When standardized testing comes around, we’re always looking for ways to improve comprehension while using effective text evidence worksheets and strategies and aligning lesson plans to the Common Core Standards. Wow, can you say that five times fast? It’s clear to see why this is not necessarily a favorite thing to practice in the classroom. In many ways, standardized testing has gotten a bad reputation, but the fact of the matter is, our students do need to take these tests, and it’s our job as teachers to prepare them for it. How do we do that? By having them practice with text evidence worksheets, interactive worksheets (to keep it fun!), citing textual evidence, and figuring out how to best answer multiple choice questions. Focusing on this skill in the second half of the year is a good time to do so because you have more momentum and children have more reading practice. By this point, everyone is also settled into a routine and rapport has been built, so it’s a good time for students to feel comfortable and not stressed about such a test. We want this to be a stress-free experience for our kiddos, so let’s focus on learning effective strategies with the help of text evidence worksheets being used in fun and engaging ways!
5 Ideas to Improve Comprehension
When it comes to comprehension, there are a variety of ways we can focus on sharpening this skill that you can incorporate into your lesson plans. These ideas can be done through a variety of mediums (interactive worksheets, discussions, etc.) and text genres (nonfiction, fiction, a short story, etc..) The inclusion of text evidence worksheets along with these strategies can be a huge help to upper elementary students.
Here are a few ways you can focus on this in your classroom:
- Encourage students to read their text aloud to themselves. When we read silently, we’re more likely to skip over words or maybe even mispronounce them. When students read aloud a reading comprehension passage, they can work on their fluency. Students also normally read at a steadier pace when they read aloud and therefore it’s easier to pay attention to what they’re reading, whether it be as simple as a short passages, detailed informational texts, or research papers. And for those who teach middle school and high school – there is NEVER a time where reading aloud isn’t beneficial! This is for all ages, and listening to themselves read and having the ability to self-correct is an important skill to attain. After students read aloud to themselves, a great next step is to read aloud to a partner who can help them improve. With partner reading, consider giving them task cards to complete so they have a list of what to watch out for. Am I reading with expression? Did I skip or mispronounce words? Can I summarize the text well? Create a task list for them to check off as they read aloud.
- Provide students with texts on similar topics so students can make connections between them. This does not that you have to stick with one genre. In fact, try a variety of genres but on similar topics, like life science, social studies, or humanities. For example, perhaps you can provide a student with a nonfiction article on the blue whale. You could pair this with a fictional piece about a fisherman on a journey or a poem about sea life. Similarly, you could introduce two fictional pieces (maybe short passages or poems) that deal with a common theme but have completely different plots. These passages don’t have to be exact replicas of each other or even the exact same subject. But when you choose texts that have similar themes and ideas, students are able to build their background knowledge and schema and therefore come to texts with previously-taught information that helps them comprehend the text. This is a great strategy not only at the elementary level but at the middle school level and high school level as well.
- Lead discussions in small groups and whole groups so students can hear how others answer questions and respond. This is a learning process for students and it may take some time to find a good classroom rhythm. A great way to go about doing this is to model for them how to respond to comprehension questions. Consider having a student lead a small group where they encourage other students to respond to others. This is a particularly great idea because it gets students comfortable talking in small groups as opposed to large ones. Not only do they see how others respond and answer questions, but it gives them an opportunity to share their opinion in a safe and small space when they otherwise may not in a large group. This type of environment also gives students the opportunity to see how others respond using textual evidence or direct quotes. This tends to be the trickiest part of standardized testing, so hearing how others respond in a small group is beneficial. These discussions will lead to students more successfully completing text evidence worksheets as they get a better feel for how to respond to comprehension questions.
- Use sticky notes, graphic organizers, and big pads of paper. No need to get fancy here! Even scrap paper will do the trick. When students read an informational text or short passage, encourage them to take notes and jot down any quick facts or ideas they find interesting or important. This will help them later as they think about what textual evidence best supports an answer. Students can stick sticky notes directly onto the passage or fill in information on a graphic organizer or on text evidence worksheets. To make it more engaging, consider uploading interactive worksheets on Google Drive to get the students used to answering questions on the computer, which will likely be the medium through which they will take these standardized tests. The best aspect about using all of these different mediums is that students are working with the text in a variety of ways. This will result in improved completion of text evidence worksheets, as well!
- Partner Check-Ins are a great way to work on comprehension. Pair up students and have them read the same reading comprehension passage. This could be a short story, informational text, or the like. Students then “check in” with each other at various points in the text to discuss and summarize what happened. Students can ask and answer questions, citing textual evidence to support their answers. This is a great way for students to get instant feedback to their questions. One of the best aspects about partner pair-ups and check-ins is that this can be done at all sorts of different levels. For 6th grade students, you might consider providing them questions to ask each other. For 8th grade students who have had lots of practice with using text evidence worksheets and strategies, providing just the text and seeing where the discussion takes them will suffice.
Using Effective Text Evidence Worksheets
Text evidence worksheets are a great way to practice for those oh-so-wonderful standardized tests where students will have to rely heavily on backing up their claims with evidence. These resources will help improve comprehension using effective text evidence worksheets in any upper elementary classroom. One of the best aspects of these resources is that they ask the students a set of comprehension questions that encourage them to find the necessary relevant information that’s important within a text. So many standardized tests often rely on students to decipher between “nice to know” information and “must know” information to find the main idea. So take a look at these awesome educational resources that will have your students feeling confident in their testing abilities!
- These amazing fiction passages focus on comprehension in engaging ways with enticing passages. These can make all the difference in improving students’ ability to cite evidence form a text because they’re doing so with high-interest stories. This resource also gives you complete worksheets – nothing more you have to prep and no other materials are necessary! Students will read the passages at their instructional level and complete compression questions to show their understanding of the texts. Students can easily complete these printable text evidence worksheets as independent work, or you may choose do a close reading of the text together as a class first. Confidence in each student will build as they complete these text evidence worksheets, which aids in comprehension!
- Okay, okay – I can already see your eye rolls from the students! Let’s admit it – sometimes students don’t necessarily gravitate towards nonfiction like they do to fiction. And at times, the topics can be dry. And if the students are writing a “forced” research paper, reading non-fiction may leave a bad taste in their mouths. But the truth is, lots of standardized testing revolves around nonfiction. And the great news about these nonfiction passages is that they’re interesting and engaging! These practice passages can also make your planning easier, because each comes with written comprehension questions, an answer key, lesson plan, running record, and vocabulary cards for specific words. ALL of the work is done for you within these text evidence worksheets resources, and you get to say you supplied your students with all they needed to practice citing textual evidence with different genres and content vocabulary. What’s not to love!? No eye rolls from your students, that’s for sure.
Printer and copy machine all the way on the other side of the building? No problem! To spice up both the fiction and nonfiction practice passages, I’ve created digital reading passages for Google Slides- fiction and nonfiction. Since we have a variety of students in our classroom, it’s always good to have a variety of resource types. With these digital text evidence worksheets that are set in Google slides, your students will love using technology with all the same set up, minus the printing and copying! Everything you need to practice citing textual evidence is right here. And although we love our printable text evidence worksheets, there’s something magical and entrancing about doing something interactive online. Your students won’t need to be asked twice to get our their devices- they’ll race to be first in line with these awesome digital educational resources.
Free Reading Passages to Help Focus on Text Evidence
I am so excited to offer you these FREE resources so you can have a sneak peak at these amazing text evidence worksheets before you buy!
- A sample of my 3rd-5th Grade Fiction Passages will make your lesson planning easier!
- Read more about how these resources can help:
- Want to know even more about the reading passages and how they can help enhance prepping for standardized tests in your classroom? Read my blog post on my Engaging 3rd Grade Nonfiction Reading Passages.
- Check out some helpful tips on my blog post, Helpful Tips for Teaching a Guided Reading Lesson in 5th Grade!
All of these text evidence worksheets and resources are sure to have your students practicing critical thinking skills, which is not only what they need for standardized tests, but in life as well. It’s my hope that these resources won’t have you scrambling to plan lessons as you prepare for citing evidence in standardized tests!