Facing high-stakes tests can be very scary—for students and teachers.
How can we de-mystify these assessments for students so that fear is NOT a factor?
Talk to your neighbor about this assessment. What are you thinking?
What DO we notice about ourselves?
What do we notice about tests and what can we do to help our students take notice? Natalie, Kathy, Mary (each take a bullet point to read/comment on.
Natalie, Kathy, Mary each take a bullet point to read/comment on.
Natalie: You might want to create a chart like this with your students to help them sort vocabulary terms.
Kathy: How does our thinking have to change when talking about poetry in the world and poetry on tests?
Mary: Test takers ask questions to clarify and navigate the assessment. Effective instruction includes opportunities for practicing test taking strategies.
Kathy: When I think of Stamina, I think of my running. When I have a 6.2 mile race coming up, I don’t start with running 6 miles. I run 1 mile and build my stamina over weeks of running. That is how it is with both reading and writing. Students need to BUILD that stamina over weeks and even over years.
Read, then turn and talk. Consider what the child would need to answer this question.
Try one more. Read. Turn and talk.
Use these questions to work through samples posted around the room. (Divide into groups) Add thoughts to the chart: difficulty for child; how to address that. After do a Museum Walk OR each group explains their Question and thoughts from chart.
All write presentation on test talk
Weaving Text Genre into Effective Instruction Natalie Nelson Acting Curriculum Director FWCS Kathy Douglas District Instructional Coach FWCS Mary Johnson District Instructional Coach FWCS
Take a Few Minutes to Answer These Test Questions…
What Do We Notice About Ourselves As Test Takers? Our Minds Wander Right Away We Get Tired We Don’t Read the Whole Passage We Will Skip A Question We Aren’t Sure Of We Skipped the Directions We are Competitive – I want it done first! ……???????
What Do We Notice About Tests? Tests include directions, many other kinds of readings don’t. There are different kinds of questions. Some are multiple choice, some extended response, some constructed response. It is smart to look back at text when you are trying to answer questions.
What We Notice (continued) Rushing leads to absent minded work. Metacognitive test takers take the time to pay close attention. The test evaluators won’t come to our school to meet us in person so that we can explain our thinking. We have to show them our best thinking on the test! Being able to read and write is as important on Math, Science, and Social Studies tests as it is on Reading and Writing tests.
Tests are a unique genre. They all have. . . Genre-specific vocabulary Genre-specific format Genre-specific procedures and requirements in terms of answers and timing
Test Takers Ask Questions… Ensure they understand the expectations of each test question (what do they want me to do?) Identify the type of questions a test includes (QAR: Right There, On My Own, Author and Me, Think and Search) Clarify the test item’s format (multiple choice, extended response, constructed response) Determine the content knowledge being assessed (The picture shows stair steps that need to be built with concrete. Will I need to use the given dimensions to find area or volume?)
Some Questions They Ask… Where are the directions? Are there textual clues? Words may be in boxes , bold face, italics, underlined, CAPITALIZED, varied fonts. Is this multiple choice, constructed response, T/F? Does it ask NOT or EXCEPT so I have to think backwards? Do I have to use the charts, graphs, tables, and pictures? Will I be reading multiple genres?
Test Takers Activate, Utilize, and Build Background Knowledge (Schema) Apply what they know about different testing formats. Use what they know about tests to be ready for confusing or tricky items. Build and refine their schema across test taking experiences. Make sure you are using schema relevant to the passage.
What do kids have to do to be successful on tests?* Translate the test writers’ formal English into kid talk We need translators to learn French, Spanish, etc. Teachers must help students translate test talk. Be proactive test-takers through active reading and thinking Understand and manipulate the test format Have stamina for the test *from the book, Test Talk
Stamina. . . No matter the age. . . sitting, reading, thinking, rereading, answering questions, solving problems, and writing for several hours, several days in a row, is TOUGH. Building stamina begins by reading and writing daily starting in kindergarten and continuing throughout the grades.
Test-taking is a life skill, and. . . Hope is not a strategy for raising test scores.
Linking Problem Solving strategies and Test-Taking StrategiesTeachers/students may look at ISTEP released items, student images, Acuity, Reading and Math assessments and annotate the skill/strategy* the child will need to answer the question.*(formal language?, navigating format?, concept?, stamina?)
Read this sentence.He put the apple on the ground when hesaw the worm in it.Which of these new words best replaces theunderlined word to show that the boy isfrightened by the worm? A. threw B. lay C. placed D. set
Area of a rectangle = lw = length x widthMr. Gardner is building a fence around his garden.He has a total of 4 feet of fencing to make theperimeter. How much fencing should he use alongthe width and length to create the garden with thelargest possible area?Show all workAnswer ___________________________On the lines below use words, numbers, or symbols to explain how you found your answer.____________________________________________ ________________________________________
Discussion Questions How could you use the following test items to generate student conversation? What might cause a child difficulty with these test items? Concept? Formal language? Navigating the test item? Stamina? How can I weave test-taking genre into effective instruction?
Resources: BETTER ANSWERS By Ardith Davis Cole Put Thinking to the Test By Lori L. Conrad, Missy Matthews, Cheryl Zimmerman, and Patrick A. Allen Beyond the Bubble Maryann Wickett & Eunice Hendrix-Martin What Every Elementary Teacher Needs to Know About Reading Tests Charles Fuhrken TEST TALK By Amy H. Greene & Glennon Doyle Melton
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