Are you getting ready to take the BIG state test? It used to not be my favorite time of year but I’ve come to LOVE it. You’re probably thinking I’m crazy for loving this stressful time of year. But I love seeing the excitement in my students’ eyes as we practice. Having good test-taking strategies for elementary students is important but it doesn’t have to be boring to practice them.
Teaching the Strategies
I teach reading test-taking strategies a few at a time. You can teach them all at once or one a day. Whatever works best for you. I created a poster for each strategy that I hang up as I teach them. They are 8.5 x11 so I print 4 to a page so they easily fit on my board. My students have a copy of a practice test in front of them as I teach the strategies so they can learn to apply the strategy right away. I also give them a sheet of all the strategy posters that they can reference easily.
Making it Fun!
Going over reading test-taking strategies doesn’t have to be boring! I’m a big game person and will find any chance I can to turn a boring task into a game. After I have taught all of the strategies I play a game to review them. I make multiple copies of the strategy cards beforehand. Then the kids take a practice reading test independently. I grade the tests but do not mark them. I take note of how they did on a separate piece of paper. The reason for this is so that when they go over the questions with their team they really have to think and talk about which answer is correct.
After I score the tests I group kids according to how they performed. I assign them a certain number of questions to go over to earn a strategy card. For example, I might say they need to get three correct answers as a group in order to earn a card. However many cards the group earns are the number of turns they have in the game. You can use any game for this. I’ve used board games and I’ve used games I’ve gotten from places like Five Below like mini basketball or mini hockey. You can also play games like these that I use for reviewing vocabulary.
I should point out that one of my requirements for playing the game is that they must show that they did their best on the practice test. You can easily tell which kid rushed through it or skipped questions because they didn’t check their work. So if they don’t show their best effort they sit out. It only takes one time of someone sitting out of a game for everyone to realize that they really do need to put forth their best effort.
If you’re interested in the posters and cards you can get them here. What are some ways you teach reading test-taking strategies for elementary students? I’d love to get some new ideas to use in my classroom!