STAAR is the name of the new standardized test that debuts in Texas this year. We have very limited information about what it will look like and teachers and publishers alike are scrambling to come up with anything to permit students to practice for this unknown assessment.
Almost ten years ago, we were in the same boat with the debut of the TAKS test. It was also my first year to teach third grade, one of the dreaded "tested grades". I had looped with my second graders up to third grade so I had the wonderful advantage of really knowing my students and all of their strengths and challenges. Yet, our school had thrown away all of the test prep materials from the previous TAAS test so we had zero materials to use in the months leading up to the test. Our only resort was to create our own and we tried to embed the test prep into our daily literacy routines. I was still a fairly new teacher at the time but I knew enough to know that I didn't want the test to take over my classroom.
As we began to work on the objectives that were going to be tested, I discovered that my students really struggled with multiple meaning words and identifying which of the dictionary definitions matched the context of their reading. With that awareness of a need, I began paying attention to multple meaning words that we encountered in the chapter books that we read aloud. Every time we came across one, I would mark the page with a sticky note.
One night, I took home all of the chapter books we had been reading and typed up paragraphs from those pages marked with sticky notes. I created a Powerpoint with multiple choice answers taken from the dictionary definitions. In the weeks leading up to the first TAKS test for my third graders, we would occasionally try another multiple meaning word question. My students gradually got better and better and they loved seeing their favorite books used for this type of practice.
You can download a free PDF file of this Powerpoint here at Teachers Pay Teachers if you would like to practice with your students.