We begin our state tests in a little over a week, and I’ve been writing about test-prep tips and how I’m talking with students about them. You can find additional resources at My Best Posts On How To Prepare For Standardized Tests (And Why They’re Bad).
I wanted to share a few more items that I thought people would find useful.
NEW TEST-PREP TIP
First, in my summary of research-based test-prep tips, I forgot to mention one study I’ve written about that indicated students perform better on standardized test if they drink some water prior to taking them. I’ll be bringing one of those large water jugs with a spigot, along with with paper cups, and offering it to students.
Secondly, I wanted to share about the individual discussions I had with students today about the upcoming tests. I pretty much followed the plan I laid-out in Talking With Students About Standardized Tests, and the short conversations went quite well, and each student identified a realistic goal they could reach after we talked about the rough number of additional questions they would need to answer correctly in order to achieve it. I did share one new observation (that I haven’t written about previously) with each student that I thought was well-received.
I told them that, while I did not believe that test scores were accurate assessments of their intelligence, I did think that they could sometimes indicate how well someone could concentrate — their self discipline. I talked about how difficult it is to be sitting down for an hour-and-a-half taking one of these tests; then seeing you still might have twenty more questions left to do and being very tempted to not spend much time on those remaining, and even just “bubbling” them in quickly. I shared how I had certainly done that when I was in school, and virtually every student admitted to doing the same. We then talked about the importance of identifying ways they could get into the mindset of approaching the last twenty questions with the same energy level as they did with the first twenty — going to the bathroom, getting a drink of water, stretching, visualizing, etc. We’ll be brainstorming more ways on Monday.
THIS COMING WEEK
Usually, I haven’t spent more than one class period in explicit test prep for the tests. And, usually, a good number of my students “move-up” from “Far Below Basic” and “Below Basic” to “Basic.” However, this year I’m increasing the amount of time to four class periods (which I suspect is far, far less than many other schools might require. Here’s my schedule:
Last Friday, as part of their regular weekly reflection, I asked students to respond to the question “Are State tests important? If not, why not? If yes, why?” I’ve written about their responses. The reflection, and partner and class sharing took about fifteen minutes.
Today, students watched a movie about Mount Everest (that’s the unit we’re studying now) and I met with each of them for about five minutes.
Monday, we’ll talk for a few minutes about tips on how to stay focused during the test.
Tuesday, we’ll spend about fifteen minutes on test-taking strategies, including hearing their suggestions.
On Wednesday, we’ll review the list of test words I’ve shared previously and play a game reviewing them, along with revisiting the test-taking strategies.
Feel free to offer any additional hints you might have that get students in a positive state of mind for these test….