Positive and Upbeat Test Prep

Once Spring semester comes around testing grade teachers know what that means...TESTING season!! The dreaded name in Texas is STAAR. We try real hard to not bring it up until Spring semester and by March we are starting our Test Prep in preparation for the BIG days. We test in May, so 2 whole months of repetitive practice can get kind of boring, so as a testing grade teacher I try real hard to make my room positive, encouraging and uplifting. We just finished our first week of test prep or bootcamp and these are a few things that we did this week and plan on doing the rest of the prep.
  • Incentives: We, as teachers do not come to work for free. Students are working extra hard these next 2 months and deserve to be rewarded for their hard work. I try to encourage every student to do their best and reward those that may not ever make a 100. The way I like to reward is:
    • Questions: For our Math and Reading prep I reward with Goldfish or the cereal Krave. For every every question they get right they get 1 piece. This way even my struggling students get rewarded. For example, if they get 8 questions correct they get 8 pieces of Goldfish or Krave. If they get 2 questions correct they get 2 pieces. I only use this reward for assignments with less than 10 questions. 
    • By grade: I like to reward my students that make a 100, 90-80, and 80-70. If they score a 100 they get a prize from prize box, 90-80 a piece of candy or snack of some sort (Fruit Roll Up, Fruit Snack, etc.), 80-70 they receive a smelly sticker. If they make a 100 they get all 3 and 90-80 they get the snack and sticker. 

  • Keep Moving: Students are sitting for long periods of time and doing more pencil and paper activities than we have previously. This can be veeeeery boring and their little bodies get tired. We try to get up and move as much as possible.
    • Kahoot: I begin my lesson with a review on Kahoot. Students work with their bilingual partner. If you have not heard of Kahoot, it is a website that has already made questions for you. YAY!! Students use the app on their iPad, tablet or iPhone to answer the questions. It's competitive and what child doesn't like competing against their peers? 
    • GoNoodle: Brainbreaks are a must and GoNoodle  is a fun and exciting way to get them moving! GoNoodle has different activities to choose from and even some with questions so you can still review. 
    • Partner Work: Once a week students will work through a passage and math review with their partners. Competition comes into play again. The first team to turn in their paper and have ALL of the questions correct gets a prize. The other students still finish and work to do their best because I reward with Goldfish or Krave. 
    • Check work: As students work through a passage or math assignment, I have them come to my table after every question to check it, if it is correct they get a star on it, if incorrect they get a circle. This allows them to get up and move and I can monitor their work. This is one that doesn't get done all the time because it can cause a traffic jam at my teacher table.

  • Countdown to Test:
    • As we get closer to the "Test", we begin the FINAL COUNTDOWN!!! We countdown the last 10 days. This is the last 2 weeks and when students and teachers are worn out and ready to be done with test prep. I try to incorporate a few activities, prizes, extra recess. Here is a list of the things we did last year and will do again for this year:
STAAR Pencil

Extra Recess
Work on the floor
You're on a roll! (Fruit Roll Up)
Sit next to a friend.
Let's have a DANCE PARTY!
No Shoes
DO-NUT stress...it's only a test!

These are things that have worked in my classroom the last couple of years to motivate. The Friday before the test, our school puts on a STAAR Pep Rally as one last motivation and encouragement. The teachers do a skit and we really PUMP them up. 

I would love to hear more about what you do in your classroom or school during testing season.

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