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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Frustrated by challenges with the new STAAR exams?

"The fact that students will have 26 written lines to execute a complete essay for the STAAR exam is really starting to frustrate me."

This is a quote I found on Twitter and I know this person is not alone in how she feels.  If you are also wondering how best to direct your young language arts students to meet the new tougher criteria, here are some tips I offer you:

I can understand your frustration!  It has always been very difficult for students to be focused when they have TWO pages to work with and now they are asked to condense their essays to ONE.  Since the rubric is very clear that in a personal narrative, the students are to write about ONE experience or one event, limiting them to one page and 26 lines will help make or force this to happen.  Teach them to think of the most interesting event that happened in a specific (GPS) location, then explode THAT idea only, leaving out all the other trivial or less important events.   
     For the purpose of expository, follow the same general idea.  For example, if the students are writing an essay based on the prompt that T.E.A. released, Write about a  special person, only allow the kids to give ONE or TWO related reasons why the person is special, without responding in what I call an exposiSTORY format.
      If you would like any ideas on strategies that would assist you in teaching student to be focused and to develop around a focus, feel free to contact me! 

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