Saturday, April 21, 2012

Test Taking Motivation

  It is officially 20 days until state testing time and we are in crunch time. Do you know what we call our standards in Va?  SOLs (Standards of Learning).  I know, I know...giggle sounds like something else. 
  How do you review with your students?  Do you have Study Island?  Study island is a great website with games geared specifically to our standards.  You can access it on a regular computer, as well as an app for your ipad, kindle or other device.
We have created a study calendar with our students that breaks down our standards into smaller chunks and assigns different practice sessions using the computer on Study Island.  My own research shows that the kids who studied this way...a little bit each night over a course of a few weeks...scored better on the test than those who did not.  Of course, not every child has access to a computer every night. And so we also included a paper version of refrigerator cards for Virginia Studies, as well as skill specific review worksheets for math/reading (one a night).

Then you have to do I get them to actually do know, study???
Well we came up with this idea last year and it really worked. 

Our school uses Responsive Classroom and therefore we do not use ticket systems or prize boxes during the year.  However, for the four weeks before testing...we do...kinda.

Here is the plan...I made up a grid using a pocket chart that I duct taped to the wall with fancy tape.

Across the top it says S O L *(star) and down the side it is numbered 1 - 8. 

Then I took some two sided chips and wrote a letter or * on one side and the corresponding numbers on the other. To explain ...think of bingo chips like S 1, S 2, S 3, S 4 , S5, S6, etc...

Next, each day the students come in with their folder that houses the calendar.  If they have studied using the papers, then their parents need to initial it.  If they have studies on the computer (Study Island) I can check the results, see their scores and get my proof that they did indeed study. 
If they are in the clear, they can put their name on the chart.
Here is the fun part...then I pull a chip from the basket and call out a coordinate.  S-5.  If there is a student's name in there...then they get to choose from the prize bucket.  If not, I draw again. 
Now, I am a softy and therefore I pick two names a day.  I let the students know that it is totally random and you can get called at any time.  (This keeps them on their toes to study every day!)  I also tell them every one who studies will be rewarded at the end with a really good SOL well as a treat from me!
We switched to this method for several - they need motivation at this time of year.  (me too!) two - we used to use a pizza party for everyone who studied at the end...but that was too long to wait and after a while, some kids quit trying.  three - let's face it, our jobs are on the lines with these scores...we've got to do everything we can to get them to study and pass.

I have to say that I had several students in the past two year's class who took this to heart and really used this time to get caught up.  I had one child who had been retained twice and really struggled...she not only passed all three tests, she passed one with an advanced score. 

I hope it helps to engage your students during CRUNCH TIME....


  1. Looks like a great system. Thanks for the link to Study Island. That looks like a great resource.

    Fun in Room 4B

  2. I teach 4th grade in VA too, and I have always laughed about the name!
    I like the idea of the board. Very cute! I'm a new follower from Teaching Blog Central!