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8 Tips for Testing in Your Classroom

Testing has become this huge weight in the education world. Our students feel more and more pressure each year. When testing is happening in your school you can walk around and feel the tension in the air. Teachers are freaking out and so are the students. You are part of the education world, you know the stress that testing brings. But why?! Why do we get all of these feelings? Why do we stress our students and ourselves out? 

Here are some tips and tricks for reducing the stress and making test taking (as well as test prep) just a little bit easier. When it comes down to it, you know your students best- no matter what the test says! 

Stick to your routine. We all know… the minute you stray from your routine, your students change. Keep your normal routine as much as possible. This can be tricky when trying to test-prep, but it is important for your students (especially those that need that dependability in their lives). If you have a schedule change to accommodate for some test prep, let your students know ahead of time. DO NOT just pull out a test prep packet as a last minute decision. That is going to give your students the idea that test prep is not important and you are just trying to “fit it in”. You need to keep on teachin’ right up to the day you test (and of course even when the test is over)! Routines are essential!

Don’t review everything. Let’s face it… there isn’t enough time to review everything! Throughout the year, keep track of big concepts that you noticed your students struggled with. There will be some standards that your students will show great mastery. Why spend time reviewing that if they understand it?! My solution: write on notecards all of the things that you think you should review. Then tape them all up on the board. After discussing some of them with your class, have each student choose one item that they want to review. Yep… that’s going to be hard for some of them. This will give you a starting place. You might be surprised by what they choose. (You could easily separate this into math/reading as well… I just did it all together.)

Keep it engaging. Test prep can be… well boring. If you want to capitalize your test-prep time, make it fun and engaging. This can be tricky (not all topics/standards are interesting) but it truly isn’t impossible. You can incorporate fun board games (that even 5th graders love) like Mary {Teaching With a Mountain View} did in her classroom- click here to read about it. Make your review into more of a challenge like Amanda {Third Grade Meanderings} did in her classroom- click here to read about it. Last but not least, try out Plickers in your classroom! Click here to read a post all about how I use Plickers in my classroom to engage my students.

Motivate your students. Find ways to motivate your students. You need to tap into your students’ passions. If you don’t know what they love yet, do some investigation. This year, I have some boys who eat, sleep, breathe hockey. Last week when making reviewing generalizations, I had made up some quick statements about hockey and as a class they had to decide if they were accurate or inaccurate generalizations. Two of these boys are normally my squirrely kiddos, but let me tell you- they were FOCUSED during this review lesson. They ate it up and I know that when it comes down to the test, if they are asked about generalizations, they will remember this quick five minute activity that we did. You can also motivate your students by kicking up your classroom reward system. By this time of the year, some classroom reward systems are starting to collect dust. Reactivate your system or change it up a bit.

Keep it simple. You don’t want to overwhelm your students by challenging them or pushing it too far! Let’s be honest, this time of year, we are burned out. Think about how our kiddos must be feeling. We feel the pressure, they feel the pressure too. I try to limit my test prep and spread it out over many weeks. I *shudder* to think of teachers that cram all their review in the last week before the “big test”.

Get them active. This should be a no-brainer, but I have to plan some active learning opportunities into my test-prep lessons. Scoot is a great way to get some task cards into your lessons and get your students up and moving. Simply place the task cards around the room, give students a recording page and have them scoot from one card to the next. You can have them go in a specific order or have them bounce around and work on any of them. Either way, they are up and moving. You could also do a step forward/step back review activity. Place a tape line down the center of your classroom. Have all students stand on the line. Ask a true/false question. If they think the answer is true they step forward.  If they think it is false, they step back. I recommend reading the question, giving some think time and then call out “step”. That way everyone is stepping at the same time.

Work in some brain breaks. Kids’ brains get tired. There are tons of different ways to add in some brain breaks. Have them answer 3 questions and then do x amount of jumping jacks. You could also complete some test-review and then have a 3 minute dance party! After their brains get a chance to reset you will have some uber focused students. GoNoodle is a great website that offers TONS of brain breaks for your classroom.

Relax. Set up a calm atmosphere and try not to stress out (especially not in front of your students). You have been teaching all year long and now it is time for your students to Show What They Know. They are ready. They will do their best. Testing will be over soon. It will be okay.

How do you test prep? I would love to hear some new ideas to switch it up this year! Pin the image below to save this post for later.


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