There are not many phrases that give a teacher more anxiety than “test prep.” I hate being the bearer of bad news, but test prep season is upon us. Making test prep fun and meaningful can be a challenge. But you have me, and I take care of you! I have collected some reading test prep activities that your students will enjoy! I dare say that you might even have some fun!
Test Prep Centers
I feel like almost everything is more fun when you do it in centers- even test prep!
There are so many ways that these reading test prep centers can be used.
- stick the cards in your usual reading center rotations
- work on the centers together during your guided reading groups
- place the centers around the room and have students work in groups to rotate to each center
These centers include some of the trickiest skills that students are likely to see on the big test such as main idea, point of view, context clues, central message and more.
The centers all include short text passages and recording sheets with questions that require a short response and text evidence.
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Reading Gallery Walk
A gallery walk is a great way to get students out of their seats and working together to prove their answer. Plus, this is a simple reading test prep activity!
Start by giving your entire class the same passage or story to read. This can be read during centers, independent reading time, bell work or even as a whole group choral read.
Grab six large pieces of butcher paper. Write a reading comprehension question on the top of each piece of paper. This should be a short response question that can be answered after reading the passage.
I suggest looking at your state’s sample test online to get a good idea of the type of questions that students might see on test day.
Hang these questions around your room where students will be able to see them.
Split your class into six groups and have them rotate around the room answering the questions together.
Every student should be writing the answer in their own notebook or on their own piece of paper. We want everyone participating!
As groups are working, do some detective work. After students have completed all six questions, you will assign each group to one question. This works best if you are intentional about assigning a group that answered the question correctly.
The group will write their answer on the butcher paper.
Now have all of the groups rotate around the room to read the answers and compare the work to what they wrote in their own notebook.
This is a great time for a discussion about what makes the answer strong!
Defense and Prosecution
Students need to practice defending their answer. This activity is perfect! This activity is especially fun for those students who just love to argue!
You will divide your class into four groups.
Each group is assigned a letter: A, B, C, or D. They keep that letter for the entire activity.
Every group will read the same text. Then display a multiple choice question about the text. Go through each question together. If the answer to #1 is B, the A,C, and D groups have to explain why their letter is wrong. The B group has to explain why B is correct.
Keep moving through the questions doing this with each one. It is so much more fun than a worksheet!
Reading Response Writing Unit
Most states require students to write an essay based on text that is provided. This can be very challenging for most students as it incorporates both reading and writing skills.
Intentionally spending time teaching mini lessons and practicing reading response is important!
This unit breaks down the skills needed to close read two passages and write a strong compare and contrast easy. Breaking the essay down into ten very small lessons helps students to be more successful.
This unit includes lesson plans, passages, anchor charts, printables and rubrics. Just print and teach!
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Work Hard. Play Hard.
I have written about this test prep activity before, but since it is a favorite of mine, it deserves to be mentioned again!
Do you have any passages or class magazines that you didn’t have time to use earlier in the year. I usually have a stack that we never got to. If you don’t, you can grab some passages from TPT or Read Works. You could even use practice tests from your state’s testing site if you have them.
Students will be working in groups to complete this reading activity.
Once the reading activity has been completed and checked, students get to spend 15 minutes doing something fun. Get it? They work hard and then they get to play!
You will also need some fun activities for students to do when they complete their reading activity. Keep it simple! This can include Play Doh, a directed drawing, a card game, etc.
Grab 6-8 baskets. Put a reading activity and a fun activity in each basket. Throw in a timer (I got mine at the dollar store) and you are good to go.
Groups will grab a basket and get to work on the reading activity. When they complete the activity, they will have you check it. If answers are correct, they can set the timer for 15 minutes and enjoy the fun activity that was inside of their basket.
My students worked on these baskets for a few hours and were groaning when I told them that it was time to clean up! That is fun reading test prep!
A great way to keep kids engaged during test prep is to shake up the daily routine with an escape room. In an escape room students work their way through a series of curriculum-based tasks to unlock clues that help them solve a final puzzle.
Our Baseball Escape Room is a fun and effective way to review essential reading skills. This activity is filled with a variety of passages covering cause and effect, point of view, character traits and more.
Students arrive at Bisons’ stadium for the championship game and immediately encounter a series of problems. They must work their way through each reading passage and solve a variety puzzles to help the team get ready for the big game.
This fun no-prep activity is fully digital and printable. It’s the perfect solution whether you are teaching in-person, online, or a combination of both.
Test prep is just a necessary evil. We teach like rockstars all year. We differentiate and accommodate. But then we have to do the review during testing season. Keep your reading test prep meaningful and fun with these activities!
And for some fun ideas about how to make math test prep more fun, check out this post.
Have a Not So Wimpy day!