Thursday, April 03, 2008

Test Prep

Yesterday I asked my students, "What are you doing in writing workshop that you'll be able to transfer to the writing portion of the achievement tests?"

Number one is my contribution. The class as a whole has finally hit their stride in writing workshop. They are involved in projects they care about and they hit the ground running when they get back from math. There is a quiet buzz in the classroom as they work, but it is generally conversation about their writing and not off-task chatter. All the rest are theirs:
1. The ability to focus and WORK.
2. Use good vocabulary.
3. Write a short or long story.*
4. Stick to a project.
5. Make it sound interesting.**
6. Use short and long sentences.
7. Use paragraphs.
8. Stick to the plan.
9. PLAN.***
10.Use correct grammar, punctuation, and capitalization

*This speaks to their ability to judge the writing task and plan accordingly.
**We laughed about this one. It is obviously about engaging your reader, but they understand that even if they don't care about the topic (ie: achievement test prompt) they still must engage their reader!
***Okay, okay. I added these two. My point was, if you know how to "stick to the plan," that means you know it's important to PLAN! Likewise for editing.

What are you doing in the course of your regular instruction that your students will be able to transfer to their achievement tests?


  1. Well, nothing, probably...
    Just kidding! I just really hope that I have opened students eyes to VOCABULARY this year. I have worked really hard on that, I think. Being that we don't have a writing test in fifth grade, I won't be able to see anything in that sense, in a way that is a bummer. Then again, one less test.
    I also hope my freedom of choice philosophy pays off in students being so use to seeing all different kinds of reading that they won't become afraid when they get to the test. It has worked in the past, here's to hoping it stays that way.

  2. We just talked about this at our 5th grade team meeting today. What I've done all year long to prepare them for the test is to cover the standards and indicators within reading and writing workshops.
    What I plan to do specifically for at least 1 week, maybe 2, is to have my reading mini-lessons be all about the genre of test-taking. It is far more important for them to learn how to read a question, and understand what they need to answer than to spend hours of time doing test prep and practice papers.
    This is just my humble opinion...

  3. Here's my point -- they *know* they're prepping for the test when we do specific test prep lessons (genre of the test, whatever). But do they know that they can transfer all of everything else they've done all year to their work on the test? We *assume* they will, but I had this conversation to bring that piece out into the open.

  4. We just finished our writing prompt unit of I look over them, I am amazed at the growth in their writing. One of my students used a time passes mark (the kind that is in the middle of the page). Think the graders will understand this? Another girl used hyphens to suggest stammering. Think the graders will fully comprehend what these students are doing? My guess is - NO!

  5. I agree with you, ML, that we need to tap into already existing knowledge. It's the processing piece that takes up a lot of my genre study. I think this is great food for thought. Thanks for starting the dialogue!!


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