As testing season gets closer, lesson planning starts to look a lot different. I know it can feel overwhelming to figure out how to structure your reading SOL test review. But here’s the good news. You (and your students) have been working on reading comprehension, vocabulary, and test-taking strategies all year long!
So take a deep breath. You’ve already put a lot of the steps in place. In the weeks before the test, you can plan some activities to refresh prior learning and help your students feel confident on Testing Day.
In this post, I’m sharing a few things you might think about as you start planning your reading SOL test prep for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students.
Use the Data
So many of us cringe at the word “data” but it’s really useful when you don’t have a lot of time for test prep. It tells you what your kids are already rocking (less review) and where they need more support (more review).
What can you use? District assessments, practice passages, released tests, and TEI activities are all good sources. It helps to use current data, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve taught a specific skill or type of text.
What should you look for? There isn’t time to review every single thing. So when I look at data for test prep, I look for big trends. What areas are a significant number of students struggling with? Where is our review time best spent?
The SOL test blueprints are also good to have on hand so you know what major skills to target.
Form Strategy Groups
Whole class review activities are great, but I like to mix it up. Small group, partner, and independent activities are a nice way to break up your test prep and get kids working together. Plus, it lets you target the skills students need to review.
I’ve found it really helpful to plan small groups based on a particular strategy or skill. For example, you might pull a group to work on drawing conclusions or a pair of students who need to practice finding answers in the text. Reading teachers and literacy specialists may also be able to support small groups.
Be sure to grab your FREE small group planning templates at the end of this post!
Plan Your Reading SOL Review Schedule
There are lots of ways you might structure your review week(s). I know some teachers who chunk their review – so a few days of ELA and then a few days of math. Or you might stick to your ELA block. However you do it, here are some ways you can plan the time:
Review by Type of Text
You can set aside a day or two each to review nonfiction, functional text, fiction, and poetry. This can help students focus on each type of text and practice several reading skills at once.
Review by Skill
If you’ve identified a few skills to focus on, you might plan mini-lessons and activities around those. For example, one year I focused on guide words, drawing conclusions, summarizing, and main idea. Those were the areas that I felt would benefit that particular group of students.
What I actually like best is to do a mix of the two! That way you can target specific skills but also make sure they’re getting the practice with the texts to pull them all together.
Plan a Variety of Activities
However you structure it, you’ll definitely want to use grade-level passages and questions that mimic what students will see on the test.
That also includes using TestNav and other digital activities so they feel comfortable with the testing technology. Don’t forget to plan ahead if you need to borrow a laptop cart!
But all this practice doesn’t mean your reading SOL review activities can’t be fun. There are lots of ways to make reading test prep rigorous and engaging. Find some ideas here!
Test Prep Planning Tips
- I like to take off a day or two in the middle, if possible, for a brain break.
- Build in time for testing Q&A. They’ll have lots of questions!
- Don’t forget to talk with other teachers in your building to see how they plan.
If you are looking for ready-to-use activities that support the reading SOLs, you can find mine here.
I know test prep can feel overwhelming. Coming up with a solid plan can help you and your students feel ready to tackle the reading SOL test. Let me know what other factors you like to consider as you get started with test prep!