Friday, September 6, 2013

Already seeing STAARS!

Oh the STAAR test!!

If you teach a STAAR or state assessed grade you know how stressful it can be. You don't want to assess them to death but you want to make sure that they are mastering the skills and know their testing strategies -- especially if you teach 3rd grade, which is the first year these babies are taking the State test and are expected to bubble in their own answer key.........
and it takes a LOT of practice to master the difficult skill of bubbling!! :)

 I can't tell you how many times I have done really fun, engaging, hands on activities thinking they have it down!! -- BUT then I assessed them and they bombed it when they had to do it paper/pencil style. 

It is important that the students see it "paper/pencil" style because that is what the STAAR test is... but it is also important to have interactive lessons that the kids can get their hands on and take and do. I am BIG on project based learning and giving them some control over their own learning and how they learn it! 

Over the summer I went to a training where the speaker shared one good idea some ideas - an idea that seems like it could really help bridge hands on learning to pencil/paper assessing. 

She said that before you teach a new topic to post a question, the type of question the kids would see on the STAAR test (with the answers covered) and tell them:

"We are learning about this because you will be expected to answer a question like this..."

So, I created this Guiding Question poster that I will use to display questions in STAAR format for the kids to ponder during our lesson/activity. As you can see, I am introducing my STAAR strategies through this, which is really just an added bonus!! Afterwards, I put the answer choices up on the Elmo and we discuss what the correct answer is and how we can use what we learned during the lesson to answer the question. 

SO far it has been going really well and it provide my kids with some prior knowledge of the strategies when we did our first practice passage today! 

Two years ago when STAAR was first given, our reading specialist and I sat down, knowing that the STAAR test would be more rigorous, with more inferencing and questions that involve the students needing to "think" instead of just "remembering" we came up with the idea of using COVER UP CARDS! 
I absolutely LOVE them. The kids read the passage and when they get to the questions they use their cover-up cards to cover up the answer choices. This give the students time to really think about the question without being distracted or tempted to just choose an answer without really reading all the choices. I expect my students to write their "mental answer" above the question before they even look at the answer choices. This is useful because there usually are 2 choices that could be the answer or are "tricky ones" and it helps keep them focused on what they originally thought, keeping them from second guessing.  

Here is an example from one of my student's work from today.
You can see they highlighted their key words and did their mental answering! :)

Happy Teaching Friends!! 

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