learn to get information from a variety of maps, graphs and charts including world maps, pie charts, bar charts and local area maps. The objective test will measure skills such as using a reference book to locate information, making comparisons, estimating and approximating, using scale and interpreting grid systems, legends and keys.

Students will be given an objective test containing approximately 75 multiple choice, true/false, and fill-in-the-blank questions which must be answered in 45 minutes.

There will be one additional transition year for atlases in 2008-09, so test writers will check all atlas questions against both the new 2008 editon and the previous 2003-05 edition of the Nystrom Desk Atlas. Beginning in 2009-10, only the 2008 edition will be use in test preparation. Students may also use any other atlas they choose, but the test questions are written using this source.

Mathematics The Mathematics Contest consists of a 40-minute, multiple-choice exam with 60 questions, designed to test knowledge and understanding in the areas of basic mathematics, algebra I and II, geometry, trigonometry, math analysis, analytic geometry, pre-calculus and elementary calculus.
Number Sense The Number Sense Contest involves a ten-minute, 80 question mental math test covering all high school mathematics courses (See the sequence chart link in the right sidebar). Short cuts need to be developed and practiced in order to compete and finish the test.
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