Test prep season can be so draining for both students and teachers. Teachers feel the pressure to review everything they’ve taught up until this point, and students feel the pressure of having to show what they know on the day of the test. It can be a super stressful time. While test prep is necessary, it doesn’t have to be miserable. You can get the most out of test prep season by using engaging and hands-on ELA test prep activities to review with students. I have a few favorite activities I love, and I bet your students will enjoy them, too.
#1 Color It In Comprehension Practice
I talked about the Color It In comprehension resource in detail on a blog recently, but I wanted to share it again – because it’s that good! Essentially, students will read a passage and answer comprehension questions. As they complete the questions, they color in a section of an image.
These coloring sheets provide built-in brain breaks, so students are rewarded for working hard. This system also works really well to break up the test prep marathon. We know that comprehension is an essential part of reading, which makes it an essential part of ELA test prep. The Color It In Comprehension Passages adds excitement to a foundational skill. You can use this resource in small groups or centers, as morning work, or even send it home as homework.
#2 Paragraph Writing
This is another resource I’ve talked about in depth on a blog post. The RACE writing strategy is perfect for ELA test prep because it helps break down the process of writing and scaffolds it for students.
RACE is an acronym that stands for restate the question, answer the question, cite evidence from the text, and explain how the evidence proves your answer. An optional step, to turn the acronym into RACES, which stands for summarize.
Using this strategy, students will review the high level skill of writing responses. The RACE acronym is easy to remember, and will help students construct a cohesive and effective paragraph for the exam. If you need ideas for how to implement this strategy, I have a no-prep Constructed Response Paragraph Writing Resource that helps students respond to text-dependent questions, just like they’ll see on their tests.
#3 Nonfiction Comprehension
Nonfiction can be a really challenging genre for students, as it comes with it’s own set of features and elements. Luckily, it’s not hard to find opportunities to review this essential ELA test prep skill.
For instance, these Nonfiction Reading Comprehension Passages use high interest topics that students will love reading about to get students hooked into learning. Each passage has built in questions to check text structure, main idea, inferencing, cause and effect, author’s purpose, and more.
You can use these passages as a partner activity in stations or as part of your ELA test prep small groups. These passages can also serve as informal assessments leading up to the state test, so you can use them to make adjustments to your review.
#4 Nonfiction Text Structure
Text structure is an ELA test prep skill that students can never do too much of. Create opportunities for engaging practice with the Nonfiction Structure Hands-On Resource. It includes three activities that cover all five text structures. Activities include a word sort, paragraph unscrambling activity, and task cards.
I’d also recommend displaying these Free Nonfiction Text Structure Posters in your classroom, so students can reference them while they practice. There is a poster for each of the five nonfiction text structures and they include examples and signal words.
I hope these ideas have gotten your wheels turning for how you can make ELA test prep more engaging and fun for your students! Managing test prep and keeping students motivated throughout the process are two of the hardest parts of teaching in the Spring. If you need a bit of inspiration, I have a blog on motivating students during testing season and motivational activities to keep spirits high!
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