Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tried It Tuesday!

I'm linking up with Fourth Grade Flipper for Tried It Tuesday!

Since we are in the midst of test prep, I thought I'd sharing a testing strategy that I've been working on with my class: justification.  Everything about multiple choice work has been about justifying answer choices and reasons for eliminating other choices.  Although I am definitely NOT a fan of the testing mania, I want to empower my students with as many strategies as possible so that they can be successful.  They are old enough to know and understand how tests are constructed, so I want them to be able to use the same vocabulary {process of elimination, distractor, text evidence} we do when we discuss tests.

I feel like I'm constantly apologizing for my sloppiness, and today is no exception!  Please excuse my scribbles on the SMARTboard!

What you see above is Grade 5 Daily Common Core Reading Practice Weeks 1-5 by Literacy and Math Ideas on TpT.  This product has short reading passages and Common Core aligned multiple choice questions.  If you are looking for some quick practice (as in less than 15 minutes) you may want to check this out.  I use it between read aloud and word study.  You can see the justification that my students gave for each answer choice {first sentence, no proof, not mentioned}.

On this student's work, you can see lots of great thinking next to the answer choices {not in the 1800s, doesn't answer the question, not important, doesn't say Europe}.  Rather than racing through the practice, this student did a great job showing all of this thinking, making it easier for me to figure out why students make mistakes!

 This was not an overnight process!  The first time I used the word "justify" with my class, we were working on finding word meaning in context.  The justification wasn't great and a lot of times, it was really off the mark.  You might notice while trying to determine the meaning of "bauble" this student wrote "not a gift" and "not a present" as reasons why he crossed out those choices.  Those aren't great reasons, because the bauble was a gift.  In this case, I wanted to see great reasoning for why jewelry is the BEST choice. 

Over the past few weeks, their reasoning has improved.  From time to time, I'll come across some lame justifications, and I'll need to remind my kids that they shouldn't write the same thing for all three incorrect choices, but overall, I'm really pleased with the thoughts I read!

Tell me, what are you trying to get your students ready for their tests?


  1. I like the idea of writing justifications. When we do reading comp, I have them go back in the text and put a number next to the line where they found their answer. For vocab, I may try justifying...great tip!

    Everyone deServes to Learn

    1. That's a great idea because it isn't time consuming! I may use that for a few of my readers who have a tough time managing their time!

  2. Right now, I am focused on our STAAR Writing testing. We will begin working on reading strategies afterwards. I may try your justification.

    BTW...I am your newest follower.


  3. I teach my students to justify their answers for main idea type questions by making a tally mark beside of the answer choices. They reread the passage and each time the answer choice is mentioned it gets a tally mark, then they count up which answer got the most marks and that one wins the main idea!

    It really helps my students focus on what the whole article is about. So many times I find that if a kid recognizes something from the story in an answer choice they automatically choose that as the correct answer. This helps slow them down and is an almost fail-proof strategy.

    I really like your strategy as well. Isn't it fun to get a glimpse into what their thinking?

    Polka Dot Lesson Plans

    1. This is exactly why I'm so glad I started blogging! That's a great strategy. I'm going to do as soon as Spring Break is over :-)

  4. I really like the idea of teaching them justifying. Thanks for sharing.
    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  5. I agree that students have such a difficult time justifying their answers. Even though I hate test prep, I agree with you that we need to give our students as many skills as possible to allow them to be successful.

    When answering multiple choice questions, my students must go back to the passage and underline where they found the answer (or clues to the answer) and write the question number in the margin. This is VERY difficult for them at the beginning of the year. When we take the state test, this should be automatic for them and I tell the students that if nothing is underlined and you are done with your test, you were not working to your best ability.

    We celebrate all our hard work and accomplishments after the state test is over and warn them that if they are not "working hard" then they aren't invited to the party. So far, even the most reluctant learners have made it to the party the past four years. Is that bribery? haha!
    Thank you so much for linking up!
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  6. Wow! Your students look like they're really well-prepared!

    I dislike test prep, also - but I want to be sure students have as many opportunities to be successful as possible. My fourth graders move to middle school next year, and many of the middle schools use test scores for initial placement in classes, before they meet and get to know kids. Plus, many parents put a lot of weight on their scores, as well.

    We do a lot of review in mid-sized groups. I'm fortunate to work with a terrific teammate, and we each have a student teacher. We've split our students into four groups for review in reading and math. Science and overal testing strategies we do with whole groups.

    Good luck with your testing this year!

  7. Oh boy. Good news first, we are your newest followers.

    Bad news- I have not been having my students do this enough! :O/

    This is a great post and has not kicked me in the pants to know I need to get to work on this because we only have 12 days until testing!

    I do usually have them write out to the side where they found their answer in the passage (by numbering in the passage where they found the answer to that question)or by writing why an answer choice is wrong. Ugh. Lots of work to do!!

    Collaboration Cuties