STAAR Test Prep - 5 Days of Nonfiction Fun

By
Dana Canales

Dana Canales is a relied-upon Storyworks teacher advisor from Spring, Texas. She teaches in a Title 1 school. Dana's voice is so important in our editorial ear, as teachers across the state are preparing for their state assessment all year long, and more rigously in late winter. We love that Dana totally gets that Storyworks can be the "spoonful of sugar" in her regular TEKS lesson planning, and can be used as amped-up STAAR practice too! You've got to check out how she works a recent nonfiction article into 5 days of test-prep for her fourth graders. 

Storyworks has always been a staple of my STAAR preparation. There's no other resource in my classroom that covers every genre tested on our state test here in Texas. What follows is a sample week in my class using the nonfiction article “Disaster in Space” from the February 2017 issue of Storyworks.
 

Monday: This day is all about vocabulary. Each table of students is given index cards with words from the article. They are to find the word in the text and record the following information on the back of its index card:

  • Page number and the sentence it is found in
  • Recording of any words in the sentence that help them determine a definition
  • Dictionary definition after discussing which definition is correct

I also have incorporated word study by having the students underline the base word and identify prefixes or suffixes as they apply.

When each group is done, they share their results with the class and we clear up any mistakes.  I used Storyworks' vocabulary page to orally quiz them.

Tuesday: I began our reading rotations on this day. Groups 1 and 2 consist of students who struggle in fluency and other skills such as inferencing and main idea. Groups 3 and 4 consist of above-level and gifted students. This day all groups watched the video and read the article independently. I assigned each group a section of the article and students recorded themselves reading it through the Seesaw app. This allows me to listen later to the recordings and take notes on fluency for individual work later.

Wednesday: Main Idea and Supporting Details

Groups 3 and 4 worked in pairs to complete the Storyworks main idea activity and share their answers in group discussion. Groups 1 and 2 used a boxes-and-bullets graphic organizer to identify the main idea and details from a given section of the article.

Today we also used the article as reinforcement of our mentor sentence lesson in writing, which was contractions and possessives. Groups were assigned a section and highlighted all the examples they found and labeled them as contractions or possessive. We had some great student-led discussions!

Thursday: Text Features

Students in groups 1 and 2 discussed the text features with me using the Storyworks questions as a guide. Groups 3 and 4 brainstormed a text feature they would like to have seen in the article and why. These were recorded on a poster so all the group could see and share.

Friday: I used the Storyworks noninteractive quiz on two levels. I love these quizzes as they cover a variety of TEKS and I make the kids find their text evidence by highlighting answers in the article.

Again, this is just a sample week in my classroom, but from now until STAAR, I will be going through the magazine focusing on one genre piece per week focusing on skills my students need to work on and review. I also use the poetry as well as Word Nerd and Grammar Cop as key review and test-prep. We're going to be ready come STAAR time!

 

 

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