TExES ELAR 4-8 (117) Ultimate Guide2019-09-16T15:01:22+00:00

TExES ELAR 4-8 (117) Ultimate Guide and Practice Test

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TExES ELAR 4-8 Quick Facts

The TExES English Language Arts and Reading 4–8 test assesses whether or not the test-taker has the knowledge and skills required for an entry-level educator in the Texas public schools. The multiple-choice questions are based on the English Language Arts and Reading 4–8 test framework, meaning that all of the questions are based on skills needed to teach fourth grade – eighth grade.

The questions on the TExES ELAR 4-8 test are designed to measure your ability to recall and think critically about the content provided in the test framework. For most of these questions, you will need to remember content provided in the framework, and also consider it carefully and analyze it critically.

The test is broken down into two domains. Each domain covers at least one of the standards required for educators in public schools in Texas. The table below makes this clearer.

Domain I: Oral Language, Early Literacy Development, Word Identification Skills, and Reading Fluency (33%).

To answer these questions effectively, you should understand:

  • Listening and speaking skills, and the developmental process of learning a language
  • Early literacy development
  • Reading fluency and the elements of word identification – structural analysis, blending, decoding, and sight words

Domain II: Reading Comprehension and Assessment, Reading Applications, Written Language, Viewing and Representing and Study and Inquiry Skills (67%).

In order to answer these questions correctly, you need to understand:

  • Strategies to improve student comprehension, and the processes of reading comprehension
  • How to instruct students to apply their reading skills to improve comprehension
  • Conventions in written English and how to help students gain proficiency in this area
  • The process of interpreting, analyzing, and even producing visual images, and the ways students can gain these proficiencies
  • The development and application of students’ study and inquiry skills

Each multiple-choice question has four offered solutions. Your score is determined by your number of correct answers. Any incorrect answers are not deducted from your test score.

There are two types of multiple-choice questions in this exam: 

  • Single questions
  • Clustered questions

Single Questions: These are direct questions or incomplete statements. They may also include a graphic, reading sample, table, or any combination of these.

Clustered Questions: These questions are based on a stimulus – usually a passage, graphic, table, or combination of these – and contain two or more related questions.

Cost: 

$116.00

Scoring: 

Some of the questions you encounter on the test are pilot questions, meaning that they are being incorporated into the test on a trial basis to measure their effectiveness as future test questions. They are not identified as pilot questions in the test and your responses are not counted in your overall score.

All TExES exam scores are submitted to the same scaled scoring range – 100 to 300. The passing grade for the TExES ELAR 4-8 exam is 240.

Study time: 

Study time varies from student to student, as it does in any classroom. Try and study on multiple occasions and in a variety of venues. Get your studying material from the source itself. A good rule of thumb for any test is to multiply the hours the test time is by three, and then study for a bit more than that. Since the TExES ELAR 4-8 is 5 hours, plan on studying 15 – 20 hours for this test.

What test-takers wish they would’ve known: 

  • Review the program’s test policies
  • Know what you need to bring to the exam center, including any forms of ID required to register
  • Know the best route to get to the exam center – research traffic patterns and plan accordingly
  • Study guides and notes are not allowed inside the testing center
  • Research whether you have scheduled breaks in the exam, or how to take an unscheduled break

Information and screenshots obtained from NES/Pearson.

Domain I: Language Arts Part I: Oral Language, Early Literacy Development, Word Identification Skills and Reading Fluency

Overview

Domain I has 33 multiple-choice questions. These questions account for 33% of the entire exam. This domain covers the following overarching concepts:

  • Phonics and Word Decoding
  • Teaching Oral Language
  • Literacy and Fluency Development

So, let’s explore some specific topics from this domain that are likely to appear on the test.

Phonemes

A phoneme – the smallest unit of sound that conveys meaning – is a distinct unit of sound that separates one word from another, usually the first or last sound in a word. An example of this is the t sound in bat or the p sound in tap.

Here is a list of 10 phonemes, the sounds they make, and examples in words of varying length.

Oral v. Written Language

Oral communication consists of words used to transmit information. It is one of the oldest communication forms in existence, naturally, and predates written communication. Oral language is spoken individually or in groups of varying size. There are levels of literacy, ranging from receptive oral language – comprehending – to expressive oral language – talking. 

Written communication is information transmitted through print. Considered the most reliable method of communication because of its semi-permanence, written communication includes letters, missives, newspapers, books, pamphlets, magazines, journals, and countless items on the Internet. The purpose of written communication differs slightly from oral communication as one purpose is to record information for future consumption.

Both oral and written languages are similar in that they consist of sounds or representations of sounds. Those sounds can be grouped into categories such as vocabulary (the words a person uses), syntax (the way a person organizes words), and discourse (how people talk, write, and convey information, or the structures of oral and written communication).

To encourage awareness of the differences and similarities of these two forms of communication among students, it’s important to offer avenues to explore both. Here are some ways to focus on both oral and written language in your classroom:

  • Problem-focused writing and speaking projects.
  • Nongraded or low-pressure writing assignments.
  • Technology-based projects that integrate mediums, allowing students to discover what works best for them.

Phonological Awareness v. Phonemic Awareness

Phonological awareness is understanding and being able to manipulate units of sound. These sound units are called syllables, and this skillset is developed primarily through listening. As children break words down into separate sounds, they gain this awareness and can then put syllables together to convey information. Rhyme, alliteration, repeated phrases, choruses, and patterns in read-aloud books all help children develop this skill.

Phonemic awareness has to do with a child “playing” with the sounds of the words, manipulating and rearranging them. Segmenting and blending are two aspects of this skill set – segmenting occurs when the individual sounds of a word are separated after the word is heard; blending occurs when the word can be assembled after the separate sounds are heard. So a child might say “bat” after hearing someone say b-a-t, or sound the letters out after hearing it read aloud.

These skills are the building blocks of literacy. In order to become successful readers and writers, children should learn to connect letters to sounds, break words into their individual sounds, and mix sounds to make words.

The Alphabetic Principle

The Alphabetic Principle is the idea that letters and groups of letters match the sound of spoken language. Students need to connect a letter (or a series of letters) with the sound that it makes. Learning these predictable patterns help students read with more fluency.

Children gain graphophonemic knowledge by learning that letters and letter sounds are connected to printed letters and words. Graphophonemic knowledge involves matching uppercase and lowercase letters, naming letters, recognizing letters by their sounds, understanding the alphabetic sequence of letters, and being able to list words alphabetically.

Usually (although not always), children follow this sequence of learning: letter names, letter shapes, and finally letter sounds. Educators should begin with high-frequency letters to be most effective when teaching the Alphabetic Principle. This allows students to recognize letters, sounds, and words more quickly as these letters show up more often. There is no set rate of instruction for students, and this often depends as much on the educator’s ability as on the students.

Word identification or recognition skills are integral to learning to read. They allow the reader to recognize individual words without using context clues (words in a list, for example). Initially, students will sound out words using phonics, but by gaining word identification skills, students can recognize a word as a single unit. Students can also use patterns in words to decode the sound of new words.

Fluency

Reading fluency for oral reading means that the student can read aloud with correct phrasing, intonation, accuracy, and speed. In order to gain silent reading comprehension, students have to first practice reading out loud so that educators can assess their reading level. Through practice, students will begin to recognize words automatically, enhancing their accuracy and the speed at which they read. 

Intonation or prosody is the skill of learning how different words sound. Accuracy refers to the fluidity of oral reading, or the pauses a student has to take to decode unfamiliar words. Learning about punctuation use and being able to “chunk” out words and phrases gives the beginning reader’s efforts a rhythm, helping them recognize sentence patterns.

Irregular High-Frequency Words

High-frequency words are words that appear frequently in a text, and these words can be either decodable or non-decodable. A decodable word can be deciphered by sounding out the different letters and blending some sounds with others. Non-decodable words are ones that resist decoding. Irregular words use unfamiliar combinations of letters to make sounds or are words whose letter sounds are atypical. Instruction for irregular words differs from decodable words. Here are some examples of high-frequency and irregular words that students might come across.

Some educators encourage students to memorize certain difficult or irregular words; these are called sight words because students will recognize them by sight, not by sounding them out. The following strategies can help students with irregular words:

  • flashcards
  • rhymes
  • pictures
  • games
  • repetitive phrasing
  • music
  • multi-sensory or jigsaw puzzle learning

That is some basic information about Domain I.

Domain II: Language Arts Part II: Reading Comprehension and Assessment, Reading Applications, Written Language, Viewing and Representing and Study and Inquiry Skills

Overview

Domain II has 67 multiple-choice questions that account for 67% of the entire exam. This domain covers the following overarching concepts:

  • Teaching Reading
  • Teaching Literary Analysis
  • Teaching Writing and Grammar
  • Teaching Spelling
  • Media Analysis
  • Research and Writing

So, let’s explore some specific topics from this domain that are likely to appear on the test.

Assessing Reading Comprehension

Formal assessments are data-driven, so the results are tallied up by a computer and usually rated against some sort of standard. The data supports any conclusion assessed from the test. So, if a student tests at a below-average reading level, the test data will concur with this conclusion. Scores like percentiles, standard scores, or stanines are given for these assessments. Criterion-referenced state tests and norm-referenced tests are good examples of formal assessments.

Informal assessments are content or performance-driven. In other words, graders will evaluate a student’s performance during a learning period. This evaluation can include interviews, observational measures, informal reading inventories, performance-based grades, and curriculum-based reading assessments. Examples of informal assessments are a quick-write exercise, where a student writes on a chosen topic for two to three minutes, or a concept-mapping exercise.

Levels of Comprehension

Levels of reading comprehension are tools to use when analyzing literature. There are different levels of reading comprehension: literal – uses the stated facts or data in a text, inferential – builds on the facts by using predictions or sequences, and evaluative – judges the text based on opinion, validity, or appropriateness.

Here are the basics to developing students’ level of reading comprehension:

  • Understanding of students’ current comprehension level
  • Awareness of what they do not understand
  • Applying appropriate methods to help students improve comprehension

Some methods include questioning, observing, generating student questions, utilizing graphic or semantic organizers like maps or tables, and metacognition.

Guided v. Independent Practice in Reading

The main difference between guided and independent practices in reading is educator involvement. Put simply, guided reading practice involves the teacher and the students reading and attempting to understand a text together. Independent reading practice is done by the student alone, who is able to make conclusions about the text without help from the teacher.

In a guided reading activity, students could take turns reading aloud. The teacher can pose questions exploring the different levels of comprehension so that students can verbalize what they learned from the passage. In an independent reading activity, a student could keep a reading journal, write letters in the voice of certain characters, or write a book report.

Literary Genres

The major literary genres for fourth-eighth grade include realistic fiction, historical fiction, folklore, science fiction, fantasy, poetry, informational texts, and biographies. Here is a table with characteristics and examples of books from each genre.

Author’s Purpose

An author’s purpose can include entertaining, persuading, or informing the reader. A narrative is a text that tells a story, and is generally used for entertaining. Examples of narratives are poems, jokes, plays, or songs. A persuasive essay attempts to get the reader to do something – purchase a product, vote for a candidate, or accept a particular belief or viewpoint. Examples include campaign speeches, newspaper editorials, or advertisements. An informational text is used only to convey information and does not have an ulterior motive or bias other than to act as a topical or reference text. Examples of this kind of text include encyclopedias, textbooks, published articles, or biographies.

The goal for a teacher is to help students understand what the author’s purpose is through the text. Is it to persuade, entertain, or inform? Pointing out particular words or phrases that succinctly convey the author’s purpose helps students identify it. 

Distinguishing between fact and fiction is integral to identifying the author’s purpose. Many teachers rely on the PIE method, where each letter represents a type of writing – persuasive, informative, or entertaining. Find books that fit each style and study them carefully to distinguish their purposes.

Story Elements

A story has five important elements: characters, setting, plot, conflict and theme.

The table below illustrates these different elements.

There are a few ways to teach students story elements. One is a story map or graphic organizer, where a student is able to record the different elements on the handout after reading the text. By using these foundational story elements, teachers can begin to lead students to more complex literary analysis devices like point of view, mood, or specific types of conflict.

Process of Learning- Spelling

Spelling development is how, and how quickly students learn to spell words, both orally and in writing. There are several stages – precommunicative, prephonetic, phonetic, transitional, and conventional. 

The precommunicative stage is when children use letters in drawings and play, without necessarily knowing the sounds those letters represent. In this stage, they are not aware of the alphabet or the distinction between upper and lower-case letters. In the prephonetic stage, children begin to connect letters to sounds, and may even use letters as stand-ins for words, like “u” for “you”. In the phonetic stage, children use a systematic approach to spelling, using letters or groups of letters to represent speech sounds, whether or not the spelling is correct. In the transitional stage, students begin to accept conventional ways of putting together words, phonology, or sound, giving way to accepted letter patterns. In the conventional stage, students have learned conventional spelling patterns, and most of the time, even when guessing, they spell words correctly through deduction and accumulated knowledge of letter groups.

Knowing the different stages of spelling development helps teachers aid their students. In the precommunicative and prephonetic stages, it is important to emphasize the alphabet, letter-sound correspondence, and the concept of words. In the phonetic stage, students should be introduced to written examples of word families, spelling patterns, phonics, and word structure. Educators should emphasize spelling by including writing exercises in all aspects of the curriculum, and make writing and spelling activities a frequent occurrence. Teachers can forego stressing correct spelling through the first four stages of spelling development, as overemphasis on the “right way” to spell something might deter the student from developing conventional spelling skills completely.

The Types of Sentences by Grammar

There are four different types of sentences: simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex. Here is a table with definitions and examples of each of these.

Active and Passive Voice

In the active voice, the subject performs the action that is stated by the verb, most commonly on the object. The sentence follows a clear subject + verb + object construction.

In the passive voice, the subject of the sentence is acted upon by the verb. In other words, the action of the verb is inflicted on the subject. 

Here’s an example for each voice:

Active voice: Mary brushed her dog with the new robotic pet groomer.

Passive voice: Mary’s dog was brushed by the new robotic pet groomer.

As a rule of thumb, the passive voice creates murky writing and should be avoided when possible.

Process of Learning- Writing

There are five different stages of writing development: pre-conventional, emergent, transitional, conventional, and proficient. Here are the characteristics of each stage.

  • Pre-conventional: In this stage students move from scribbling to using symbols to connote meaning (a smiley face denotes “I am happy,” for example), to drawing or “writing” in a left-to-right pattern, to using formations that look similar to letters.
  • Emergent: In this stage, students begin to group letters together, string letters together, use spaces so that they resemble separate words, and copy letters from classroom artwork or other visible places.
  • Transitional: Students begin to make recognizable letters and may use the first or last letters of words to represent them. At times in this stage, students may write recognizable words, perhaps omitting a letter or two.
  • Conventional: At this stage, students string letters together to make words using the skills from each preceding stage. They can write in a readable manner, and exhibit the six traits of writing – convention, organization, ideas, voice, word choice, sentence fluency.
  • Proficient: In this final stage, students use punctuation correctly, along with capital and lower-case letters. They also begin understanding the different uses of writing, along with the purpose of what they’re writing.

Stages of Writing

There are four stages to the writing process: prewriting, drafting, editing, and revising. Here are the characteristics of each and ways a teacher can encourage students to grow in writing at each stage.

  • Prewriting: This easily missed stage is where the idea-generating and outlining happen.Students should begin by reading the assignment prompt slowly and carefully to ensure they understand it. Then they can use any manner of methods to develop and flesh out ideas. Teachers can suggest brainstorming activities, or show students different ways to express ideas by mind-mapping or creating lists. 
  • Drafting: This includes writing the entire assignment response from beginning to end. Sometimes students work best from an outline and should be encouraged to list out their ideas in a logical order. They can then use the outline to write the first draft. Students should be instructed to list all major points and understand that this first rough draft does not require perfect spelling or grammar. 
  • Editing: Educators should read students’ first drafts and include helpful commentary on ways to improve them. Based on the students’ writing level, they can also read and edit each other’s drafts.
  • Revising: After the drafts have been edited, students should review their drafts and apply the comments and suggestions they find helpful. Once this is accomplished, a final, polished draft can be written and turned in to complete the assignment.

Types of Media

There are three different types of media, and each has a different way to influence and inform the reader.

Persuasive media includes commercials, political ads, newspapers ads and editorial cartoons. This type of media is used to influence the perspective or point of view of its intended audience. Educators can help students understand how this media influences opinions by reviewing and breaking down persuasive speeches or advertisements.

Informational media is another term for news programs, newspapers, magazines and documentaries. This type of media is used to convey information and should be unbiased and research-based.

The last type is what people generally label media – entertainment. Movies, television programs and video games all fall into this category. This type of media is used to engage and entertain its participants.

Teaching Media Analysis

To help students understand how persuasive media influences the way we think, educators can assign persuasive speeches or advertisements and break them down into parts. Analyzing ads is especially effective as it allows visual learners to make connections as well.

In the classroom, research papers or author reports give students opportunities to learn about different degrees of reliability in informational writing. Library research sessions and collaboration with the librarian will also aid students’ learning in this area.

We are often unaware of the underlying messages in entertainment media. One technique to use when teaching about entertainment media is to look at fads from the past. This helps the students more objectively view a media source. Students can then look at their own consumption of entertainment media and notice patterns and similarities.

Using Text Organizers

A text organizer is used to help students understand the different structures of texts they read. Some of these structures are cause-and-effect, compare-contrast, and problem-solution. An organizer is a specific graphic tool that helps students see the structure of the text they’re analyzing. Organizers can include sequential maps, tiered maps (like a pyramid), or mind maps.

Here is an example of a sequential text organizer for the book Alice in Wonderland.

Teachers can also create text organizers that point out the problem-solution relationship in a text or that record signal words.

Evaluating the Reliability of a Source

It is important to confirm the reliability of a source to make sure the information conveyed is factual. The internet provides so much information that educators should take special care to teach their students how to rate the sources and the information they find. Educators need to remind students that in many instances, anyone can post information on the internet. Students will have to carefully evaluate all of the information they’re obtaining.

Here are some strategies to teach your students the importance of source reliability and ways to discern levels of credibility. Have your students research a chosen topic with a partner and then fill out a worksheet with these or similar questions:

  • Does the site cover the topic in a comprehensive manner?
  • Can you locate an author’s name?
  • Does it mark the date it was published?
  • Was it originally published on the site or did it come from somewhere else?
  • Do the links in the site work?
  • Does it include a list of research sources?

That is some basic information about Domain II.

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