We're closing in on the goal, our first skills test. I ask students to check their progress: have they completed all the formative assessments for the skills in questions? Have they studied?
I require my students to complete all formative assessments before taking a test unless they can earn a 4, the highest score, on an early practice. This seems harsh to some students, but I encourage them to think of it like a sport--a football player wouldn't just show up on game day and hope it all worked out on the field.
Students check their PowerSchool grades while I take attendance, and I then ask for thumbs to show readiness: thumbs up = good to go; thumbs middle = more work to do; and thumbs down = lots of work to do.
For middle and down thumbs, I remind them of options. I'm available at lunch and after school for "emergency" tutor sessions before the test.
While the written test is tomorrow, students get a chance to work with their test text today. I offer them the opportunity to read, take notes, and bounce questions about basic word meanings and key ideas off each other.
I start by setting the rules: no discussion of claims, details, or evaluation. I will not participate in the discussion at all, not even a head nod for the right ideas. The class must figure out the text on their own; it is, after all, for their test. Otherwise, the discussion will run like a normal read-write-share. I will read a paragraph, they will write what they think it's about and a comment (question, opinion, connection, etc.), and then they will discuss. Students are free (and encouraged) to take notes on what others say during discussion, but I remind them that not all contributions may be "right." It will be important for them to question one another: how did you arrive at that conclusion? Where is that in the text? Instructions provided, we proceed: