Ready for another installment of Teacher Tuesday? Again this week I am focusing on the Common Core Standards because that is what my life is consumed with right now as my state prepares to take its high stakes test in a few short weeks.
While I teach middle school Language Arts, I found this 5th grade test prep book still applicable. I've spent the last 7 years working with below proficiency readers. While they may be in grade seven, they often read at a third grade level. I found the materials in the NJ ASK 5th grade book to be a nice supplement for my struggling kids. I'm sure it would be perfectly suitable for 5th graders as well, but I don't have much experience with that grade level.
One of the things I noticed right away was the variety of material. I found poetry, short stories, nonfiction, informational texts, etc. in this book. Each passage also came with a variety of questions, depending on the story. Some stories focused more on the literary elements, while others focused on nonfiction traits or grammar. I also like that there were both diagnostic and practice tests included. When I saw this, I instantly thought "pre and post test" on a unit. That's just how my brain works.
Another perk is that each passage included a relevant writing task. For instance, if a student read a poem about two characters, they had to write a short literary analysis to compare and constrast certain traits between those two characters. Each of the prompts extended the learning in a practical and relevant way. Of course, some people may see writing prompts and think "I'm not a writing teacher" or "how do I score that"? Well, lucky for you there are extensive writing rubrics included for each prompt. The passages are based on a 4 point scale, so each rubric gives a sample paper for numbers 1-4 along with a detailed list of what should be included in the students' answers. That takes away the guess work of grading writing if you don't feel like its your strongest area.
Overall, I found the NJ ASK 5th grade Language Arts and Literacy test prep book to be another great addition to my teacher tool kit. It's not limited to just teachers in NJ (I'm in Florida, after all) because ALL students need these skill.