ELA Test Prep (or Teaching) for Third, Fourth, and Fifth Grade Standards

Whether you are squeezing in last-minute test prep or thinking ahead to fall, we have a variety of materials to help third, fourth, and fifth graders meet standards. You can use these materials to evaluate progress, practice and teach, or pre-test.


bjm4jho6vwyhwc7zg-bundle-reMastering the conventions of standard English can be a trial for many children. We have a variety of materials for you to teach, assess, practice, or remediate these crucial skills. The Revising and Editing Bundle by Rosie’s Resources is a handy set for last minute test prep.

If your students need more, check out these resources:

Screen Shot 2017-04-22 at 10.23.46 PMIn language arts, students also need to master vocabulary acquisition and use (CC.ELA.L.4, CC.ELA.L.5 and CC.ELA.L.6). This can range from the skills of sequencing, to being able to use context clues to determine word meaning. Rachel Lynette has three decks of increasing difficulty to help students master context clues. Other skills you can practice using cards from our vocabulary collection include Greek and Latin roots, parts of speech, and commonly confused words.


To master the art of reading with comprehension, students must be able to determine main ideas, key details, and draw inferences. We have materials for students to practice drawing conclusions, making generalizations, making predictions, and making inferences from pictures.Screen Shot 2017-04-22 at 10.29.51 PM

Barb Evans creates a variety of materials that combine critical thinking and problem solving with vocabulary building.Screen Shot 2017-04-22 at 10.36.43 PM

You can find more materials here:


Writing skills include the ability to write dialogue, sequence, and understand and craft analogies. You can find writing materials for grades third, fourth and fifth here.

Happy Teaching!

ELA Test Prep for Middle School

Middle school brings English Language Arts, Mathematics and Science testing. Today’s focus is on materials in the Boom Learning catalog that can help your students prepare for ELA testing in middle school. These materials are suitable for students in fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grades.

Boom Cards resources let you see at a glance how each student is progressing towards mastery and where they are making mistakes. With their cheerful bright colors and game features, Boom Cards are a welcome break from worksheets. Best of all they make sure screen time is moving students closer to standard. Give your classroom a selection of materials to practice for testing season and let students pick and choose which to do when.

Learning with Sunflower Smiles has five decks for students who need practice with Active and Passive Voice. There are two decks for mixed voices, and three additional decks for focused practice each on past, present and future tense. Assigned mixed voices for the whole class. Add focused practice if some students need more.

Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 2.50.19 PM

Students who need to practice conventions can work with possessive apostrophes, commas, and pronoun case with decks from It’s a Teacher Thing, Hand in Hand, Learning with Sunflower Smiles, Deb Hansen, Rachel Lynette, and HappyEdugator. There are also a variety of materials to practice vocabulary, including Greek and Latin roots from Rosie’s Resources.

For reading skills, we have decks ranging from Advanced Point of View by Rachel Lynette, to Author’s Purpose by Deb Hanson, to Analogies Practice by HappyEdugator and many more.

Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 3.52.25 PM.png

Feel free to repost and share with your teacher friends and students’ parents.

Teaching Time First through Fourth Grade Materials. Older Kids? Try Telling Time in Spanish, Italian, and French

Boom Learning materials allow you to assemble just right learning bites for a topic, with the ability to remediate or challenge. Are your third and fourth graders at standard for working with time? Is your homeschooler on track and mastering time?

In the United States, third graders in Common Core states are expected to be able to tell and write time to the nearest minute. They are also expected to be able to solve word problems involving addition and subtraction of time interval in minutes. In Texas, they are expected to be able to tell and write time to the nearest minute by second grade.

To integrate Boom Cards in your teaching or review of time skills for third graders, we recommend starting with Racing Through Time by Making the Grayd to practice writing hours and minutes.Then have students move to advanced time telling with Time|One Minute Intervals by LittleStreams, which practices minutes before and after. Finally, practice adding and subtracting time to the minute with Elapsed Time by Fishyrobb. Both Elapsed Time and One Minute Intervals work well for interactive whiteboard group work.
Screen Shot 2017-04-09 at 11.17.04 AM

By the end of fourth grade, students are expected to be able to work with time using the four operations. To practice these skills we recommend starting with Elapsed Time by Garden Full of Knowledge and then moving on to Speed, Distance, Time Cards by Curriculum for Autism. Screen Shot 2017-04-09 at 11.17.16 AM

If you have younger students or students who need remediation, try our collections for first and second graders.

Screen Shot 2017-04-09 at 10.39.00 AM
First Grade Resources
Screen Shot 2017-04-09 at 10.39.39 AM
Second Grade Resources

If your students are bilingual, older, studying a foreign language or need enrichment, consider assigning a deck about time in Spanish, French or Italian.

Screen Shot 2017-04-09 at 12.43.35 PM


The Research is In: Our Approach to Testing is Wrong

We used to rely upon the observations of parents, teachers, and psychologists to explain what was happening inside the brains of children.

And those observations tell us children are a highly variable bunch!

Since the 1930s, we have treated testing as a valid objective measure of childhood development. We have used it to define norms and deviations from norms. Children are mapped to a one-dimensional categorical model based on age and, sometimes, gender.

With the advent of neuroimaging, we can now see inside brains as they work. New images show that development is highly variable (surprised?). Megha Sharda, Nicholas Foster, and Krista Hyde contend that conventional methods for understanding typical and atypical development are far too simple. The current categorical approach treats human variability as “noise” to be analyzed away.

Sharda writes that Twentieth Century measures miss factors that contribute to outcomes, being “insufficient, not only for neurodevelopment disorders but also for typical development.”

Twentieth Century models and beliefs about development and education culminated in the passage of No Child Left Behind at the beginning of the Twenty-First Century. Its architects believed that categorical assessment would lead to actionable information to improve student achievement.

Test Prep
Questions on sentence structure, spelling, commas, figurative language and more by the Happy Edugator. Available at Boom Learning for 200 points.

Since the passage of NCLB, the United States has slipped backward internationally in math on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and has had no change in reading. Worse, some states, such as Florida, have adopted policies directly contradicted by research, such as retaining third graders who fail to achieve a proficient level on the third-grade ELA assessment.

In 2011, National Research Council (NRC) reviewed the research and concluded that the fundamental premise of NCLB was false. Sixteen years of data later and we still don’t know how to use information from testing to improve education and achievement. We can continue on the same path, but that would be the definition of insanity.

Education is on the cusp of a breakthrough such as we have seen in economics. Traditional economics said all humans act rationally in their best interests. Newer, behavioral economic models examine how emotional, cognitive, social, psychological and related factors cause humans to behave in predictable, but not rational ways.

The Twenty-First Century growth in knowledge about cognitive development happened alongside NCLB. Human variability is not merely noise, but a contributing factor to our inability to effectively use categorical testing to improve education outcomes.

The research does not support continuing to categorically test children every year from third to eighth grade. Retaining some checkpoint testing has informational value, but there is no justification for continuing to test children every year for six years in a row.

The NRC’s review is a call to reinvest in basic research to identify measures that actually result in positive effects on achievement. That research should focus on finding sensitive windows for identifying factors that lead specific children to underachieve.

We also need tools to help us separate variability from a neurological or psychiatric disorder. And we need politicians and educational reformers to build human variability into their models for assessing progression through standards.

Reducing categorical testing and replacing it with tailored testing to catch students at risk of underachieving would better meet the goals of having our students college, career and technical college ready.

The beauty of using materials like Boom Cards and other self-grading and adaptive materials is that they allow teachers to unobtrusively and continuously conduct formative assessments and identify areas for intervention or enrichment. Rather than disrupting classroom flow they can seamlessly be integrated.

Last blog post we asked does the Every Student Success Act (ESSA) get it just right? We think amending ESSA to test for science, mathematics, and reading or language arts no more than once in each of the windows of (a) 4th to 6th grade, (b) 6th to 9th grade, and (c) 10th to 12th grade would be the first step towards a research-based assessment policy.

Drawn from

National Research Council. (2011). Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education. Committee on Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Public Education, M. Hout and S.W. Elliott, Editors. Board on Testing and Assessment, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://www.nap.edu/read/12521/

Sharda, Megha, Nicholas E.V. Foster, and Krista L. Hyde. “Imaging Brain Development: Benefiting from Individual Variability.” Journal of Experimental Neuroscience 9.Suppl 1 (2015): 11–18. PMC. Web. 6 Apr. 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4667561/