As I prepare my kiddos for that high steaks end of year test, my main focus is on readiness and review. However there are a few other preparations I like to take care of as well.
1.Two to three weeks prior to the test, I contact parents and invite them to write a letter of encouragement to their youngster. The week before, I have them send it in a sealed envelope with their child's name on the outside. The morning of the test, I hand out these letters for students to see those tender words of encouragement just before their big task. For any students who did not receive a letter, I solicit letters from a few supportive staff members that might have a relationship with the students like our great librarian or their resource teacher. I don't want anyone left out. They seem to really love this, and so do the parents.
2. One week before the test, I send home a snack request letter to a select group of parents. I ask for individually wrapped (non-messy) snacks to be donated so that we can enjoy a short treat break between tests. Of course, I use these snacks as a bribe and tell my kiddos that if they try their very best, there will be a treat waiting for them (either between sections or afterwards).
3. The Friday before the test, our school puts on a Testing Pep Rally. Keep in mind that we are an elementary school. The band of a local high school comes to play for us and get us pepped up to do our best. It all starts with a parade. The band plays (its LOUD) and walks down each hall, as students have gathered in the halls, against the walls outside their classrooms. As the band comes back down our hall, our classes follow and join in the parade to the final destination-the pep rally. Not only does the band play, but our dance and jump rope teams perform. Then, the most popular event of the day puts on a performance...a group of daring teachers run out as our school's Cheerleaders! We have posters and actually do a cheer. We call our state test, the CRCT, so our cheer is centered around those letters. C=confident, R=ready, C=conquer, T=test. "We're Confident and Ready to Conquer the Test". And of course the crowd goes wild with laughter at those of us daring enough to reminisce of our younger days, actually do cartwheels and such! It's a lot of fun!
4 .On the day of the test, when my students arrive, at their desk, they find a pack of Smarties candies with a short note from me telling them that they are smart andI believe they will do great on this test.
5. During the testing week, I reward my students who get in the bed by 8:30, who bring a verification note from their parents, with a skittle. It always amazes me, how much I can get an 8-year-old to do, for just one or two little skittles or M&Ms! Having a 7-year-old of my own (and two older ones), I get first-hand experience with how sleep, or the lack of sleep, effects attitudes, mood, effort, and in this case, performance. I need them to be in the best state of mind that morning.
6. On the last day of the test, in the afternoon at our break time, we have a "Testing Celebration" to celebrate that we are done (either popcorn, popsicle or pizza party). Parents are usually very happy to provide this.
A few other thoughts of preparation...
* Even though we are given brand new #2 pencils, I like to hand out those colorful pencil top erasers. Kids just love those and they are an inexpensive way to make testing cheerful, not to mention my main reason...these erasers work much better than erasers made onto the top of certain brands of pencils.
I want to take this time to share the brand of pencil that I have found to be the absolute, best pencil on the market for my students and for my own children...wait for it...here it is...Ticonderoga brand. Their eraser never leaves smudges, and makes erasing a breeze. I've never found their lead inside the pencil to be broken and they sharpen well. I feel my kids are cheated by pencil companies when they must sharpen the pencil over and over just to get a good point. Ticonderoga pencils come in the traditional yellow color, as well as black (which my son loves), and more.
*We are fortunate, that our school offers free breakfast duringthis testing week also. We know how important a full stomach can be. No one can do their best when they are hungry.
Many of you probably do similar preparations for your end-of-year testing, but hopefully you’ve come away with at least one new idea that might help make your kiddos' testing experience a bit easier.
If you have a moment, leave a Test Prep Tip of your own...