Testing season is a busy time for all educators. Teachers are making sure the kids are ready, and Principals and leaders are making sure teachers are prepared.
Testing time can go smoothly. Here are our top tips for getting kids ready.
- Make sure kids read the directions.
Often the directions will say, “Read this article.” Kids need to be thinking, “Oooh this is a nonfiction piece of writing, so I should be thinking about the main ideas and details on this topic and if the author has an opinion or perspective they’re trying to share. Or if the directions say, “Read this narrative,” kids need to know this is a story, so they should be thinking about the setting, characters, problem and solution or resolution. You can practice this with old test packets and have kids jot notes on the margins or on a separate paper to help them keep track of what’s important.
- When preparing kids for multiple-choice questions, have them rank the answers by those that have the BEST evidence or support from the texts.
Often many of the answers make sense and students need to really think about which answer is strongest. You can practice this in read-alouds by giving multiple-choice questions after you read a chapter or having them think about which theme or message has the best and most evidence from the text.
- Teach kids the language of the test.
Often the test uses specific language such as the author’s purpose or theme. Use this language interchangeably, so kids understand that the author’s purpose, theme, lesson, or big idea in the story are really all the same. Practice using this language when you do interactive read-alouds and during your mini-lessons, so kids get more familiar with it.
- Preserve independent reading time at all costs.
The tests require kids to read at high levels and often to have good stamina. Keeping up with your independent reading time will help kids to have stronger reading volume and to tackle these more sophisticated texts when they see them on the test. Mary Ehrenworth, deputy director at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project suggests “Reading Marathons.” You can make it fun and have kids come in with different types of reading materials to keep themselves going — magazines, books, comics.
- Practice test prep writing.
Take a week or two before you give the writing test to teach kids how to respond to the prompts. They should be confident in using strategies from your units of study, but often the test is asking them to write about something they read and use ideas from it. This is different from daily writing workshop where kids are choosing their own topics. We want kids to feel confident and prepared to answer what is being asked. You can even do some shared writing as a class to show kids how to do this well.
If you enjoyed these quick tips, you’ll love our reading and writing institutes.
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