Kristina Smekens encourages teachers to have their students draw portraits of the ISTEP Lady, or ISAT Lady, or the Test LadyTM. This visualization activity gives students a sense of audience and helps them recognize that they have a real person reading their writing. Students tend to care more about writing to a human than a machine-scored piece.
Days before the state assessment, consider passing back the students’ Test LadyTM portraits and having them add one more element. You’ve surely focused on some key writing components in the last few weeks and months (e.g. adding details, tying beginnings to endings, using strong action verbs, etc.). Have students identify personal writing goals for their state assessment. What are they going to remember to do when writing their prompt responses?
Based on what they know the Test Lady loves, what are they going to want to make sure to incorporate into their own drafts? Have the students write down individual goals and intentions. This idea comes from Staci Salzbrenner, who teaches fifth grade at Woodburn Elementary (Woodburn, IN). Check out one of her students’ actual goal list. Now this kid is ready to write!