February 15, 2016

MISSION:Test-Taking Success

Mission: Test Taking Success

 With the importance and pressures associated with standardized testing, my kiddos are losing their cool. Some are starting to let anxiety kick in.

I want to shift the mindset majority of my students have of testing from something scary and high stakes to just a mission they need to complete.

I hope to accomplish this by giving students an Action Plan, steps they can follow to successfully complete MISSION: Test-Taking Success.

I teach this lesson to my third, fourth and fifth graders during the upcoming week before testing begins.

Here is how I help get my 3rd-5th students ready for test time:

Third Grade Guidance Lessons
First, I read the Action Plan for Success story. It gets students engaged and sets the stage for the foldable activity. Most third graders have never taken a state or standardized test, I like to let them know what they can do on test day to set themselves up for success. 

Then, I introduce the Cut & Glue Activity.
There are a few versions of this foldable, but I like to use the version that has questions
on the inside with my third graders.

I have students pick a piece of colorful cardstock and cut out all of their materials. I go through each of the 10 steps to the Action Plan individually. The students and I talk in depth about what they can do to accomplish each step, stopping for questions and self-reflection.

We have overhead projectors at our school so I utilize the posters when
I teach this part as visual aids and discussion starters.
I put up the poster for the step we are talking about and start a discussion around that topic. Students broaden their understanding of how what they do leading up to the test, is just as important as what they do during the test.

After we've talked about the step, students glue the label and question into their foldable. I then have them cut a slit, freeing that flap and answer the proposed question on the inside flap. 

I continue this process until all labels and questions are glued and flaps are free.

 I stop at appropriate intervals and have students answer the questions in the middle. These questions truly get students thinking about their own test taking habits. 

At the end of the activity, students have a foldable activity to take home and/or decorate as well as a full understanding of how to successfully complete MISSION: Test-Taking Success.

It is such a fun activity.

There are three versions of the cut and glue activity. One version contains full statements under each flap, one has questions under the flaps, and the last is completely blank.  I pick which version I want based on class ability. 

If I do not have time for the cut and glue foldable activity, I use the Print and Fold foldable activity.
It's simple, you print the selected pages double-sided, cut the dotted lined perimeter, fold on the solid lines, cut the flaps and you are ready to go!

 I like that I have the option of a longer cut and glue and activity and the time and paper saving print and fold activity.

Here is everything listed that I could mix and match to teach my third graders the steps for test day success.

Fourth and Fifth Grade
Most of my fourth and fifth graders already know what they need to do the day of the test. It couldn't hurt to give them a refresher, but I think my time with them would be best spent if we went over calm down strategies for test day. My older students are starting to understand the real pressures associated with these high stakes tests. I want them to know a few ways to calm their minds if stress starts to kick in. 
I get the students hooked by handing out the "Is It Test Anxiety" self-evaluation sheets. Self-reflection allows the students to think deeply about how the upcoming state test is affecting them. The self-evaluation sheet grabs their attention and makes them vested in what I am going to teach. If they think there is a possibility they may be prone to test anxiety, they are more likely to be engaged and actively learn the information I am presenting.

After I have their attention, I like to have my students define a superhero mindset. What do superheroes need to do and tell themselves in order to successfully complete their missions? We hit what I talk about in third grade but much quicker and in a way that gets students thinking about how their mindset and attitudes towards testing can leave a lasting impact on their performance.

I then introduce the foldable activity. I use it as a teaching tool for different calm down strategies students can use just in case the nerves take over. This foldable is a bit smaller than the one I use with third grade, but I like that it allows me to take an in depth look at each strategy with the students. It allows a lot of time for modeling of the strategies, discussion and question and answer time. 

This foldable is super simple to make. I love the ease of use with this activity. Depending on how much time I have, I either use the print and fold or the cut and glue. Both captivate student attention and convey the intended message clearly. 

For the print and fold activity, I double-side print and hand out the version I want the students to use. They cut around the edges getting rid of the excess borders, fold the page in half with the column "Superhero Mindset" facing out. I then cut slits on the dotted lines freeing the individual question flaps.

I pick one of the three available versions, depending on the ability level of the students. 
All three versions cover the same content, they just differ in the amount of effort required of the students. 

I teach each strategy individually, stopping for time to answer the inside questions and have discussion. I utilize the included posters on the overhead projectors as discussion 
starters and visual aids. 

The cut and glue foldable covers the same content, except it takes a bit more time and is a little more fun. I print and handout the necessary materials and let the kids pick from an array of colorful cardstock. There are three possible formats (same as print and fold) which allow for so much flexibility and diversity between lessons!

Here is everything listed that I use with fourth and fifth grade

For All Grade Levels
I bring with me posters and information about the types of questions they may encounter on tests just in case I have some extra time. I ask them what types of questions they are worried about and give tips on how to handle them. 

More often than not, the students say they are worried about multiple choice and essay questions. 

I like to thoroughly discuss each concept and make sure that all students are left feeling calm and ready to complete MISSION:Test-Taking Success. 

I like to leave all students with a motivating note to remind them how awesome they are!
I am in love with the endless possibilities and ways that I can help my 3rd-5th graders handle their test anxiety. There is such a plethora of possibilities.

What do you do to help your little ones cope? Share your ideas in the comments sections!

That's all for now!

Mrs. Bell

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