Monday, June 4. Hopefully it won't live in infamy. It is, however, the day I will take the big test. To continue preparing, I reviewed the comments colleagues have left on this blog or by email. I figured you might want to check them out, too, so they're copied below. More words of wisdom welcome.

By the way, excuse me for cannibalizing my own board to piece this entry together, but maybe others don't go back and read comments on every post as obsessively as I do. Also, I want to take this close-to-graduation moment to recognize that this blog only exists because there are a lot of us trying to summit what I thought would be a lonely mountain top. Somehow, I'm the one who gets to blab about it every week for Teacher, but what I'm really grateful for are the connections that the opportunity has fostered. We're all in this thing together, after all.

This post is a symbolic and completely inadequate attempt to say thanks for joining me on this journey. Hard to believe it's almost over. Of course, as Brenda reminds, it's not over until it's over. Without further ado, let's review.

One thing I was not completely prepared for was the timing. On the 3-panel screen, the directions appear and the time begins counting down immediately. BUT, the prompts don't show up until you scroll through all of the directions. I started happily reading the directions (which are a little bit complicated for the Spanish listening exam, and not published anywhere I could find), and then I realized that the time was clicking away.

My advice: scroll down immediately so the prompt appears. (The how to scroll tutorial will have trained you to do this--ha, ha.) Assuming it's a normal test (no listening, etc.), you should be familiar with the directions and scoring part already. In the reading comprehension section (again, for Spanish) that top left panel was also where the reading passage was located.

I studied by reading the latest methodology book for foreign language teaching, doing some pleasure reading in Spanish, and watching Spanish TV.

Posted by: Sara | May 20, 2007 8:02 PM

Long time reader, first time poster. I also took my assessment yesterday in EA-ELA. I did probably 10 hours worth of preparation over the last two or three weeks, and used maybe 10% of the new information I used. It was hard to go in and get it done, but a big relief when it was over.

I also made my appointment a long time ago, as the spots on Saturdays and locally fill up quickly. It was a very quick 3 hours - just flew by, and I think 30 min for each question was just enough time. Any more, and I'd be tempted to add BS. My best advice - read through all the prompts first, then try to keep your answers as plain and simple as possible (hard for us English teachers). Also, make sure you put quotes from the samples into your response - they mention in each prompt to be specific and use evidence. Good luck!

Posted by: Meghann Donohue | May 20, 2007 10:29 PM

Hi and good luck. My best advice--> use bullets, be short and sweet, and answer each part of the question. It is exactly what it says it will be.

Lots of luck!

I know that when I responded to the prompts I made a short list of the most important points I wanted to make in my response. I think sketched out approximate times I would need to meet to finish. I know it took away actual writing time....but I think it made me much more efficient in getting the asnwers onscreen and I, at least, knew that I covered the most important points.

Marsha NBCT, EA Science 2000

Posted by: Marsha Ratzel | May 11, 2007 3:25 PM

Good luck with the assessment center. I took my AYA/ELA April 29. All I can offer for advice is to wear a wrist brace for carpal tunnel. I'm a fast typer and managed to get through it, but my right hand, wrist, arm, and shoulder were completely numb by the end. I researched websites of common lesson plans from ESL teachers addressing linguistic acquisition in oral and written forms. Happy testing.

Posted by: W. Warren | May 14, 2007 7:18 PM

I am so pleased that I found this information, particularly the test simulations. I have been studying the sample AYA/ELA prompts on paper, but actually having an opportunity to type up a timed response is enormously helpful. Thank you for posting the link. My test is this Saturday, so hopefully it will go well! I wish you the best - I know it's been a very arduous journey!!!

Posted by: Kelly | May 16, 2007 5:20 PM

I've been worrying about exercise 2, specifically relating the universal theme to something from a non-print text. I've been trying to imagine every universal theme known to mankind and a song or movie that has the same theme. It's much harder than I imagined, and I'm worried about my mind blanking out during the pressure of a timed test. I've been trying to think of movies with multiple themes, such as My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I'm stuck on Man vs. Nature, as I'm not a disaster movie fan, nor do any songs I can think of deal with the theme. Any suggestions from anyone else how to approach this question? Am I on the wrong track here? Could a non-print text be something from current events? That would make it much easier for me.

Posted by: Hillary | May 17, 2007 11:29 AM

Yeah, I'm worrying about blanking on nonprint text, too--except remember: EVERY SINGLE SHAKESPEARE PLAY IS A NONPRINT TEXT. (Well, and every August Wilson/ Tennessee Williams/ Arthur Miller etc etc etc play...but you get the picture.) Also speeches (I Have a Dream, anyone?) and NPR bits. So I'd say that a clip from a news program or NPR show about current events should work just fine. NPR did a whole series about people recovering from Katrina, which would fit with the Man vs. Nature thing. This I Believe is another interesting series, and of course This American Life actually treats themes.

I figure I can tie almost anything to a Shakespeare scene, one of the fine art works I'm familiar with, The Lord of the Rings, or the Andy Griffith show.

Posted by: Allyson | May 17, 2007 5:04 PM

Emmet, I have read your blog for about a year and responded several times. I am seriously hoping you are joking. (Maybe I can't determine the author's purpose!) But I will tell you that you can overestimate how easy you think the test will be. Like you, I had never taught ELLs and studied intensely for that part. I wasn't worried about one or two of the others. Guess what? I scored significantly higher on the ELL question and lower on teaching reading, which is what I do everyday. If it is as easy as you think, please share your scores this Nov. (or Dec. if it is like last year). Brenda NBCT 2006

Posted by: Brenda | April 30, 2007 8:17 PM

Feels great to be finished, I really just tried to refresh my memory re: the 6 types of questions to be asked. Advice:

1) Review questions they're going to ask (and released items from FCPS-NBPTS site as well as NBPTS site)

2) First thing I did in there when computer started was write list of standards from memory on scrap paper. That way if there was free time I could review list and make sure that I addressed additional standards.

3) Use the review key at the bottom of the screen (to make sure you addressed each of the parts of the question.) Some questions are on three different screens.

4) Wear pants with deep pockets and/or zippered pockets -- because your ID goes with you on your break and if you lose it or misplace it on break you aren't allowed back into the room to finish (all wallets, sunglasses, etc must be kept in locker.) I wore comfortable running pants with the little key pocket and on break, my ID fell out. I had only a mild PANIC attack, but found my ID before my alotted time expired -- ID fell inside my pants leg and was near my knee..... whew! -- what a stupid/horrible feeling....

Best of luck!

Kathleen Nadherny

The challenging part of the assessment center is the focus on ESOL of a couple prompts in which you analyze student responses. The responses you get to work w/ will bear no resemblance to the work quality of your actual students, so direct your efforts toward ESOL. The lit and poetry analysis prompts will be a breeze for you.

Your grace under pressure serves you well ...

Stephanie Floros