You might have heard, “If you teach it right, they don’t need test prep.” This may be true for some advantaged students. But let’s face it, a reading test represents a unique genre that requires specific skills.
Reading test prep is essential. And if you’re in Texas, STAAR review is even more critical.
Before we go into test prep strategies or teaching resources for STAAR test review, let’s echo the word of caution that all educators know to be true:The human side of education is easily overlooked with a myopic focus on standards and testing. @JasperFoxSrClick To Tweet
Avoid Reading Test Prep Monotony
To really reach students, reading test prep shouldn’t be the monotony of daily reading passages with 10 questions, over and over again. Think of test prep or STAAR review as simply deepening student understanding of skills you’ve already taught.
Reading Test Prep is a Way to Increase Engagement
Reading test prep as a way to have fun, increase peer interaction, play games like scoot, task card scavenger hunts, or reciprocal learning stations. Reading test review is an opportunity to build fluency and take skills deeper – not an opportunity to bore students to death.
Task Cards that are Engaging
In the making inferences video below, you will see how a high-quality reading test prep resource is actually nothing more than a great teaching resource (Texas friends, you’ll also see deep alignment to STAAR Reading Test).
Reading Test Prep for Making Inferences
Teacher reviews show that the task cards in the making inferences video above really are just great teaching resources! Look at these recent reviews:
“I like how you have the part a / part b questions for these!”
“Can’t wait to use this for my centers!” -Okary W.
“…used with my small group students this week and I am hooked!” -Jessica C.
“Used as a scavenger hunt around the room!” -Hilary H.
Clearly, the task cards in the making inferences video are far from boring “test prep”. They are versatile and can be used in really engaging ways!
Teachers preparing for the STAAR reading test will see that the questions are directly aligned for STAAR review. Teachers outside of the world of STAAR will appreciate the simple format and scaffolded questions (i.e. part a / part b questions).
Why the Question Stems Matter
It’s not fair to give students questions throughout the year that have no relationship to the rigor of the reading test. It would be like having a basketball team practice on a 7-foot goal all year and expect them to score on the 10-foot goal in the playoffs.
Alignment is essential for reading test review. This means the difficulty must be there, and the formatting must be similar to what the students will see on a test. Look at the pin below (heck, feel free to repin it and share with friends).
Reading Test Prep Activities
Let’s take a look at some fun ways to use making inferences task cards. Here are a few games and tasks that require almost no prep but create engagement and student motivation to learn.
This is by far the easiest way to use making inferences task cards…or any task cards for that matter! It is far from boring test prep that kills student motivation.
- Place one task card on each table.
- Each student uses a journal or note card to write their own answers.
- Students are in groups of 3-5 and read the task and discuss it together.
- Each student writes their own answers after discussing.
- Warn the students when 30 seconds remain, then announce, “SCOOT.”
- The groups rotate to the next table and repeat the process.
- Review each card as a class or in small groups to give feedback to students.
Task Card Gallery Walk
This is activity gets the students up and moving and allows them to work at their own pace. This is not old school reading test prep!
- Place 6 full-page cards around the room.
- Students will walk around alone or with a partner reading and answer each card. Shh, it’s quiet like an art gallery.
- When everyone is finished, you can review the cards by having one student walk up to the card and explain the answer.
- Tomorrow, repeat the task card gallery walk again with the other six cards.
Reciprocal Learning Station
This is a favorite because it gets students talking and gives them each a learning role. These making inferences task cards are perfect for this station!
- Print the mini-cards (the ones with four per page) and use one page for the station.
- Students are in groups of 3-5 and are assigned roles.
- Questioner: reads the questions first for the group
- Analyzer: asks what the key words are in the questions, where is the text evidence for the answer
- Reader: reads the paragraph
- Summarizer: asks what the paragraph is about, what does each sentence mean
- Clarifier: asks the group what the two toughest words are, what clues help us know what they mean
- Students work through their roles with each card. They each take the lead in the group’s learning.
- Then each student answers the questions from the task cards.
STAAR Review and Reading Test Prep
Good instruction is still good instruction! It doesn’t matter what test you have to give. The key here is using task cards like the ones in the making inferences video and engaging students.
Students will be successful when STAAR review and reading test prep is fun, provides scaffolding, and is deeply aligned to the rigor. Take another look at these making inferences task cards to see how they provide students with a straight-forward road to success.