How do you prepare for state writing tests?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Ms.Jasztal, Dec 31, 2010.

  1. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Dec 31, 2010

    We have an extra month to prepare for the Florida Writes this year. So... I need to extend my ideas from the past. I want to have numerous workshops focusing around narrative and expository writing before the big day, March 1, 2011. I have used many ideas in the past from Writing Superstars and my own writing assignments as well (one day prompts and one week focuses).

    Yet seeing I have an extra month now, it has to be different this year... and I want to take advantage of every extra day I have!

    What is something interesting you do?
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Dec 31, 2010

    We model structures using picture books! The kids love it and it really works on building their writing.

    We analyze each other's writing. On the Smartboard we project a student's writing without names, then we discuss as a class how to improve the writing and the strengths of the piece already.
     
  4. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Dec 31, 2010

    I've broken it down as to what exactly the majority of the class needs--they need more details. So you could give them a mock test and break it down, and then concentrate on that.

    They write organized papers. They have wonderful voice and spirit in their writing. Conventions are getting better. But they lack depth. So I'm looking for lessons that practice more of that.

    I'm going to go back to some paragraph writing in which they write in detail. There's a good lesson to modify on Writing Fix about a fly landing on various items.

    That's my plan. And of course looking at samples and improving them. Boy, they still don't revise very much, do they? It's down, change a few things, and it's done. At least about half of mine still do that.
     
  5. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    We used to play a game to work on detail. It was like ISpy, but in writing. The students would write a general statement. Then, I required them to write at least 5 other statements to describe the same object. They would share and the other students would try to guess.

    After awhile, we progressed to 10 statements and then 20 statements...all without trying to give away the object!
     
  6. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    Dec 31, 2010

    This thread actually just reminded me that I need to start showing them the rubric and have them practice deciding whether the writing is appropriate or not.
     
  7. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Dec 31, 2010

    Have you seen Test Talk (the book)? It breaks down teaching how to take the test as its own genre.
     
  8. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Jan 1, 2011

    The book is actually on Google Books, so I am looking at it now! Thank you for sharing, everyone.
     
  9. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    I've been looking at our state's sample writings from past years. I am considering taking one of the samples and reproducing it exactly as it was given and having them write their response as if it is a test. Then we'll analyze what they wrote, I'll show them the top papers from the website so that they can see their writing in comparision. We will also discuss the rubric and what they will be looking for on the test. Suffice it to say, my students are NOT ready for this test, also in March, and I am concerned. I am a first year teacher and writing is the subject that I have been trained in the least. Any help and assistance here will be greatly appreciated. Thanks for posting this.
     
  10. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Jan 23, 2012

    The time has come again! I wanted to mention I really like the "I Spy" idea.

    By the way, I have been modeling a lot of my own writing as well as former students' writing lately. It's working. I have been trying to write with a lot more voice than usual (in an almost conversational way), and that is working as well.
     
  11. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jan 24, 2012

    There are two different relevant books titled Test Talk. The one that's on Google Books is a Jossey-Bass book whose audience seems to be parents. The Test Talk that TeacherShelly intended is a Stenhouse book by Melton & Greene the drift of which is that test taking skills are, at bottom, good reading skills that happen to be applied to a particular genre. I haven't seen the whole book, but it's a premise to which I'm very sympathetic.
     
  12. lindita323

    lindita323 Companion

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    Jan 25, 2012

    I use Lucy Caulkins Writer's Workshop to guide my writer's workshop. About a month before "THE TEST," I will begin focusing my minilessons on writing to a test prompt as a genre. I always begin this genre with showing the students a released prompt from a previous year's test. In my state, we are able to print off prior students' actual writing in response to the prompt. I make 3 poster sized copies of 3 different students' work. I make sure to pick pieces that represent below grade level writing, on grade level, and above grade level. As a whole class, we analyze the writing, listing the pros and cons of the writing in each piece. We use the student friendly rubric provided by our district to try to score the pieces, and guess what? The kids are GREAT at scoring!!! Then, the students write to the same prompt that was used in the lesson. This is always a great start to this unit of writing. After that, we typically will do a lot of practice with timed writing, lessons and practice with using the writer's checklist that is part of our test, and then move onto analyzing others' writing and finally self-analyzing, and finish up by scoring others' writing and self-scoring.
     

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