Top 10ish Strategies for Success on the US History STAAR

   Teaching 8th grade Social Studies is a tremendous task, now add the difficult STAAR test and it seems overwhelming.  Here are my Top 10ish strategies for success on the STAAR!

   Arrange your classroom to support literacy with word walls, timelines and anchor charts. Your students need year long support on the content they are learning.  Use word walls with images, timelines that cover the key dates and anchor charts for the key concepts.  But don’t just hang them up – refer to them, ask questions about them. allow your students to use them for quizzes or to answer questions. 

Anchor Charts

   Use test data from release STAAR questions to look for patterns that will help you create lessons and drive pacing decisions.  How many times is the 12th Amendment tested? You can find out by looking at the questions.  How is the ratification of the Constitution assessed? Through excerpts – all of this information you find by looking for patterns in the release questions. 

Anchor Charts
   
    Use release test questions as templates to create valid formative and summative assessments. These release questions are gold! Use them for quizzes and warm-ups! Copy the pattern of the question stems for your own tests. 

   

   Create memorable and engaging activities that address the TEKS through processing standards. How are your students going to remember the information you teach? They need to be truly engaged through debates, act-it-outs and simulations. 

Ratification of the Constitution

   
   Use games to review prior to benchmarks and tests. Kids need games to keep them interested and engaged – but you need to do more than the latest web based review. All students need to be involved and using processing standards while they are reviewing – move beyond the recall level!
  
STAAR Review Games
   
   Use academic vocabulary in instruction and assessment. Do you know the academic and content vocabulary terms that are required for the STAAR? Are you using them regularly in your class? Are you requiring them in your written work? Find out by analyzing release questions.

   
   Use an Interactive Student Notebook to reinforce learning and literacy. I think Interactive Notebooks are valuable to processing class content and review all year long.  Invest the time in a notebook!

    
   Plan your end of the year review to address areas of need – both content and skills. Keep track of your data and the pattern revealed from the release questions. Where do you need to spend your time? How can you review both social studies skills and content?
   
   Teach students how to think in eras. How can students connect random facts to the bigger picture? Who was important? What are the key events? Relate your topic to where you are in history. 

STAAR Review Games
   Teach students how to analyze primary sources and use them in every lesson. So many primary sources show up on the STAAR! Do your kids know how to approach them? Do they just skip the excerpt and bubble in an answer? The more kids work with primary sources, the more comfortable they feel on the STAAR. 

Reconstruction 
    
   Know your content, do extra research before the unit so you understand what you are teaching. You can’t teach what you don’t know.  Find those extra interesting facts that keep your kids engaged 🙂


   Have your students read, read, read all year long! Literacy is key for success on the STAAR. Kids need to practice this skill.

Ratification of the Constitution

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