Writing - Getting Ready for the Big Test!!!

Yep!  It's right around the corner for my kiddos!!!  Like next Tuesday!!!!
We have been working so hard and if I am honest, I hate the fact that they have to be tested on their writing.  Not fair in my opinion....just too much stress!!!  But it is what it is and so we have been preparing for the "writing monster" for a while.
I was FREAKED last week when I fell and had to miss the rest of the week of school.  If you follow me on Instagram I'm sure you're sick of seeing pics of my messed up knee...lol!  Most recent pic.  It is much better!
 BUT I have an amazing team around me and our awesome lead teacher, who used to be my roomie, stepped in and taught writing to my kids for the days that I was out.  So grateful for her!
So I wanted to share some of the things we have done to prepare for the test.  Some of these I have blogged about before but wanted to try and put all the ideas in one place:)
One thing I have used is my Sharpen Your Writing interactive bulletin board.
It has been hard work to get my kiddos to amp up their writing with stronger and more descriptive words.  Takes practice so we started this a while ago.
We have practiced our creativity skills....using similes, metaphors, onomatopoeias, and on and on:)
We also practiced "Show don't Tell"
You can read more about those HERE.
One thing we started recently, and I TOTALLY love is using highlighters on our papers. 
This idea was from another fab lead teacher in our district.  I love this so much because it really gives the kids a visual.  It's kinda eye opening:)
This highlighting we used mostly for our expository papers.  The pink we used for transition phrases into each paragraph, pink links.  The blue was for main ideas/reasons for each paragraph because if they don't have strong main ideas, the judges will be "blue":/  The yellow is for everything that is "right and bright":) 
I have graded the kids papers after highlighting and it really is eye opening for them and me!
This paper has NO transitions and is weak with the "right and bright" skills.
Big difference between a stronger paper and weaker paper.
This has really been great for them because they THINK they are doing all the things they should be BUT then realize they aren't.
I'm not sure how I'm going to tackle the next few days since we only have a couple left:/  Lots of polishing!!!!
Also, because I don't want to tear down all my cute walls, I bought plastic table clothes to cover up the walls:)  Dollar Tree :)
I made these little notes to give to my team to put on the desks of all our 4th grade kiddos the morning of the test.  They are a freebie, just click on the pic if you would like to use them:)
I'm back to work tomorrow:)  Miss my kiddos like crazy!!!  Hope you all have a great rest of your week.  I'd love to hear how you get your kiddos ready for the test:)



  1. Oh my goodness! It seems so early for a state test! Oh, how I always dreaded those! I love the highlighted writing. Good luck!! Love the freebie - thanks!!

  2. Although I agree it shouldn't be tested, you are clearly doing amazing things that will help your students in the future with their writing. It's unfortunate that the such heavy pressure gets put on the teachers and students... judging by the work you've been doing early on, I'm sure they will do great! Great idea about covering up using table clothes! Much more colorful and less work. Thanks for sharing! :)

    Tales of a Teacher

  3. Our district writing test is the end of March... for some reason we don't have a state test this year, but yes - it's still stressful! What did the dr. say about your knee? I guess if you are heading back to work it must be healing! Praise God! Been keeping you in my prayers. :)

  4. Love using highlighters with writing. It is definitely helpful. Your knee does look better! I'm thinking about you sweet friend...and your writing monster that is coming. XOX
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learin'

  5. Ouch! Your knee looks sooooo sore. I hope you mend quickly and feel better soon.
    Thanks for the clip art! I've got it stored for our next writing assessment! So nice of you to share!!!!

  6. So glad your knee is feeling better!! This time of the year is always so hard and stressful. I love that you bought table cloths to cover your walls. It makes me so sad to cover up all of their hard work {and the room always looks so boring afterwards!!} But it sounds like you're doing awesome things and your kiddos will rise to the challenge!!

    Have a wonderful day back at school :)

    XO, Kelly Anne

  7. I'm glad my sixth graders don't have those tests... How stressful for everyone involved. (Sorry, Dear!) There are so many helpful tips and strategies for teaching writing in this post, it's like a mini PD Day! Thanks for letting me learn as I visit. Sending you hugs of encouragement across the country for the test--and for your knee. All I can think of is: How lucky your kids and your teamies are to have you on their side...

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  8. I feel your writing pain. I've taught 4th grade for 6 years now, and every single year I'm a ball of stress until the first Tuesday in March. It's a huge weight off my shoulders after the test is over. This is the first year we AREN'T having the writing test. THANK THE LORD!! We're not having any state tests this year, as we are transitioning to the Smarter Balanced test next year. What?? No state tests this year??? Hallelujah!!
    Good luck to your kiddos on that test!

    Teaching Powered by Caffeine

  9. I know your students are going to do awesome!! they have an awesome teacher!

  10. Hi Tara! I love your idea to highlight parts of their writing. That would be such a great visual for them. I am thinking I will try having them do that in the revising stage of their writing! I also like the idea of me highlighting their work as feedback! Thanks for sharing the ideas!

    Kate :)
    McDee's Busy Bees

  11. Ouch! What in the world did you do to your knee? That does not look good.

    Great idea on highlighting their writing! I used to teach 4th grade writing in Texas, and boy, do I remember the stress.

    Southern Fried Teachin’

  12. Love your highlighter idea! I've tried it with different color markers, but it just got confusing for the kiddos. I love your idea much better!

    Take care of that knee and good luck on your testing!

  13. Love the color coded highlighting!

  14. I love the color-coded highlighting- great way to help students analyze expository writing! What are the "right and bright" skills they're highlighting in yellow?

    Buzzing with Ms. B


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