'Tis the Season: Test Prep for the PSSAs

Lance Rougeux’s post to the National Blog in February about the DEN Webinar Recap: Test Prep Ideas reminded me of another test prep project you could implement with your students.

Everyone teacher across the State understands the need for test prep for the high stakes PSSA tests. Now that the window for the second round of testing begins soon for Mathematics, Reading, and Science (someone please tell me why Writing does not count if we test for it?), I thought I would share some test prep ideas that are fast, fun, and effective–and work for any discipline–using DE streaming.  And the best part: your students create their test prep. Want to see students in a 21st century classroom engaged in differentiated, inquiry-driven, project-based real world learning. Then the formula is simple: have them open their DE streaming accounts and follow these simple directions:

1. Have your students search by “Subject.”
2. Find the grade level appropriate for your search.
3. Preview segments. Your ideal length for a segment is 2-4 minutes.
4. Download your stream to desktop, and then insert it into PowerPoint or Keynote.
5. Have your students create 5 questions with 4 answers for the video stream.
5. For each incorrect answer, provide a “Hint” that returns the viewer to the segment of the video that needs revisiting to determine the correct answer.

Next comes the Big Five Questions. I tailored these questions to the PSSA Reading Test, but you can adjust the questions to the subject you teach.
1. Which statement best expresses the main idea of the video stream?
2. The maker of this video stream would most likely agree to which of the following statements?
3. The best definition of the word _____ (or phrase_____) as it is used in this video stream is: (remember to put the word or phrase in italics).
4. Which of the following statements represents a fact expressed in this video stream?
5. The primary purpose in this video stream is to:_______?

Student love when you ask them to work with film, and there’s no safer, better vetted source than DE streaming, so why not give them some Extra Credit Questions to pursue:
6. Which of the following concepts is not included in the video stream?
7. Which of the following sequences show the order the facts are presented in this video?
8. Which of the following concepts represents an opinion rather than an expressed fact?

What I absolutely love about this project is that my students love it. They just do not want to quit on this assignment, and often do even more extra credit at home. Instead of boring skill-and-drill hard or software programs, this DE streaming project lets the students use the product almost as a learning portal where they control their learning, differentiating the level of difficulty of the questions and the video stream. At the end of 3-4 days, you have an amazing bank of test prep DE streaming video test prep samples that your students will love to use.

To generate topics, I ask teachers in the building to email topics they cover during the year that would make good test prep topics. Last year’s list included:

  1. quantum mechanics
  2. chemical nanotechnology
  3. bonding
  4. values
  5. goal setting
  6. decision making
  7. diet and nutrition
  8. the nervous system
  9. special senses
  10. respiratory system
  11. cardiovascular system
  12. cellular respiration
  13. photosynthesis
  14. genetics [molecular and organismal]
  15. quadratic equations
  16. icosahedrons and dodechahedrons
  17. cycloids and their graphs
  18. graphing the sine, cosine, and tangent functions and their reciprocals
  19. endangered species [of Pennsylvania]
  20. water quality
  21. pollution issues
  22. human population growth: underlying factors and the problems it causes
  23. career selection: how to?
  24. music
  25. health class issues.

Student could select their own topics, but a surprising number chose from the list. What you can do with this simple project is really unlimited in scope and use. If you are a high school teacher and you have students who want a different kind of extra credit, have them try this project. Or have your students make test prep for your elementary schools. Then, when your Key Club does a reading program in the elementary school, instead have them “read” these tests. Perhaps you want an alternative assignment for students to showcase their knowledge or you would like a tutorial bank of projects for students to view. Whatever your choice, you can imprint your own design to this project.

I would love to hear your ideas, so please feel free to post a comment.

You can view samples of DE streaming test prep at the top on my website’s Digital Projects page under Discoverystreaming Test Prep.


Related posts


  1. Jan Abernethy said:

    Love the ideas for incorporating DE streaming with PSSA prep! It will fit in nicely with my plans for the week. Plans include 5th grade students using web 2.0 tools to create PSSA practice presentations. Students have already begun this project. Currently they are creating interactive Power Point presentations, SMART Noteboook presentations, Movies using Windows Movie Maker (scanning applications and taking pictures,) Blabberize, Podcasting, Voice Threads and NOW DE Streaming! Student projects will be posted on a wiki page on our website when completed. Watch for posts later this week at: http://jabernethy.wikispaces.com/

Comments are closed.