Our quest is to NOT sacrifice text-quality, independent reading & student-writing-in-response-to-texts while also preparing students for the ACTAAP, SATP, and MCT2.
The following represent solutions that can help you tackle the trickier problems that the rascally state-tests throw at us and at our kids. We’ll continue to add to these solutions throughout the year, so please send your revisions or solutions that have worked with your kids!
I. If you don’t know how different Mississippi State Standards are tested, consult these resources:
- Dustin Hanson’s Amazing Spreadsheet of all the SATP questions, organized!
- SATP Questions Organized by Objective
II. State-test-aligned 9 weeks tests, created by Katie McGriff (Delta, ’11):
- Mississippi English I & English II Test 1 (non-fiction & poetry pertaining to National Poet Laureate, Natasha Tretheway; figurative language, author’s purpose)
- Mississippi English I & English II Test 2 (non-fiction & poetry about Rosa Parks; anological statements, text structures, word connotation, figurative language)
- Mississippi English I & English II Test 3 (non-fiction & poetry about Muhammad Ali; fact v. opinion & passive v. active voice)
- Mississippi English I & English II Test 4 (lengthy test with a multitude of texts including poetry, fiction, nonfiction text-features, student-text-editing & revising; testing a large number of objectives, Alice Walker’s “The Flowers” , Billy Collins’s “On Turning Ten”, F. Scott FitzGerald’s “Dearly Beloved”)
- Mississippi English I & English II Test 5 & answer key (non-fiction, poetry, fiction pertaining to the history and nature of human flight; many objectives are tested including the following: introductions, fact & opinion, narrative mode, inferring, research, figurative language)
- Texts that are planned and aligned to the SATP!
III. ACTAAP-Open-Response Problem:
You teach on the Arkansas-side of the river, and you really want your students to write full responses to literature: wherein they answer the question with a clear claim, provide multiple pieces of textual evidence to support their claim, and then explain why their evidence is right on! However… the ACTAAP open-response-to-literature is timed, so your students have historically been told to just make a 4-square to answer the question. This gets them full credit on the ACTAAP, but it results in your students not write arguments in paragraph form and never having to explain their evidence- blah! WHAT TO DO?
Here’s one SOLUTION: Teach your students how to do a 4-square as a pre-writing strategy for their responses to literature, and then expect your students to write a full-sentence, full-argument response-to-literature paragraph or more every time you have them respond to text in class! This way, on the ACTAAP in March/April, they will do the 4-square first and it won’ t be the end of the world if they don’t finish their full-length analysis because they will have already gotten full credit according to ACTAAP people. Here’s an example of this with “Thank You, M’am”.
IV. Test-vocabulary & Syntax Problem:
You teach a state-tested grade level, and you’ve heard or you’ve noticed that your students freeze up on state-test-aligned practice tests if they haven’t read the question-stems many times before. You also know that the majority of your students aren’t reading on grade-level, so the on-grade-level-questions logically pose a significant hurtle for your students too. You really don’t want to have to dedicate a whole class period once a week to state-test-prep because then you’ll sacrifice reading quality text & sacrifice students getting to write in response to text, but that’s what some people at your school recommend.
Here’s a SOLUTION: Consider weaving state-test-aligned-questions into your daily text-questions, like Katie McGriff (Delta, ’10, ENG II) did with these texts:
- David Sedaris short story: “Go, Carolina”
- Short story: “Stick-Fighting Days”
- Non-fiction & memoir Ethiopia Paired Texts
- Poem: “Did I Miss Anything?”
- Poem: “Why We Tell Stories”
V. State-test Grammar Problem:
You never learned how to teach grammar at institute, and you have 50 minutes when you are supposed to teach “language” or “writing”. You’ve realized that your principal expects you to teach some grammar/ mechanics that is aligned to the state-test during this time, and you agree: there is a lot of grammar on the test that you’ve noticed (or you suspect) your students don’t know. However, you also want your students to get to write in response to text during this time too. WHAT DO YOU DO?
CHOOSE A SOLUTION:
#1. Learn a couple different daily structures that could help you achieve what you want to in one day.
#2. Learn how to backwards plan from one state-test-item, to create small daily mini-grammar-objectives.
#3. Learn how to lesson-plan a mini-grammar-lesson.
VI. ENGLISH II Mississippi: Modifying the JBHM Curriculum:
Many schools on the Mississippi-side of the river have adopted the JBHM curriculum for ENG II classrooms. While this curriculum is great because it provides some very interesting text to read with students, if teachers & students blindly follow it, they will be spending some of their time doing less-meaningful work. Consult this sample plan to see how you can modify your JBHM Curriculum to best build your students as readers & thinkers!