Preparing students for English Language Arts tests can be a stressful experience for both educators and students. The pressure to perform well on these tests can lead to a negative impact on learning and teaching. However, there are several stress-free teaching strategies that educators can use to help their students prepare for ELA tests.
In this article, I’ll share some stress-free and engaging strategies to help prepare your students for your next big test.
Using ReadTheory’s Differentiated Articles and Formative Assessments to Inform Intervention Groups
ReadTheory’s differentiated articles and formative assessments are a powerful tool for preparing students for tests in English Language Arts. The platform provides teachers with a wide variety of articles at different reading levels, making it easy to differentiate instruction for the diverse needs of their students.
One of the major benefits of using ReadTheory’s differentiated articles and formative assessments is that they allow teachers to identify specific areas where students may need additional support. For example, if a student struggles with a certain targeted skill, the teacher can use the formative assessment data to provide targeted instruction and practice in a small group setting.
The platform provides teachers with a wide variety of resources and support materials, such as lesson plans and teaching strategies, to help them effectively use the platform to prepare students for tests.
Overall, using ReadTheory’s Differentiated Articles and Formative Assessments can be a valuable resource for teachers to help students prepare for ELA tests by providing them with targeted instruction, immediate feedback, and a wealth of resources to support learning. You can get more ideas on using ReadTheory for standardized test prep here.
Allow Students to Create Review Questions
Creating ELA test review questions using question stems can be a valuable strategy for students to prepare for tests. Some examples are, “What is the main idea of the passage?” or “What is the author’s purpose in the text?”
One of the benefits of creating review questions using question stems is that it helps students to focus on the key concepts and skills that will be covered on the test. By using question stems, students can create questions that are directly relevant to the material they will be tested on. Additionally, by generating their own questions, students are actively engaging with the material and reinforcing their understanding of key concepts.
Another benefit is that creating review questions using question stems can help students to identify areas where they need additional support. For example, if a student is having difficulty creating questions related to a particular topic or skill, it may indicate that they need additional practice or instruction in that area.
Creating review questions using question stems also helps students to develop critical thinking skills. By generating questions, students are actively analyzing and evaluating the material, which can help to improve their comprehension and retention of the material.
Finally, creating review questions using question stems can be a valuable study tool for students. They can use the questions they create as a study guide, and work through them in preparation for the test. Additionally, they can share the questions with their classmates and work together to review and study for the test.
Overall, creating ELA test review questions using question stems is a powerful strategy for students to prepare for tests by focusing on key concepts, identifying areas of need, developing critical thinking skills, and creating a valuable study tool.
Spend Lots of Time Reading
I know this might seem like a no brainer, but time that students spend reading is one of the best ways to prepare students for ELA tests, as it provides students with exposure to a wide range of texts and literary devices. Studies show that extensive reading is positively associated with vocabulary development, comprehension, fluency, and general knowledge. Additionally, reading is a critical skill for ELA tests, as students will be required to read and understand a wide range of texts, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama.
Moreover, reading can also help students to develop their critical thinking and analysis skills, which are essential for success on ELA tests. According to a study by Anderson and Freebody (2001), students who engage in extensive reading are more likely to develop their ability to analyze and evaluate texts. This is because reading exposes students to different perspectives and ideas, which can help them to develop their own critical thinking skills.
Teachers can implement reading as part of their ELA test preparation through silent sustained reading or literature circles. Fostering students’ love of reading will allow students to be more confident on tests, better their reading stamina, all while developing their critical thinking skills.
Gamifying Test Prep
Using games to engage students in test prep is one of the best ways to make review engaging and meaningful for students. Here is my favorite game that delivers year after year.
For this game, use released versions of your state’s ELA test or use a version of a test that you plan on giving. Have students complete the test, mimicking the desired testing environment, and make sure that students have a copy of their answers.
Next, you can either allow students to form small groups (depending on the game) and allow them to talk through the test items together. They can compare answers and engage in a conversation about what they all believe the correct answer to be.
Once you have completed these steps, you are ready to play.
Grudgeball (5-6 groups)
Materials needed: review questions, whiteboard, dry erase markers, a trash can or basketball hoop, something to shoot baskets with, a 2 point line marked on the floor, and a 3 point line marked on the floor.
I cannot remember which colleague taught me this game, but I am so glad that they did. Students will come up with a team name and select a team captain that will act as the spokesperson for their group. You can either write their team names on the board or have each team captain do so. Each group is given 10 points or X’s to start the game.
You will ask each group a question. If they get it correct, they are able to take two X’s from another team. They are not allowed to take an X away from themselves.
To add to the total points they are able to take away from another team, they have a chance to shoot a basket to earn extra points to deduct from the team of their choosing. From the 2 point line, they earn 2 X’s, from the three point line, they can earn 3 X’s.
So, if a team gets the question correct they earn 2 points, and if they make a basket from the 3 point line, they now can take 5 total points from any team they want (or they can split it between teams).
Once students are out, they can get back on the board by answering questions correctly. I give them 2 points back, plus whatever basket they make.
This game allows students to have fun while engaging in meaningful discourse regarding test materials.
In conclusion, preparing students for ELA tests can be a challenging task for educators, but using stress-free teaching strategies can help to make the process more manageable and effective. By implementing these strategies, you can help your students to perform well on ELA tests while minimizing stress and negative impact on learning and teaching.