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 :)

1 comment:

  1. Reading Makes Your Child Smarter

    Reading is known to have numerous benefits. It increases your world knowledge, enhances your vocabulary, and works to improve your reading comprehension abilities.

    But did you know that reading can actually make you smarter?

    In fact, reading not only can make a child smarter, the very act of reading can even help to compensate for modest levels of cognitive ability in children by building their vocabulary and general knowledge! This is a finding reported by researchers Cunningham and Stanovich in a report titled "What Reading Does For the Mind".

    The simple fact here is that reading can make your child smarter, and that learning to read early on is directly linked to later success in life.

    1) Did you know that your child's vocabulary at 3 years old predicts his or her grade one reading success? [1]

    2) Did you know that vocabulary and reading ability in first grade strongly predicts grade 11 outcomes? [2]

    3) Did you know that your child's reading skill in grade 3 directly influences high school graduation? Studies have found that children who cannot read proficiently by grade 3 are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma than proficient readers! [3]

    >> Give your child the best possible head start. Teach your child to read today. Click here to learn how.

    But how do you teach a young child to read, and isn't that the job of the school and teachers?

    You can't be more wrong...

    With the right tools, knowledge, and techniques, teaching young children to read can be a simple and effective process. I'd like to introduce you to a fantastic reading program called Children Learning Reading, a super effective method for teaching children to read - even children as young as just 2 or 3 years old.

    The creators of this program have used it to teach their four children to read before age 3, and by reading, I mean real, phonetic reading.

    I can understand if you find that hard to believe... In fact, I had a difficult time believing it myself as well... that is, until I saw the videos they posted documenting the reading progress of the their children - not to mention all the videos other parents have sent in showcasing their children's reading progress after using the Children Learning Program. After learning more about their methods and techniques, it became clear how it's possible to teach young children to read effectively.

    It is truly within your ability to teach your child to read in a relatively short period of time spending just 10 to 15 minutes each day.

    >> Click here now to watch the videos and start teaching your child to read.

    1. Vocabulary Development and Instruction: A Prerequisite for School Learning
    Andrew Biemiller, University of Toronto

    2. Early reading acquisition and its relation to reading experience and ability 10 years later.
    Cunningham AE, Stanovich KE.

    3. Double Jeopardy How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation
    Donald J. Hernandez, Hunter College and the Graduate Center,