Tips and Tricks

Tuesday, February 24, 2015
revealing the tricks up my sleeve, Suzanne

It is testing season, friends!  With that said, I want to talk strategy today.  What testing strategy do you encourage/enforce in your classroom?

This year, I found a wonderful resource from an administrator here in Texas.  During inservice, she had all the teachers on her campus come together and generate a general strategy for key questions on Reading STAAR.  Genius!!  This creates vertical alignment because the expectation is not changing from one grade level to the next.  You can read about the process and download her free resource.  I don't necessarily hold to all of these strategies, but I love the idea of creating a campus strategy playbook.

One test-taking tip I instill is to PP first.  Nope, I'm not talking about their restroom habits.  I'm referring to the paired passage (although the potty humor helps them remember this trick and I use the Fresh Step ad to make it stick).  Students know how to flip through and locate these selections (the directions at the top say read the next two selections).  There are more questions about these passages and thinking about those connections can be challenging.  I want students to tackle this part of the test first, when they are fresh...pun intended.  

Leave a comment to share the go-to test taking strategies you arm your students with.


  1. I'm thinking that this year I'll use task cards. I'll make up cards with questions from previous years so students get a handle on the wording and format, and develop strategies for answering multiple choice questions etc. I'm thinking we'll begin with answering 2-3 as a starter task, and also during lesson transitions, as exit tickets and homework. As testing season comes closer, I'll use them in small groups in 'games' and challenges. I will use the task card 'results' to guide the explicit revision and teaching that I'll do in the weeks before testing - in previous years I've been quite methodical, but have probably done a lot of unnecessary revision on things they had a handle on; hopefully this will enable me to be more focused without it feeling too much like a drag for the kiddos!

    1. I like the idea of using the question stems as task cards, especially early in the school year. It is not overwhelming because students only see one at a time. Thanks for sharing, Michelle!