11 minute essay, Annotation, Assessments, Education, Grammar, High School, Middle School, Secondary ELA, Secondary English, state assessment, Test Prep, Texas

STAAR Prep for Secondary English- It’s never too early!

If you’re like me, as soon as you return from holiday break you begin really thinking about STAAR prep, especially if you have an early test like I do. This 3rd quarter is down-to-business time for me because we don’t have much time after spring break before we take our reading test. It’s the same for 8th grade reading as it is for 7th grade writing and English I and II EOCs. Gotta take those tests with plenty of time to grade and possibly retest, right?

In light of this, I thought I’d share my go-to STAAR prep strategies with you.

First thing’s first- Annotation

The first thing I concentrate on is getting my students to annotate consistently throughout the year. Then when it’s time to reinforce for the test, they are familiar with the expectations and can use the annotation as a great test-taking strategy. I begin the year with my Annotation Academy so that their annotations are focused and meaningful. This helps them understand that annotations must be done with a purpose. During their STAAR tests, this purpose is to answer their questions and can be used on all tests in all grades.

Bring on the games!

The next thing I use is a variety of games to reinforce everything from literary elements to test-taking strategies. You can find these games separately in my store, or you can purchase them in bundles. There is a Reading STAAR Game Bundle and a Writing STAAR Game Bundle. Check them out to see if any of the games could address skills that can be reviewed quickly to refresh the students’ memories.

Writing, writing, and more writing!

For 7th grade, English I, and English II, there are writing requirements. Getting students to take time to draft was always one of my biggest challenges. Once I started working with timed informational essays, things got easier. Students learn they DO have time to draft and not just turn in the first thing they commit to paper. Using them is a great, structured way to get students writing quickly. I have a Timed Informational Essay Bundle, but I also have many individual powerpoints to choose from if you only need a quick refresher for your students.

Speaking of writing…

Another component of the writing tests is grammar. Some teachers are great at working grammar into the curriculum, and some are like me- they struggle with it. After several years of complaining about what I had, I decided to write my own. If you need reviews, you could check out my Grammar Game Bundle. But if you need a more comprehensive fix to your grammar problem, you could look into my Middle School Grammar Bundle which has notes and activities to use.

Other than using my nine weeks exams to assess where my kids are at with STAAR and of course teaching reading skills all year beforehand, that’s pretty much what I do to prepare the kids for the test. I don’t use STAAR passages except for those quarterly exams, and it works pretty well for me.

I wish you the best in this coming testing season, and please email or comment with any questions. I’d love to hear from you!