Monday, February 21, 2011

Does State Testing Really Fit in the Workshop Model?

Pardon me as I take a break from technology and reflect on OAA state testing.  At my grade level, I will be giving three state tests in May:  Reading, Math and Science.  I have learned this year how important it is to use my data to guide my instruction; however the part I am struggling with is how to use my data within my workshop model.  I have heard, and I am slowly "buying" into the idea of a testing genre.

I have been trying to wrap my mind around the idea of reading and writing about OAA test questions as a form of study in my workshop.  I  know my fifth grade scores are tied directly to my school's state report card therefore I will be starting my testing genre next week.  Through professional development at my school, I have read many articles that reinforce important ideas for me to consider as I begin my unit. I need to

*expose my students to different types of OAA reading samples (fiction, non fiction and poetry)
*increase stamina by increasing the amount of time my students are working on practice tests
*teach my students to read passages more than one time
*model for them how to answer 2 and 4 point questions based on the passage
*allow plenty of time so that my students can become comfortable with this genre

When I implement this list at school this week I think my workshop will look something like this:

Mini Lesson: Let's share a story (poem) today about ..... Focusing on a specific skill....... creating an anchor chart with key points
Practice:  Here is another story I would like you to go and practice on your own
Small group:  From my data, I would pull a small group of students who need reinforcement before working on their own
Release the small group to do some of the work on their own so I can have conferences
Share Time:  Review the focus skill answers and ask students to reflect on what they have learned about themselves as test takers? 

I guess I can do this but it just doesn't feel very comfortable for me.......any thoughts?


  1. It helps many kids to read the questions before they read the passage. It takes practice and purpose for kids to understand how previewing questions really help wrap your head around those passages-texts which are often awkward and at least if you know the targets, you can maximize understanding through previewing questions.

    Testing as a genre or social obligation...I am still not sure how to make sense of these assessments.
    See you soon!

  2. In a word: no. Even though I teach "testing" as a genre as we near test season, I think it goes against the whole workshop philosophy. What really bugs me is the lack of quality literature in the test itself - but tests are here to stay, and I've (reluctantly) adapted.

  3. Interesting post. I think it would be really cool if you'd post some follow up if you teach testing as a genre in your workshop. I'd love to know what works for you/ what doesn't and how it flows. It seems to be a popular topic right now!

  4. Thanks everyone I appreciate your feedback. I will do a follow up post about how I am feeling about how OAA testing as a part of our workshop.

  5. Here is my follow up blog: