One of the best (and worst) tools in our test-prep arsenal is the released test itself. We can study question stems to see how students will be assessed for certain skill, but here is an extreme word of caution. Kids will never ever see that test question ever again.
So I'm interested in using our released tests in new and interesting ways. Often times, teachers print the released test, pop a staple in it, and let the kids have a go. I'm not completely judging; I've done it too. But as we get closer and closer to D-Day, is that really the wisest use of the released test?
Editing Q&A is kind of a personal favorite. It's definitely challenging for the kids, but it's also a good measure of their ability (or struggle) to spot an error in a sentence. It's kinesthetic and can be done individually for increased accountability or with a buddy for a bit of group talk.
I combed through the released 9th and 10th grade writing tests and pulled a total of 8 sentences that would lend themselves well to the activity. The sentences had errors like:
- Subject/Verb Agreement
- Sentence Fragments
- Run-on Sentences
Super easy stuff that our kids should be able to spot with little to no difficulty [nervous and shifty sideways glance]. Each error-ridden sentence is posted on the bottom half of a sheet of paper. It's corresponding type of error is posted somewhere around the room on the top half of a sheet of paper. The sentences are randomly numbered so that students can use a folded sheet of paper for their answer sheet. Essentially it's a scavenger hunt where you only move forward when you find the answer. The best part is, it is solid practice and review using released items. And let's just be honest, the type of errors the state can assess on a multiple choice exam is actually pretty limited. How do I know? Because I've read the state grammar specs saying what they will assess. That exists?! Yeah girl [or guy]! Click here to get it from Gretchen Bernabei's blog.
If this activity sounds like a pain in the rear to make, you're right. It was. So I hereby bequeath it to you. Click here to get the activity and a Q&A template for future use. Trust me...when you venture out to make your own Q&A in the future, use the template because if you don't set it up correctly, then you watch your kids rotate in a vicious and unproductive circle. Please also note that since these are released items from different passages and different tests, the sentences sound ridiculous and have no connection to one another. If that really bothers you, then I guess you can re-write them, but my kids didn't care one iota.
This is a review activity, and we all know there is no new in review. Go over some solid grammar rules before you unleash the editing beast in your room. Let kids use their grammar foldable, let them reference the dictionary. In the meantime, you sit back and stay out of it [and maybe even say a prayer]. It is a tough activity.
To scaffold, you could hand out "random" numbers to your data groups. Your higher performing groups can be required to do all 8 while your struggling kids can choose to do 4, and middle groups can do 6.
Print it out and give it a go. It was definitely a challenge in mine and Suz's room, but it provides exposure to important items for which our kids will be held accountable.
Did you like how I awkwardly worked to not end that last sentence with a preposition? But if you read the grammar specs, you'll see that that little annoying usage rule totally doesn't matter on a state test. Boom.