You can take it to the bank that at least one of these two questions will be found on the revising section of the STAAR test: central idea, or conclusion. On every released test, BOTH of these were asked, but of course that was before the test was shortened to one day. Let me remind you that the test consists of only 6 revising questions and 12 editing questions. I want to show you how I teach both of these skills to my At Risk students.
First and most important is vocabulary recognition. I have researched the way these two questions have been asked on the following tests and the vocabulary used. Make sure they are familiar with all of these terms.
2015 Released Test: central idea, close
2014 Released Test: central idea, closing
2013 Released Test: topic sentence, close, closing sentence
2011 Released Sample Questions: central idea, conclusion
Next, I teach my students to circle the title and write central idea and topic. Another often forgotten paragraph is the one over the title written in italics. Information on the topic is often in this paragraph. I also teach my students to circle this paragraph and the central idea there too.
The key words in this particular example are: neighborhood project, friendship garden. They should find some form of most of these in the central idea question and the conclusion question. At least they will be able to use these words to eliminate.
Looking a question 13, we notice that it asks Angela to add a sentence after sentence 3. This means that the other sentences in the paragraph should also be helping the reader see the central idea. I had my students circle all the key words that we found in the title and italic paragraph in the first three sentences. One word that was missing was garden. Using elimination we concluded the best choice would be B. (see below) Notice that C did not have any of our key words, and D and A used the word neighbor that was already used in the paragraph. This method is not foolproof, but it gives these At Risk kids a fighting chance.
We can use the same strategy for the conclusion question. We are looking for our key central idea words. J would be the correct choice because “grown some amazing food” is the same thing as garden and it also includes our key word “friend.”
I am sure I don’t have to remind you to have your student eliminate any answer that uses “the end.” Hope this strategy works for you.
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