#TestPrep: Keeping it Current

11 May 2016
I think most schools in Virginia are now, or will be in the next week, in the throes of testings (I had to look that up to make sure I was using it correctly, and google's definition said "Throes refers to a condition of agonizing struggle or difficulty. It is the word used in the phrase in the throes of, which means to be in the midst of (something difficult)." So yes, I am using it correctly.

ANYWAY, that probably means you have already done all that you can to prepare these kids and are not trying to shove last little bits of information down their throat now. But if you are, or if you are looking for things to do as remediation, I have one QUICK, FUN tip. It's true. Even my kid who has done nothing for me all year liked this.

Try using hashtags.

Do you teach upper elementary? If so, this post is for you. Kids love hashtags, and why not use them to increase understanding? Check out this post to learn how.

This was one of my brilliant middle-of-the-night ideas that kept me awake excitedly planning out how to do it when I should have been getting much needed beauty rest. It's simple, really. Many of our kids are obsessed with social media-like things anyway, so why not use it to our advantage? Besides, does anyone else get sick of "Stop and Jots"? I know it works for some kids to write down something for every paragraph, but many just lose the entire story by the end. This is a much quicker alternative!

All I did was find a simple passage that had a story line. Before I gave it to my students, I made sure they understood what a hashtag was and gave some examples. Then I gave the passage to my students to read as if they were part of the story. After each paragraph or so, I told them to come up with some hashtag they thought fit with what they just read. It could be a simple emotion (most were) or almost anything really, as long as it went with what they read. I even challenged one group to try to find where they could use #sorrynotsorry in this passage. Finally, I had them sum the entire story up in one hashtag at the end.

Once they were finished, we shared hashtags and chose some of our favorites. We talked about how some sections were harder than others, and it's okay to skip them. I also worked with students individually on making sure their hashtags were relevant to the story.

Do you teach upper elementary? If so, this post is for you. Kids love hashtags, and why not use them to increase understanding? Check out this post to learn how.

I did happen to notice, as I was collecting scratch paper from yesterday's test session, that a few of the students actually used hashtags, and I know a few of them wouldn't have done anything if it weren't for this idea. I hope you can use it!

And if you're looking for somewhere to find new passages, check out ReadWorks.org. It is one of my first stops because they are free and have a lot of well-written passages. Plus they come with some pretty good questions!


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