Category Archives: Standardized Tests

Text Structure Bookmark Freebie


It seems to me that text structure questions come up an awful lot on standardized tests.  I prepare my students with these bookmarks.  Students use them to identify the text structure in their book (or a stack of books that I dump on their group’s table during whole class activities).

Print, cut apart, and give each student or group their own set.  Laminate for longer life and reuse again and again!

Make it a game!  Students love the challenge of finding one of each type of structure.


Paragraph Attack Page Protector

Reading comprehension DIY tool and strategy

Use this simple tool to allow students to practice marking up passages without getting library fines. 🙂

This post ties in with the Paragraph Attack video I posted a couple days ago.  Paragraph Attack is a series of steps I have my students use every time they read a passage that includes comprehension questions.  Many of my students are ESOL or EIP and reading below grade level.  Using these steps provides them with a strategy for making meaning of reading passages.  You can find the original post and the steps HERE.

In order to make the Paragraph Attack strategy a routine and improve confidence with high level reading passages, I feel it’s important to encourage students to use Paragraph Attack with every reading comprehension passage we use.

Sometimes though, our reading passages aren’t in worksheet format–they’re in books, and you get in trouble if you write in books!  I give my students modified page protectors and a fine tipped dry erase marker to use in place of their pencils.  Cut off one long side of the page protector, slip it over the book page, and mark up the passage with no worries!  (You can also use the clear overhead projector sheets, but I found that they slip around much more than the page protectors, and students get frustrated.)

Clicking on the pics will bring you to this article on my other website, which has suggestions for where to find page protectors and fine tipped dry erase markers.  Happy reading!

Paragraph Attack!


Paragraph Attack!

My students use these steps to break down and make meaning from every passage they read.  I made this video to help them remember the steps.

Standardized tests can cause anxiety for even the most knowledgeable students.  Long reading passages can easily overwhelm a student in a stressful testing situation.  However, by learning and consistently using test taking and comprehension strategies, your students are preparing themselves with tools to attack any reading passage they encounter.  I noticed that when my students looked at passages using the same method every time, they became more comfortable and confident in analyzing difficult passages and constructing meaning from them.

The steps:
1. Read and circle the title. Look for clues in the title about the main idea of the passage.

2. Number the paragraphs.  Since test questions often ask students to go back to specific paragraphs to look for information, labeling the paragraphs prior to reading can assist with these questions later.  In addition, beginning with a simple task boosts confidence and allows a moment to calm nerves.

3. Read the questions.  If the main purpose of reading the passage is to answer the questions at the end, why not begin with the end in mind?  Read the questions, underline the key words, and take note of what information needs to be found.  (No need to read the answer choices at this time.  That will come later.)

4. Read the passage.  Underline all topic sentences and box in key words.  Make notes in the margins about big ideas.  Be careful to box in only a few words and phrases per paragraph.  Using a pencil to underline and box in important information is better than a highlighter for test preparation, as highlighters are not allowed on most standardized tests.  It is best to prepare in conditions most similar the test taking situation.

5. Reread the questions.  This time, read the answer choices as well.  After reading each answer choice, decide if the answer is not correct or maybe correct.  If the answer not correct, cross through the letter.  If the answer is possibly correct, mark it with an “M” for maybe.  If there is more than one “M” (“maybe correct”) answer choice, reread those answer choices, go back to the passage for more information, and select the best choice.

6.  If time allows, reread the questions and check the answers.

Happy attacking! 😉 reading test preparation