EQAO

 

Preparing For EQAO: April 2012

Janine Schaub, Literacy Coach for NW5 and NW6

What’s in this package?

 

  • Teacher tips on preparing students for EQAO
  •  Some insights into the way the test is organized and weighted
  •  Questions TDSB teachers ask about EQAO and some answers
  • EQAO “Strategies for Improvement” summary (March 2012)
  • Advice from other teachers about EQAO preparation

 Every EQAO question is based upon the primary and junior curriculum expectations and each year’s EQAO covers about ¼ of the curriculum. This handout is not an official EQAO document and was intended to assist teachers in identifying and addressing some common issues that have arisen for teachers and students in NW5 and NW6.

Getting the official word from EQAO

The official EQAO website offers an abundance of useful information for teachers. Every teacher that administers the test should visit the site and have a look around. There is also a section on the EQAO website for teachers to ask specific questions. EQAO staff will answer promptly (usually in one day) and then you will be sure to get the official word.

EQAO prep materials from publishers

EQAO officers have cautioned teachers and principals about purchasing unofficial EQAO preparation handbooks as these materials are often poorly prepared. EQAO officers advise schools to use the released tests from previous years and the accompanying scoring guides with students instead. Publishers often attempt to cash in on the EQAO preparation frenzy and their student booklets are not field-tested and may not have been developed by professionals.

Once these publisher-created materials are sent home, teachers cannot influence how they will be used. Parents can sometimes be a little over-zealous in assigning EQAO homework and then when it comes time to do the test at school, students could have unnecessary negative feelings concerning the actual test.

What might an EQAO-friendly classroom look like?

  • Learning goals are visible and understood by students
  • Students receive descriptive feedback
  • Students feel that assignments are structured to meet their needs (differentiated and capitalize on multiple intelligences)
  • Students participate in developing success criteria
  • Students and teachers have discussions about ideas and student thinking
  • Students and teachers entertain multiple solutions to problems or situations
  • Classroom library is stocked many different kinds of text forms
  • Students and teachers write and read daily
  • Students and teachers are always aware of purpose and audience
  • Classroom has a supply of culturally relevant material
  • Classroom has math manipulatives
  • Current technology is available and accessible to all
  • Students can find examples of student work up in their class

Attitude

  • Students are encouraged to see themselves as readers, writers and mathematicians (Don’t put up with statements like, “I’m not a math person.)
  • Students are encouraged to experiment, take risks and view mistakes as a valuable part of learning
  • Students view test-taking and test-taking skills as a positive and on-going part of learning
  • Next steps are given to students and students are shown how to give feedback to each other

Use of Texts

  • Students are provided with lots of opportunities to read and write using different kinds of text forms and features
  • Students are comfortable tackling an unfamiliar text form and new text features
  • Students are provided with support to analyze, evaluate, and interpret texts
  • Students are provided with support to understand purpose and audience
  • Students are guided in making connections
  • Students are guided to work with implicit text information
  • Students are encouraged to use voice in their writing

Contextual Understanding

  • Students are provided with opportunities to discuss the author’s purpose and offer interpretations, judgments and conclusions
  • Students are assisted in understanding the literary devices that authors use to influence readers
  • Students are given opportunities to try out and manipulate literary devices that will influence readers of student writing

Conventions

  • Build a bank of words students can spell and use (e.g. Word walls)
  • Use interesting words, subject-specific vocabulary examples
  • Engage in word study that is responsive to student needs
  • Encourage students to use correct spellings of words which they find personally challenging
  • Extend student understanding of punctuation and its purpose
  • Extend student understanding of correct grammar and punctuation
  • Help students use spelling strategies

Strategies

  • Encourage the use of a writing plan to organize ideas
  • Encourage the use of editing to revise writing
  • Continue to help students broaden their knowledge of comprehension strategies (see chart below)

Key Comprehension Strategies

Strategy Question students ask
Activate prior knowledge What do I already know about this topic that helps me understand?
Ask questions

What questions can I ask that will help me focus on understanding certain parts of the text?
Decide what’s important and what’s not

What is critical to the main idea of this text?
Determining a purpose for reading

Why am I reading this and how should I read it to match the purpose? (E.g. If it is for a project I know I need to take notes.)
Evaluate

What conclusions and judgments can I make about the ideas in the text?
Infer

Can I make an educated guess based on what I know and clues from the text?
Make connections

What have I read about, heard or seen that might help me understand this text?
Monitor and repair comprehension Is this reasonable and does it make sense?
Predict (confirm and revise)

Based on my experience and the information in the text, what can I thoughtfully predict will happen? Was I right or not?
Summarize

What are the most important ideas or parts of this text?
Synthesize

How did what I read change how I understand this topic or idea?
Visualize

What might the characters in the story (or the setting, etc.) look like?

(The categories used in the “EQAO-friendly Classroom” are based on the Pearson New First Steps “Maps of Development for Reading and Writing”)

The Greatest Areas of Need

These are the specific language curriculum expectations that tend to show up yearly on EQAO as areas of need across the province:

Reading

1.4

1.5

1.6

1.7

1.8

1.9

2.3

Writing

1.2

1.5

2.1

2.5

3.1

3.2

3.4

3.5

CAUTION: all use of EQAO data must be based on individual school results and compared to local classroom data to inform instruction.

Test-taking Skills and Strategies

Test-taking skills and strategies are taught as a part of all formal education and are applicable to daily life. Everyone needs to know how to perform successfully on a test and be able to draw upon a variety of tools and strategies to answer questions.  Filling out a job application, writing a citizenship exam, or passing the written portion of a driving test are ordinary examples of test-taking tasks literate people can manage. Students should practice test-taking skills on a regular basis. Many test-taking strategies can be incorporated in daily work and are a valuable part of assessment for learning ensuring that a teacher’s instructional practice is responsive to student needs.

EQAO Test Lingo

Test-takers should be exposed to test question vocabulary, phrases, terms, and writing forms before seeing them on a test for the first time.

Common terms and phrases

  • the text, the selection, the passage, the line, the stanza, the paragraph
  • the speaker, the author, the reader, the audience
  • explain, describe, define, compare
  • who, which, why, when, where, how, what
  • main problem, main idea
  • the purpose of the text
  • rhyme, stanza, line, free verse
  • (purpose and use of) quotation marks, exclamation marks
  • summarize (grade 6: concisely identify the main idea and give relevant details supporting it in the original text)
  •  “your own ideas”

-relate your answer back to the main idea using what you know personally

-sometimes “using your own ideas” can simply mean being able to take a couple of ideas from different parts of the text and use them to answer the question

  • “specific details”

-a few examples right from the selection that prove the main idea

  • “examples from the selection”

-very much like “details”

-a few examples right from the selection that prove the point of main idea

  • “check your spelling, grammar and punctuation”

-this is going to be marked so make sure you’ve spelled words correctly, your sentences make sense and you have capitals at the beginning of your sentences and periods at the end and quotation marks are where they should be.

Common Forms of Writing

Play

Story

Poem

Journal

Diary

Article

Instructions

Procedures

Letter

Flyer

Menu

Opinion

Graphic Organizer (e.g. Venn diagram)

Labelled Diagram

Forms of writing we haven’t seen so far on EQAO but might be fair game: website screen capture, blog, advertisement, a tweet.

 

Student Strategies for Understanding the question:

Read the question slowly and carefully.

Re-read the question. Whisper it to yourself or speak the words noiselessly to yourself.

Circle the key word which tells you what to do. (Describe, compare, identify, evaluate)

Underline other parts of the question that ask you to do something.

Look away from the question and see if you can tell yourself what the question was asking you to do. (If you can’t do this you didn’t understand the question.)

EQAO “Open-ended” or “open-response” type questions

Explain to students that some questions ask for answers that are open-ended. These questions require a response that is based on a student’s own ideas, understandings, or opinions. A student’s own ideas must still be backed up or supported with facts. This evidence can come from the text or it can come from the student’s own background knowledge. Model what it looks like to take one of your own ideas and build upon or link it to a main idea in the text.

 

In math, there are multiple choice questions as well as open-response questions.  The multiple choice questions are often multi-step problems.  The open-response questions may ask students to communicate their thinking, explain their strategy, or justify their solution.

EQAO “open-response” questions often include phrases like:

Using specific details and examples from the selection

Use details and examples to support your answer…

Give reasons for your choice.

Explain how the main problem is solved…

Explain (a character’s) reaction…

Describe (a character’s) thoughts and feelings… Practice how to pick out specific details in a text to support an answer.

Describe and compare…

Explain why (name of an article or story) is an appropriate title…

Use details from the text and your own ideas to support your answer.

To answer multiple choice* questions:

  • Read all the answer choices
  • Eliminate any answers that do not make sense
  • For questions about facts or details look in the passage for the answer
  • For inferences, use information from the passage as well as what your background knowledge tells you.
  • Pick the answer that best matches the question. (sometimes all answers seem right but you have to pick the “most” right)
  • For vocabulary use context clues to figure out unfamiliar words

*refer to the end of this handout for student sheet on answering multiple choice questions.

Non-continuous Informational Texts

A “non-continuous informational text” is any non-fiction text that can be read in parts and not necessarily in any particular order. A menu is an example of such a text. As adult readers we often read only bits and pieces of a magazine article that might include a diagram, or a map and sidebars, but in a testing situation such as EQAO, the students must be taught to attend to all copy and text features. Students must pay attention to all the writing, the illustrations, labels, etc. Tell them that the EQAO test-developers put these varied elements on the test on purpose and expect students to understand and refer to these details in their answers.

Legibility

All students should be reminded to write legibly. If a marker can’t read a response then the answer may not be counted.

Lines

Students writing EQAO should be told in advance that they should write only on the lines provided. The allowable space is scant and students should be given opportunities to write complete and succinct answers in a few lines in advance of having to do it on EQAO. Ask your students if they are able to infer how much to write by the number of lines provided!

As a good practice, also provide students with opportunities to write with no space restrictions and/or time limits. With these experiences young writers get to know how much to write.

Handwriting

Some teachers also remind students to write in a small script on the EQAO tests. Be advised that this advice should be given with consideration to age and ability level of the student in mind.  Suggesting a change in handwriting to some students might cause text anxiety and/or cause them to concentrate more on the mechanics of writing rather than thinking.

Don’t overuse the A.P.E. strategy!

In the past, some teachers taught the A.P.E. (answer, prove, extend) strategy to the exclusion of others and students diligently complied by “aping” all questions. A cautionary note about using the A.P.E. strategy was included in the EQAO official “framework” and mentioned that many students did not score above a level 2 using this strategy.

Make sure your students are familiar with a variety of ways to answer a question. Doing a quick t-chart in the margin might be a good pre-writing strategy if a student was asked to compare and contrast. Jot notes might be a good strategy if a student needed to remember several ideas before writing them in an organized paragraph. Thinking about the big idea or lesson might help get at the main idea. These are just a few examples of alternate strategies.

On EQAO “making connections” broadly refers to:

  • Extend understanding of texts by connecting, comparing, and contrasting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, insights, prior knowledge and to other familiar text and to the world around them (e.g., current events)
  • Read the text and use information from different parts of the text in the answer.
  • Predict the meaning of and solve unfamiliar words using different types of cues (meaning, structure, and visual)
  • Analyze a variety of text forms and explain how their particular characteristics help communicate meaning
  • Identify a variety of text features and explain how the features help readers understand texts
  • Identify various elements of style and explain how they help readers understand texts
  • Make judgements and draw conclusions about ideas in texts and provide supporting evidence from the text and a student’s own ideas
  • Identify the strategies they found most helpful before, during and after reading and explain how they use these strategies to understand text

EQAO’s “Implicit Questions” broadly refers to

  • Infer or predict implicit ideas using background knowledge and clues from  the text (answer is not directly stated in the text)
  • Develop interpretations about texts using stated and implied ideas to support it
  • Identify main idea and support it with details from the text
  • Distinguish between fact and fiction/opinion
  • Identify author’s purpose
  • Interpret and analyze ideas and information from the text
  • Think critically using information and ideas from the text
  • Identify the point of view presented in the text; determine whether the student agrees with the view and suggests some other possible perspectives
  • Understand new vocabulary by using its context

EQAO’s “Explicit” Questions broadly refers to:

  • Analyze the text for explicitly stated information and ideas that are directly stated in one part of the text
  • Demonstrate understanding of increasingly complex texts by summarizing and explaining important ideas and citing supporting details
  • Understand vocabulary
  • Analyze texts and explain how different elements in them contribute to meaning

Weighting of the type of questions on the test

The primary EQAO reading test is weighted towards more implicit than explicit questions. This means that all students must be able to infer and back up their inferences with reasonable support. (Reading expectation 1.5) The junior EQAO reading assessment has even more implicit questions both in the multiple choice and open response sections.

Questions TDSB Teachers Ask about EQAO

I have taught my students how to make “text to text,” “text to self” and “text to world connections.” Now they think they have to make one of these kinds of connections each time they answer any question. Where did I go wrong?

Connections aren’t inherently valuable; only good ones are. Relevant connections help readers comprehend by relating to many different kinds of texts, experiences, feelings and thoughts. Don’t get too hung up on the “text to text,” “text to self,” and “text to world connections,” or your students won’t see the bigger picture. If they are answering every question in a mechanical way, it may be that they have had too much drilling on one particular strategy and have stopped thinking. Try varying the kind of connection question you ask and also give them multiple strategies for answering questions. Consider, for example, asking a compare and contrast question.

What can I do to help my students develop a personal response to the fiction selections in EQAO?

Remember that the reason we make connections in the first place is to build our understanding while reading. Begin by teaching students the main idea of a text. Once students understand what the main idea is, they can then be taught to link their connection back to the main idea. After a student has made a superficial or irrelevant connection you can ask them, “So what?” or “How does your connection link back to the main idea of the story?” or “How does your connection help me better understand this story?”  Get your students thinking about their own personal response to fiction by asking them to:

  • Think about how the events, setting or characters compare with those in your life
  • Explain how your feelings compare to those of a character in the story
  • Choose a character and tell why you would or would not behave the same way
  • Describe an instance where you or someone you know experienced a comparable event in the story
  • Think about the author’s message and how it might relate to your life

 What do the point of view questions look like on EQAO?

In past EQAO tests, students have not been directly asked to identify point of view but more often this expectation is embedded within questions such as:

Explain why the speaker says… (Quotation is an example of the author’s point of view). Use details and examples from the poem to support your answer.

Explain why… (Character) changes her mind. (To understand why the character has changed her mind will mean that the reader has grasped her point of view.) Use details and examples from the text to support your answer.

Describe the speaker’s thoughts and feelings about…Use specific details and examples from the selection to support your answer. (This question is meant to probe the reader’s understanding of the character’s thoughts and feelings on a particular topic and demonstrate the reader’s understanding of the speaker’s point of view or interpretation.)

Explain why… (Insert character’s name) may or may not want to…Use specific details and examples from the selection to support your answer. (This question is aimed at getting the reader to understand why a character might or might not behave in a certain way to demonstrate understanding of that character’s point of view or way of seeing the world. If you can predict why someone might do something with support, you have a fairly good understanding of their character.)

Explain whether or not you would answer the questions in lines 5-6 the same way as… (Name of character/author) does. Use details from the text and your own ideas to support your answer. (This question is aimed at getting the reader to compare his or her interpretation/point of view to that of the poem’s character or author.)

What conclusions can be made about the speaker in the poem? Use specific details from the poem and your own ideas to support your answer. (The reader is being asked to understand the speaker’s point of view. The reader may have to infer what the speaker might be thinking from clues in the text.

What can I do to help my students develop an interpretation of a text and be better prepared for a point of view question on EQAO?

Understanding point of view assists students in being aware that all text is created for a particular audience and a particular purpose. When we read from a critical stance, readers have the power to envision alternate ways of viewing the author’s topic. Starting in grade one and continuing on in high school, students must be able to identify the main point of view and be able to suggest alternate points of view with evidence/support. You can give students lots of practice with this by:

  • Comparing the point of view held by two different characters.
  • Examining a non-fiction piece of writing and figuring out the intended audience and the purpose. Ask your students to identify bias.
  • Summarizing one character’s point of view.
  • Think about a character’s motivation and generating reasons why he/she may hold the views that he/she does.
  • Thinking about how the story might be different if it was told by another character.
  • Considering why you (with your experiences and background) might interpret the story differently than your friend.
  • Determining the significance of the illustrations and photographs included with the text.
  • Thinking of another good title for the text.

What can I do to help my students be better prepared for answering questions in the non-fiction sections on EQAO?

There are a number of ways students can prepare themselves to successfully understand non-fiction selections. Here are a few:

  • Read the non-fiction selection thoroughly.
  • Re-read the parts you don’t understand.
  • Think about the new information and how it links to things you already know.
  • Think about how the information in the text either challenges or confirms what you know.
  • Decide whether you agree or disagree with the information in the text and be prepared to give reasons why.
  • Think about how the information was presented. Did the author have a bias? If so what is it?
  • Is the information in the text accurate? If it isn’t can you prove why?
  • What other text features help you understand the selection? Why?

What do text feature questions look like on EQAO?

EQAO always includes a non-continuous informational text selection like a flyer, chart, or a poster. In the past, the questions that follow the selection have not asked students to identify specific text features and explain how those features aid understanding, as our language curriculum expectation states. Instead, EQAO questions on text features typically ask students to explain why the flyer or poster is effective or to make an inference using an illustration or other text feature.

Some typical EQAO questions for text features might be:

Explain why the border is an important part of this poster. Use details from the text and your own ideas to support your answer.

What makes the security features easy to use? Use two examples from the text to support your answer. (In the text the reader had to use the arrows pointing to various features on a $20 bill and interpret these as “easy to use”.)

Explain how the garden changes. Use details and examples from the text to support your answer. (The illustration showed plants in a garden evolving into too many zucchinis as well as references in the poem to too many vegetables. Students had to infer from both the text and the text features.

How does the star chart help the reader understand the selection? Use specific details and examples from the selection and your own ideas to support your answer. (The student had to refer to different text features of the chart.)

Compare these two poems. Use specific details and examples from the poems and your own ideas to support your answer. (The student could have referred to the two illustrations which gave clues about the setting.)

My school has ordered some publisher-prepared “EQAO” study booklets for all the grade 3 and 6 students. Are these good resources?

EQAO officers have cautioned teachers and principals about purchasing unofficial EQAO preparation handbooks as these materials are often poorly prepared. EQAO officers advise schools to use the released tests from previous years and the accompanying scoring guides with students instead. Publishers often attempt to cash in on the EQAO preparation frenzy and their student booklets are not field-tested and may not have been developed by professionals.

Once these publisher-created materials are sent home, teachers cannot influence how they will be used. Parents can sometimes be a little over-zealous in assigning EQAO homework and then when it comes time to do the test at school, students could have unnecessary negative feelings concerning the actual test

Should my students practice for EQAO by writing out an entire test from a previous year?

EQAO representatives favor having students practice portions of the test but dissuade teachers from asking students to write out whole sections of the assessment from previous years.

Summary of EQAO 2010-2011 Strategies for Improvement

For the full EQAO document please go to:

http://eqao.com/pdf_e/11/EQAO_ProvincialReport_Elementary2011.pdf

Primary Reading

  • Share learning goals and co-construct success criteria (e.g., similar to those in EQAO’s scoring guides for reading responses) with students at the outset of learning.
  • Use scoring guides with students to help them understand how to get a 30 or 40
  • Model how to make inferences
  • Demonstrate how to use your own ideas
  • Model how to give evidence or support from the text to support their answer
  • Model how to reread a question and answer each part of a question
  • Look at different kinds of questions (explain, describe, compare, etc.)
  • Model how to make relevant connections while reading
  • Model how to link prior knowledge when answering a question
  • Encourage deeper thinking by asking questions such as e “How do you know?” “Why?” “Can you explain your thinking further?”
  • Provide opportunities for vocabulary development
  • Explore the denotations (literal meanings) and connotations (implied meanings) of words
  • Provide students with multiple opportunities to practice the skills required by Overall Reading Expectation 2 and the associated specific expectations (e.g., text types, text forms, text features) and give students opportunities to explain how these relate to the meaning of the text.
  • Explore a variety of text types
  • Examine graphic features in texts
  • Help students recognize organizational patterns and explain how these patterns help readers understand the text
  • Engage students in poetry particularly with a mind to having them make judgments and draw conclusions
  • Explore strategies that will address boys’ gap in literacy (especially writing)
  • Use anchor charts, leveled texts, accountable talk and small group instruction for ELL learners
  • Used differentiated instruction and a tiered approach to teaching special education students

Primary Writing

  • Help students understand learning goals and success criteria
  • Conduct writing conferences and give descriptive feedback
  • Explore more non-fiction
  • Study EQAO prompts and decide on audience and purpose
  • Study EQAO target vocabulary
  • Practice writing for longer periods
  • Practice writing on-demand
  • Use mentor texts to explore many different text forms
  • Model how to focus on a few ideas and specific details relevant to the text form, purpose and audience required by the prompt rather than listing many underdeveloped ideas and details.
  • Use a few graphic organizers and writing frames and then help students move beyond them (think instead of responding to a formula)
  • Have students use peer feedback for writing drafts
  • Have students use an editing checklist
  • Tackle unfamiliar vocabulary by focusing on root words, synonyms and antonyms.
  • Encourage social interaction before getting boys to write (i.e. Turn and talk)
  • Engage in word study games (ELL)
  • Engage in story telling (ELL)

Primary Mathematics

Number sense and numeration

– Provide students with the opportunity to solve multistep problems and check the reasonableness of their answers.

-Model complete solution processes.

-Continue to teach mental math strategies.

Measurement

-Continue to reinforce the difference between perimeter and area by teaching them simultaneously

-Provide opportunities for students to identify the area of a shape on grid paper when part of the shape is made up of half grid squares.

Geometry and Spatial Sense

-Continue to promote written communications and model the use of geometric language. Provide students with the opportunity to engage in dialogue with each other and evaluate solutions involving shapes and their properties.

-Provide opportunities for students to describe movement along gridlines

Patterning and Algebra

-Provide opportunities for students to skip count from numbers other than zero

Data Management and Probability

Continue to provide students with opportunities to investigate the relationship between equally likely outcomes and fairness in a game

Cognitive Skills

  • Introduce concepts and procedures through problem solving.
  • Model the appropriate use of concrete materials and manipulatives to visualize concepts and solve problems
  • Model when it is appropriate to use a diagram, an explanation or calculations to solve a problem, as all three are not always required in a solution.
  • Provide calculators to enable students to investigate when solving problems and to check the reasonableness of answer choices.
  • Continue to differentiate instruction (Special Ed)
  • Provide collaborative learning opportunities in clusters or pairs, using different strategies (e.g., think-pair-share).

Junior Mathematics

Number Sense and Numeration

-Continue to provide students with opportunities to explore number-sense concepts in a variety of multistep problem-solving contexts.

-Provide students with opportunities to explain the relationship between composite and prime numbers

Measurement

-Continue to investigate surface area through a variety of tools (e.g., nets, concrete materials, dynamic geometry software, Polydrons) and in a variety of contexts.

-Give opportunities for students to explore surface area and volume simultaneously as opposed to in isolation.

-Continue to give students the opportunity to investigate the relationship among the height, the area of the base and the volume of triangular and rectangular prisms.

Geometry and Spatial Sense

-Continue to emphasize that the horizontal coordinate comes before the vertical coordinate in ordered pairs and provide opportunities for students to practice reading and plotting coordinates.

-Be sure to provide examples of irregular polygons as well as regular polygons when students investigate their properties.

-Continue to have students sort polygons according to their lines of symmetry.

Patterning and Algebra

-Continue to provide opportunities for students to explore patterns generated by multiplying or dividing by a constant to get the next term.

Data Management and Probability

-Continue to provide students with opportunities to explore data management and probability concepts in a variety of multi-step problem-solving contexts

Cognitive Skills

  • Introduce concepts and procedures through problem-solving.
  • Model the appropriate use of concrete materials and manipulatives to visualize concepts and solve problems
  • Continue to differentiate instruction (Special Ed)
  • Provide collaborative learning opportunities in clusters or pairs, using different strategies (e.g., think-pair-share).

Junior Reading

  • Share learning goals and co-construct success criteria (e.g., similar to those in EQAO’s scoring guides for reading responses) with students at the outset of learning.
  • Use scoring guides with students to help them understand how to get a 30 or 40
  • Intensify work around making inferences. Teach students to question the author (about choices to make characters speak and act as they do and of particular words to describe people and items). Focus on noun/pronoun connections in texts to improve inferencing skills to determine who is speaking, acting, etc. To help students make inferences about dialogue in narratives, introduce the notion of “text” (what someone says) and “subtext” (what he or she might mean, what else is suggested). During shared reading, examine the connotative (affective) and denotative (cognitive) meaning of words. Reflect on the connections between the explicit and implied meanings of words and how doing so helps readers make inferences
  • Demonstrate how to use your own ideas
  • Model how to give evidence or support from the text to support their answer
  • Model how to reread a question and answer each part of a question
  • Look at different kinds of questions (explain, describe, compare, etc.)
  • Model how to make relevant connections while reading and review with students the difference between a connection to a text and an extension of ideas about it.
  • Teach strategies for locating information and determining its importance, such as skimming and scanning, using text features, recognizing signal words and using the structure of the text for clues to meaning. Model how to analyze questions for the structural or organizational patterns that they signal (e.g., Section A: Q. 11 prompts students to “compare the change in the juggler’s attitude from lines 8–14 to lines 35–40.” A full response requires a discussion of the attitude at two points.
  • Have students identify and compare the different elements of narrative, informational and graphic text (e.g., for narrative: character, theme, main idea, setting).
  • Model how to link prior knowledge when answering a question
  • Encourage deeper thinking by asking questions such as e “How do you know?” “Why?” “Can you explain your thinking further?”
  • provide opportunities for vocabulary development
  • Explore the denotations (literal meanings) and connotations (implied meanings) of words
  • Provide students with multiple opportunities to practice the skills required by Overall Reading Expectation 2 and the associated specific expectations (e.g., text types, text forms, text features) and give students opportunities to explain how these relate to the meaning of the text.
  • Explore a variety of text types
  • Examine graphic features in texts
  • Help students recognize organizational patterns and explain how these patterns help readers understand the text
  • Engage students in poetry particularly with a mind to having them make judgments and draw conclusions
  • Explore strategies that will address boys’ gap in literacy (especially writing)
  • Use anchor charts, leveled texts, accountable talk and small group instruction for ELL learners
  • Used differentiated instruction and a tiered approach to teaching special education students
  • Go over target words like (e.g., “characteristic,” “trait,”).
  • Provide extensive practice for students to identify the main idea and important details and summarize this information in a variety of ways.
  • Explore many different genres
  • Model and employ questioning strategies from critical literacy to help students analyze, interpret and evaluate text

Junior Writing

  • Use writing exemplars with students
  • Conduct guided writing sessions with students
  • Model how to generate ideas
  • Model how to select ideas and organize them
  • Help students understand learning goals and success criteria
  • Conduct writing conferences and give descriptive feedback
  • Explore more non-fiction
  • Study EQAO prompts and decide on audience and purpose
  • Study EQAO target vocabulary
  • Practice writing for longer periods
  • Practice writing on-demand
  • Use mentor texts to explore many different text forms
  • Model how to focus on a few ideas and specific details relevant to the text form, purpose and audience required by the prompt rather than listing many underdeveloped ideas and details.
  • Use a few graphic organizers and writing frames and then help students move beyond them (think instead of responding to a formula)
  • Have students use peer feedback for writing drafts
  • Have students use an editing checklist
  • Tackle unfamiliar vocabulary by focusing on root words, synonyms and antonyms.
  • Encourage social interaction before getting boys to write (i.e. Turn and talk)
  • Engage in word study games (ELL)
  • Use storytelling and story writing across all subject areas
  • Teach grammar and conventions in the context of writing, providing brief mini-lessons as necessary
  • Select the most appropriate high-yield strategies to address diverse needs (especially special education students) and improve student thinking and writing (e.g., immediate feedback, ongoing small group assessment, differentiated writing instruction, accountable talk, mind maps and visual organizers

Advice from other teachers in NW5 and NW6:

1.Throughout the year, periodically give tests and quizzes that include multiple choice items and open-response questions similar to EQAO. (example: Morning Message or Multiple Choice Mondays)

2. Give students the answer to a multiple choice question and ask them to justify why it’s the right one.

3. Copy student exemplars (found in EQAO scoring guides) and discuss them with students. What makes this one a level 3 and not a level 2? Why?

4. Practice “coding” (e.g. circle the word “define” and underline the other things you are asked to do) a test question to make sure students read the question properly.

5. Go over test-taking terminology.

6. Have students construct language and math word/strategy walls.

7. Discuss what an EQAO test day will look like with your students. (Some schools do a mock EQAO test experience but schools that attempt this are cautioned not to overdo it!)

8. Have students level their own open-response answers according to the EQAO scoring guide.

9. Have an EQAO parent information night. Concentrate on lowering the anxiety level and remind parents that the grade 3 and 6 EQAO tests are primary and junior assessments that are based on the Ontario curriculum. A grade 3 teacher that covers the grade 3 curriculum is preparing students for EQAO.

10.Look at multiple strategies to answer open-response questions. (Compare/contrast/connect, answer/prove/extend, t-chart, jot-notes, pictures, models, etc.)

11.When working with multiple choice questions, Present a multiple choice problem without the choices first, so students are forced to work through a strategy without possible answers.

12.Do 3-part problem solving lessons in math. (Great lessons are available in Van de Walle and the Guides to Effective Instruction in Mathematics)

13.Check all students that have Individual Education Plans (IEPs) to make sure they will be receiving the modifications they normally require during the EQAO test and make sure to organize any scribes that you may need. Do this well in advance of the testing period.

14.Organize the necessary math manipulatives before the testing period so that all classes that require them will be able to use them for the test.

Answering Multiple Choice Questions-Student Sheet

Answering multiple choice questions on any test takes practice. Some common strategies are:

1)            Read the question carefully – What do you know from the information given?  What does the question ask you to do?

2)            Read the choices given – Your answer has to match one of these choices.  Can you eliminate any of the choices because they don’t make sense?

3)            THINK about the question – Can you remember lessons in class about this?

4)            Make a plan – Which strategy will you use?

5)            Carry out the plan – Use your strategy to answer the question you were asked.

6)            Circle/Bubble the answer. Choose the best answer.  Take your best guess if you’re not sure.  Don’t leave it blank.

7)            Check your work – Did you do what the question asked?  Is it correct?  Did you circle/bubble the answer correctly?

The “Answering Multiple Choice Questions” sheet was created by Kiran Pain, Math Coach NW5 and NW6

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