Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Graphic Organizers for Test Prep

So our state testing in Texas is fast approaching, and I am trying to cover things in Reading that students still struggle with.  One of those things is figuring out graphic organizers that they might not have seen before.  It requires higher order thinking for students to be able to study what a G.O. is showing you, figure out what information is needed to complete the G.O., and then complete it correctly.  Plus, even if they have seen the G.O. before, they are not used to seeing it in test format, with missing information and answer choices to choose from.  For example, my students are experts at filling in their own Venn Diagrams, but when it comes to seeing one on a test with a missing bullet point that needs filled in, for some reason they freeze up.

So, to help with this problem, I have been introducing students to various G.O.'s that may be seen on our state test.  I used a picture book that they are familiar with (Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon) for each of three separate minilessons on three consecutive days.  Each day, I created a G.O. on chart paper with some missing information.  I wanted students to study the G.O. and identify what it was showing us (was it a timeline, a story map, a cause/effect organizer, a character traits organizer, etc).  Then, they needed to identify what information was missing and decide what would complete the G.O.  Here are the charts I used:

I plan on reviewing these G.O.'s with other books they are familiar with, having them fill out their own while doing independent reading, and introducing them to even more G.O.'s before the test.  The last thing I want is for them to freeze up if they see a G.O. they don't recognize.  Ideally, they will be prepared with the "thinking" skills necessary to figure out any G.O. the test throws their way!

Do you guys have any tips for Reading test prep that you can share?  My kiddos need all the help they can get, since many of them are ESL students or just students who do not come from print-rich environments at home.  I would love to hear your ideas!


  1. Testing is ALWAYS a day of such anxiety and stress it seems like! No matter how much you prep your kids (which is basically all year long!), testing day comes and you can see the panic in their faces. I'm starting the test prep phase too, and I decided this year to work on the environment first. So, my kids made comparison charts between game day of their favorite sport and state testing day. The goal of the lesson was for the kids to see they have been "practicing" all year for the big "game," and they are prepared! They should bring the same enthusiasm to the test as they would to their sporting event, because after all, it's their "time to shine." We huddle each time before we "practice" now, and my principal even spoke with me today about starting something similar for teachers. Just a thought.. good luck! :)

  2. That's a great idea Mandy; my students could use some enthusiasm for the test! Thanks for the tip!