Many teachers have heard Kristina Smekens’ spiel on the Test LadyTM, the woman who scores the state prompt writings. Giving students a person or audience to write to is more motivating than if they think their writing will be scored by a machine. This is what prompted Kristina to invent the Test Lady–the old lady who reads and scores the state writing prompts. Students are more apt to try harder on this assessment, be more specific, and provide more detail when there is a live person on the other end of the writing.
Some of you have even gone so far as to have students create portraits of what they think the Test Lady looks like.
But for those of you looking for something additional to pump up your students before the big test, you might want to corral your colleagues and put on a “show” for students. During the 2010 Literacy Retreat, the Smekens Education consultants and staff participated in a Test Lady Style Show. As the Test Lady Sisters were introduced one by one, they walked up a center aisle as if they were models on a runway. More than just looking “old,” these Test Ladies each represented an essential component in strong prompt writing. Their demeanor, clothing, props, and/or accessories mirrored their favorite parts of good writing.
Not only do students need to know there is a person reading their prompt writing, they also should know what the scorer is looking for. You can download the description of each “sister” that was read as they walked down the runway. Could you imagine the impression you’d make on your students if they saw you dressed up as one of the Test Lady Sisters?