Wednesday, May 30, 2012

State Testing Baggies

I know there are a million state testing baggies out there, but I wanted to share with you what we do at our school.  My colleague Christina Wineski came up with this idea and we all shared it. 

First we make a big bag with thier name on it.  We also include a thinking stone, some jolly ranchers, gum, lifesavers suck on during the test. 

Then we put in a bag of "lucky charms" and Scooby Snacks.  The Scooby Snacks will help them look for the clues in their reading tests and know that the evidence can be found there if they just search! 

Our special school tradition is to include Dumbo's feather (he had it in him all along!), our magic pencils (do your best on the test) and a key necklace (key to success).  These are given to them from our principal during our school kick off.  We put those in their baggies too.

Finally, I put a special sticker on the bag each day of the test.  It  doesn't given any test taking strategies, just a word of support.  Our kids need many pats on the back and reassurances that they can do it!
  Now they are ready to go!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

ABC review

As we prepare for state testing we are always looking for ways to review content taught during the year. One way to do this is to use an ABC brainstorming chart. We test two grade levels of science in fifth grade (fourth and fifth grade standards) - so an ABC chart is a great way to revieve content and vocabulary. You may want to give them a list of words - adaptation, behavior, community (etc...) or have them browse through their notebooks for key words.

You may also use these charts to review math words or Social Studies terms. I have used these as individual sheets, partner activities, cooperative groups or even as a whole group activity.

You can download it here for FREE!!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

State Testing Breakfast

We like to feed our kids before the big test.  Marzano says that students concentrate best when they are full, drink lots of water, and are in a state of "relaxed alertness".  Our breakfast helps add to a relaxed morning, gives students and staff something to look forward to, and the food gives them something to calm the nerves. 

We send out a letter to the parents to volunteer to send in various breakfast items:  egg casserole, muffins, cheese sticks, fruit, juice boxes and snack mix. 


Along with this, we hand out letters of encouragement from their parents and/or from their teachers.  We tell them we believe in them and know they can do it! 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

State Testing

We are in the middle of reviewing for our state testing and although I am confident that I have taught my students well and most of them have put forth 100% effort this year, I am still feeling the stress of the ones who may not be successful.  I am trying hard to keep my head about me, to not bite my nails down to nothing and to keep a positive can do attitude with my guys!

What do you do to prepare?

We started on Friday with our Blast Off!  My principal gathered all the third, fourth and fifth grade teachers into the cafeteria and motivated us through cheers, video clips and the blessing of the pencils!  Each year, she gives us pencils that are sharpened and special for the tests!  It's a nice touch!

This year she showed us a clip that had us all in tears.  If you haven't seen it you really should watch it... at home, with some tissues!

After that, she also shows the students a short clip from Dumbo that shows his magic feather. She starts by saying many people didn't believe Dumbo could fly...He had a hard life, his mother was in jail after all.  He didn't really have a home.  But his teacher (the mouse) believed in him and never gave up.   She says the feather he carried  wasn't magic...Dumbo just needed someone to believe in him and the feather became his symbol. 
We will all come to school tomorrow with feathers taped to our desks, doors and windows as a symbol that she believes in them. 
Isn't that amazing???  These kids and yes, these teachers, need to remember that during the testing time!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Do you post content in your classroom?

I believe that kids need to "read it, do it, see it, talk it and draw it" to remember most key concepts.  One way to reinforce this in the upper grades is to actively post content on sentence strips as you introduce it each day.  I got these ideas from Seeds of Science Roots of Reading (a great curriculum with many FREE language based ideas to boost reading in your science classrooms).  This is an example taken from our Planets and Moons unit. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tic Tac Toe

This is an activity that goes far beyond just memorizing meanings of lets kids make connections!!!  You can do this as a pre-assessment, a quick check mid-way through a unit or prior to a test...

How does it work?

Give students a list of vocabulary words on index cards or small cards on cardstock.
Students will shuffle the cards and deal out nine cards in a 3X3 format.

Ask student to form eight sentence each (orally), including the three words straight across in a row, straight down in a column, or a diagonal.

Then share the best sentence that made the most connections or misconceptions between words and concepts listed.

By the way, the vocabulary idea packet is available now!  Click on here to pick it up today!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Five Card Draw

How does this work?

Prepare cards with vocabulary words from any set of categories.  Today I am sharing math vocabulary words. 

Pass out the word cards to each student in the room. 

Then ask the students to move around the room to find four other students who have words that should "fit" into their category.

Once they find their matches, ask the groups to prepare a poster to summarize what they know about their category.  Include a picture or diagram, examples of the math (equations, graphs,etc...) and at least one sentence to explain the category.

This pdf will be available for FREE at the end of this week's postings....