Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Test

It's that time of year...time for the big TEST!!  For my 3rd graders, this is their first experience with State standardized testing, which means as their teacher, I have a big responsibility.  Yes, I must prepare them academically, but more importantly, I have to make sure that their first testing experience is a positive one.  So, like many classrooms all over the country, we go into "test prep mode".

I begin at least a month out, usually around Spring Parent Conference time.  I make sure to talk to parents about the test and what they can expect.  I also ask them to write an encouraging note for their child so that when we begin testing, their child has that extra little bit of motivation to help them get through those long days.  In the past, my students have really LOVED these special notes.  Most of the time they have notes from their parent or guardian, but every now and then, a drawing from a little brother or sister makes it into the mix.  No matter who the note is from, the look of pride on my students' faces are priceless.

Another big component of "test prep" is minimizing fears and maximizing confidence.  We talk honestly about the test-how long the sessions will be, what our days will look like, and what types of things will be covered on the test.  They usually have TONS of questions, but taking time to talk these things out usually helps students feel less anxious.

In the weeks leading up to standardized testing, I do everything in my power to give my students as many opportunities for success as possible.  This looks different for every student, but these small moments help build confidence.  Every chance I get, I provide feedback for the things they are doing well, and then help to guide them one step further.

As testing gets closer (next week, for us) I always make a point to read "Hooray for Diffendoofer Day", by Dr. Seuss (and Jack Prelutsky & Lane Smith).  This is one of my all time favorite books that highlights individuality and creative thinking.  My students can connect to the students at Diffendoofer School, who are also taking a big test.  Of course, because they have been taught to think, they succeed.  Awww! 

When it's time to cover the walls, I plaster them with motivational quotes and messages of support.  I want to leave no doubt in their minds that I truly believe in them and think the world of them, regardless of the outcome of the test.  And of course, being mature enough for testing makes you also mature enough for special treats and surprises along the way.

Do you have any "test prep" rituals that help get your students through testing?  I'd love to hear, so share away!  

March Currently

Ugh!  Where did February go?  I spent the last week protesting the arrival of March (because, really, what happened to February?!) by pretending it wasn't here.  It didn't work out so well, so I guess I'll finally post my March Currently with Farley from Oh' Boy 4th Grade.
I can accomplish so much more when the T.V. isn't distracting me, and I have way too much that I need to accomplish, so Spotify it is.  I L.O.V.E. the warm weather that we've had lately, because recess and duty is so much more enjoyable when you aren't shivering.  But... warm weather brings with it energetic...squirrely...hyper kids, so I can't help but think that Spring Break can't come soon enough.  Two more weeks!  I want a second weekend to prepare for this week.  I only have my evaluation observation, lesson plans, newsletters, copies, and centers to prepare.  And finally, the mystery answers- What are things that gross you out for $1000, please. 

Looking to procrastinate, or finally acknowledge March?  Link up with Farley. 

Happy Sunday!