Today was a practice day for our state's standardized tests. I searched through the state of Ohio's released testing materials to find a selection with questions close to what we've been studying. Our school's data shows that all students are weak in the area of constructed response items on standardized tests so when I found the questions associated with the Mae Jemison story, I chose those. There are constructed response questions over cause and effect and timelines. (We're studying timelines in social studies)
The questions can be found here. The story was included on Ohio's standardized test, but the copyright has run out, however, they always have full copyright information on the front cover of the test. The selection was taken from a book called Five Brave Explorers by Wade Hudson.
In this lesson, my students were required to read and answer the standardized test questions that accompanied a selection on an Ohio Achievement Test. I do feel it's important to expose students to what a test looks like and what better materials to use than authentic questions that were used on a "real" test!!
This is how I build excitement with my students because, let's face it, we do some pretty fun stuff and no one wants to stop to practice test taking!! No matter which test materials I pull from, I figure out the year in school the students would be now who actually took the test. In this case, if my students know anyone who's a senior in high school they took this test. They always know someone!!
Because I hate for my students to work independently for any long period of time, I allowed them to choose a partner and complete the multiple choice questions together. I wasn't so concerned about those so it didn't matter if they worked alone or with a partner and they were happier and more motivated to complete the two constructed response questions alone.
After the students have worked with a partner to answer the multiple choice questions and independently to answer the two constructed response questions, it is time to go over the answers.
I have the students put their pencils away because once again, I don't care if students are right or wrong, I need to see the mistakes they're making so I can redirect their thinking and help them to not make that mistake again. Going over the multiple choice questions, I put the test under the ELMO and read it. While I read the choices, I ask who "voted" for that choice. This quick formative assessment allows me to see who is checking the text, who is not and who is making some other kind of mistake. With each question, we talk about what QAR it is and what our "skim and scan" words are. ("Skim and Scan" words are those words that will lead us right to the answer). We then go back to the text and find the answer.
I make it a point here to focus on topic sentence and why I may or may not have to read the whole paragraph based on its topic sentence.
After the multiple choice questions, it is time for me to go over the two constructed response questions and answers. I show the students how to count up their points and we report out on who has how many points and I can use the data to structure upcoming lessons and test practices to focus on the places where the students were making mistakes.