It's that time of year... testing, testing and more testing. It is often stressful for teachers and students but it doesn't have to be. I HATE that so much rides on a few days of testing. I HATE the way it stops our daily routines for nearly a month and I HATE that kiddos have major test taking anxiety. I have changed my approach to state testing over the last couple of years. I have the privilege of teaching 3rd grade (I LOVE 3rd grade!) and with that I am the first one to expose them to the state tests. I work to change their mindset and put them at ease.
I no longer spend the weeks and days leading up to the test focusing only on test prep. Now I use this time to teach them. If I focus on teaching them they are getting the things that they need. They just aren't stressing about it as they go. Next, I explained that the test was a way to show what they know and celebrate their learning (more on that later) this discussion really seemed to help. We spent some time going over the practice test and discussing some good strategies to use.
I racked my brain for ways to make testing seem "fun" for my students. I know that isn't the word you usually associate with testing but it can be more fun than it traditionally is. I did several things that my students really enjoyed.
First I found the idea to write on pencils from Pernille Ripp and I thought some test taking encouragement was the perfect time to do it. The kids were so excited to each have a personalized note.
Next I decorated as if we were having a party. I called it a celebration of learning complete with party hats. This was something I was really excited about but also a little nervous about. I wasn't sure if the decorations would be too exciting but the kids loved it and said it was so cool! They loved the party hats too and wanted to wear them but they couldn't with the headphones. I think it was a huge success in combating testing blahs.
I found some adorable testing brag tags from Not So Whimpy Teacher. I put these on string and handed them out as soon as testing was done. This was the first time I have used brag tags and I am considering using them in the future because of how excited the students were when receiving them.
After testing we went outside and reviewed our academic vocabulary by writing in chalk.