Thursday, April 3, 2014

Fun Test Taking Strategies

Hello! Hope you are having a great week! My Spring Break dwindled down very quickly, since my last post. I was able to relax, clean, organize, and spend time with the hubby/friends/family. I was sad to go back (I LOVE to sleep in and be lazy sometimes) but at the same time, I missed my kiddos. I was so happy to see them Monday morning!

Now that we are back to the grind of things, it is getting pretty intense in our classroom. I don't know about you but my state's standardized test (the good ole MAP test) is quickly approaching. I sat down during my Spring Break and pondered/researched/brainstormed on what to do to try to get my kiddos ready to take this test. Since 3rd grade is the first year our kiddos complete the MAP test, I wanted to make things fun and spice it up a bit. Last year, I feel like I flew by the seat of my pants. I wanted to put more thought into it and implement some fun strategies so my kiddos will be more engaged throughout this whole test prep process (and not get bored).

Now, before I go any further, I must tell you that this is only my 2nd year of giving the test (my test anxiety has kicked into high gear just recently...I sometimes wonder if I am worse than my students). My wonderful teammates gave me some wonderful ideas last year, which I plan on using again this year. However, I want things to be more fun than they were last year.

Side note...Amy and I talk about this all the time. If it's not fun for us teachers, it won't be for the kiddos either. Therefore, test prep needs to be fun and engaging, not tedious and boring. My kiddos were very anxious before taking the MAP test, as they didn't know what to expect. However, by the end of the first day, they loved it (I think a lot had to do with having special privileges throughout the testing time).

To start off my test prep, I decided to have my kiddos create this test taking pamphlet. This is something new this year. In the past, I normally would just talk to my kiddos about these. I don't know about you, but I find when I am "lectured" to, I typically zone out. Therefore, I figured I would add a fun activity to talk about these different strategies. We are still currently working on this. (Pictures to come later)

I gave my kiddos the copied pamphlet, along with the boxes. They cut out the boxes with the flap names and glued them onto the cut flaps. Then I had my kiddos decorate the pamphlets with pictures to help them remember the strategies.

We have been meeting as a whole class and going over each flap. We have been discussing what each flap entails. The kiddos have been writing sentences to help them remember each strategy. As we work through test prep practice (math and communication arts), we will be using these strategies to help us become better test takers.

Last year, I did stations throughout the test prep time. (I used my Major League Math Concepts Review and Rockin' the Review Literacy Centers and Amy's Math Scoot Game, Place Value Scoot Game, End of the Year Math Review, Reading & Grammar Skills-Test Prep Review, Test Taking Skills Review, Splendid Spring Literacy Centers last year.) This year I am going to do things a little differently (Again this is new this year. Pictures will be coming in the near future). I plan on having Friday's as my stations day. I am going to have my kiddos create guitars to wear throughout the stations time. (I purchased Hope King's The Ultimate End of the Year Writing Bundle at the end of last school year, which happens to have a guitar template. I plan on using this for my students to create their Rock Star Guitars.) These guitars are going to show how they are test taking ROCK STARS. They will get to decorate their guitars as they move along the stations (keep reading to find out more).

Before going to the first station, the kiddos will bring down their MAP test prep packet (whatever packet I decide for them to complete), a pencil, pen, and folder to use to write on and to keep papers organized. Each station will have either a communication arts or math concept at it (using those resources above). The kiddos will have 10-20 minutes (depending on the station and how much time we have for stations) to complete each station. I will have 6-8 stations scattered throughout the classroom. I am a very mathematical person. Therefore, I try to keep them in a circle around the room. This helps the kiddos to get up and moving. After they complete a station and there is some time left, they will be working on a MAP test prep packet. These are packets that were given to me from my wonderful teammates. The Buckle Down series is another great resource.

After the timer goes off, the kiddos will then move to a new station. Before starting that new station, the kiddos will check their answers, using the answer key from the station they just came from (if there is one), which will be at the new station. They will put a star at the top of the recording sheet to show if they got all of them right. Whatever problems they don't have correct, they will circle. At the end, the kiddos will get a star sticker for every paper that has a star at the top to place on their guitar. This will show that they are ROCK STARS.

Before Spring Break, our grade level decided to start our kiddos on a test taking skills packet. They get the packets on Monday and the packet is due the following Monday. Within this packet, there are stories with multiple choice questions, along with math multiple choice questions. We go over these packets every week, which can be tedious and boring at times. However, in addition to the stars for the guitars, I am going to be handing out tickets (the ones you can purchase from the party store) to kiddos for answering a question correct as we are going over the homework packet, along with any other MAP review packet we complete. This is a great incentive to keep the kiddos motivated and alert.

On the first day of MAP testing last year, I had my kiddos complete some coloring pages for morning work. I told that this will help to relax them and get them focused on the test for the day. Once testing time came, I wanted my kiddos up and moving. I created this song last year to help engage my kiddos every morning before the test booklets were passed out. I included this "Test Rap" (pictured right) that I like to sing with my kiddos, within the pamphlet up above.  After we sing this song, we dance to a song on YouTube, which helps to release any energy they may have (Click here to check out the song). Last year, my kiddos begged for me to replay the video and for us to sing the song again. Sometimes we did this more than once. It just all depended on the day and how the morning started. Right before taking our seats, we would say the MAP pledge that Amy created. This helped to get their minds focused. My kiddos couldn't wait to sit down, as they got to take their shoes off it they wanted to. I told them to get comfortable, and they did!

Another fun thing my kiddos looked forward to every morning is receiving a special note with candy on their desks. Amy gave me the idea of this last year and I LOVED it. I created these labels that go along with different candies.

I plan on using these again this year. I normally would give my kiddos a piece of gum to chew during the test as well.

Because I love technology, I plan on using the following websites throughout my test prep unit either as a station during Friday Stations or during RTI:
I have to give most of the credit from this post to Amy (one of the 3teacherchicks), who shared some of these ideas with me. I also have to credit Vanessa from Savvy School Counselor for the pamphlet idea. I got the idea of having stations from Stephanie at Teaching in Room 6. Mrs. S from All Things Upper Elementary gave me the idea of implementing the guitars and strategies for answering questions correctly. I ventured upon these blogs and decided to use some of their ideas, but with my own spin.

You can download the above resources for FREE by clicking here. There are some other resources within this pack that I haven't mentioned, so check it out!

Also, check out my Major League Math and Rockin' the Review centers that pair well with these resources.

What are ways you implement test prep into your classroom? I would love to hear your ideas. Just simply comment below!

Thanks for stopping by! Have a wonderful rest of your week!


  1. Great ways to get ready for the MAP test! Good luck to you and your students! I am sure they will do great. :)
    Conversations in Literacy

    1. Lori,

      Thanks so much for your response! Wish me luck! This time of the year seems so stressful. However, after that MAP test is over, it seems like things will calm down and be much more relaxing. :)

      3 Teacher Chicks

  2. I've been reading through your latest posts and there are so many great ideas I'm having trouble keeping them all straight of when I can use them. We are gearing up for our Ohio tests in a few weeks so I love everyone's stress-free reviewing and encouragement for the kids. Thanks for sharing all of your great ideas.

    1. Jennifer,

      Thanks so much for your response! Sorry for the delay. It has been one crazy, busy week so far! I wish you and your kiddos the best! :)

      3 Teacher Chicks


We LOVE comments!

5-Star Blogger