ELA Test Prep Show & Tell

Try one of these 4 ideas for Middle School Reading Test Prep!  #ELA #Tips

At my school, the third quarter is winding down and after Spring Break, it will be "testing season".

So this post is all about my approach to test prep!

First, I will start with reviewing the basic reading skills of:
  • compare/contrast
  • cause/effect
  • author's purpose
  • main idea
  • inference
  • text features

We will refer back to our interactive guided class notes from earlier this year... 

Try one of these 4 ideas for Middle School Reading Test Prep! #ELA #TipsTry this or one of the other 3 ideas for Middle School Reading Test Prep! #ELA #Tips  
These notes are something I call Pixanotes.  They are a blend of traditional and visual notes.  They come in 4 levels of scaffolding and you can have all 4 versions out in the same class at the same time to reach all learners!

This is how we used them:

First, students used the included word bank and partner to fill in the blanks.

Next, students matched up the pictures with the correct definitions.  This gives the students some practice with the definitions as they must ponder them as they decide where the pictures belong.

Then, I had students write questions under the flaps that could be answered with the text to the right.  This allows for a more full Cornell notes type experience.  

Now students were ready to practice with the definitions.  One fun way to do this is with a rousing game of ZAP!  My students love competition!

After my students have a frame of reference with the Pixanotes, we have to review how we USE this information to analyze text.  That's where this comes in:

Help your middle school students get ready for their state test in reading! Have them practice 7 different reading standards using these short passages and standards-based questions!

These 5 passages are designed to review seven different reading standards for both fiction AND nonfiction.  I wrote them myself and made the questions to match the style of questions on the state test.  

Then I created a little friendly competition and had students work in groups to read and answer the questions.  We tracked our progress the students were into it!  You can read more about that by clicking here.  

For students that struggle with the activity above or who just aren't ready for that activity, I have this great little ebook that's free in my resource library.

Use this ebook to help your struggling middle schoolers feel excited about showing their best skills on their Big Test!

The idea behind the e-book is to help students understand that our big state test is like a championship.  Do athletes complain when they have to go to the championship?  No, of course not!  They're excited to show that they are the best!  So it should be the same with our state test.  It's a chance for students to proudly show what they know!

It tells a great story in rhyme and then there are questions that match the text, foldables, study tips and more!  Perfect for all those middle schoolers who struggle and need something to help them prepare!

Lastly, it will be important for us to review the steps for successful test-taking.  I will be using this flipbook that I made:

Give your middle school students plan for using the reading process successfully on your state's big test!  #testprep #ideas #strategies

This flipbook takes students through a step-by-step plan to use when reading the texts and answering the questions on a standardized test.  Since each step comes with an example to cut and glue onto the appropriate tab, this makes the steps that seem so abstract much more concrete for our students with learning challenges.  

I hope this gives you some ideas for how you might change up your ELA test prep this year!  

Thanks for stopping by!

Springing into Learning with a Great Picture Book!

Help Middle School struggling readers understand key concepts of reading using picture books!  #teaching #reading

My fun new idea begins with a picture book.  In Middle School you ask?  Yes, most definitely!

My Middle School students still love picture books.  Not only do the students enjoy being read to but picture books make more complex topics and concepts easier to digest.

Since we have to prepare for our state reading test, I thought of a kinder, gentler way to accomplish this with this picture book:

Find out how I use this picture book to use to review main idea, cause and effect, compare and contrast & more!  #teaching #middleschool #languagearts #strugglingreaders

Picture books can help struggling readers in Middle School!  #teaching #languagearts

I will probably show the students this video of the book first:

After we have watched the video, then we will read the book.  Afterward, we will examine the book for main idea, cause and effect, and compare and contrast - at least!    This gives me a chance to review the kinds of questions they'll see on the state test but in an easy to understand sort of way.

Then, my students will practice their learning with these three reading skills with a choice board / menu:

Choice boards and Menus help differentiate the instruction for struggling readers!  #teaching #middleschool #languagearts

This choice board is great for differentiation, too!  I can assign students smaller or larger assignments as well as ensure that students can complete assignments that suit them best.

Plus now the students will have a frame of reference when they try to tackle bigger texts.  I can hear myself already... "Remember when we read Miss Rumphius and we compared and contrasted ourselves with Miss Rumphius?  Now we're going to do that with these new characters."

Then lastly, as part of our study, we simply must plant lupine seeds!  This is the quintessential spring activity, right?  My students will love it!

If you'd like to view the complete unit with all the templates for the interactive notebook foldables and drawing activities that you see in the choice board/menu, please click {here}.

Thanks for stopping by!

St. Patrick's Day Luck for Middle Schoolers!

Middle school students love the fun that holidays bring to school.  Find out how we learn and have fun with St. Patrick's Day at the same time!

It's fun to learn and celebrate at the same time, right?  Right!  So this month, I am focusing on bringing a little luck 'o the Irish into my Middle School classes!

This pin leads to a nice list of facts about St. Patrick's Day.  I like this because it helps to dispel the myths and "set the record straight."  In Middle School, my students are always searching for the truth.  It might be fun to play "2 truths and a lie" with these facts!

Plus, I can see these becoming part of a lesson on luck - as in "What makes someone lucky?"  

Maybe this question would be a nice lead-in for a read-aloud using one of the books from below:

I love a good read aloud in middle school and the students love them too!  It's always fun to read a good story and picture books make some great anchors for practicing all kinds of reading skills!

And speaking of reading skills, you can practice them all month long with this mentor sentence bell-ringer set for St. Patrick's Day.  Focusing in on just one sentence from the included non-fiction text per week, each day students are asked one question about that sentence that focused on grammar, writing conventions and skills like cause/effect, figurative vs. literal and author's purpose. 

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