Developing the muscles
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Developing the Muscles. Preparing Students for Standardized Writing Tests . K-2: Nuts and Bolts Chap 9, Launch Parts 3 & 4 3-5: Guide Chapters 11 & 12, Launch Sections XV, XVI. Give One, Get One, Move On.

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Developing the Muscles

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Developing the muscles

Developing the Muscles

Preparing Students for Standardized Writing Tests

K-2: Nuts and Bolts Chap 9, Launch Parts 3 & 4

3-5: Guide Chapters 11 & 12, Launch Sections XV, XVI

Give one get one move on

Give One, Get One, Move On

  • Individually fill in up to three boxes on your chart in response to the prompt. Then, get out of your seat, walk up to someone, give an idea away, and get an idea from them. Repeat the exercise until time is called, or until all your boxes are filled.

    PROMPT: What words or phrases come to mind when someone says “Standardized Test?”

Knowledge is power

Knowledge is Power

  • Teach test prep with clarity, using the same methods

  • Don’t fall victim to the industry

  • Don’t let a fear of writing assessment derail you from teaching writing well!

  • Tweak the units if need be: bias, opposing arguments

  • Curriculum has higher expectations than the test

  • Kaplan: using workshop methods to teach test prep

Persuasive or expository prompts

Persuasive or Expository Prompts

  • Our students are asked to

    • Write a crystal clear thesis in which they make a claim

    • Provide more than one example to support the thesis (linked)

    • Learn to unpack their examples

    • Restate initial claim/examples in conclusion

Turn and talk

Turn and Talk

  • How thorough is your personal understanding of each of these tasks as it relates to your instruction?

  • How often do you ask your students to do these, or similar, tasks?

  • How do you assess your students’ proficiency on each of these tasks?

Persuasive or expository prompts1

Persuasive or Expository Prompts

  • “When test day arrives, children will simply be asked to write the kind of thing they have been writing all along in the writing workshop.”

  • “Test prep is simply a matter of showing children how easy it is to draw on the muscles they’ve developed elsewhere to produce something within the new (and yes, stressful) context.”

Narrative prompts

Narrative Prompts

  • Decide who is doing what in this story

  • Imagine a timeline of events

  • Write a Small Moment

  • Scores are better if they include:

    • Dialogue

    • Character feeling something strong = doing something

    • Details, esp. of setting

    • Resolution/lesson

Writing to the prompt


  • Excellent test prep…but a lousy writing curriculum!

  • Rich writing life first

  • Read prompts very carefully, identifying parts (CRAFTS)



  • “Test prep is no big deal, when writers enter into it having already developed the muscles they need to draw upon.”

  • Turn and Talk:

    • How do you feel about the effectiveness of your current writing test-prep practices?

    • What changes, if any, will you make to those practices as a result of what Lucy has highlighted for us?

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