I debate all the time about whether or not it is useful to spend some time getting my kids into the testing mode. I hate to spend time doing specific test prep, but the truth is, this test means a great deal for both me and my students. I'm going to try really hard to make it relevant to what we have been doing the past few weeks and will work really hard to make sure it is engaging. Most importantly, though, of the 170 instructional days I have this year, I am going to spend about four partial periods of test prep, which seems justifiable.
Until we move to Common Core aligned tests, it will feel a little out of place in the larger scope of my teaching practice, but, as I'm sure is the case for most of us, we can't ignore the standardized tests in our states and we owe it to our students to make sure they are prepared for whatever style of question or task is thrown their way, even if it isn't as authentic a learning experience as we try to create in our classrooms every day.
We will start class with ten minutes of reading time. I will read with the students during this time.
We will start each class over the next four days with a little mechanics/usage, grammar/conventions review. I do this for a couple of purposes. The first is to familiarize my students with how questions will be phrased/what they will be asked to do. The second is to review a couple of concepts that some or most of my students struggle with.
We will do this as oral activity. I will use my Popsicle sticks to call on students randomly. I will also ask a student to be our board corrector/writer. I will ask all students to take notes on the rules and to make sure they have at least one example for the appropriate use of each rule written down.
The rules I am focusing on are all meant to correct language usage problems I see in their writing. Specifically, I am hoping to remind them about how to make the right choice of word in very specific instances (i.e. using the right there/their/they're) (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.3), which have been popping up recently mistakes in their writing.
To ground our test prep/skill building week with what we have been studying the past few weeks, I will ask students to independently read a brief memoir, "By Any Other Name" by Santha Rama Rau (originally published in The New Yorker, March 1951) describing her experiences as a young girl in British occupied India.
I will ask them to read the piece and annotate for details about her experience, such as her descriptions of India and her discussion of her family. I will also ask them to specifically look for comparisons between her perspective and the perspectives we saw in our study of imperialism in Africa. This piece offers a nice, personalized story about what it was like to live in an imperialized country as a native child. I'm hoping that the students will be able to connect with her story because of this perspective. I will also ask them to pay attention to how she organizes her main ideas (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.3) and provide objective summaries for the text as a whole (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.2).
We will discuss this piece in conjunction with a poem tomorrow in class. It will also be part of a writing prompt later in the week.
I will end class with information about our testing schedule next week. Additionally, I will share with students which Dystopian novel they get to read so they have time to purchase a copy of their novel if they want a copy to write in.