Sunday, January 6, 2013

Test Taking Strategies! It is NEVER Too Early!

Well my friends, I don't know about you, but the new year has always brought me testing anxiety! Gotta get those kids ready to take the TEST. This year I have a little less stress than usual.

Did I get the gifted students? Nope! Do all my kids read on grade level? I wish! Did I learn some strategies in the past few years that work? Yes! Last year, I learned the power of having the students write or tally their thoughts while they are reading. So, this year I have been working really hard to teach my students how to "work" any text they are reading. You can read about that here. I have taught my kiddos from DAY 1, (well maybe not day 1, but really early on!) to "work" ANY and ALL text they read. Here is a snapshot of a student's paper after working the text from my previous post.

Before we left for break, we had to take our Literacy Quarterly Assessment from our district. I had prepared my students with all of these strategies and now was the final showdown...would they use them? And, they did! Those little kiddos worked so hard on that test. They were working the text, working the questions, working the answers! I have never been more impressed with my students before! Now, a little background, only 4 of my 27 students were actually reading on grade level at the beginning of year and 12 were on a 2nd/3rd grade level. So this was huge for them!

Let's take a look at some of their work!

These two kiddos both used the FQR Strategy to help them comprehend this lengthy nonfiction text. You can't see in the pictures, but it is three pages long! By the way, FQR stands for Fact/Question/Response. When they respond on a daily basis, they actually write out their facts, questions, and responses. However, for the sake of time, I have taught them to make tally marks to indicate they have done this mentally. It really works and helps them think about the text as they are reading. You can see the first kid messed up the order, but hey, whatever works!

The next two students used a strategy that works with fiction or nonfiction texts. PCIQS (and yes, they have it memorized!) P-Predictions, C-Connections, I-Inferences, Q-Questions, S-Summary. The first student did the tally marks in a table. The second student is a faster reader and test taker so she had time to actually write out her thoughts. Either way! Remember, the end goal is to get them thinking while they are reading these boring rigorous test passages!

Now, all of the above showed the students reading and processing the text. Now onto the questioning. We have been working very hard on "justifying why" in all subjects...math, reading, science...everything! We have had several conversations about what justifying looks like: It can be a word, a phrase, a sentence, and sometimes a paragraph. Hmmmm...I think I hear an anchor chart calling my name! These next two pictures show some major justification going on.

Last little picture to share with you. I found this on one of my kid's paper! How precious! We made motivational study books and we included phrases like this. This little guy carried it over to his test! I just <3 these kids!

That is all for today. I start back to school tomorrow. :(  I would love to hear how you prepare your students for high stakes reading tests!

post signature


  1. I am starting to have test anxiety myself. Thanks for posting this! I need all of the new ideas I can get to add to my repertoire. :)

    1. It is hard not to have that anxiety! Teaching these strategies really helps their success on tests. I had some looooooww kiddos using these scoring well! It gives them a feeling of control, I think! Or maybe it just keeps them from falling asleep...:D


    2. I know what you mean. I have four different ability level groups, and I am constantly looking for new ideas for my applied (low) group. I think they are one of the lowest classes I have ever had, so I am trying everything. :)

  2. Wow! I mean WOW! Look at all of that evidence of the good TEACHING you have done! You have given your kiddos strategies that help them to be successful! I hope that you feel good about this because you should! I'm amazed and proud of those kids, and they aren't even mine!! :O)

    Test anxiety is such a huge hurdle for kids that are below grade level and they need strategies to help them and to give them confidence. These are great strategies (obviously)!

    I LOVE FQR for nonfiction! I have not used the P-one but I'm going to stalk your blog in a bit and learn more. Thanks for sharing!! Virtual fist bump for a job well done getting your students prepared to attack tests!!

    Collaboration Cuties

  3. Amanda, you are too kind! Your reply made my night! My goal is always to give them the skills and strategies to be successful in life and while they finish their education. Teaching inner city kids makes this even more important for them. I am planning on posting more about test taking and making a kit, too! If I can find the time, that is!


  4. Totally off topic, but do you have a preview of your struggling reader pack? I'd love to learn more!

    *Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge*

  5. I, too, love seeing evidence scrawled all over the page! When the kids can justify what it is that they are doing, it makes things so much easier for them. Thank you for sharing what you are doing in your room.

    Teaching in Room 6

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Informative post, thank you for breaking it DOWN!

  8. Teaching children in that kind of age is really hard especially if they don't focus on you. Good thing that you create a very good information on how to be able to have a great mind.

    essay witing service reviews

  9. This is a great article. There are some very unique test taking strategies. My son had some problems learning when he was younger and we had to hire a SAT Tutor in the Bay Area to help him out. These services were great because they did in-home visits and they created a very conformable learning environment for him. I do not know if they used some of these same strategies but I can defiantly see how they are helpful.


To Teach is to Inspire...