Coding the Text and Great Reading Resources

As crunch time approaches, we are kicking it into high gear with REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW.


Don't leave.  I will try to make this enjoyable. {Pinky swear}

I've been trying to find reading resources to use in my room for "test practice".  I wanted passages that were the equivalent in length to what my students would see on our PASS test.  That's our FANCY-PANTS acronym for our state test here in South Carolina.

It actually stands for "Palmetto Assessment of State Standards".  I think.

It's changed from PACT a few years back...who knows or remembers what that stood for.  Who cares? 

At least it's not as bad as Virginia's SOLs. {Now that's funny}

I like to think of it as

'Cause we all hate the dern thing.  Don't you?

Anyway...we must prepare. 
As if I haven't all year.
But something in me takes over and I MUST PREPARE for the T.E.S.T. {I need to think of another acronym for that one.}

I went for a search with my dear friend, Google, and he helped me find a few passages.  I'd like to share a few sites with you in case you are trying to find passages, too.

First, Google told me about Super Teacher Worksheets.  She wasn't new to me, and only has a few freebies anymore, so I left her pretty quickly.

Next, Google introduced me to the NCSU's College of Education page on fourth grade reading passages.  They were pretty good.  I used one of the stories as my model...see the shark story below.

Finally, Google told me about a new friend:

I fell madly in love and allowed K12 Reader to buy me a drink.  I had two.  They were delicious.

These passages are FREE, people.  FREE!!!

Have you heard of this site?  If not, I highly recommend it.

Now, here's what we did in pictures.  Gotta love pictures:

Notice the NF in the corner?  That's the first thing I have my students do.  Before reading, we decide (based on the title, pictures, dialog, etc.) if the passage is non-fiction, fiction or a poem.  This one is non-fiction so we code the passage with a NF.

Next, we label the paragraphs.  All of the rest of the coding you see in the above picture is after we have read the questions and are finding our answers in the passage.  It's a mess.  It's supposed to be.

We discussed while I was modeling how some answers are "right there" while others are determined using background knowledge, our schema, and inferring. 

Then, I gave my students a passage from my new best friend boyfriend.   {Of course, I didn't tell my students about how he had bought me two drinks last night.  That would he highly inappropriate.}

 This partner group got brownie points for the NF and then clues of WHY it is NF.

Once each group was finished, we came back as a whole group to complete it as a class.  What I didn't tell them is that if they had used actual words from the passage to complete the short answer questions, then they would get to highlight the words in their answers.  They love to highlight special items!  I usually do this when they least expect it so that I can see who is actually doing what was taught.  I was pleasantly surprised in the results.  Take a look:

Also notice how they numbered their paragraphs and put the question number next to items that were found "right there" in the passage.  I was so proud!

What do you do to prepare for the TEST? 

My boyfriend is available if you need him.


  1. um, I'm not known as a boyfriend-stealer but in this case...

    Elizabeth! This rocked! And you crack me up! Thanks so much for sharing all of these wonderful ideas, I found it to be so helpful. Best of luck with with your prep :) :)

  2. Kristen, you can borrow him :)
    Thanks for the well wishes...we are ready...I hope!

  3. I like the test-taking strategies you're using on the worksheets. I always had my third graders underline and number the paragraphs similar to the way you do. It makes a HUGE difference on tests because it doesn't just teach them comprehension - it teaches them what to look for and how to find it.

    Good luck with "the test!" :)