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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Literacy Strategies to Boost Your Test Scores

Teachers- how many times have you had to sit through a professional development on a topic you know inside and out?
How many times have you said, "We already know this! I could have told you this information!"

Well, today was our chance at CHES to share what we already know works in our classrooms. Grade levels were split K-1, 2-5 and teachers were encouraged to bring their A-game ideas. What works for them? What encourages their students to do their best on the test? Here are some ideas from grades 2-5!

1. Practice test taking strategies from day 1. 
Things like read the questions first, get rid of silly answers, and trust your gut. Need some test taking strategy ideas? Here are some posted to help you! Compliments of the teachers at Clifton Hills! See the end of the post for a list of my super smart coworkers who contributed their ideas!


2. Starting small and working your way larger, send home daily reading and questioning passages. 
There are paperback books, ebooks, and pdf files available everywhere that have good sized passages. Check Amazon, your local book store (even used book stores), and your resource room at your school. Some reading adoptions include a book of passages with their sets. Use them!

3. Check out the website studyzone.org
This site can be used by grade or by topic. Type in what you're looking for and have fun from there!
4. Teach Reading like Math.
Think about it, math is easy for one reason and one reason only- there are set rules and procedures. Read the problem -----> work it out -----> find the answer. It's a proven method for math, now try it for reading as well!

5. Use incentives
In other words, bribery. Well placed bribes can work wonders. :)
Students want to impress their friends and their teachers, in that order. Use point charts, stickers, smelly good markers, whatever works! Post student achievement publicly in the classroom. Students who achieve proficient or advanced should be rewarded. Our 4th grade team rewards student achievement once a month. (This past month was with doughnuts) Students have to have a certain amount of proficient or advanced scores to earn the prize. 

6. Word Walls. They're not just for walls anymore!
Why keep words on walls where they can only be used when inside the classroom? Write them on index cards, punch a hole in the corner, and put a loop in them! They can be hung from the teacher's belt loop or the students'!
Need to use the bathroom, kid? Read 3 cards.
Are you really hungry? Put 2 words in a sentence.
Recess? Really? See how many you can read in 10 seconds and you can go play.
Vocabulary, or the lack of it, is the #1 reason students fail standardized tests. This is a quick and easy way to make sure students are gaining new vocabulary. This is good for all subjects. (It works really well if the cards are color coded per each subject)

7. Use what's available.
In the words of Dr. Faber- you can either BS or BA; Borrow Straight or Borrow and Adapt. You read, you attend professional developments, you talk to your coworkers. Make information your own. Side note- if you do borrow from coworkers, give then street cred for their ideas. It's the nice thing to do.

8. National Vocabulary Words
They're available for your use. Use them! They are good for dictionary skills, practicing ABC order, sentence building, and comprehension through illustrations.

9. The app iWorksheet, available on ipad. 
It's easy to figure out and students love taking fast quizzes this way.

10. Quiz Me!
I use this with my students. I have them write down their spelling words, vocabulary words, or words from our language arts skill for the week. (homophones this week) They take the words home for homework- 3x each, sentences, ABC order, etc. Once students have had practice, they get to wear Quiz Me badges. Their goal is to be quizzed by as many teachers in the building as possible. When we're in the hallway, in the cafeteria, recess, or related arts, students will smile and try to get teachers' attention. If a teacher comes up to them to be quizzed, students have to be ready to spell the words, put them in sentences, define them... you name it! If the student can fill the teacher's request, they get Cub Cash in their account.

We teachers need more opportunities to share the wonderful ideas inside us. I'm so glad I have an entire school of teachers who are full of it!.... er, full of ideas, I mean. :)

Thank you, 2nd-5th grade teams for sharing your awesome ideas today!
Mrs. Smith, Ms. Toles, Mrs. Wann, Ms. Williams
Ms. Roach, Mrs. Jackson, Ms. Chastain
Mrs. Anderson, Ms. Hawkins
And our ESOL team- Ms. Vinnie, Ms. Gabriella, Mrs. Ritchey

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