Pep rally for tests

Discussion in 'General Education Archives' started by TXTeacher4, Jan 20, 2007.

  1. TXTeacher4

    TXTeacher4 Companion

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    Jan 20, 2007

    Has anyone ever been a part of pep rallies for standardized tests? I have heard there are some strong opinions both ways on this topic. I used to be a cheerleader, so I think it would be a lot of fun. I am thinking of putting one on for our elementary school. I would love to get ideas or feedback about this. I am also interested in hearing why people dislike the idea. I would hate to overlook something and make a poor choice! I have never done one for this age group or for a test. I want it to go with a camping theme for our writing exam. Any creative ideas for activities?
     
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  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Oh, golly.

    On the one hand, I am almost excruciatingly enthusiastic about anything that gets people - kids, especially, but also grownups - more upbeat about taking tests. Or at least less downbeat.

    On the other hand, it's hard not to worry that pep rallies perpetuate the mistake of focusing attention on The Test rather than on the learning process. Many people stumble in testing not because they don't know the material or don't have the skills but because they're terrified of testing per se. And as San Diego's very recent experience with the Chargers attests, there are few things more painful than expectations raised by hoopla and fanfare that suddenly, dramatically crash.

    Let's see what everyone else says, though.
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I agree with TEacher Groupie.

    I know that my 8 year old son, a good student, was pretty worried about those standardized tests. He does his homework, reads, does well on tests-- there was no reason to worry. And he has a great teacher. But I think the whole schoolwide push to do well had him going. I can only wonder how the poorly performing students felt walking in. I'm not sure that they need any more pressure.

    But I can see doing a watered down version for the summer reading program or the Outside reading program or something like that. I can see that the fanfare might get the kids excited about participating. The difference, of course, is that it would be about something that each kid could achieve on his own level.
     
  5. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I hate all the hoopla surrounding standardized testing - principals who get dunked or shave their heads at good results, the chants and rhymes, the whole idea of using kids to compete for dollars. Ugh. So, no, I would hate the pep rally idea - though, I admit, that some kids might find it fun. That would be the ones who weren't nervous wrecks.
     
  6. TXTCHR29

    TXTCHR29 Cohort

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    TXTEACHER4, I completely understand where you are coming from (also being a Texas teacher). I think our system of testing is still so different from most parts of the country (since we have been doing no child left behind before it was national, thanks to Bush being our former govenor)

    We have a pep rally at our school for our TAKS grades as well as a Lock-In. The kids love it! It gets them excited. (we are a Title 1 School are have always been Exemplary or Recognized. That Science test kept us from Exemplary the last 2 years...like it has with most schools!)
     
  7. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Alice, have you read Testing Miss Malarkey by Judy Finchler?

    Tell your boyo for me that a lot of people get really nervous about tests but that he doesn't have to - tests are basically just homework, fast.

    I yearn for the day when testing time rolls around (since standardized tests won't go away) and everyone sort of shrugs and says, "Oh, yeah, that: we can do that," gets it over with, and then gets on with teaching and learning.

    TXTCHR29, how much do y'all think you have to tailor your science teaching to the test? How do you do that? I'm not trying to start an argument here, I really am looking for information. (See, I even tried to talk a little Texan...)
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Thanks TG,

    He wasn't over-the-top frightened, just pretty much at the same level of the other kids at the bus stop. But, as in so many schools, there was a real sense that this was IMPRORTANT. Any added pressure probably wouldn't have been a good thing.
     
  9. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    At the level of other kids at the bus stop? That could be ominous: kids are getting way too scared of these things. So are their teachers.
     
  10. brigidy

    brigidy Comrade

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    I believe we put way too much importance on tests. But, it is a reality. In Kentucky, we have the NCLB and the KCCT (Kentucky Core Content Test). Teachers have way too much pressure on them for high test scores and we in turn pass the pressure to the children. My fifth grade students are tested and that is all we think about - starting at the beginning of the school year! We are in a race to get the content covered before the KCCT test begins.
    We have pep rallies at our school each year, and it is actually a break and release for the students. The instructional assistants are the cheerleaders - leading cheers with pom poms. The principal is dressed like a coach. The third, fourth and fifth grade students come into the lunchroom to "Are You Ready to Rumble". They have a great time! I really don't believe the pep rally puts any more pressure than they already have - but they do have fun - which is something so many of these tests have taken away!
     
  11. TeacherGroupie

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    brigidy, are your school's test scores going up, holding steady, or what?
     
  12. brigidy

    brigidy Comrade

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    Since I have been teaching (8 years), we have had an increase in test scores until last year. We held at the same score last year, which was a really good score, but we are supposed to increase each year. So, right now the pressure is on - for everyone!
     
  13. TeacherGroupie

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    Hm. Is the test more about memorizing and spitting back facts, or is it more about applying facts and skills to derive a result? I realize the answer to that question will vary from grade to grade.
     
  14. brigidy

    brigidy Comrade

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    Well, the KCCT test is based on the National Program of Studies. The curriculum we follow is called "Kentucky Core Content" which is derived from the NPS. We are tested in Math, Reading, Writing (Portfolio and On-Demand), Social Studies, Practical Living/Vocational Skills, and Arts/Humanities. Each test, other than Portfolio in Writing, has two sections to the test. You have multiple choice and open response. Multiple choice is spitting back facts - but the open response uses higher level questioning-so the students must really understand the concept to give a distinguished answer - the highest score possible. We are expected that all students meet proficient (2nd highest score) or distinguished. If you are interested in looking at the Kentucky Core Content - you go to the Kentucky Department of Education website and download it. (If you do - DOK 1 & 2 are multiple choice DOK "Depth of Knowledge" 3 & 4 can be either multiple choice or open response.)
    As far as the grade levels go - the fourth and fifth grade students are expected to do both multiple choice and open response. If you do look up the content you may be able to view released test questions at the KDE website. Sorry so long.
     
  15. hescollin

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    We have an assembly sometime during the week before the testing starts. We hand out awards earned by students and grades last year.

    The principal thanks all the students for working hard and earning great whatever last year. He ends his speech encouraging everyone to do their best on the test starting tomorrow. He tells them they are super students and knows they will be doing their best and will earn awards for themselves and our school.

    Lots of praise and thank yous. It is short simple and to the point. There isn't any silly stuff, cheers and etc.
     
  16. TeacherGroupie

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    brigidy, you're apologizing to ME for a long post?? You answered my questions thoroughly and gracefully - no way am I complaining.

    Let me think about this...
     
  17. TXTCHR29

    TXTCHR29 Cohort

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    I think it has made everyone become a better Science teacher. We start as young as kindergarten doing simple science experiments and begin using the terminology. For the our 4th and 5th graders (5th graders are tested in science), science is departmentalized. For our 5th graders ALL science classes are done in the science lab where most of the lessons are hands on. Of course the teaching is tailored to the test, but, our test is based on our TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills), so thats what teachers should be teaching anyway.
     
  18. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I think that if we have pep rallies for football games, we might as well have a pep rally for an academic test. I also think they should have one for every UIL meet, every band contest, every FFA and FHA event also and not just the money making sport!

    Now that I've gotten that off my chest, the pep rally for doing well on a test is something fun for the tests. We've had one for our kids before and they really enjoyed it. We tried to tell them all year that the they shouldn't be scared of the test, but instead it was a chance for them to show everyone how much they have learned that year. I would advise you to have the pep rally the Friday before though so the day before the test is really low key.
     
  19. srh

    srh Devotee

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    Even though I have strong NEGATIVE feelings about all the emphasis on testing, I have to admit that such functions can help students feel they are a part of something big--you know, like "everyone is in the same boat!" A rally could be motivating, bonding, and depressurizing for students! Most schools, though, do everything they can NOT to create any extra distractions for students, so I'm not sure what your administrators might think. Our school has the highest API in the district, and there is plenty of pressure for high expectations. We celebrate AFTER the fact, not before.
     
  20. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    We do have academic awards assemblies, where we recognize all the honor roll, NHS and perfect attendance kids. And another Activities assembly, where a school letter goes to anyone who has participated in a school activity. That's in addition to 3 pep rallies: one for each season.

    I could never understand why some schools recognize only the fall athletes.
     
  21. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I teach at a PK-12 school and we have to drag ourselves to a pep rally every Friday during football season. I find myself hoping they won't win playoff games so I don't have to sit through another pep rally!

    We do have an award assembly at the end of the year where perfect attendance and academic awards are given out, but it doesn't compare to how much recognition athletes are given! I could stand on top of that soap box for hours, but I'll stop now. :D
     
  22. srh

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    I forgot about our "regular" academic assemblies. We have an awards assembly each month for academics and character awards. Then, at end of each trimester, we have one that is bigger, since more "longevity" awards are given. Our pep rallies are reserved for things such as Make-a-Wish presentations and huge fundraisers (one or two a year). I'm glad we don't have sports pep rallies like crazy. I'm with you! (We are K-8 school too, and do have more teams than elementary!)
     
  23. TXTeacher4

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    I figured the argument would be putting too much into the testing. I think that the Texas teachers here made a good point. We have the TEKS that are required to be taught and the test covers those. We are in a title 1 school and recognized also. The pep rally wouldn't even be called that. We do Camp Write Along for the writing test. The week before, we turn our rooms into campgrounds with tents and all. The kids take turns writing in the tents and we follow a camping theme all week. We try to get the kids excited about writing in a relaxed and fun way. We order camp t shirts too. This year, I am responsible for putting it on and I thought it would be fun to have a morning assembly (just like they do at summer camps). Since I have no summer camp experience, only pep rallies, I was going to go that route and call it a morning assembly. I have to figure out how I am going to organize it, because I don't want it to be overkill. I just want it to be fun. My daughter is in 3rd grade and thinks it is the coolest idea ever, so that made me feel better too!
     
  24. SunShinePumper

    SunShinePumper Rookie

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    I'm a fifth grade teacher in Texas. Our school doesn't have a pep rally for the test but I really try to pump my kids up. I act like a coach getting ready for a big game. I get all excited and tell them how well I know they are going to do. I tell them that this test was made for fifth graders and they are fifth graders so they can do well. Most of my kids believe that the test is too hard before they start since the majority of my students did not pass their tests in fourth grade. It seems to work, my kids score much better than the average at my school.

    I start doing this pretty soon because my kids have very low self esteem about testing.
     
  25. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Attitude is crucial in test taking: it's not always the case that people who believe they'll do well do well, but it's nearly always the case that people who believe they can't do well do badly.

    I'd guess, SunShinePumper, that you're helping your students look for ways in which the tests are like things that they know how to do. That's got to increase their comfort level.
     

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