Like coaches training future Olympians, Teachers help their students train for “The Test.” Some approaches may seem unconventional, but often that’s what gets top scores at the games.
We hope you’ll be inspired to try something new or feel a sense of pride that you’re doing great things for your students. Go for the gold! Encourage your students to do their very best by giving them the tools and resources necessary for successful test-taking and take a look at how some of these Teacher-Author’s have perfected their technique.
Be Your Students’ Fiercest Cheerleaders
- The Peanut Gallery suggests, “I decided that I had to infuse some LIFE into my test prep. I had to hook my kiddos so that they would be seriously preparing for standardized testing while enjoying it at the same time. You can teach and practice the most intense skills, and if kids believe they are having fun, they will focus, pay attention, and learn. That’s my opinion after spending over 20 years with these kiddos… and the test scores continue to prove it.” Try her Rock the Test! (Reading Test Prep Bundle) — it spans 3rd-6th grade!
- Fun in 5th Grade also likes to keep it, well… Fun! “For my own sanity, I HAVE to make it fun! That’s mainly how/why I started my TpT store. My kids were just not into review. I started creating task cards, games, and QR code fun! I even created games to get them used to the vocabulary of the test. I’ve seen kids get items wrong because they’re just not used to the vocabulary.” Take a look at the test prep resource category in her store.
- And Brain Waves Instruction is all about motivating the kids: “Taking a cue from High School Homecoming Week, where the entire school and community rallies around athletes, I love to make students feel the same support and encouragement when they’re taking their exams. My ultimate goal is to help them believe that these tests are an opportunity to show what they know — to metaphorically leave it all on the field.” These Motivational Test Prep Activities and Resources might be just the ticket!
- Or, try something completely different and make a theme out of test prep like Math Mojo does, “First, to introduce test prep I dress up like a spy and play the Mission Impossible theme, except I tell the kids that we are going on ‘Mission POSSIBLE!’ I make a ‘spy manual’ for each kid. It’s basically test prep work stapled together with a construction paper cover. I let the kids decorate (they love to write TOP SECRET on it). The kids take it very seriously. Overall I think the most important part of test prep is helping the kids believe they CAN and will succeed! I strive to have my students go into the test full of confidence. My kiddos have always scored really well.” Check out some of Math Mojo’s test prep products.
Guide Them Down the Path to Success
- Natalie Snyders‘ insight: “I’m a speech-language pathologist, and one day last year I realized that even though my language-disordered students may actually have the knowledge to answer questions on standardized tests, they don’t always have the vocabulary skills to interpret what the question means. Because of this, I created a teaching tool that targets one common testing vocabulary word per week for the entire year.”
- Rosie’s Resources says, “I keep test prep as active as possible. I display interactive Power Point presentations to review key concepts. The Power Points include short review games that the kids love. Not only is this great for review and practice, it also helps me assess where they are in their mastery. Then, I tape laminated task cards all around my room. I might have 5 different designs of task cards at each ‘stop’ on the Walk-About. Students focus on one design at a time, which is one objective. They self-check their recording sheets and review any missed questions. By taping several sets of cards around the room at once, there is no waiting time in between reviews. Meanwhile, this allows me time to work with students still needing small group or one to one instruction. It keeps it active for the students, they love it, and it gives the teacher more 1:1 time. A Win-Win instructional model!”
- Amee DeWitt offers her Test Survival Kit and says, “Preparing for our standardized tests can be tricky because I have to walk a fine line of emphasizing how important it is that they do their best and, at the same time, reassuring them that all they can do is try their hardest.”
- Ellie from Middle School Math Moments is feeling a little frantic due to all of the recent snow days in her district, but she’s holding it together. “I just wrote a short blog post last night about the ‘panic’ starting to set in because of all of the snow days and delays that have put us behind in covering the material in the math curriculum,” she says. “The other math teachers on my grade level and I plan to meet next week to organize activities to use with all of our students to help review — they will most likely be center type activities that each focus on different skills. For my own classroom, I created a daily math book that constantly reviews the concepts in the curriculum, with special emphasis on concepts that I know have been areas of need for past students. I will most likely use this for homework as well daily classwork over the next month or so.”
Rest Assured You’re Not Alone
- Go ahead, give yourself a little smack on the forehead… that’s what Darlene Anne has her students do. She learned this from a neurosurgeon who does this before she goes into surgery. She says it stimulates the frontal lobe of the brain. But, confesses Darlene Anne, “I’m sure the neurosurgeon was right about activating the frontal lobe. But I am just as interested in the chuckles elicited by the head tapping. Because that chuckle is an outlet for all of the anxiety involved in high-stakes testing.” Read more about some other “unconventional” techniques in her blog Meatballs in the Middle.
- If things feel like they’re spiraling out of control, consider reinforcing the Common Core with Spiral Math Homework. One Stop Teacher Shop says, “I found this style of homework was EXTREMELY helpful in preparing for state tests because it kept all important concepts fresh in the minds of my students. Once I started using this resource, I found I spent a LOT less time on reviewing.” Find the checklist and links to helpful products in her One Stop Teacher Shop blog.
- Even though Stephanie from Teaching in Room 6 has 36 (!!!) students, she helps them keep their eyes-on-the-prize with her test prep stations. “I wrote a whole series of blog posts I entitled ‘Test Prep 180’ about doing test prep little by little all year long so that it doesn’t keep you up at night.”
- Some teachers really do treat test-prep like an event! Teach 123 – Michelle writes about her students prepping for the test and offers a freebie to help them achieve their goals.
- DYB = Do Your Best. No matter how hard you prepare, there’s bound to be a snow day to mess things up. Amber Thomas had to act quickly when a snow day suddenly switched the day for the district wide writing test. “It’s challenging for 4th graders to perform on standardized writing tests when they need to write in two different genres: response to text and personal narrative. So last year, when we had the Long Composition Narrative scheduled in between the two reading test days it was extra important that they understood the differences! I created an anchor chart and shared it on my blog.”
- If you have time for nothing else, consider Ms. K’s 7 Ways to Improve Standardized Testing and Practice. Including the “Brain Dump” which Elementary Ali says really works, “I have had my kids do that in science. We practice drawing and labeling science diagrams so they can write them all down as soon as they get their test; we play ‘practice draws’ as a game and the kids love it!” Her 5th Grade STAAR Science Review Stations (TEKS and Common Core) resource is packed with great review!
Test prep is a weighty subject indeed. We hope you’ve found some helpful ideas and products. Be sure to check out all of the test prep resources available on TpT where you can narrow your search by grade and subject matter.