Monday, March 31, 2014

What We Did the Day Before STAAR Writing

In Texas, 4th grade has the STAAR Writing test tomorrow and Wednesday.  Today, I knew I wanted to spend all day reviewing.  But I wanted to keep it light, fun, and relaxed.  I feel really good about how it went and wanted to share what we did.

First, I wanted to expose my students to some idioms that they may be able to use in their writing.  They are experts at similes, vivid vocabulary, onomatopoeias, and hyperbole.  So if there were one literary element I wanted to review, it was idioms.  Plus, I love this fun activity and haven't had a chance to do it yet this year!  I wrote about 26 idioms on the board and we discussed what some of them meant as a whole class.  Then, I let students each choose an idiom and illustrate the literal and figurative meaning.  We shared as a class, and I feel confident that at least a few of them will incorporate idioms into their writing on the test.  I heard a couple of them using "Hold your horses!" and "Keep your chin up!"  throughout the day.  I forgot to bring their pictures home with me, but here is an example of one I made:

Next, I knew I wanted to review revising multiple choice questions.  These are questions for which students have to figure out where sentences should be added to a passage, what sentence should be the concluding sentence, the best way to combine sentences, etc.  To make the review fun, we played Scoot with this set of revising task cards from Rosie's Resources:

We checked our answers and reviewed the cards students had questions on.  They actually had questions on a lot of them, so I would definitely recommend this task card set as a rigorous review.  

After lunch, we did a quick review of the steps we need to follow after we see the writing prompts tomorrow and Wednesday.  We reviewed how to tell if it's a personal narrative or expository prompt (look at the label at the top of the page, personal narrative will have a picture, expository will say 'state your central idea').  Then I had them practice their brainstorming graphic organizer and the graphic organizers I taught them for each genre.  

Finally, I wanted to pump them up and motivate them for the big day.  I found this great book with the theme of perseverance at Half Price Books a couple months ago.  

It is about a little boy who wants to climb a big hill at the park, but his mom says he's not old enough.  Maxwell doesn't let that stop him! He decides to research mountain climbing, gather supplies, and train his body to prove to his mom that he can do it.  She gives in, and as he's climbing the mountain he comes across many obstacles.  But he never gives up, and he has such a feeling of accomplishment at the top.  The kids automatically connected Maxwell's perseverance to how hard they need to work on the tests over the next couple of days.  I recommend this book as a great read aloud before any testing that your class might have.  It would probably be appropriate anywhere from grades K-5.  

So that was our review day, and I can't wait to see how the kids do when we get scores back in a couple months!  What things do you do to review before a big test?  I would love to hear about them!


  1. This is perfect for the day before a big test! I will definitely be doing this next year before our state writing test! Thank you for sharing!

  2. So glad you found it helpful! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. Rebecca, what are you doing different for the 2016 test! I am not finding enough resources for revising sentences, etc. Have you got some ideas to share?

  4. Hi Roxie, I'm sorry but I'm not teaching 4th grade anymore. I've moved to 3rd. Good luck and sorry I can't help!