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When we began to learn to read, we read out loud. In Kindergarten and Preschool, we rarely read silently. Once in first and second grade, we learned how to whisper read, and eventually read only with moving our lips. Suddenly, in Third Grade, we started to exclusively read silently. Is it a wonder then, that many learning disorders are diagnosed in Third Grade? What is the disconnect? While teaching 3rd Grade in NYS, I realized that many of my lower level readers could answer reading comprehension questions perfectly in class, but once a test came they scored very poorly. At first I thought it was test anxiety, but then I realized that they were also struggling during independent practice work in the classroom as well. After about 2 years, I realized that these readers didn't heard a voice in their head when they read. Even as you read this now, there is a mini-voice reading to you in your head. Every word sounds as if it is read aloud. Often times the problems that... read more

I always tell my students that to me, a dirty test is a beautiful test. Marking up reading passages and math questions help to focus your brain on what is important and what isn't. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen students make mistakes because they missed a part of what was being asked of them. This mistake is easily fixed by boxing in or underlining the important words in each question. The reason I use the term "dirty," is to remind students not to leave their test pages blank. This does not mean that their markups should be sloppy and messy. There should be marks and notes all over each test page, but those notes must be clear enough to easily read. This is especially true in the math section. Sloppy numbers are incredibly dangerous. Math is exact, so if you accidentally calculate a 6 instead of a 0, the answer will be wrong. In sum, a dirty test (not a messy test), is key to success.

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