Friday, April 16, 2010

Testing and Reading

If you live in Texas, our state test, TAKS, is looming...

If you are a child who lives in Texas, you've known IT is coming since January, or maybe even September.

Testing is such a hot topic, and tough one. States "need" them to keep us accountable, money rides on them, and many a teacher has sweat blood and tears to help the kids pass them.

It's high stakes, and in some states, promotion to the next grade hinges on passing.

Here's the deal for me. I tell the kids the first time it comes up in September (yep, they bring it up 'cause they've heard and they're worried) that I GUARANTEE they will pass...if they just do what good readers do, if they just employ all the good reading strategies I teach them all year.

For me, I know that by the time the test rears its ugly head, the kids will have the reading know-how to pass. It's just teaching them test format and strategies.

I know that testing will not go away. So instead, we need to prepare them.

Not with pressure, not with fear.

Pump your kids up.

As you read, ask them a few questions about what they read, and have them read the sentence or sentences in the book where they can "prove" their answer. If they can do that, testing will be a breeze.

Brush up on some context clues work...testers love vocabulary. When you come to a trickier word, or better yet - multiple meaning word (those are huge on tests), stop and work together to find the clues in either the sentence itself where the word is found, or in a sentence before or after...really practice it. Trust me.

Don't spend tons of money on booklets and worksheets. They do enough of those at school. Those get old, and they start to burn out.

Use real books, and show them how what they are doing all the time as good readers corrolates to the tests.

I have found that boosts their confidence. And they start to see that, yes, it is doable, and tests aren't that scary...if you pay attention, use your strategies, and watch for tricks.

Matt has Math and Reading TAKS coming in a few weeks. He's been practicing at school, and I have just been pumping him up. He can do it. I don't have any passages or worksheets here at home. We work with his books.

Hope that gives you some encouragement, and things to do. I think in the next few days I may go into some specific strategies to help with different types of stay tuned!

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