Test Prep

Discussion in 'General Education' started by K-5_teacherguy, Mar 12, 2017.

  1. K-5_teacherguy

    K-5_teacherguy Companion

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    Mar 12, 2017

    Unfortunately, test prep is a way of life in my building this time of year. I teach 5th, and our P wants us to take the next two weeks before our ELA state test to "prepare." I have LOTS of resources and materials that should help my kiddos feel ready when they finally take the test. However, I am kind of at a loss as to how to make test prep enjoyable for my kids (or at least tolerable).

    Does anyone who teaches in a testing grade have any fun ways of practicing for state tests? Games, activities, etc.? We have lots of practice passages and question types that our students will see on the test, but I'm just trying to think of ways to keep the whole class engaged as we practice! The idea of reading a passage as a class, and then going through 20-25 questions, item by item, seems dull and boring. Thanks in advance for any ideas.
     
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  3. agdamity

    agdamity Enthusiast

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    Mar 12, 2017

    When I worked in a school like that, we had a review party they earned. We determined the number correct they would have to get to be proficient, and if they scored that or higher on the passage/ math practice/ whatever, they earned part of the reward. For example, one time it was an ice cream party so they earned admission, then a napkin, bowl, spoon, one scoop, two scoops, sprinkles, etc.
     
  4. Pashtun

    Pashtun Aficionado

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    Maybe I am reading too much into this, but your response was interesting. You say "when I worked in a school like that", which I take to be a negative statement towards that school(maybe I am wrong), then you reinforce that test achievement is all that matters by only rewarding those who achieve proficiency?
     
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  5. CharRMS

    CharRMS Rookie

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    Mar 12, 2017

    Have you tried playing Grudgeball? You can find the directions in a quick Google search. We play it in my classroom when doing our unit review and my kids love it! It's fun watching my one class go to lunch and come back with new alliances! I also work on test strategies while reviewing for the test: highlighting the text, narrowing down answers, etc.
     
  6. agdamity

    agdamity Enthusiast

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    Mar 13, 2017

    When I said "school like that," I was referring to a school that placed a high emphasis on test prep. We were required to complete intensive prep activities similar to what the original poster described. It was not meant negatively at all. The school I currently work for does not place any emphasis test prep.

    The reason students were rewarded for achieving a proficient level on the test prep was because the school was a failing school. When you teach in a failing school, the only thing that matters is the test score. Regardless of the many issues faced by my high poverty students, the only thing central office wanted to see was higher test scores. I'm not saying I agree with the practice, I was merely offering a suggestion to the OP for a way to motivate students through the test prep.
     
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  7. Obadiah

    Obadiah Cohort

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    Mar 13, 2017

    If the test is truly a measure of student achievement, then no extra preparation should be necessary. Unfortunately, high stakes testing has created this new normal of adjusting education to skew the results of the evaluation. Teachers are not doing a poor job and need to fix their scores; we are teaching living, breathing students, not statistics, who are growing and developing in real situations, not look alike Lego Lands. Teachers need to be empowered to use their expertise to teach to the class and not to the test.
     
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  8. 4SquareRubric

    4SquareRubric Rookie

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    Mar 13, 2017

    If you are going to prepare students to take standardized tests there is no "fun" way to do it, because too much fun would take students too far away from practicing the skills necessary to succeed. You can engage them in the work.
    1) Stamina is a myth. No one likes taking tests. It is all about how long you can sustain boredom or how long you can stand not knowing the answers. So make test prep sessions short. 1 to 2 passages or 5 to 7 problems is all you need to know if students have a skill. It also makes in class grading easier and feedback faster. You can use the passages from your curriculum. No test prep materials necessary.
    2) Do not introduce texts you do in class during this two weeks. Step back. Always start with an independent read time for everything and use wait time when asking questions. Students encounter these passages fresh without context. Practice that.
    3) Eliminate the answer choices and engage students in group work around passages. Have students defend their answers using evidence from the text. Then give the answers out and see if groups can get in correct. Group work around passages as practice is excellent way for students to learn other students thinking.
    4) Defend, defend, defend your thinking with evidence. The best part about the ELA test is that all the necessary information to be successful comes with the test. Prepare students by defending their answers with evidence from what they read.
    5) Look at the trends with question stems and how much of the passage students should use when answering questions. Model your in class questions after the stems. I have a blog about this, but I'm not going to post it here, because I'm not sure of the rules (new to AtoZ), but you could find it if you looked for it.
    6) Find engaging text to read and learn about then apply high level questions. That's practice enough. Just find ways for your students to do it and not you.

    Best of Luck!
     
  9. mitchfairchild

    mitchfairchild New Member

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    Mar 16, 2017

    Ummm...test prep can be fun. IF you have access to your school's computer carts (or if your students can use their personal devices) OR if your classroom has a set of chrome books or tablets, you can use "Kahoot!" Ss love Kahoot! IF you are limited in your resources (no access to tablets, laptops, or desktops) your next choice is "Plickers". It is awesome! You'll need your smartphone and a laptop (or desktop) hooked up to the overhead. Check them out online (just google them). You'll need to download the app for Plickers.

    ~Mitch
     
  10. otterpop

    otterpop Fanatic

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    Mar 16, 2017

    Today we reviewed words they'd see in test questions, such as: identify, evaluate, and describe.

    Students talked about the definitions of words and took notes, but we then practiced each word in a moderately fun way. They wrote their answers to discussion questions and then shared. For example, students evaluated a movie they saw recently by telling whether they liked it or not and why. I was surprised by how much they enjoyed this "boring" test prep.

    By the way, my school is heavy on test prep too.
     
  11. otterpop

    otterpop Fanatic

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    I love Kahoot but found that Plickers took too long to set up and also to use to be worthwhile. It's worth trying though.
     
  12. bella84

    bella84 Enthusiast

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    Mar 18, 2017

    For reading, I gave students a sample reading passage and then provided feedback through individual conferences during our reading workshop time, instead of doing book clubs/guided reading.

    For math, we do a weekly test prep warm-up, where we do some practice problems together on the board and then follow up with a partner. The whole thing takes 15-20 minutes.
     

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