One of my least favorite things about the end of the school year is the testing! I love once it is all over and I can focus on celebrating my students and the learning that has happened this year. As a new teacher I never really knew HOW to prepare my students for testing. This blog post is all about how to effectively plan for test prep. I have also shared my Test Prep Made Easy organizer with you for free!
What do you do to prepare for end of year testing? Do you try to review and reteach everything you have taught this year? (This was me!) Do you focus on the main things and hope for the best? Do you just go into testing with hope they remember everything?
My first couple years of teaching I would try to re-teach everything from the year! Every year I realized how impossible this was but never knew how to not do it, so I continued using this "strategy". I still had units and standards to teach before testing that we hadn't even gotten to yet. EEEK!
In year 5 I finally learned I needed to review, while having faith in the teaching I had done all year and the learning my students had done all year. We had all put in countless hours of hard work and dedication to learning and preparing for these tests, that I needed to trust everything we had done as a TEAM.
Here is what I did to make reviewing successful: You can grab my Test Prep Made Easy organizer here to help you start planning!
Figure out number of units and calculate that many weeks before testing to start reviewing.
For me, we have 7 units in 4th grade. I do not review measurement (our last unit) because I am teaching that up until testing so it is still fresh. Therefore, I start reviewing 6 weeks prior to testing.
My Test Prep Made Easy organizer has 7 weeks set up, with a blank organizer if you have more units than that.
Have a dedicated time for reviewing for the tests IN class
This for me is morning work each day, but could also be bell ringers, and a math center each week.
For morning work, I typically have a question or two on the board from the unit we are reviewing. For the math center I use the detective sets. (More details below).
Use extra credit for at home review
I do assign math homework almost every day, so all review I send home is for extra credit. In order for students to earn EC points, they must show all their work, it must be in their own handwriting, and it must all be turned in before the first day of testing.
For review at home, I have students complete the 10 question assessments (more details below), or other worksheet type practices that are broken down by skill.
4. Have a reward for the day before testing begins. I know you might be like "WHAT?! BEFORE?!" But hear me out...
These tests do not define your teaching or your students knowledge as a whole. It is one test. Celebrate all the work your students have put in, BEFORE they have to take the tests they are not excited about. ALL students get to participate in this reward, as long as they 1) try their best on reviews each week and 2) are present the day of the reward.
For in class review, I use math detective sets. Students LOVE these. They can also be used during the year as a full classroom transformation, however, for review, I use them as a math center. Students work together to answer the 20 problems correctly in order to solve the crime. You can find my Math Detectives Bundle here! (I am always adding new sets and standards. The earlier you buy, the more you get for FREE!)
For at home review (Extra Credit) I use these 4th Grade Assessments. There are about 10 problems per page and 22 assessments total. Each assessment is over a different standard. Because my review is 6 weeks long, I typically "assign" about 3 pages a week for students to complete. For my extra credit points, each page they complete and earn points for, 10 points are added to a previous assignment on that same skill (or similar one).