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Thursday, 26 February 2015

My NAPLAN Plan of Attack!

This year will be my forth year in Year 3. I feel like I have NAPLAN prep down to a science! Today I thought I would share with you my complete Term 1 planner.
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 the NAPLAN and ensure I cover a wide variety of topics. 

Diary Writing: This comes up first on the planner because it's what I do first up on a Monday. It's a time where the students can practice writing skills learnt in the previous weeks. I set goals for their writing using this poster.

 Reading: I will put up a more detailed post on my guided reading sessions soon. This term I am using past NAPLAN reading passages as my guided reading texts. I use past questions and my own to improve student comprehension. For whole class lessons I have been using stories by Beatrix Potter as you can get them online and use an interactive whiteboard to allow your students to see.

Punctuation and Grammar: I use punctuation characters to make learning and practicing punctuation fun because by year 3 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 are able to complete some of the worksheet but all students feel challenged.

Vocabulary is sectioned into three parts over the term. The first is descriptive words that help teach students interesting words to use in their writing, Then it moves on to a couple of word lists that are helpful to prepare for the NAPLAN Conventions test like conjunctions, The last part is test word vocabulary. The lesson usually just involves reading the words in a way that sounds like they mean (e,g, aggressive in a aggressive tone with facial expression), the students repeat it and we define the word when students seem interested in the word being said.

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: I have segmented my maths sessions into 3 parts (or you could say 4) this year to maximize efficency. I start off with a mental maths section covering basic skills. A lot of which I know will come up in NAPLAN.  I use this 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.

Click here to purchase Number Crunch (Also comes with 4 worksheet versions)

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 are able to retain. This is directly followed by them practicing the skills either by a hands on task or worksheet.

Finally we play games covering either the concepts taught in that lesson or basic skills games. These may be whole class, group or individual. We recently did card games practicing rainbow facts (numbers that add to ten).

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 familirise students with question types. Without these practise quizzes students would get answers wrong simply because they shaded two answers in 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

I 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 on to IPad free time. Once everyone 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 I use here:
While I used them weekly they can easily be used daily in Term 2 until NAPLAN.

For NAPLAN writing I do two seperate whole class weekly lessons.

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 has fun and engaging lessons that teach students how to structure narratives, how to form ideas and key elements to include to improve their narrative texts. 

Practice Tests:
I do one full practice test (Numeracy) at the conclusion 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.

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 is 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.

Using these strategies above I avoid having any tears or comments of 'I can't do this' during NAPLAN week.

Good luck with NAPLAN 2015!


  1. Thank you so much for this, as a graduate teacher I am at a lost as to where to start, how to plan, etc. Would it be possible for you to pass on your persuasive writing unit? My email is LMcInnerney@outlook.com Thank you in advance!

    1. Sorry the link was missing from the blog. The Persuasive Writing Unit is sold in my store: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Persuasive-Writing-Unit-Year-2-3-and-4-Excellent-NAPLAN-Prep-1075853