Create a List

List Name

Rename this List
Save to
Back to the Top Teaching Blog
March 21, 2014

Test Taking Strategies in Reading Workshop

By Rhonda Stewart
Grades 3–5, 6–8

    All of us look at the onset of spring as a moment to celebrate the upcoming warm weather. We welcome the budding trees, blossoming flowers, and birds singing. But for me, spring also reminds me that the state assessments are just around the corner.

    In New Jersey, grade six students will be taking our state assessments, commonly known as the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge or NJ ASK in May. State assessments have been around for years, but it seems that there is more at stake to achieve proficiency than ever before. In our common planning meetings, teachers are ramping up to prepare the students. This is not to say that preparation hasn’t occurred throughout the year. It has. It just seems that there is a laser sharp focus to arm the students with the proper tools needed to take the TEST!!!!

    Our unit of study that focuses on this is titled, Test Preparation. Personally I like the phrase, Test Sophistication. Sounds fancy, don’t you think? The term speaks to the importance of the topic without sounding so humdrum. As I begin to dive in and begin this work with my students, I revisit some of the strategies that I taught last year and devise a plan to rollout to my students. By no means is this work done in isolation. If I could offer any advice this year, especially for new teachers, it would be that for this unit you definitely want to plan with your colleagues. The tips that I am about to share are developed from the collaborative work with my fellow teachers. We continue to tweak the unit to meet the needs of our students.

     

    Test-Taking Teacher Tips

    Following Directions — This activity really drives home how important it is to “Follow the Directions.” Students will race through this without reading the directions only to find a surprise ending. I am including a couple versions. Have fun with this. I am planning to try this one that I found from http://www.justriddlesandmore.com/direct.html. (I have modified the quiz from the website to make it easier to use)

    Introduce Test Taking Language — Last year, one of my colleagues shared this vocabulary site, with our team. It was a huge hit with teachers and students. This site also has other resources that you can use not only for test taking, but for the entire year. The chart below was created after viewing the video from this website.

     
     
     

    Anchor Charts — I am a HUGE fan of anchor charts and their role in instruction. My colleague, Tiffeny Andrews, is the Guru of test taking charts. Whenever I need an anchor chart to come to life, there she is ready to help. Tiffeny has a way of taking an idea and creating fun charts to engage the students. 

     
         
     

    Develop Acronyms — Acronyms assist students with methods to approach the TEST. A popular one in my building in the literacy department is RASC (restate, answer, support, close). Anchor chart courtesy of Ms. Andrews

     
     

    Simulate Testing Conditions — Do not wait for the day of the assessment to arrange your classroom for the assessment. My students are able to arrange the class for test taking mode for assessments given during the year. It is not something new,something familiar even during the state assessment. 

    Ease the Tension/Stress — Infuse some enjoyable activities to reinforce your teaching. I have used Jeopardy with my classes and they love it.  Most of the time they don't even realize that they are using the strategies taught in class to play the game.

    Reading is just one section or part of our state assessment. Next week, I will focus on test taking in writing workshop.

    As always, do you have any ideas or test taking strategies that work with your students, please share!

    All of us look at the onset of spring as a moment to celebrate the upcoming warm weather. We welcome the budding trees, blossoming flowers, and birds singing. But for me, spring also reminds me that the state assessments are just around the corner.

    In New Jersey, grade six students will be taking our state assessments, commonly known as the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge or NJ ASK in May. State assessments have been around for years, but it seems that there is more at stake to achieve proficiency than ever before. In our common planning meetings, teachers are ramping up to prepare the students. This is not to say that preparation hasn’t occurred throughout the year. It has. It just seems that there is a laser sharp focus to arm the students with the proper tools needed to take the TEST!!!!

    Our unit of study that focuses on this is titled, Test Preparation. Personally I like the phrase, Test Sophistication. Sounds fancy, don’t you think? The term speaks to the importance of the topic without sounding so humdrum. As I begin to dive in and begin this work with my students, I revisit some of the strategies that I taught last year and devise a plan to rollout to my students. By no means is this work done in isolation. If I could offer any advice this year, especially for new teachers, it would be that for this unit you definitely want to plan with your colleagues. The tips that I am about to share are developed from the collaborative work with my fellow teachers. We continue to tweak the unit to meet the needs of our students.

     

    Test-Taking Teacher Tips

    Following Directions — This activity really drives home how important it is to “Follow the Directions.” Students will race through this without reading the directions only to find a surprise ending. I am including a couple versions. Have fun with this. I am planning to try this one that I found from http://www.justriddlesandmore.com/direct.html. (I have modified the quiz from the website to make it easier to use)

    Introduce Test Taking Language — Last year, one of my colleagues shared this vocabulary site, with our team. It was a huge hit with teachers and students. This site also has other resources that you can use not only for test taking, but for the entire year. The chart below was created after viewing the video from this website.

     
     
     

    Anchor Charts — I am a HUGE fan of anchor charts and their role in instruction. My colleague, Tiffeny Andrews, is the Guru of test taking charts. Whenever I need an anchor chart to come to life, there she is ready to help. Tiffeny has a way of taking an idea and creating fun charts to engage the students. 

     
         
     

    Develop Acronyms — Acronyms assist students with methods to approach the TEST. A popular one in my building in the literacy department is RASC (restate, answer, support, close). Anchor chart courtesy of Ms. Andrews

     
     

    Simulate Testing Conditions — Do not wait for the day of the assessment to arrange your classroom for the assessment. My students are able to arrange the class for test taking mode for assessments given during the year. It is not something new,something familiar even during the state assessment. 

    Ease the Tension/Stress — Infuse some enjoyable activities to reinforce your teaching. I have used Jeopardy with my classes and they love it.  Most of the time they don't even realize that they are using the strategies taught in class to play the game.

    Reading is just one section or part of our state assessment. Next week, I will focus on test taking in writing workshop.

    As always, do you have any ideas or test taking strategies that work with your students, please share!

Comments

Share your ideas about this article

Rhonda's Most Recent Posts
Blog Post
Middle School Literacy Centers

Literacy centers not only build upon and reinforce the lessons taught, but also enable students to take "ownership" of their learning. Read on for ideas on why and how to make learning centers a part of your middle school classroom.

By Rhonda Stewart
November 1, 2016
Blog Post
New Teachers: Getting Started

The first year of teaching can be tough. With guidance and support, it's possible to make the first year of teaching a great learning experience. Here are some practical tips to help any new teacher "thrive" in their first year.

By Rhonda Stewart
September 7, 2016
Blog Post
My Summer Book List: Read Now, Discuss in September

As usual, my summer reading list comes from student and colleague recommendations. But this year, I also looked at my classroom library to see what books might need a little extra promoting to land into the hands of a reader.

By Rhonda Stewart
June 10, 2016
Blog Post
Celebrating Dr. King's Legacy

This unit on MLK and social issues brings to light that there are other concerns going on in the world and that one person can make a difference regardless of age, gender, or nationality.

By Rhonda Stewart
May 27, 2016
Blog Post
End-of-School-Year Activities

Are you at a loss of ideas for things to do as the school year begins to wind down? Are you looking for ways to keep your students engaged as they dream about summer? Here are some suggestions that are sure to help with end-of-school fever.

By Rhonda Stewart
May 20, 2016
Blog Post
Creating End-of-the-Year Student Certificates

As the end of the school year approaches, are you planning a special assembly to celebrate the accomplishments of your students? See how one group of teachers decided to mix things up and create some fun certificates for the end of the year.

By Rhonda Stewart
May 6, 2016
My Scholastic

Susan Cheyney

GRADES: 1-2
About Us