Test Prep Unit

upLink article Winter 2015
“Preparation for the State Test (Reading Closely and Writing About Reading)”

 

Purpose of the Unit

The purpose of the unit, “Preparation for the State Test (Reading Closely and Writing About Reading),” is to teach skills and strategies that will grow our readers throughout the year(s), while preparing them for the state assessment.  “Children who read at high reading levels with solid reading rates, meaning they read with stamina and fluency , do well…  The best preparation for state tests is to teach your children to be strong readers (Calkins, 2009).”  KIDS HAVE TO BE READING WITH VOLUME.

 It is expected that teachers will launch and sustain Reading and Writing Workshop while preparing students to take the 2013 NECAP tests in October. This unit stands on the shoulders of Unit 2, “Maintaining a Varied and Independent Reading Life, and Getting Ready to Demonstrate Reading Skills on the Reading Tests (NECAPs),” found in teachers’ Reading Curricular Plan binders.  Unit 2 has supported our students to do well on multiple choice questions, and will continue to provide a valuable resource in preparing our students for the state test. However, our most recent NECAP data suggest that our students are more successful answering multiple-choice questions than those requiring a written response.  An area of greater focus needs to be answering Constructed and Extended Response questions.

Literacy Teacher Leaders developed a calendar that provides a balance between maintaining students’ independent reading and writing lives and developing the necessary skills to be successful test-takers.  In addition, they have developed resources to support this work.

 

Following is a proposed calendar and a series of resources.  Of course, your schedule needs to be responsive to school weekly schedules.  (For a copy of this calendar to print, click here .)

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As you plan further, you will need to include these essential practices to specifically support test preparation:

  • Read Aloud with NECAP prompts. 
    Build to written response:  T/T > Stop and Jot >  Write long.
  • Test Prep minilessons during Reading Workshop 2x/wk
  • Opportunities for independent/partner practice 10 min. 1x/wk, coaching in
  • Opportunities for sustained independent reading “Reading Marathon”--very short  minilesson, MWI addressing reading behaviors 1x/wk
  • Opportunities for sustained independent writing practice in the form of “Writing Long and Strong,” responding to various prompts (“flash drafts”) 1x/wk 

Grade five will use this time for practice for the writing test as well.

  • Poem of the Week, Shana’s recommendation: 3x/wk.  Day 1-Meaning. Day 2- Author’s craft, structure, intent.  Day 3-Cross text, comparing two poems

 

 

You will find these resources linked  on the following pages and posted in the Test Prep folder .

Possible Read Aloud titles, texts and prompts (linked below as well)

Minilesson teaching points

Student checklist for constructed responses

Charts (linked below as well)

Independent practice for multiple-choice questions at differentiated levels (linked below as well)

Independent practice for constructed response to reading at differentiated levels (linked below as well)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suggested Read Aloud Titles

 

Grade Level

Title

3

* Big Al by Andrew Clements (Marked up text in Test Prep folder)

Saturdays and Tea Cakes Lester Laminack and Chris Soentpiet

Tornadoes ” by Lucy Calkins and Kathleen Tolan

4

Spaghetti ” (taken from Every Living Thing by Cynthia Rylant) (Marked up text in Test Prep folder)

The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson and E. B. Lewis

 

Good Catch! The Story of a Baseball Glove ” by Lucy Calkins and Kathleen Tolan

5

The Marble Champ ” (taken from Baseball in April and Other Stories by Gary Soto) (Marked up text in Test Prep folder)

Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting

The Weird and Wonderful Octopus ” by Lucy Calkins and Kathleen Tolan

 

 

MiniLesson Teaching Point possibilities:  (For a copy of these Teaching Points to print,  click here.)

As we read test passages and questions, we are “wide awake” readers, reading closely and paying attention to little details.  We revise our thinking as we read, going back in our minds and realigning what we thought the text said with what we are uncovering as we continue to read the passage.

 

When readers are getting ready to answer a multiple choice question, we can think of an answer before we look down at the choices. Then, we can eliminate the answers that don’t match or aren’t close to the one we have in mind.

 

When readers get ready to choose an answer, we know that sometimes the answer we want to give is not one of the choices. So, we look for the “best” answer instead of the “right” answer.  We can also cross out answers that are possibly wrong in order to narrow our choices.

 

Readers know that some test questions are extra tricky, so they read all questions carefully, paying close attention to words like except , most likely and explain.

 

Readers get ready to read by identifying the structure and genre of the passage and think about the types of questions that we often ask around these structures.  This helps us get ready to angle our reading, to have certain expectations about how the text will go. For example, we might think, “This is a story, so there are probably questions about character traits. There might be a question about where the story takes place, too.”

 

Readers ask themselves, “Is this a whole text question or is this a detail question?” Once we figure out the answer to that question, we will know if we need to think about the whole text or if we need to find a part in the text.

 

Readers read the question carefully, make sure they understand all parts of the question, and restate the question in their answer.

 

When readers write about their reading, they pay attention to the little details of the passage that others might pass by and use those details to write long and grow new ideas.  We write more to support our ideas by using words like:   for example, in addition, this shows that.

 

Writers of constructed responses choose the best evidence from the text to support their ideas. We can do this by adding examples, facts, quotations to our answer.

Constructed Response Checklist (for copy to print, click here)  

 

Not Yet

Starting To

Yes!

I found all the parts to the question.

 

 

 

I restated the question as a claim/thesis.

 

 

 

I wrote more to explain my answer.

 

 

 

I provided support for my answer with evidence from the text by including facts, examples, quotations, and/or information.

 

 

 

I used words and phrases to glue parts of my piece together. for example, another example, for instance, the text states, this shows that…

 

 

 

I worked on an ending which connects back to the claim/thesis.

 

 

 

I reread my answer checking for punctuation and spelling.

 

 

 

 

 

Rising Star Chart for Constructed Response (for copies,  click here .)

 

1

2

3

4

I restated the question.

I answered the question writing  a sentence or two.

I restated the question.

I answered the question writing more than a few sentences.

I used some details from the text.

I restated the question and was sure to answer all parts of the question.

I answered the question writing a lot.

I supported my answer with evidence from the text by examples and/or information.

I restated the question and was sure to answer all parts of the question.

I answered the question writing a lot using words like for example, another example, for instance, the text states,

I supported my answer with evidence from the text by including facts , examples, quotations , and/or information.

Each piece of evidence clearly supports my claim/thesis.

I say more about the text by including my thinking about the theme, message or main idea. ( this shows that…, this is important because…)

 

For more charts , click here.

Independent Practice  (PDFs of these are linked below.  They can also be found in the Test Prep folder: click here. )

 

Fiction multiple choice

  1. 3 (lower) Harold School Days
  2. 3 (lower) New School
  3. 3 (lower) Poems
  4. 3 (lower) Sunlight Poem
  5. 3 Iris Field Trip
  6. 3 Just Us Women
  7. 3 Mr. Hacker
  8. 4 Frog From Osaka
  9. 5 Two Poems (both MC and Constructed Response)

Fiction constructed response

  1. 3 (lower) Poems
  2. 3 (lower) All Aboard!
  3. 3 Iris Field Trip
  4. 3 Just Us Women
  5. 3 Mr. Hacker
  6. 4 Frog from Osaka
  7. 5 Two Poems (both MC and Constructed Response)

Nonfiction multiple choice

  1. 3 (lower) Chicks
  2. 3 (lower) Horns and Antlers
  3. 3 (lower) Tell Me, Tree
  4. 3 Starfish
  5. 3 Rainbow Salad
  6. 4 Covered Wagon
  7. 4 George Washington Carver
  8. 5 How to Make a Compass (both MC and Constructed Response)

 

Nonfiction constructed response

  1. 3 (lower) Tell Me, Tree
  2. 3 Starfish
  3. 3 Rainbow Salad
  4. 4 Covered Wagon
  5. 4 George Washington Carver
  6. 5 How to Make a Compass (both MC and Constructed Response)

 

 

On one of the later Reading Marathon days, give students a passage with all the multiple choice, vocab and constructed response questions.

Gr. 3 The Crow and the Water Jug (fable) pp. 7 - 11

Gr. 4 A People and a Tree (nonfiction) pp. 2-7

Gr. 5 The Whitewater Queen

Gr. 5 (2) Treasure in the Field


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