Like It or Not, Testing Season is Here...

The dreaded T.E.S.T. is rapidly approaching. Boo I know, but like it or not, you and your students will make it through this awful time.  I wanted to share with you a couple of things I have done in the past that makes this time of the year a little more manageable and enjoyable.

Before Testing

One of the best things I have done before testing season is having parents make motivational posters to display.  Send home a quick note outlining what you are looking for and a piece of construction paper/butcher paper/poster board or have them get the paper themselves.  The key is this note needs to be top secret so that your students are surprised and from my experience, if you give them the paper, you are more likely to get it back!  Make sure to include some parameters and any specific rules you have for the posters.  It is REALLY awesome if you can get your whole school on-board with this idea because then you can have these posters hanging ALL over the school! You can use the posters to cover anchor charts, student work, or anything that can't be displayed during the test.  If you aren't allowed to have anything up during testing, you can display them in the halls.  The parents are always very creative and the students LOVE seeing that their parents believe in them and want them to try their best.  Click here for a freebie, editable note to send home to parents to get them started.  You may want to send this home at conference time, with report cards, or in a sealed envelope to keep wandering eyes out! ***While most parents get really into this project, there will always be a few who don't submit their posters.  My suggestion is to have them due a  week prior to the start of testing so you have time to make a poster for those that didn't get one from their parents.  You don't want anyone feeling left out or unloved!  Here are some examples of ones that I have made for my student in this situation.  Just think of it as a therapeutic exercise for you...everyone loves to color!

During Testing

Actively monitoring your students can be one of the most boring, frustrating, tasks you must endure as a teaching.  I wear a Fitbit to track my daily steps and my typical step count during a normal teaching day is around 5,000.  On testing days, it isn't uncommon for me to get my 10,000 steps without even leaving the classroom. That's 5 miles folks!  Walked around my kids desks.  It is good to get the extra steps, but when you can't talk for multiple hours on end, this can be torture to teachers and you aren't even taking the test!  Students are equally tortured; they are required to sit for cruel amounts of time, reading the same boring text, possibly becoming frustrated, discouraged, and just plain tired!  My suggestion during testing, when you get a break, is to give your brain a break.  Play rock, paper, scissors rally which gets kids out of their seat, having fun, and cheering each other on.  Here is how you play:
Rock, Paper, Scissors Rally
Give your students (and yourself!) a break during state testing by playing Rock, Paper, Scissors Rally, which is a whole class version of the traditional two person game! So fun! Hint: Even adults have fun with this so give it a whirl at your next staff meeting to lighten the mood!

After Testing

I have never understood why students don't have a half day on testing days (The testing administrator in me says, "I know, I know...make-up tests!").  Nevertheless, you have to figure out something to do with these kids that is academically based and preferably out of their seats.  My answer to this has always been project-based learning!!!!  Depending on what you are studying at that time, I have done things like team science stations (including making balloon-powered cars and having a race), state reports (earlier in the year, have students write letters to each state and they will get a huge packet of information from their tourism department that they can use as part of their research).  Additionally, do dramatic readings or reader's theaters are great...better yet, have them team write their own script and then act it out.  Anything where they can use technology to research has always been a hit.  Or, if you teach 5th grade and your students are promoting to middle school, you can have them all write promotion speeches, practice, and recite them in front of the class and then choose one or two that will actually says their speech at the promotion ceremony. How do you make testing season more fun???

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