STAAR Writing Review Tips & Spring and Summer PD Opportunities

5 Things To Remember about Writing Review before STAAR

Now is the time to remind our kids: they are strong writers that have a wealth of information to connect to any prompt on test day. Here are five reminders for TEACHERS to augment our work before STAAR Writing and EOC test day!

1. We should have fun. Effective review means upping the fun factor. Turn practicing writing to STAAR prompts into a game of Prompt Roulette. Students can randomly choose an expository prompt from a basket. Create suspense by adding a drum roll as students select the prompts. Go cheesy. Your kids will be relieved to not feel the stress of the day. The class may then work together to break down what is being asked of writers together or in small groups.  They may reword the prompt or write synonyms for key words in the prompt.

2. Fall back on what we know. Now is the time to rely on the strategies kids are most comfortable with. Remind them of all the strategies they have learned for idea generation and essay planning. Write them all as a list on a classroom wall, and ask students to think of the list as their personal toolbox or repertoire. Invite students to pick out their favorite strategies to use for practice and on test day. Students may use their favorite  brainstorming strategies to generate possible central ideas, controlling ideas, or thesis sentences and topics to use in responding to the prompts from Prompt Roulette. Two Ways of Knowing is a popular strategy for generating topics and examples.

Two Ways of Knowing

Strategy from Turner, S., & Chesebro, M. (2015). It’s the thought that counts. Write for Texas Summer Institute. Austin.


 3. Remember our strengths. Students should thumb through their journals and notebooks and remember all that they have written and all the topics they have written about. Teachers can also remind students of the rich lives they lead and offer images that help them access those experiences to connect to practice prompts. Some examples of powerful brainstorming images from Melinda Earp of Hays High School and Elizabeth Ivey of Elgin High School:


4. Keep it balanced. There’s a balance between practicing skills and burning out students by writing 26-lines every day until test day. Students benefit from a range of activities. They might write one last 26-line essay for discussion purposes. Teachers might also use post-its to track and formatively assess students’ responsiveness to practice prompts using a single post-it. Whatever you do, keep in mind the need to build confidence and the need to acclimate kids to the specific demands of the test. Build balance into review.

fixed post-it
5. The Kids Are Watching You. Always watching and listening. If you believe they can demonstrate the skills you have worked on all year, they will know you believe in them. So much about successful standardized testing performance relies on employing familiar skills. Trust in them to do that on test day. Think of the language you will use with students in your classroom that promotes confidence and efficacy. Applaud yourself for all the strategies you have taught and all the modeling you have done. And remember that those actions translate into stronger writers in your class. Remind students how much they’ve grown. Remind them that though these tests are important, they are just one day in their lives as writers.

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We will be thinking of you all during testing week next week. You have huge fans at Region 13.

Region 13 Spring and Summer PD Opportunities

Check out our smore for an updated list of professional development! We wish to keep our learning going through the summer.








Distinguished Speaker Series Welcomes Linda Christensen

Linda Christenson

Date: May 18
Cost: $155.00
CPE: 6 hours
Workshop ID: SP1633543

Description: Writing Essays That Matter in Language Arts and Social Studies

In this session, Linda Christensen creates a framework for exploring stories from marginalized voices often silenced by traditional textbooks and literature. Participants will experience a historical “tea party” that creates a mystery about an event, use primary source documents, such as photographs and eyewitness accounts, to revisit a historic moment. Together we will explore how writing poetry and essays can help students create a fuller history, understand how historical fiction works, and build consciousness about contemporary events.


Holocaust Workshop Hosted by Region 13

How do we prepare students to read and understand Elie Wiesel’s Night within the larger historical framework of the Holocaust? What are some of the moral and ethical questions that the memoir helps students examine? Register for this free workshop on June 9th. See the flier linked below for more information.

Holocaust June2016

Humanities Texas Workshop: Teaching Drama

humanities texas







The workshop will emphasize close interaction with scholars and the development of effective pedagogical strategies and engaging assignments and activities. Plays to be covered include Antigone, Oedipus Rex, Romeo and Juliet, The Glass Menagerie, The Crucible, and Death of a Salesman.

Workshop faculty includes David Kornhaber and James Loehlin (The University of Texas at Austin) and Craig Kallendorf (Texas A&M University) and Ann Ciccolella (Austin Shakespeare).

Please visit the Humanities Texas website for further information and on how to apply, and don’t hesitate to contact Sheena More with any questions you may have.


We are here for you!

Janet and Laura Lee

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