Monday, April 15, 2013

Reading Test Prep

Test Prep used to strike fear into my heart.  One thing I've learned from my five years in testing grades is that test prep does not have to be so boring and I don't have to teach it the way other people teach it.  Reading has not always been my strength, so I've struggled with how to make reading test prep more meaningful.

I have combined some different ideas from people much smarter than me and came up with a way that really works for me!  I base my Reading Workshop off of Lucy Calkin's Model and I love her test prep unit!  A lot  of these ideas come from her!

First off I planned out what genres I needed to review and the skills I wanted to review each day. After looking at the CCSS and the types of questions that are on our state;s released test, this is what I came up with.

I've left Fridays to either discuss a test taking strategy (QAR, Making Predictions, etc) or to review a concept I've discovered my class really needs more instruction or discussion.

Now, here's a layout of what I do everyday.

1. Minilesson-I usually create an anchor chart or pull one out from a previous unit.  We focus a lot on "signal words" that might be on the test and what that question might be asking.  Here's an example of a Main Idea  Anchor Chart.
Then the students usually copy parts of the anchor chart in their reader's notebook.

2.  Test Prep Practice- This is where the students practice answering questions from a reading selection. Each day the students are only answering 2-4 questions.  Here is how it works.

Monday- Teacher Models & Leads Discussion. We read and outline the selection together.  Then, we read the question together and discuss what the question is asking.  The students jot down what they think the answer is, citing the text if applicable, and share with their partner.  Then we look at each answer choice and discuss why each choice could or couldn't be the answer. Then we choose the best.  This day is lots of modeling and discussion!

Tuesday-Heavy Partner Work. Sometimes we even use the same selection from the day before, but sometimes we use a different. (Just depends on what I feel like my kids need!). The students read the selection with their partner and discuss and outline together.  They read the questions together, discuss, jot down their thoughts and choose the best answer. Then we come back and discuss.

Wednesday-Less Partner Work. Same drill as yesterday, but this time, the students read the selection and choose answers on their own. Then they meet with their partner and discuss.  Then we meet as a group and discuss.

Thursday-Independent Practice.  This is kind of an assessment for the week.  I make sure the selection and questions  covers the four topics we have discussed in class.  The students do this one completely on their own.

Friday- I pull strategy groups based on student's work from independent practice.

Even though the students are only answering a few questions, it takes about 20 minutes because we do a LOT of discussion.  Some days, usually on Mondays and Tuesdays,  I cut out the questions and pass them out one at a time. The students love it, because it is something different. For some reason, this makes it more game like! :)

3. Independent Reading-This is all taking place during our regular reading workshop time.  The students need to have stamina for the test, so for the rest of RW time, the students are reading independently or I'm pulling guided reading or strategy groups.

We just finished the second week and I  LOVE teaching test prep this way!  My kids have really enjoyed it too!  I can already tell a difference in their independent work.

One last thing, last year I created this Reading Test Strategy as a way for student's to road map their reading. I love it, it's easy to remember and it's really helped my kids with answering those tricky multiple choice problems! Click on the picture to download it for free!


  1. What a great post! I love how you've structured your test prep. You've put a lot of work into it! :) I'm sure your kids will do great! :)

    Sugar and Spice

  2. Wow! Your students are going to rock that test after all of this review! I love how organized your test prep is:) Sending our ELA teachers this link!!

    Fun in Room 4B

  3. We are starting test prep next week and these ideas will hopefully make it a little more fun. :) Thanks for sharing.
    Creating Lifelong Learners

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Many students afraid of test preparations. I also feel tense when I think to prepare my test of analyzedu reviews. This blog is very helpful for the students who feel afraid to take test of any type. I think students should read this blog carefully and try to understand.

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