April 2, 2017

Using Close Reading to teach Test Prep Strategies...An Introduction

This year, during test prep season, I wanted to try something different. In previous years, test prep meant a lot of drilling of multiple choice questions, short responses, and essays. It was practice test after practice test in the hopes that some of the questions would repeat themselves on "the test". This caused a lot of stress, extra work, and an over-abundance of copies. The kids were tired of looking at these tests and I was tired of marking them and writing the same comments over and over. There was no transfer-ability between the reinforcement of skills and the practice tests. It was awful and it was a month's worth of instructional time.

Over the years, the test has evolved into this complicated beast. The questions are hard to understand and the passages are anything but reader friendly. Lucky for us, the test no longer counts for my teacher evaluation and it doesn't determine whether a student is promoted to the next grade. That, in itself, is a huge stress relief, but there is still a push for students to perform.

The district push, once again, is close reading. When this was first rolled out, about 3 years ago, I really wasn't a fan of close reading. I didn't fall in love with it or my curriculum and I tried to make it work. I just wasn't feeling it!

Fast forward to this year, with close reading making a come-back and my newest book:
On a side note--if you haven't heard of this book, you should definitely check it out. There is a tried and true reading strategy on every page with the appropriate levels and charts. It is a FABULOUS resource and it helps revitalize your teaching--it did for me :)
I used this book and old passages from previous tests to start my close reading journey.

Join me as I bring you into my classroom for a peek through this blog series :)

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