Last year, my school instituted a common schoolwide time dedicated for test prep. This was 30 minutes where we all had to be doing some sort of test prep with the students.
If you have been following my posts, you know that I am the sort that likes to embed my test prep in everything I do, so I really didn't want this to be a time where we just did "fill in the bubble on the practice test" type things. That is just plain boring, and frankly, wasteful (in my opinion). What I decided to do instead was have Test Prep Stations for the week.
Having 36 students, I set up 6 different stations, with 6 children at each station. All of the areas were skill based testing prep. They were practicing strategies and Language Arts skills no matter which station was chosen.
The Basic Set Up
On Monday, the students chose what station they wanted to visit and placed their number on the Monday board. I pre-wrote the numbers of the students who would be with me that day (and the rest of the days) on the board, so those kids knew they couldn't chose something else. Once the stations were chosen (which took all of 5 minutes), we reviewed the rules of independent working and were off.
Here are the boards. I tried MANY incarnations of this. First I had them move cards in a pocket chart. Then clips. Then I used one board. Finally, I found that having 5 separate, laminated boards that the kids could use vis-a-vie markers on was the fastest. It also allowed me to see what everyone was picking all week.
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When it was all said and done, we took 5 minutes to debrief. We talked about any management issues that came up (if any) and the students wrote a little summary of what they did on their organizer. If the student didn't finish, they wrote down what was needing to be done for the next time they visited that station. On Fridays I collect them, with all worksheets stapled to it, and (usually) gave a basic grade for the work. It was more of a work habits grade if I am to be honest with you. The organizer and work was then returned and kept in their Test Prep Rotation folder for the next week (in case they needed to finish anything).
These are the 6 stations that I found most useful for the needs of my class.
Mrs. Moorman -- this one is pretty obvious. :) The students here were working with me on something that they all needed (I knew what skills were lacking with them based on my weekly quizzes) I chose these kids for the day, so this is really the only station that the kids didn't get a chance to "pick". Sometimes, I chose kids that I had already worked with that week. That just meant they didn't visit all of the other stations, which is ok. They were getting what they needed to help them prepare for The TEST (which was why this common test prep time was instituted in the first place) so I was ok with that.
Task Cards -- This station was a dual station. The students HAD to go here after they finished with me. They would begin by finishing their work from the small group time with me. Then, in whatever remained of the time, they would choose a set of Task Cards. These cards came from my most favorite place in the online world, Proteacher.net. There is an amazingly generous teacher (Unseen001...don't even know her real name) who has created tons and tons of Task Cards. I pulled the ones that were relevant to my class and had the students complete them. Here is the group where she has all of them posted. Look around and you will find so many that are relevant to your class.
Comprehension -- I put some comprehension passages in the clear view pockets. Using dry erase markers, the students practice finding evidence. (the answers are on the back) They then check their answers and look to see where the evidence came from. I also had some fun games there. They begin with 5 mins of reviewing some CST Passage flashcards that my dear friend Risa created. They are simply phrases that appear on the CST (my state test) that the students struggle with. The idea is that if they practice reading them fluently and are familiar with them, the students won't be held up with the decoding but will focus on the content of the question. The second game they play is Root Word Memory. The kids enjoy it and it helps them to review all the different common roots they need to know in order to be successful readers. At times I also have them do some Root Word Puzzles. They also like those a lot. The kids could do all 3 of these things in the 30 minutes allotted.
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SRA -- I love this kit. Absolutely love it. The kids are engaged in the stories and it is completely self-run by the students.
Language Arts Quiz Show -- I got this from Lakeshore and my students beg to play it. The break themselves up into teams, keep score, and really, honestly try to answer the questions. They have fun and are still getting some test prep in.
OK...so there is my Test Prep Rotation system in a nutshell. It worked well for my students (as all of them went up at least one level in Language Arts last year!!!!!!! --- a little pat on the back for myself) I hope you find something in here you can use for yourself.
I told you...it was a long one! :)
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