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It's testing season again...already!
At this time of year, I find myself wishing I had just a couple more weeks to reinforce content. Are my kids ready - I mean really ready - to test at their full potential?
Annual testing has been part of my teaching experience since the year I student taught, and I have learned that ATTITUDE is a huge part of testing success. Over time I have refined my approach to developing a class with a great testing attitude. 95% of the preparation occurs day-by-day throughout the year, with a 5%, creative teaching ideas "kicker" at the end.
First, what does "testing attitude" mean? I'm talking about children's willingness to put in maximum effort, sometimes for days, on a series of tests that may not even affect their grade in the class (depending on your state). This is a critical issue for teachers whose performance evaluation may eventually depend upon those test scores.
It's not all about the teacher; students need to learn how to approach tests positively...well before they must take SAT's or other college assessments.
A big step followed by a little step
So how do we best prepare our elementary students to have the right testing attitude? I have always used a two-step process:
1. Create a community that values success, and values my approval of their success. This is the 95% part of preparation, and it forms the foundation for the second step.
2. Add a little theme-based spice at the end!
My fourth graders love to be part of a fun, winning team where they can stand out, so I create a theme around the initials of my state's test - Washington uses the Measure of Student Progress, or MSP.
Last year, the morning of the first test, I introduced the theme of "Monkeys with Super Powers." This year we'll be "Mighty Smart Pirates." You can imagine the fun stuff you can find on the Oriental Trading Company site!
Don't get me wrong...a monkey theme will NOT overcome poor preparation. It's a creative teaching idea that provides that final encouragement. It's like a coach rallying her team to give them a "star quarterback" attitude that will help them perform at the top of their game, applying the knowledge they have worked so hard to learn all year long.
What are your ideas? Please share them on my FaceBook wall!
Signs over the doors...
Pennants on the board...
And hats for the hall giants! (from an earlier measurement project)
"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."
~William Butler Yeats
Is it ever appropriate to discipline a 2nd grader by placing her in the hallway regularly and putting her nose against the wall? She is being disciplined for talking too much. There has been one parent conference and no notes home. At the conference, parents were given the choice of spanking or detention for her talking.
I wonder if I am responding to a parent or a teacher? At any rate, I can sense the frustration in the situation and please understand that every teacher without question has had the chatty child in their room...read the full response under the Behavior Management Q&A Section
Classroom teaching methods vary depending on curriculum to keep fast learners occupied. These creative teaching ideas keep them from impacting the rest of the class. Read more
We WANT school students to tell when something is wrong, but when they do tell...do they cross the line to tattling? Read more
Managing the critical hour after recess - getting kids quickly back on task and channeling energy into productive learning. Read more
I've started writing a monthly column for Teachers.net Gazette with the ongoing theme of "BUSTED: Myths Exposed for New Teachers." Check out the first article!
The Way We've Always Done it is Best
See you next month...with more teaching insights and articles. Now back to my smart little pirates!
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