Sunday, January 7, 2018

A TEK-a-Day: Texas Test Prep Made Easy!

As an instructional coach, I spent a lot of time trying to find good quality resources for my teachers to use when teaching literacy.

Sometimes this was easy and fun! Mentor texts! Classroom libraries! Sometimes this wasn't so fun. Texas reading test prep. Yuck.

The most important things we do aren't test prep, but you wouldn't know that from looking at the reports released from the state!

One resource my teachers frequently asked for, but weren't able to find, was a test prep resource that would allow them to teach test prep a little at a time, rather than a huge, long, horrendous, boring passage. 

They wanted a short passage to use each week, and then different types of questions each day. 

One question a day, they said! 

That'll help us reinforce the skills without drilling and killing, and spending so much of our time on test prep! 

I searched high and low but couldn't really find exactly what we were looking for.

So I decided to make it. And so the TEK-a-Day Test Prep was born!

Please know that I didn't create this product so you could spend more time on test prep. I created so you could spend less, better quality time on test prep.

I've really worked hard to ensure that this resource is TEKS and test-aligned. My pet peeve is when untested TEKS are included in a reading passage, or when the test prep materials sold by big companies don't match what kids will actually see on the day of their test. We should teach widely, of course, but if we're preparing them for something high-stakes, shouldn't our materials be accurate?

Here's what's in the resource. If you're like my teachers, it's exactly what you've been looking for! 

Short Genre-aligned Texts & Daily TEK-aligned questions

Each week has one short text - a half-page text - in different genres that are tested in that grade. For example, in third grade, I start the first nine weeks with literary genres (fiction, poetry, and literary nonfiction), and in the second nine weeks I add informational genres (expository and embedded procedural). 

In fourth grade, students are exposed to these genres plus drama, and in fifth grade, they also receive persuasive passages.

For each text, there are five questions: one for each day of the week. Monday is a word study question (context clues, affixes/root words, and dictionary definitions where applicable). The other days spiral TEKS tested on the state test. If it's not tested, I didn't include it. The purpose is to focus test-taking skills on the kinds of questions kids will see.

I used a variety of question stems and focused my efforts on those TEKS that are most heavily tested, although all test-eligible TEKS are introduced (except for one in fourth and one in fifth that have never been tested, but are eligible for testing).

Each nine weeks adds a new layer to what kids are asked to do in preparation for their test. In fourth and fifth grade, the third and fourth nine weeks include questions in the 19F style - questions where the kids compare the readings from the previous two weeks.

Academic Vocabulary Word Wall & Guide
In order to make this an all-inclusive test prep resource, I also added in academic vocabulary.

The word wall includes vocabulary that is generic to reading (summary, infer, support), and genre-specific vocabulary (main character, cause-and-effect, cast, props).

Word wall cards are included and a vocabulary guide explains when each word is introduced to you can build a word wall by genre.

Writing & Reading Extensions

To support kids making connections to texts, I also included writing extensions and recommended
readings to continue the learning.

These recommended books are thematically or topically connected, and it can be as easy as checking some out from the library and leaving them on a book display for interested readers!

The writing extensions are from a variety of modes of writing - all of them supported in the TEKS. I wrote the expository prompts in the fourth grade Texas writing test style.

It's also a great way to keep those kids who finish quickly engaged.

Answer Keys & TEKS Data Trackers
Answer keys are included for everything, and they include the TEK/SE coding as well, so you can track student data and see how they're doing in each area! 

I also included several versions of the answer sheet - one that doesn't include the TEKS and one that does, in case you have kids track their own data.

To help you track student data, there's a data tracker in printable and digital format (Keynote and PowerPoint) so you can edit on your computer if you prefer!

Large Print Versions
So many teachers have to provide a large print version to their students, and I know from personal experience that this can be very time-consuming, and sometimes difficult, depending on the formatting of the document. So I included large-print versions of the passages for each week. This should save you some time!

Teacher pages are also included that explain how to use the program and all of its resources.

So you might want to check it out! If you download the preview file for each bundle on TpT, it will share exactly what is included in the entire bundle, as well as a TEKS alignment guide to help you with year-long planning.

Want a sneak peak? Enter your email address to get a free week from third, fourth, and fifth grade! You can try it out with your kids for free!

I truly hope this resource helps you spend less-but-better test prep time with your kids.

Third Grade TEK-a-Day Test Prep Bundle
Fourth Grade TEK-a-Day Test Prep Bundle
Fifth Grade TEK-a-Day Test Prep Bundle

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  1. Replies
    1. TEKS stands for Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills - they're our state standards in Texas!