We’re in the middle of state test-taking season, as are many other schools. One of quick exercises I do with students on test-days prior to starting is to incorporate what studies have shown — Thinking About Our Ancestors Helps Us Do Better In Tests.

I’ve given students five minutes to write a few sentences and draw a picture responding to this:

Think about one of your ancestors, and write about one or more successes he or she had in their life. Write a few sentences about them, and draw a picture that represents them and/or their success.

Then, after a few minutes, I have them share with a partner, which incorporates what other studies have shown — Brief Social Conversations Improves Performance On Cognitive Tasks.

This exercise, which is completed within ten minutes, always goes very well, and I learn some amazing stuff about my students. I thought I’d share here what some students wrote (the pictures are great, too, but I don’t have time to reproduce them right now):

My auntie finally finished her college years.

My Mom’s grandmother’s mom was a slave and was alive when slavery ended. She it to the end and got to celebrate and even if she hadn’t anywhere to go it was a special moment for her.

My dad got to America. He got papers.

My Grandpa was born in Mexico and grew up there. Growing up he messed around with ropes because he loved the style, so he got really good and great with horses. He was a captain and never lost a match. It’s about how many you catch and you have is a horse and a rope.

One good successful person that I know is my Dad. I think that he is a successful person because when something bad happens in our family he always knows what to do.

My grandfather is a CIA soldier. That was one of his success because he helps Americans during the Vietnamese War.

I’m adding this post to The Best Posts On How To Prepare For Standardized Tests (And Why They’re Bad).