Changing my mindset
Five years ago, I moved from teaching in a public school to teaching in a charter after 15 years. One of the hardest things for me to wrap my brain around was that my new school did not focus on state testing. They knew it was a necessary evil, and our students take the tests every year, but as an accelerated charter, their expectations are that we are teaching above grade level, and therefore, we should hit that mark without worrying about teaching to the test.
Novel concept, no?
Well, after 15 years of public school testing indoctrination, it was VERY hard for me to wrap my brain around this. After years of meetings about curriculum adoption and data disaggregation, not to mention the marathon vertical planning sessions that took place in public school, I needed a bit more direction with this. I asked my principal how many days we were expected to directly teach using STAAR-type materials, and he said that if was doing that for more than two or three days, he was going to need to know why.
You mean I get to teach what I want, when I want, as long as I’m covering the student expectations in the TEKS? Are you serious? You mean, you trust me? To teach?
A quick note, before I came to my charter I had only taught 8th grade and above. The last school I taught at, I was teaching English I PAP and on level. Here, I was teaching 6th and 7th grade, so I was responsible for 3 tests- 6th grade reading, 7th grade reading, and 7th grade writing- in grades that I hadn’t taught before. Stressful.
Fast forward to the end of that first year. All of my passing percentages were above 90%. For real.
I attribute this to a few of things.
- Our students are at an accelerated charter school, so there is a higher level of academic expectation.
- Parent involvement is sky high.
- We are on A/B block schedule, so I get more time in class with my kids to do instruction before turning them loose on independent work. Then I’m actually there with them when they are working independently, so I can answer questions and give clarification.
Instead of using worksheets, I came up with an idea to use games to highlight specific things I wanted the kids to remember when they were taking the test. At the beginning, I just created games for reading and writing. As I saw how well they worked, and how much the kids liked them, I started using them to review concepts like genre, poetry, and parts of speech. In my TPT store, I have the games listed separately, and in bundles (to save you money!).
Included in the bundle are
Reading STAAR Review Game
Reading STAAR Review Game 2.0
Figurative Language Review Game
Literary Elements Review Game
Inferencing Practice Game
Poetry Review Game
This bundle is great for reviewing your students for the STAAR without boring them (or you!). Buying this bundle saves you 25%- You get 4 games for the price of 3!
Writing STAAR Review Game
Writing STAAR Review Game 2.0
Editing and Revising Game
This is a bundled group of all my grammar products that saves you over 15% versus buying them separately.
This bundle includes:
– Editing and Revising Game
– Grammar Pre-test
– Image Grammar Brush Strokes Practice
– Image Grammar Brush Strokes Quiz
– Grammar Practice
– Grammar Game
– Parts of Speech Review Game