Thursday, March 17, 2016

Mandy from Caffeine and Lesson Plans here, sharing some ideas for test prep that won’t make your student’s eyes glaze over!

It’s that time of year again… test prep! Let’s be serious, though- it’s tough to get the kids motivated to review for the BIG TEST. The benefits of doing well and consequences of doing poorly are so abstract to them. I used to spend a lot of time reminding my kiddos about how important the skill that I was teaching was. “This will be on the test” or “come on- pay attention, this will definitely be on the test!” were pretty common parts of my vocabulary. If we get real, though, that just doesn’t work. It isn’t motivational, interesting, or fun. So, after some serious reflection, I decided to have some fun with it and drop the standardized test format.

Tip #1 - Make it a Game!
Anything is more fun if you make it a game, isn’t it? That’s totally my trick for motivating myself to clean the house. How fast can I vacuum? Can I fit all the bathtub toys into one container? It might be silly, but it keeps me on task. The same is true of my kiddos! With a little bit of extra time, anything can be turned into a game. Want to practice computation, facts, or vocabulary? Try playing I have, who has. Something a little more in depth? Make a Jeopardy game and play it in teams. Throw together (or search the internet for) a blank game board that you can paste questions to. The possibilities are endless!

Tip #2 – Incorporate Movement
There is nothing more draining than sitting still all day. I hate it! I can’t imagine my students enjoy it very much, either. If you are hesitant to incorporate kinesthetic activities into your classroom, start by having students rotate around stations through your room in timed increments. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, cut up a set of task cards and tape them up around the room to set up a “scavenger hunt.” Train your kids to record the answers on the line that corresponds to the number on the task card, though- learn from my first timer mistake!

Tip# 3 – Find the “Cool Factor”
If I’ve learned anything during my years in the classroom, it is that kids really buy into the “cool factor.” If something is different and exciting, they are sold. So, make your test prep “cool.” Load the questions into Quizlet and let the kids answer them on iPads or in the computer lab. Use Plickers to record responses. Let the kids write on desks or binders with dry erase markers. Let kids “be the teacher” and help other kids with concepts they understand well. Let them earn a small prize at the end of an activity if they do a good job. Even stickers do the trick! The possibilities are endless.

So, there it is. Testing will always be difficult on kids, but we can certainly make the prep easier for them! What do you do for test prep?

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