Today's post is a bit of a yawn-er, but I think it'll be a helpful one. On Thursday, students are going to record: "Text of the Week test tomorrow" in their agenda. Each week, the boys and girls will receive a text of some kind that becomes our focus for the week. Some weeks it'll be a poem, others, a story or non-fiction article. On most Fridays (and the occasional Thursday), they'll have their Text of the Week (TOTW) test. The text goes in their "Text of the Week" duotang and it comes home every night. Please see that your child packs it each morning in their Zippy.
To help establish expectations for test-writing, we're going to write this week's test together.
I find the text of the week to be highly effective for two reasons. First, I can cover a number of those skills that need to be taught but don't really fit in anywhere else, such as: what's a verb and why do we use italics? The second reason I like them so much is because I can tailor them to meet the unique needs of my class. If we're having trouble understanding point of view or main idea, I can find a story or article that meets this need. Or, I can do what I did this week and write one myself. The purpose of this week's text is to talk about how we relate to stories. When we connect to a character or situation, we can interact with a story on a higher level. Making those text-to-self connections is usually one of the first reading comprehension strategies we teach students.
In the past, I've used poems exclusively as our texts, this year, I'm expanding that to include a wider variety of texts.
I'd like to share with you how we actually "do" the text of the week. We read the TOTW each day and discuss the different features of the text. Let's use a poem as an example.
On Monday, after reading the poem aloud, I'll pose a variety of comprehension questions about it. On Tuesday we might look at word study and talk about syllables, compound words and contractions. We might even review parts of speech such as nouns and verbs.
On Wednesday, we'll look at figures of speech such as idioms and irony.
On Thursday, we review everything we covered earlier in the week and prepare for the test on Friday.
The tests follow a very predictable format (see picture below). After a few tests, you'll likely be able to anticipate the types of questions that will be on the TOTW test. Students are always allowed to use the text itself to support them while they write and to help them to be accountable for their own success, they are expected to spell words from the text correctly. Tests are usually out of 10 or 12 and come home Mondays for signing. I ask that they are corrected and returned the following day.
Students will store their tests in their "work binders". I haven't handed the binders out yet, we'll get to that later this month. All tests will come home in June.
And that's how the TOTWs work! Students are encouraged to read their texts aloud to you, a pet, their siblings or toys as often as they can to develop their overall fluency. Our on-going goal is to make our oral reading sound like natural speech!
This is a study guide I created back when I was using poems exclusively as my texts of the week. This document should still be helpful for parents looking for extra support in helping their child prepare for the weekly tests. You can download your own copy here.