As a former high school English teacher who loves literature and loves to write, I do not believe in doing test prep 24/7. I believe tests are a genre, the same way that drama is a genre and poetry is a genre, etc.—and we should prepare students for them in the same way that we prepare them to analyze a play or write a poem: figure out the key features of the genre, teach students what is required to do well in working with that genre, then give them sufficient practice so that they can confidently tackle that genre in the future.
In the home stretch of PARCC test preparation, here’s a quick diagnostic tool you can use to determine if your students have a clear grasp of some essential strategies that will help them succeed with this genre.
Below is the “student” version. This PARCC ELA PREP CHECKLIST (a free download) includes both the student copy and a suggested answer key.
PARCC ELA PREP CHECKLIST—STUDENT COPY
Directions: For each question, on a scale of 1-10 (1=not confident, 10=very confident), FIRST rate how confident you feel about how to respond. THEN, jot some notes in response. We will discuss each item. AFTER our discussion, rate how confident you feel. See the model.
|QUESTION||NOTES||How confident you feel
|How confident you feel
|What should you do FIRST when you start a PARCC ELA test?||Click forward to the writing prompt, turn the prompt into a question, and write that question on your blank sheet of paper so that you can take notes with that question in mind.||1||10|
|How do you unpack a Literary Analysis or Research Simulation Task writing prompt and turn it into a question?|
|How much time should you spend on 1) reading and taking notes, 2) answering multiple-choice questions, and 3) writing your narrative or essay?|
|How/Why can taking notes actually SAVE you time?|
|What are some useful test-taking strategies for answering multiple-choice questions?|
|What kind of organizer should you create for taking notes on the Literary Analysis Writing Task? What should the notes focus on?|
|Why should you put checkmarks next to items in your organizer for the Literary Analysis/Research Simulation Writing Task?|
|What is the basic outline structure for a Literary Analysis compare and contrast essay? (2 options)|
|What kind of organizer should you create for taking notes on the Research Simulation Writing Task? What should the notes focus on?|
|What is the basic outline structure for a Research Simulation compare and contrast essay? (2 options)|
|What two things might the Narrative Writing Task ask you to do (after you read the passage)?|
|Why is important to pay attention to “DDAT” and “Somebody Wanted But So” when pre-writing for the Narrative Writing Task?
|On the Narrative Writing Task, what kinds of compositional risks should you use?|
|The box you’re supposed to type in looks really small. Does that mean you should only write two sentences?|
|What should you be sure to do before time expires, and why?|
For more information on PARCC, see the TLC “PARCC Prep” page.
PS: Please feel free to comment (or Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions, thoughts, or suggestions!
PPS: Thanks to Anibal Garcia at Queen City Academy CS for inspiring this post, and thanks to Dominy Alderman at HoLa CS for her input.
PPPS: This Blog post originally ran in 2016; I’m reposting it as a reminder.