The Week Before THE Test

It’s the week before the test.  Your mind is going crazy.  Did I teach them everything I was supposed to teach them?  Did they actually LEARN what I taught?  Did they tune me out?  What can I do this last week to help them be successful on those dreaded testing days?

Yeah.  Most of us are thinking the same thing.  And most likely, you’ve done an extraordinary job doing what you do best…TEACHING!  😉

Relax.  Take deep breaths.  It will be ok.

In case you are still wondering what in the world to do this week…enjoying your last day of Spring Break…procrastinating with those lesson plans…OR you just want to see what others are doing…I’m posting my lesson plans for this week.

The things we will focus on are hit pretty hard throughout the entire test.  If you are from Texas, you probably already know the blueprint: 9 revising and 19 editing.  So will we spend lots of time on revising?  Absolutely not.  We’ve talked about and practiced all of those dreadful fun things like inserting and deleting sentences within a paragraph, transition words, and introductory and concluding sentences.  In my opinion, many kids just aren’t ready for that kind of work.  Some of them “get it,” and others just don’t.

That being said, we will focus on lots of editing things with a hint of some revising (AKA: combining sentences).  You can click here to download (and print, if your heart so desires) our plans for the coming week.

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Tip: If you attach a color to the writer’s tools that you have taught your kids, it can be a HUGE stress reliever on test day!  Just hang up pieces of construction paper that are the same color as what you use for the tools.  That way, when kids see it, they are reminded of all the writer’s tools they have used throughout the year.  If you haven’t done this yet, IT’S NOT TOO LATE!!  DO IT NOW!!!

I’ve done this for the past several years, and every year, when the test is over, my kids tell me how much more comfortable they felt as they were writing their papers.  They can just look up at the wall and remember all the things they were taught throughout the year.  Genius.  Priceless.  :)

Also, I’ve created PDF files of our writing prompts we will be doing this week.  If you are interested, you can click here and here to get all 4 days of writing prompts that look VERY similar to what they will see on test day. (Don’t ask me why I didn’t do them in order.  I don’t have a good answer…)

At the bottom, I’ve referenced task cards that I have created.  Many of you already have several of them…I know!  I’ve made a few more this year, so if you haven’t stopped by my TpT store lately, you might want to head over and take a peek.  You can click the link on the side of my blog, or click here.

Here is a link to a post about the Friday writing activity.  I blogged about it last year after the test was over.  We’ve been drawing faces of STAAR graders for years now, and it’s always a hit!!  This will give you an idea of what we do.  I also posted several pictures of my kids huddled around discussing the task cards.  Pure awesomeness!  😉

Best wishes to all of you!  I’ll be thinking about y’all this week and next!

As always, if you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to post them in the comments.  We ALL benefit from your ideas!  Maybe I’m missing something..?  :)

See you on the other side!





  1. You. Are. A lifesaver. Thanks for the perfectly timed blog post. Now I can relax :)

    • Kayla Shook says:

      Just trying to relieve a little stress!

      • I also meant to ask, what do your students do with their compositions after they’ve written them? Do you have your students peer edit? Do you conference with them one-on-one? I’ve been doing a prompt or two a week but like that you have planned for your students to receive narrative/expository practice a few times this week. I would like to try having them write on a different topic each day, but trying to figure out how to make it fun.
        Thanks again!

        • Kayla Shook says:

          We share out in large group…those that want…or what we have time for…and then I have EVERYONE share with at least one person. I will listen in on those that I suspect might need some extra help…and those will be students who chose not to share with the whole group. Or it could be a student that DID share out in whole group but needed some extra guidance. So a little of everything! Does that make sense?

  2. Teresa Easterling (@hapyeaster) says:

    Great stuff! I am doing just about the same thing with my 7th graders. Maybe I will print your 4th grade items for my own 4th grade son. He’s a ball of nerves, but I keep telling him… “We’ve Got This!”

  3. Thank you for your wonderful ideas. My students are finishing up writing Boot Camp this week. Not only are they writing in tents and camo garb, but they are also “army chanting” our writing goals. We will definitely be drawing the rater pictures on Friday! Thank you again so much for your words of encouragement and fabulous ideas!

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