NAPLAN Plan of Attack

Posted by Amy O'Grady on

As a former teacher of year 3, and now in my third year of year 5, I feel like I have NAPLAN prep down to a science! 

Let me put in a disclaimer here: I DO NOT teach to the test. What I do is teach the Australian Curriculum which the NAPLAN test is based on. From that, I pull out the items most likely to be covered by NAPLAN and ensure I cover a wide variety of topics.

Let's start with an overview of term 1. Here is a look at my term planner for year 3 and 5 for term 1:

You can get free, editable copies of them here:

Diary Writing /Writing

This comes up first on the planner because it's what I do first thing on a Monday. It's a time where students can practice writing skills learnt in the previous weeks. I get my year 3's to do a recount about their weekend and for year 5s I pick a topic of interest to write about that varies between text types each week.

To further help develop my students' writing skills, I set goals for their writing using my FREE Goals Writing Poster linked below. I have each of the students names of a piece of card that I blu tac to their goal. I try to have a little conference with  as many of them as I can after their writing to talk about their goal and how to achieve it.

Reading

I do literacy rotations everyday in my class where I met up with one 1 group each day for guided reading. You can hear more about my literacy rotations in this video. In term 1 I also have a group focused on learning to type on a keyboard. I use the sites freetypinggame.net and typingclub.com 

I also do a whole class comprehension lesson. We read the text together at first and over the term transition to them reading it independently. They then answer a range of comprehension based on the text. We go through the answers together including having students point out the evidence that supports their answer from the text. 

Punctuation and Grammar 

I use punctuation characters to make learning and practising punctuation fun because by year 3 and 5 the students think they know it all!

I made up a booklet of worksheets because I couldn't find any worksheets that would be suitable for a variety of skill levels. It ensures that all students can complete some of the worksheets, whilst guaranteeing all students feel challenged.

Vocabulary

I started to do vocabulary lessons with my students a few years ago. This helps students in not only their writing but also reading comprehension! You can learn more about my approach to vocabulary in this blog. 

Word Study 

Word Study (which ends up changing to grammar) are the sounds most likely to appear in the NAPLAN Spelling test. I cover these by doing individual, group or class brainstorms of words that contain that sound. If a student says a word that does not have that particular sound in it I always make sure to write that word up so students can see what it actually looks like.

Maths

In term 1 I try to cover as much of the maths curriculum as I can. Each week I focus on a different concept but one that builds on or links to the week before. 

I have segmented my maths sessions into 3 parts this year to maximise efficiency. I start with a mental maths section covering basic skills, a lot of which I know will come up in NAPLAN. I use my Number Crunch display to save paper. Students record their answers in their books and we mark as a whole class Monday to Thursday and I mark and record their results on a Friday.

The next part of the lesson is explicit teaching and demonstrating of maths skills. I always start from a very basic level before working up to what they need to know as year 3s. I also chuck a bit of year 4/5 information in which some kids can retain. This is directly followed by them practising the skills either by a hands-on task or worksheet.

Also during the week I do a lesson on Problems Solving as many maths questions involve these skills. I also do a game session each week focusing on fluency of basic facts. 

NAPLAN Revision

At the end of each week, I get my students to do a quick 15-minute quiz. These quizzes not only allow students to display their understanding of the concepts taught that week but also familiarise students with question types. Without these practise quizzes students could get answers wrong simply because they shaded two answers in (if still doing a hard copy version) or didn't understand what to do.

I begin the lesson by introducing or revising that NAPLAN strategy for that week. These strategies are used by adults all the time during tests but need to be taught to students. I use characters to make these strategies stick in the students head and make learning them more interesting.

Careful Cara - Read the question carefully

Whinging Whinnie - Don't get upset about the test

Naughty Nick - Always one answer that is obviously wrong

Diligent Dolly - Working quickly and monitoring the time

Sneaky Sarah - Two answers are usually very similar

Guessing George - If in doubt guess, but use other tricks to eliminate answers, then give students time to complete the quiz. 

To help gradually build up their confidence with tests I go through the first one to two tests with the class and discuss or give hints to the answers. The next few tests I only read the questions. Then they begin doing the test independently.

As students believe they have finished the quiz I mark their answers and give them a second attempt at any they get wrong. If on the second attempt the answer is still wrong I briefly explain to them which is the correct answer. My students then go onto Study Ladder or Sumdog on their iPads. Once most of the class is finished I go through all the questions with the students to make sure they understand the concepts the question was testing. Incorrect answers can be recorded for later small group activities or one-on-one help. You can purchase the quizzes below! While I used them weekly they can easily be used daily in Term 2 until NAPLAN.

As the writing text type can be either narrative or persuasive, I cover both text types in term 1.

Persuasive Writing Unit

This unit is 10 lessons long and explicitly teaches the concept of being persuasive and then how to structure this into a persuasive text. It goes through several key techniques for making their persuasive texts more interesting.

Narrative Writing Unit 

This narrative unit mirrors the persuasive writing unit. It's fun and engaging lessons teach students how to structure the narrative and how to form ideas and key elements to include to improve their narrative texts. 

Practice Tests

I do one full practice test (usually numeracy) at the end of term 1 that I then analysis for topics that I need to revise in term 2 with either the whole class or small groups. This helps students get used to working under a time limit and shows you students who may need encouragement to work through the test quicker. 

The other part of preparing students is to make them understand that NAPLAN is 4 tests that you do your best in, but they are not something to stress over. I explain the format of the NAPLAN, that no one is expected to get 100% on it. That has questions from the Year 5 and 7 NAPLAN test. I also tell them that not even I usually get 100% on the test. I tell the students that doing their best will make me proud and that is something they should strive for. These conversations are important to have from as early as possible so you can reduce negative effects that can come about from NAPLAN. 

Using these strategies above I avoid having any tears or comments of 'I can't do this' during NAPLAN week from the students. A lot of my students actually end up looking forward to it!

Good luck with NAPLAN 2020!


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