Use reading strategies to study.
The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) is a comprehensive measure of student progress. It is aligned with state-mandated curriculum, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), as well as the 2004 update of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Students in primary and secondary schools undergo the testing throughout their scholastic careers, and reading is part of that assessment. Teachers should utilize strategies to assist students with reading preparation.
Vocabulary and Word Identification
Learn vocabulary and word identification.
To prepare for the TAKS, students need to learn root words, prefixes, suffixes, context clues, multiple-meaning words, synonyms, antonyms and figurative language. An effective way to help students succeed on the reading portion is to teach to the test. Have students write common root words, prefixes and suffixes on index cards, such as “anti” or “re.” The meaning goes on the back. Let students study in groups. To enhance word reading and vocabulary, read in class. This will also help with figurative language and multiple-meaning words. Teach common synonyms and antonyms and allow the students to think of their own.
Students need to learn text structures, such as purpose for reading, author’s purpose, fiction and nonfiction, narrative/expository text and representing text/graphic organizers. The best strategy for learning text structures is by reading. Assign students different types of literary works, such as fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Teach students to use graphic organizers to chart themes and supporting ideas. An effective way of teaching authors’ purposes is by having students write their own narratives with a purpose in mind. Evaluate if they get their points across.
Perform a play to learn literature.
To prepare for the TAKS, students need to learn character traits/relationships/changes, genres, literary terms, problem/plot/solution, characters and setting. Along with intensive reading, students can learn literary elements by performing plays. This will incorporate creativity and movement. Before rehearsing, have students identify the characters, plot, setting and genre. After the production, ask each student how his/her character changed and developed throughout the play.
Understanding is knowing.
Students need to learn comprehension elements, such as retelling, sequencing, summarizing and background knowledge. After students read a story, ask them questions pertaining to the passages. Playing comprehension games are effective strategies to prepare for the TAKS. Divide the class into two to four groups, depending on class size. The groups will each get in line. After independent reading, tell the students you are going to ask questions. The first person in each line will compete against each other to answer. The group with the most correct answers wins.
Help students think critically.
In preparation for the TAKS, students need to learn compare/contrast, make predictions and draw conclusions. They also need to understand main ideas, cause/effect and fact/opinion. An effective strategy is by teaching through Venn Diagrams. This will help with comparing and contrasting, as well as facts versus opinions. Read “cliffhangers” as a class to help them think critically, make predictions and draw conclusions. Finally, have students highlight main ideas as they read.