Friday, April 11, 2014

MORE Testing Strategies...PLUS some pics!

Hey there! Happy Friday to you! My weeks seem to be passing by very quickly since Spring Break. I am having a hard time believing we have been back for 2 weeks already. This time of the year is crazy busy though, which makes time go by so much faster.

We have been working hardcore the past two weeks to continue to prepare ourselves for that wonderful MAP test. Speaking of the MAP test, if you haven't checked out my Fun Test Taking Strategies post, then you are missing out. Click on the link to check it out as it contains some resources on how to make test prep fun. As stated within that post, I wanted to share some pics of some of the things I have completed so far.

I started off my test prep by completing the testing pamphlet. We completed the first 4 flaps on the first day and then second 4 the next day. Here is an example of one of my kiddo's completed pamphlet:




I used the teacher resource page as a guide. However, we brainstormed each flap together. As I introduced each flap, I tried to keep it geared towards music. For example, on the first flap, "Don't Skip a Beat," we talked about how does the music sound when music skips beats. The kiddos shared their thoughts (sounds funny, hard to understand). Then I shared how we could relate that to test taking. We decided that if you don't listen to or read the directions, you can miss out on what to do. We did this for every flap. They recorded notes behind each flap. My kiddos loved this as it pertained to every day life.

Towards the end of last week, we created the guitars I mentioned in the Fun Test Taking Strategies post as well. I wanted them to be completed so they could start to earn their rewards during our Friday stations. Here is a picture of one of my kiddos completed guitar:

I let them choose between two different colors (I didn't want a huge mess and it made it easier to manage). They cut out and traced the guitar cut out onto the construction paper. Then I cut a piece of black yarn long enough so they could wear the guitars. I hot glued the yarn to the back of the guitar.

They love to act like they are playing a guitar like a ROCK STAR. As a matter of fact, they ask me if they can play their guitars when we take brain breaks throughout the day. I will have them use these when we do our fun testing videos before starting the test every morning.

As I mentioned in the past, I was going to have my kiddos decorate their guitars with stickers. Well, I don't know about you, but I love to change my mind frequently (my kiddos had to adjust to this quickly as I will change my mind 10 times before making my final decision). I think that's a trait of being a teacher. You seem to change things in the moment. Instead of using star stickers (my original plan), I decided that I would cut little pieces of colorful yarn. The kiddos get to tie the strings that they earn onto the strap (attached yarn) of their guitar. I decided that I had a ton of yarn to use up so why make things more complicated. Besides, I loved the colors and thought it would add more character.

My kiddos are able to earn pieces of string by doing different things. Since one of my biggest strategy that I stress is listening to and reading directions, along with checking their answers, I give kiddos pieces of string when I see them doing this on ANY assignment. It has really helped those kiddos who seem to tune me out or rush through their work. I also hand them out to the kiddos who do the other testing strategies that we have been talking about (underlining important words in the questions and story, Xing out the wrong answers or the answers that don't make sense, numbering the paragraphs within the story, answering their questions in a complete sentence on constructed responses, etc.). One of the biggest ways my kiddos earn their string is by completing the Friday stations correctly.

We started stations last Friday. I divided my kiddos up into 7 groups, since there were 7 stations. They got 15 minutes (or until everyone completed each station) to complete their station. They had to work together as a team to complete the station. I stress this as I think team work is important for them to learn. If they completed their station before time was up, I had them complete the "Build a Soldier" game from Amy's Multiplication and Division Boot Camp. When it was time, I had the kiddos move on. They moved around the room in a circle. Before they could complete the next station, they had to check their answers from the station they just came from with a pen. They circled the ones that weren't correct. If they got them all right, I had them put a star at the top of the page. Here is what one of my stations looked like:

As you can see, I had the kiddos keep the answer key from the prior station on top of the next station (the one they moved to next). I like to have the stations on the floor so they can spread out and have more room to work. Last year, I had them complete stations at their desk, which seemed to work too.

While the kiddos checked their answers, I walked around to make sure they were on task and weren't being sneaky. I have some kiddos who try to change their answers when I am not looking.

After all stations were completed, I had the kiddos head back to their desk and get their guitars. I had them count how many stars they had within their recording sheets (I copied the recording sheets into a packet to make it more organized). Each kiddo got the number of strings for the number of stars. I handed the strings out and they got to tie them anywhere on the strap. They loved being able to see how many strings they had. Whoever has the most strings on their guitar strap at the end of MAP testing will receive a prize. I haven't decided what the prize is yet. However, I want to make it meaningful for them.

This past week, I had my kiddos complete my Rockin' Review stations. My kiddos loved them. You can check them out by clicking on the link.



I know that was all a review from the last post so thank you for baring with me. However, I wanted to show you it in action. I have learned from Amy to take more pictures of things I do in my classroom. She definitely has been a great inspiration for my teaching career! :)

So...something new...the "I Rock" Table. Thanks to Amy again for this wonderful idea! My kiddos loved it last year and I can already tell my kiddos are thrilled for it already. So the grade level sent home this parent letter this week on Monday.

 
I have already gotten prizes and letters from the parents. I decided to get some items from the Target $1 bin to help show it off. My kiddos are ecstatic to be able to choose off of the table.
 
Since we can't look at the test to see how they are doing, I choose my kiddos in different ways. If I know that a kiddo struggles, I will let them choose if I see them put any effort towards doing their best. I take a mental note of the kiddos who I see checking their answers and underlining important words. Sometimes I use it as a confidence booster as well. I try to choose each kiddo at least once. Last year, I had enough donations to have each kiddo choose twice. They don't get to choose until the testing time is completed.
 
When I handed out this letter, I told them that they had to tell their parents they had homework to do. They thought this was the coolest thing. Within this letter, it explains how the parents write letters to their child for encouragement. I also give the kiddos envelopes for their parents to use, that way they don't have an excuse for not having one. These letters are great to give out on the first day of testing. It makes them feel so important and helps to build self-esteem and confidence. Unfortunately, there are always those kiddos who do not have a letter, so I make sure the letters are due the week before testing so I can write those kiddos notes. Last year, I wrote every kiddo a letter as well on the first day (this doesn't include the little encouraging notes I give them with the candy...refer to my last post for more details).
 
I hope you have been able to take away something from the past testing prep posts. I always find it helpful when I get different and new ideas from you wonderful teachers!
 
What do you do to motivate your kiddos when it comes to any type of testing? I would love any feedback you may have.
 
Thanks so much for stopping by! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!
 
 

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