I have blogged about my feelings about standardized testing before here.
One of the things I do is explicitly teach my students how to answer reading comprehension questions using a variety of passages. There are many different ways to do this. I have taken from several different ideas and have created my own version. I am sure it is not right or wrong, just my way : ).
I show students this poster (I have laminated it since taking this photo, so it is not all wrinkly! Ick! I will take a new picture of it since is now smooth!). We walk through several of these together and model how to answer the questions.
I found this example passage of a practice CRCT tests from 2006. I wrote on the test, showing how I would model this for my students. Obviously, the think aloud bubble is for all you teachers out there! But this is what I would model as a think aloud for my students. The blue arrows show how I frame and number paragraphs (number 2 on the poster above) and the red arrow shows how I decide key words ( number 4 in the poster above). If you click on the pictures they will take you to Google docs and you can see the picture in a larger size : ).
Another lesson that I teach is “What do I do if I freak out?” Many children get test anxiety right before the big day- and since it is high stakes I understand. I think I would freak out, too! We talk about taking a deep breath, counting to 10, and eating a peppermint (we are allowed to give one to students).
I also model how to pace yourself when taking a test. We discuss how the test is 60 minutes, or one hour. If there are 30 questions, I model how to find half of 30 which is 15. Then we discuss that at half an hour or 30 minutes into the test students should be around question 15. Then we practice with other numbers like 22, 24, 35, and 26 since teachers have no idea how many questions are actually on the test.
I also model and think aloud HOW to check your work. Many students have heard this term many times, but have no idea what it means. I model the correct and incorrect way to go back over the test and then we create an anchor chart of the correct way. We also discuss if you get stuck on two possible answer when you check your work to go with your first instinct.
And viola! That is how I teach test prep. Boring, no fun, but I do feel it is important. Looking back I did MANY of these things in COLLEGE to make sure I did not freak out, paced myself, checked my work and answered reading questions. It is a sad life skill, but a life skill none the less.
Mandy Gregory is a 2007 and 2012 Teacher of the Year. She has taught 4th, 3rd, and 2nd grade in both the general education and inclusion setting. She is the owner and creator of the Teaching Tips website (www.mandygregory.com) and has over 10 years of experience. She is married with two beautiful children.