We have two weeks after Spring Break before our State Testing begins. That means we have two weeks to drive those final concepts home. How might we do that without the drill and kill? Well, here's my top 3 ideas:
1. Start with vocabulary
Academic vocabulary is comprised of the words that are most often used in informational texts (such as textbooks) and literary texts (such as novels), but not likely used in everyday speech. This is the vocabulary that our students will find embedded in test passages and test questions. That means that this vocabulary has to be explicitly taught. What I did is recorded here: http://middleschoolmob.blogspot.com/2016/03/the-secret-to-top-scores-on-state-tests.html It involved me going through my state's test item specifications and pulling out the key vocabulary and then making games to help students learn the words. Which brings me to #2...
2. Use games.
May I suggest Kahoot? It's a FREE, online quiz game. Students love it and it is super easy to input test questions from your state's practice tests. You could also make much more low-tech games like Tic-Tac-Toe. Here's how I have used this game:
1.Divide the class into two teams. One is the “x” team and one is the “o” team.
2.Draw a tic-tac-toe board on the whiteboard.
3.Ask a question to the first member of the “x” team. If he/she is correct, then he/she places the x on the board! If he/she is incorrect, he/she simply lose the chance to place the “x” on the board.
4.Now repeat #3 with the “o” team.
5.Continue with each member of each team until you have a winner with 3 in a row! You might even give bonus points as a prize!
3. Use centers.
Even big, bad middle schoolers like centers. I would suggest that you look at your data, pinpoint the areas of need, and then set up centers or ahem, stations, around your room. Here's a list of possible activities for centers:
1. Playing skill specific games on quia.com
2. Reading a picture book and then drawing the main idea.
3. Completing a cause/effect graphic organizer on a picture book.
4. Making a poster of text features based on a non-fiction text.
5. Making a foldable for a picture book that uses compare/contrast.
I have done this type of thing without setting up formal centers but instead using a menu. I used the picture book Miss Rumphius because of its great message for students.
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If you'd like to read more about Test Prep, stop by my blog for my latest installment on a reading "boot camp" my fellow teachers and I are conducting by clicking here: