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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Reading Workshop.2012

I've hit the ground running this year in my reading workshop.  We've been so busy!  I'm copying a few comments from a post I wrote a year ago because some of my lessons these past three weeks have been the same.

Here's what I said last year about these early days:

In the state of Michigan students take the MEAP test in October.  We have only a few weeks (approximately 3-4) to remind kids of all the great skills, strategies, and knowledge they learned in the previous school year.  Since I am not a policy maker I have no control over the testing date.  For what it's worth, it makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever to have kids take the summer off, and then take a test in the fall when they are first back to school.  The test should be at the end of the school year!  At the end of the third grade year, take the third grade MEAP.

But since I am not in educational policy we are taking the MEAP in October.  So that's it then.

This year we are once again doing a reading workshop unit, "the First Ten Days," from the Oakland Writing Project, Eastern Michigan Writing Project, National Writing Projects of Michigan, and the Oakland Intermediate School District.  I really like this unit!  In these first ten days the students study the GENRE of tests--what they look like, sound like, etc.   They look at test language, practice writing test questions, and get to know the test from a practitioner level.  It's very empowering to the students to take apart the test and learn about its construction.

Here's a sampling of the work we did this week:

Doesn't it make sense to study what tests look like?  Yes, it does!!

After we talk about what tests look like we talk about how to make them easier to take.  This is only one of our test reading tips posters.

Finally, we look at reading strategies that are useful with all tests.  Here's one we talked about on Thursday and Friday:

The QAR  strategy is one we refer to all school year!  When we looked at MEAP release items from years past we discovered that most of the MEAP questions were either "author and me" questions or "on my own" questions.  That tells us that the MEAP requires us to do more than just read the question and find the answer.
Finally, this year (Fall 2012) we spent a great deal of time on the QAR strategy.  Students read lots of QAR questions and then tried their hand at writing their own using our National Geographic Explorer magazines. I've been incredibly impressed by the work my students have been doing this year in working with informational text.  It's not about the test, it's about informational TEXT, as this type of text is what students will encounter for most of their educational career, and professional life.

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