For test prep, cover these three writing areas to ensure your students feel confident heading into spring assessments.
I always looked forward to the second semester of the academic teaching year.
Why is that, you ask?
Well, besides the fact that I could celebrate making it through half the school year in one piece, I also enjoyed shifting from informational and argumentative writing into my creative writing curriculum.
I always taught non-fiction writing units in the fall since the students seemed more motivated early in the year and then jumped into creative writing around January/February time as motivation started to diminish in the classroom. (Typically my students enjoy creative writing WAY MORE than other types.)
It made sense to me and for the most part, it worked swell! However, as we crept closer to test time in the spring, I always felt less prepared with my students. We would spend a unit reviewing thesis and claims, as well as other non-fiction terms since it often seemed that test questions revolved around non-fiction passages more than fictional ones. Check out this post which talks about using paired passages for test prep so that your students get used to the types of articles they will see on tests.
I’ve never regretted how I planned my curriculum, but I think it is always fair to say that some writing and non-fiction review was necessary before spring.
Here are the three areas I reviewed…
1. Informational Writing Terms and Analysis
Can your students truly understand informational texts? Do they understand the structure? Are they able to pull evidence from the text to support their answers?
All of these questions are areas I reviewed prior to test time. I used fun informational texts so that students didn’t always feel the grind of the review, but rather enjoyed the topics being discussed.
Check out this informational writing product that analyzes TikTok. Students LOVE talking about TikTok and often don’t get to while learning in the classroom, so this resource is a great way to practice informational analysis without it feeling too heavy for the students!
2. Argumentative Writing Terms and Analysis
No matter how many times I covered the author’s purpose, claim, and reasoning in my classes, a good review was always necessary heading into test time.
If I am being honest, I find it odd that students struggle with these terms so much considering they argue with us teachers more than ever! Ha!
So, sometimes, I would come up with silly arguments to analyze. I would take the stereotypical story of a student who wanted more time to redo his homework because he claims his dog ate his original homework. The students and I would talk about this hypothetical boy’s purpose, claim, and reasoning so that students could analyze this simple argument prior to analyzing more complex articles.
If you are looking for something in the middle with regards to complexity, check out this analyzing argumentative writing product which covers the benefits of dogs in the workplace. This product includes a graphic organizer activity, an evidence-based question set, and extension opportunities. Check it out here!
3. General Writing Standards and Tips
Additionally, reviewing general writing concepts like tone, formal writing style, and citing sources is always a good idea before test day. Students need to have a general understanding of format and conventions which always seems to be a struggle for them.
We practice writing conventions and formatting every year, and yet, students need the practice more than ever. We are battling a world of technological platforms where students don’t need to write in full sentences or even spell correctly. Think texting and social media posts…
I always told my students that they needed to understand the time and place to write well and when those times came, they would need to be able to “switch on” proper grammar and spelling easily. Thus, we practiced “flipping the switch” often with bell ringer paragraphs and other mini-writing lessons.
However, to ensure your students have mastered the writing standards for their grade level, check out these writing standard products which specifically cover each writing standard.
They are great for reinforcements and can provide you the confidence that you as the teacher covered each writing standard as well as possible in your own classroom.
For more test prep tips, check out this post which covers the three ways you can prep your students for the test itself. It covers ideas like teaching your students to scan material as well as teaching a code system. Check it out here!
No matter what, your students are moving forward. They may not catch every lesson you are hoping to teach, but they are learning day in and day out because of wonderful teachers like you! Keep it up!