Typhani Harris | February 2015

Test Prep: How the arts can assist in the process

As we get closer to the springtime not only do we see blooming flowers and warming weather, we get bombarded with #2 pencils and scantrons…yes it’s test prep season!  High stakes test prep is the way of educational life, and whether we support that vision or not, it’s here to stay.  We have state test prep, national testing, college entrance testing, and it is all starting soon.

Being a non-tested subject is a blessing, however it also places us at the bottom of priority…again.  But there are things we can do to support our tested subjects and equip our students with skills that will prepare them for the upcoming test prep.

Today I am going to bring back some of last years’ articles that offer strategies for supporting the content area high-stakes test prep by using the arts to practice skills needed for testing.

Focused Note-Taking

Note-taking is an important strategy for students, and learning how to interact with notes is a skill that will assist students with comprehension and retention.  This article will walk you through the process of helping students to focus and interact with their notes.
Focused Note-Taking

4 Read Strategy for Reading Informational Text

There is a new push for the use of informational text.  They are being used in all subjects as well as on the new common core standardized prep test.  This article will present a strategy for getting students to interact with the text, not just read the words.
4 Read Strategy

Performance Tasks

Smarter Balanced has implemented written performance tasks in their standardized testing.  These articles review the gist of the performance task and how to compose performance tasks for your arts classes.  This is a great way to support our tested subjects, plus the performance tasks often include the arts as a source for research.
The Gist of the Performance Task
Creating Your Own SBAC Styled Performance Task
View the Master Class on composing your own Performance Tasks: Master Class

Critical Thinking Assessments

As we move into Common Core, the testing that accompanies requires students to push their critical thinking and higher order thinking skills.  We can support this process by assessing our students in a way that encourages this level of thinking.
Writing Assessments that Encourage Critical Thinking

There are many avenues for the arts to explore when it comes to supporting our tested subjects and preparing for testing season, because our ultimate goal is to help our students be academically successful, in all subjects.

Next Week: Coach’s Corner
Next week I will begin a new series Coach’s Corner.  This series will be tailored toward teachers new to the profession and veteran teachers who mentor new teachers.

About the Author

Dr. Typhani Harris, author of Putting the Performance in Performance Task and Stop Teaching, brings over 2 decades of educational experience to The Institute. Originally a high school English Language Arts teacher, Dr. Harris transitioned into a dance educator who cultivated an award-winning collegiate style dance education program at a public school in California. Prior to joining the Institute, she was an educational leader and instructional coach specializing in preparing new teachers in secondary urban schools.  As the Executive Director of Academic Affairs, Dr. Harris maintains courses, conferences, and the accredited certification program at The Institute.