It’s just way too early… whatever you do, don’t say those two words!
When I was teaching, I made it a point not to mention "state testing" to my students until after Winter Break. I’m not sure about you, but I always felt like it was too much pressure for our students and then to constantly remind them every day– not the best way to build confidence! Don’t get me wrong, when it was getting close to <gulp> February, I did have to address the TAKS test (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) but I found some great ways to encourage and prepare my students without specifically "teaching to the test".
Teachers have a lot to cover in one school year (is that an understatement or what?), but on top of the basic subjects/units you have to cover, you’re also expected to prepare students with test taking strategies. This is no easy task– your brightest student that has a difficult time focusing on a day-long test, the struggling readers who can’t "prove" themselves on the math portion (since everything is a word problem), or those who are considerably behind both academically and emotionally, just to name a few scenarios. Now as I slowly step off of my soapbox, I DO have some great strategies to help reach all of your students and support you as you take on another year of … state testing!
Support for YOU:
Teachers do have access to unitedstreaming from home– so one weekend or evening as you are thinking about how you can help your students, log-in to unitedstreaming and check out one of these videos (click on the links)–
Did you know that all of our videos are correlated to your state standards? Take advantage of this– find videos, clips, and images that match up to what your state will be covering on their assessment tests!
Support for Students:
Struggling Readers– Have students watch video clips with the closed-captioning turned on. This will provide valuable visual-audio connections. Integrate graphic organizers (ie Inspiration, charts, webbing) to help students make more meaningful connections. Boost their vocabulary by showing words in context (videos and clips).
Math Help– Combine math videos with relevant manipulatives (students need to see math concepts in action). Many students struggle with math problems on state tests because they are unable to break down the word problem and assess what facts are needed to find a solution. Use images/clip art and graphic organizers to decipher word problems (ie Function Machine, distance problems–draw a diagram, time problems–clock). You can also run a search for ‘word problems’ and there are several videos/clips students can watch as a supplement to what you are teaching in your small groups.
Writing Ideas– The Writing Prompt Builder is a great way to get your students writing (see my last blog for more on journaling). Similar to reading and word problems, use graphic organizers or diagrams to help students organize their thoughts before writing. Not sure what they should write about? Pull up the "Today in History" calendar and you’ll find great facts about events that happened on each day of the year– use these as a starting point to get students talking & writing.
If you have additional ideas or strategies to help others– please feel free to share! When you make learning fun and educational, your students will be better prepared for "assessment day" (promise)!
~Monika Davis, Discovery Education