“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”…said no teacher EVER! State mandated testing…those words can be fighting words, I tell ya! No matter; state mandated testing is a necessary evil that we face every spring. How do we make it through this time with as little turmoil as possible? I have heard parents say that their children lose sleep, can’t eat…all because of the stress brought on by the TEST. Not to mention the stress it puts upon us teachers! We don’t want that. So, how do we avoid it? Here’s my take.First of all, let’s not drill, drill, drill with those test prep books! They are boring, they are not interactive, and they are just not conducive to learning. I know, I know. Students learn the format of the test from these books, they are aligned to the curriculum, and they are created by professionals who know this stuff! Well, who knows our students’ needs better than we do? We are professionals! We know the curriculum front and back, and yes, we can prepare our students for the big test without over-relying on those expensive, boring test prep books. How? We want to make test prep fun, we want to engage our students, and we want them ready. Well, we’ve prepared them all year long, right? So now, all we have to do is review.
For the record, let me state that I am not totally against the test prep books. They can serve a purpose: We can use them to show children how the test will look…show them what to expect. A little practice from the test prep books is fine, but we don’t want to overdo it. What can we do instead? Here are some ideas – activities my third graders have enjoyed!
Using Trade Books to Make Flipbooks
“I Have…Who Has” Cards
In conclusion, I hope you found this post useful and helpful! I hope you found some ideas you can use to make test prep less stressful. But, above everything else, please remember this during this “most wonderful time”: You have spent an entire school year educating these children. If you are reading this, then I will assume that you are one of the ones who does take your craft to heart and that you are truly striving to make a difference. I’ll bet you are, and this is the best advice I have to give: Teach the standards *all year long* in a way that engages your students, and try not to let the stress of the test overwhelm you or your kids. They feed off of us, so if we are overly anxious, they will be, too. We’ve GOT this thing! Let’s ACE that test!
Thanks so much to Rachel for allowing me to guest post on her amazing blog! Loved having the opportunity to share! Please share your strategies for test prep in the comments below. We would love it if you would add a link to any blog posts that engage students in preparing for the big test!
Samantha Harrell is a third grade reading/ELA teacher in a small town down in Georgia. She received her M.Ed. from Valdosta State University in Early Childhood Education and her Ed.S. from Nova Southeastern University in Brain Research/Instructional Leadership. She also has a reading endorsement issued by the state of Georgia. She is a single mom who enjoys spending time with her three boys (12, 11, and 5) and serves them pizza on a regular basis while she works on products for Teachers Pay Teachers and her posts for her blog, Riveted Little Readers.