February 13, 2016

Test Prep Strategies: Tips To Prepare Students For The Format & Content

While most teachers don't look forward to testing any more than students do, all teachers want their students to be prepared. In this #2ndaryELA Twitter chat, middle and high school English Language Arts teachers discussed standardized testing, preparing students for the content and format, and tips for dealing with students with test anxiety. Read through the chat for ideas to implement in your own classroom.
This #2ndaryELA Twitter chat was all about test prep strategies for the ELA classroom. Middle and High School English Language Arts teachers discussed standardized testing, preparing students for the content and format, and tips for dealing with students with test anxiety. The highlights are below.

Prepare students for the content:
*make sure lessons are aligned with the standards
*explicitly teach test taking skills like the Bump It Up strategy
*constantly review & reinforce literary terms
*teach students how to break down difficult vocabulary
*read challenging texts
*have students evaluate and score anchor essays
*use what you're already reading independently as content for test prep. It doesn't ALWAYS have to be boring passages.
*look at questions stems, read and annotate text then answer questions

Prepare students for the format:
*if your test is computerized, practice with different types of testing formats: drag and drop, drop down menu, etc. and be sure students know how to use tools like the highlighter or the tiny 2 at the top to indicate a hidden 2nd text
*use released tests to practice
*make sure students know how many questions, passages, writing prompts to expect
*practice the vocabulary that will be used on the test
*teach process of elimination and how to navigate "tricky" wording
*mark tests for evidence of answers
*if your test is timed, give a practice test with not enough time so students can practice being rushed
*use the rubric the state will score writing on throughout the year so students will be comfortable with expectations

Easy test anxiety:
* don't let students see you stressed; if you have confidence in your students, they will have confidence in themselves
*use a fake, humorous test to get students to loosen up
*teach relaxation strategies like using the Calm app for meditation
*use funny videos like Pixar shorts to review literary terms
*watch a Ted Talk on body language and practice poses that relieve anxiety
*print off last year's scores, then after talking about goals for this year, have each student put their old score through a shredder
*make test prep unique with bright colors & celebrity pictures for different sections
*address anxiety through individual conferences

Helpful resources:
*Tips for making exam review fun
*Released test samples for high school from PA with rationale for answers and writing anchors
*Create a "Do What" chart for responding to writing prompts
*AP Lit Help offers resources and a 30 day countdown to the exam
*Use Kelly Gallagher's article of the week as nonfiction practice with response questions
*WritingFix has a vast amount of resources for K-12 teachers using the 6+1 Writing Traits
Hope you'll join us next Tuesday night,  February 16th at 8pm EST to talk about inclusion in the classroom. The questions for our next chat will be posted here on Sunday.

We'd also love for you to join our 2ndaryELA Facebook group (even if you aren't on Twitter). 2ndaryELA is a group of middle and high school English Language Arts teachers looking to share ideas and best practices. This group is an extension of our Twitter chat and a place for collaboration, questions, and encouragement. Feel free to post teaching ideas, success stories, resource links, photos, etc. that will enhance our instruction. 

If you missed this most recent chat, scroll down and read the whole thing below.

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