I used my time tested method of one test genre per week, for 5 weeks prior to testing. But instead of reading passage after passage, we turned into test makers. Here is how a week looked for each of our 5 genres (nonfiction, poetry, fiction, consumer, and content.)
- Monday - Read an exemplar piece. This was from a test-prep book or a released item from the state. We used our strategy (Runners) and QARs. We sorted the questions, worked in pairs to answer them, and checked the text for support when possible. This was done whole group with the document camera. We discussed common question stems and wrote them on a chart for future reference.
- Tuesday - Student pairs are given a selection from a) the reading book or b) a magazine to read. Then students used the common question stems from Monday to generate questions for their article. I did this both with and without a framework. They sometimes wrote short-answer type questions and sometimes did multiple choice questions. It depends on your testing and your particular group of students. I got better responses with a framework and the students doing multiple choice questions.
- Wednesday - Students re-read their selection and finished their questions. We used the mobile laptop cart to document the questions on our class wiki. This is set up by our school district. (If you'd like the link, Twitter me or comment below and I'll send it to you.)
- Thursday - Students chose one of the other selections to read. Then they answered the questions on the wiki. They went to the original group to have their questions checked.
- Friday - Paper and pencil quiz on the genre. I usually used released items from the state or passages from a test-prep book.
Math worked a bit differently. The students and I each created an EOG Review notebook. Then I introduced 10 centers. Some of the centers were reading and some were math. Students had a partner (based on needed math skills) to rotate with. These centers became our whole day - in the weeks directly before testing, we often did EOG centers for up to 2.5 hours a day! One of the centers was ME. I was able to work with what I started calling "micro-groups" of students - 2 or 3 kids at a time. It was wonderful!
What did I do with those kids? I used the NC DigIns. I discovered them through my school district's use of ClassScape assessments. Unfortunately, I do have to log in to view the site - so I'm not sure if you can access it or not. Here is a screenshot...
Right now, the DigIns are available for 4th and 7th grade math and for Algebra 1. They are so useful! Each word problem - many taken from the released items produced by the state - is on a single page. Multiple choice, multi-step - typical EOG stuff. The following page(s) are the gold! There is an answer key for the problem, but it goes a step further. It explains what the student may have been thinking to have chosen that answer. Then there is a simple problem solving process to take the students through so they can discover it for themselves.
This combination - micro-group and having some insight as to why they might have chosen what they did - proved super powerful for my students. We were able to go through problem after problem, breezing through stuff they knew and taking more time to discuss and explore the tricky ones. The small group allowed me to closely observe their use of strategies (or lack!) and to catch issues quickly. The students were super engaged - after all, they had my undivided attention! I took notes and was able to differentiate instruction down to an individual level - if one partner mastered a concept, they could move on and the other person could keep working on what they needed.
I'll close by saying this - review for testing seems awkward at first. However, if you pay close attention to your students (we had done some previous centers that they really liked) you'll find a way to review that won't bore all of you to tears.
How do you review for high-stakes testing?