Class meets Class

I love it when the things we’re learning in class or reading about line up with things that occur in my service learning. I just read chapter 6 of Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire which is all about testing, specifically standardized tests. Today Mrs. Yeager’s 4th graders got to work on a Reading Skills Practice Test from Scholastic. There are instructions on the front with some helpful hints.

  • Make sure to understand the question fully by underlining the key words and restating it in your own words.
  • Always refer to the text to find answers. It’s a good idea to go back and reread.
  • When you finish, check all of your answers. You may find and easily correctable mistake.
  • Most important, relax! Just do your best.

First of all, these are pretty good tips. Making sure you understand the question is key. When the author of the book, Rafe Esquith, talks about creating multiple choice answers, he encourages the kids to give answers that might seem probable. On an addition question, a good answer would be the one where the student accidentally subtracted or forgot to carry a number. It’s a great idea, and I love how he says it turns the students into little detectives.

At this level, the answers are definitely in the text and may not even be reworded on the question. I refer back to my textbook all the time for my different reading quizzes. I find the right section and reread or skim until I’ve confirmed my answer.

Step 3 is so important and luckily something that I still do. No matter what type of work–writing, math, history, science–it can be double checked. Maybe you switched 2 numbers (or letters). Maybe the formula got copied wrong. There are so many simple mistakes that can be fixed by reviewing your work.

Relax! A bad grade on the test is not the end of the world. It doesn’t even mean that you will fail at life. It simply means that the material needs to be gone over again. There’s a section of Rafe’s book that talks about consequences. A bad grade on a test shows that you either don’t know that particular skill or maybe made correctable mistakes by not checking your work. The great thing is (at least on regular assessments) the skill can be taught again.

Although Mrs. Yeager went over the test as a class since there was a new skill on it, all other conditions of the test were there. It was quiet. The students were sitting at their desks, and the test was in the same format the real test will be in. It helps that the practice test was from a standardized test-maker, but it’s still a great example.



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