The testing season can prompt waves of anxiety and fear during a normal school year and we all know this year is far from normal. Continue reading to find practical ways to get your students excited about standardized testing before, during, and after the big day.
Get Students Excited Before Testing Begins
Start with a countdown. During your class meeting, look at a calendar and as a class find how many days are left before test day. Decide how you want to count down each day. You could use balloons, chain links, or a piece of card stock on the board with sticky notes for each day left. This seems simple but it helps prepare their minds so the day doesn’t sneak up on them.
Next, get parents involved ASAP. Create a letter with tips and specific dates and times for testing. I try to send this home at least four to six weeks out so parents can reschedule any appointments if needed. In your letter, provide tangible ways parents can help. We create a sign-up sheet using Sign Up Genius and ask parents to send in what they can for the class. We include things like mints, gum, water bottles, chips, fruit snacks, popcorn, and other sweet treats. When students watch all the treats pile up before testing, they get excited for our celebration and goodies that are out of the norm for our classroom. Lastly, ask parents to write a letter to encourage their child without them knowing. I love sneaking around and laying these out on testing day. So fun!
Practice test also help motivate students. We take a MOCK test in early March. I meet with each student and we discuss one Glow (something they did well) and one Grow action step they can improve on. I also compare their score to the baseline test in August. Students are excited and motivated by the growth and change between the scores. I love watching their faces light up. It helps them to work hard and finish the race strong.
Review games become a daily activity. We finish our standards around the end of March and have about a month to review them. We do a mix of short focus lessons and review games. I use the data from the MOCK test to choose the standards we focus on. Google Slides Lessons are great for whole group review. Check out my fraction resources below.
Get Students Excited During Testing
Start with coloring sheets on each desk when students walk in the room. Have fun music on and help them relax before testing conditions being. Let them color sheets that have motivational sayings to fill their minds up with positive thoughts.
Check out my motivational coloring sheets here.
Testing Buddies are the best. Find a K-2 classroom that will partner with your class. They can draw pictures and make funny cards. Students will enjoy getting a letter from them.
A special note from you will also make them excited. Find one thing to remind them from your data chats like don’t forget to show your work or take the time to skip count your 8’s when trying to find the product. The notes will make them feel valued and loved.
Third graders in my state have 4 days of state testing and 4 days of county testing. It’s much better than the 7 days of state testing and 5 days of county testing when I taught fifth grade. They start to burn out so we keep the afternoon fun. Go Noodle or a movie for 30 minutes or so and interactive review games after lunch. No worksheets. At this point, if they don’t have it mastered a worksheet will not fix the problem but it will burn them out.
Get Students Excited After Testing
Create a classroom or school-wide reward for using strategies during the test. Talk it up throughout the weeks leading up to the test.
Plan fun end of the year projects. Ask students what they would like to study and find ways to make it happen. Remind them of the activity to come. Maybe a career day or coding activity.
Let their hard work and expertise shine. Guide them to come up with 5 testing tips for students next year. Spend time making them nice and have students share with the class.