Ahhh, standardized prep time. So much fun, right? I did manage to find a way to do some standardized testing prep that was useful and the kids liked. Pretty much an impossible combination.
I'm in Texas, so our kiddos are taking the STAAR test. My school uses these books from Mentoring Minds to help prepare our students.
I think these are better than many of the resources available. I like that they made an effort to include some higher level short answer and writing activities. In the end, I don't use the extra activities. I'd rather use the class time for instruction and not more test prep.
Anywho, before I let the kids read a passage, we go over each question. We talk about the type of question, what kind of thinking is necessary to solve the answer it, and any strategies they might use to solve it. After that, they read the passage and answer the questions.
The next day, we check answers by "talking it out". I'm starting to think maybe I sound like Charlie Brown's teacher when it comes to test prep, and let's be honest, this isn't the most fascinating thing we during the week. The kids discuss the answers in their table groups. They're not allowed to say "cccccccccccccccccc" (and they would), but instead have to say what they think the answer is and what evidence they found to prove it. They talk, they argue (in a good way), and I even hear a few ooooooh I get it nows. After a minute or so, I check in with a table for the correct answer.
We did this for the first time this year on Tuesday. One of my very wiggly boy boys came up to me afterwards and asked if we could check our work this way every time. Score one for this teacher. And he then begged to do another passage.
Okay, that last part about the begging didn't really happen.
I really think they get more value out of this last discussion step than any other single thing we do. And my third graders get a chance to talk, so they're happy. It's a win-win.