Testing: What's Your Plan?

12 April 2016 / Leave a Comment

Hi!  I'm Tonja from Smart Puppy Learning!  I wanted to spend some time talking about testing.  It is that dreaded time of year (for me anyway).  I find myself stressing more and trying to cram every minute in my classroom full of just one more thing to help my students find success on their state assessment that is quickly approaching.  The longer I teach in a tested grade, the more aware I have become that it is important to step back from the stress and find ways to help my students stress less, but still prepare them for what lies ahead.  I want to give you some quick tips that will help you to plan for the testing season that is upon you.  I am by no means perfect that this.  It is a learning process for sure, but the longer I do it, the better it seems to get.

Here in the state of Texas we have the STAAR test and use the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) instead of Common Core.  My test is in May, so as you can imagine right now as crunch time!  I caught myself telling my students just today, "We have 20 days to show them what we know!  Sit up straight and let's practice showing what you know!"

Here is my general plan as I begin to prepare for the last days before the test...
(I teach third grade math only)
  • First, I make sure all of the material for the year is covered of course.  Our scope and sequence has it set up so that we have hit all information by about 6 weeks out from the test
  • Next, I plan review days for each of our units.  We spend a day on each unit reviewing the material and then looking at it in test format. As time permits we do centers/stations to review concepts from the day prior and the present day.
  • As we wind up reviewing each unit, I'll then mix all the concepts up and we will begin practice daily until the day of the test identifying the problems, solving, creating problems to solve, etc...test prep!  This is where I want to park and talk. I would like to give you a few ways to make test prep more fun as well as some resources I have used. 
    My students have been good to stick with just paper and pencil at times, but I as the teacher sometimes get bored and I just want to break up the monotony.  Below are some of the activities I am using to do just that!
Test Prep Fun!

We all hear, "Make it a Game" or "Make it Fun"...how can we do that, but keep the learning on point?  That seems to be the questions that I often hear.  Here are my 3 go to activities and some other resources I've found!

1.  Teach the class.

This is a tried and true method.  I remember doing it as a kid, but it is still one of my favorite.  I hand out task cards, or I just cut up word problems and hand them out to students.  They solve the problem and I walk around checking answers, making sure they understand etc.  When we have all solved our problem.  They come and teach the class.  To keep other students engaged, they use white boards or write on their desk with their markers and check their answers.  (Side hint:  Let the students refer to each other as Professor (their last name).  My kids get a kick out of it and it seems to help with the focus of participates and the pride of the student presenting.)

2. Student Created Problems

This takes a LOT of modeling, but still it is a great way to practice problems.  My students love creating multistep problems to try and stump their classmates.  To do this, I as I said first model creating a problem...I usually do 2-3 of these the day we create just to make sure they have it.  I then give students the opportunity to create a problem of their own that fits the standard we are learning for the day.  Depending on the standard, students may write the problem out on notebook paper or sometimes we use post its.  I then pick problems at random and we practice solving them together.

3. Use Task Cards and Partner Solve

I will pair up students, give each student a card.  The first student solves and teaches their card to their partner.  The partner is listening and checking as they solve.  Then the switch places and the other student teaches the card.

As I have been a little cramped for time this year, I searched TpT to find some activities to use with my students. Below are some of the resources that I highly recommend you check out as you finish up your test prep!



Wishing everyone a great testing season and happy April!  Thanks for stopping by and reading!


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