Unfortunately, most of the engaging test prep review activities involve multiple-choice or short answer review questions. A lot of these activities don’t lend themselves to the rigor of the constructed response questions that are now on many state assessments. With this in mind, I wanted a test prep review activity that works well with constructed response questions or even extended response prompts. Speed answering was born.
This strategy works well as whole group or in centers. If you choose to do this activity as whole group, you will still want to break your students into small groups of 4-6 students each. To complete the activity, you will need a passage with several constructed response questions or one extended prompt that requires evidence from the text.
You also need some type of stopwatch or sand timers. You can be the timer and pace the students or you can let the students use the sand timers for a little bit more fun- this works well if you choose to use this activity in centers. It is a good idea to pace the students yourself the first time the students complete the activity. If you decide to put this activity in a separate center, you will want to train the students to use a timer or use a sand timer.
These passages and constructed response reading questions are from my Constructed Response Reading Bundle. The questions are rigorous and each passage includes several questions. These are perfect for this type of review. Click here to see them in my store.
To get started, make sure your students have all read and discussed the passage. You can have them read the passage with their individual groups or you can read it together as a class and discuss it before the activity.
Once the students have read the passage, they can begin the activity. I recommend having them read the question together and discuss it to ensure all the group members understand the question and are ready and prepared to answer it before time starts.
As soon as the students are ready to answer the question, give them one minute (or allow them to time themselves with a timer) to begin answering the question. After one minute, the students will switch papers with the person to their right. This time, the students are then given about a minute and a half to read what the other person wrote and then continue writing the answer. Then switch again and give the students about two minutes this time. You want to give them a little bit of extra time each time they switch because they will have to spend the first few seconds reading what the other person wrote before they continue the response.
To ensure the question is completely answered and supported with evidence, I would rotate through each student in the group once or twice as needed depending on the complexity of the question. Then, the papers will be returned to the original students to read over the answer, make any changes, and ensure that the question is answered fully, supported with adequate evidence, and explained appropriately.
Click here or on the image below to download a printable copy of the directions (for your reference or to give to your students). Two versions are included: one with stopwatch directions and one with sand timer directions. Speaking of sand timers, I got mine from Amazon.com and they are perfect for this activity. The timers range from 30 second timers all the way up to 10 minutes. You can easily differentiate this activity and give some groups extended time if needed.
It is definitely not easy to make constructed response reading test prep and review engaging and fun. I am always looking for more ideas. I would love to hear how you prepare your students for this skill! Let me know in the comments.