Lesson Plan Ideas For Test Prep

Introduction
 
Often, students miss questions on state tests not because they are unfamiliar with the material, but because they do not know how to TAKE the test. As teachers we spend a majority of the school year making sure we cover our state standards and equip our students with knowledge with as much material as possible, but test taking is a SKILL. Teachers spend a majority of the school year covering state standards, while too little attention is given to developing test-taking SKILLS. Test makers use particular language when developing test items. The included activities are simple  mini-lessons, that can easily be incorporated into brief ten-minute sessions repeated over time. These skills will come in handy for other tests students take.
 
I noticed my students enjoy viewing the test makers as “tricksters”. They think it’s amusing, but it also reminds them to read with a critical eye, and to be on the look out for places they could make mistakes.
 
Breaking down and following directions
 
You will need several examples of multi-step directions (overhead, 3M machine, a copy for each student, etc).
 
Develop a strategy with your kids such as numbering each question, underlining any number words, and circling each verb. Once you feel your students have mastered the concept of recognizing the parts to a question, make a game out of it, and play “Simon Says”.
 
Eliminating Silly Answers
 
You will need objects to display, and sample multiple-choice questions for your students (you can write these on the board, or give them individual sheets of paper).
 
Start out with 4 objects, 3 of which obviously belong to the same category, and one that does not (maybe: stapler, scissors, pen, and a flowerpot). Ask your students “Which of these does not belong?” Chances are, your students will say the flowerpot immediately, at which point you ask them “Why?” After a student explains that the other 3 items are office/school supplies and a flowerpot belongs in a garden, you can explain the concept that often times test makers will put in a tricky answer, just to throw them off, and to have your students be on the look out!
 
Your students can then look at several samples, and see if they can eliminate any silly answers (sometimes there is more than one!). This is a good time to emphasize putting an X over answers that we know are not correct.
 
For an additional exercise, use a current or past unit of study, and have your students write their own questions with that material. They will see what it’s like to come up with questions, and have fun adding in those silly answers.
 
Critical Thinking
 
You will need clothing/items that looks like you’re going on a tropical vacation (grass suit, flip flops, big hat, sunglasses, beach towel, etc).
 
Walk into (or have a parent or office member, someone who might have a few spare seconds) your classroom dressed like you’re ready for the beach. Exclaim, and tell a silly story about winning an Alaskan vacation, and say you’re ready to go. Wait for a student response, chances are, a student will comment on your inappropriate attire. Go through a conversation with your students, discussing context, background knowledge, and activating things we know, even though we don’t read about it in the test.
 
Test Talk Word Wall
 
One problem test takers may encounter is that they might not be used to the language of the test. These are examples of word choices test writers might use when instructing students to “answer” a question: Explain, teach, amuse, prove, give information, give instructions, encourage the reader to, express a concern, advertise, negotiate, influence, inquire, point out, be humorous, inform, tell about, persuade, entertain, tell readers how, warn, convince, show, provide suspense, describe, introduce, compare, reveal, define, summarize. Think about your students; chances are they are not familiar with these terms.
 
Start a “Word Wall” for tricky test words. Invite your students to come to you when they find words that they find confusing. Use the words above as a starting point. When adding words to the wall, make sure to go over it with the WHOLE class, so that all words that end up on the wall have been mastered by all students.
 
 
Follow link to access a test-taking WebQuest