I really have been wracking my brain for a good test prep tip. It is harder than you may think....because I try to not do anything too out of the ordinary. So, here it is:
DON'T MENTION THE TEST!
I believe that my test prep tip is to actively not mention the test and how much the kids need to pass the test. I know that many of you know this, but my kids have had a few teachers - and fellow students - that did nothing but talk about needing to pass the test.
My "I have a 95% but need extra credit" daughter was harmed for years by this. In her case, it came from being mixed in a class with many kids who were repeating the grade level. She began saying things like, "Well, if I pass the test this year..." I kept telling her she was going to pass, don't even worry about it, etc. But this went on for YEARS. I finally had to go in and ask her beloved teacher to pull her aside and talk to her.
My son has a vision problem that we didn't detect until after third grade. After having the daughter that did her homework dutifully and without any real effort on my part, the son was a shock. Starting in kindergarten, he would scream for HOURS instead of reading for 10 minutes. I could just not understand - he wanted me to read and loved books, just not if he had to read them. In third grade, I just finally said, "You are going to do it if you have to go to every after school program available." And he did. That kid did so much test prep and skill practice it wasn't funny. And you know what? It didn't solve that vision problem that we didn't know about. But it sure did stress him out.
DO Play Games!
Do everything you can to make test prep FUN. I do talk to my students about the test. I will tell them that the activity we are doing is similar to things they will see on the test. I play games with the kids with my task cards or with Brainpop. We use computer activities to review. I teach test taking strategies.
My kids like to work in teams (well, most of them.) I usually let them pick teams or I pick team captains. (I strategically pick those team captains - kids who really don't make the best teammates but always pick each other or kids who need to be paired up with stronger students, etc.) A few ways to run your games in a low tech classroom:
A. I put the task cards up on the screen and have the teams work them out and give correct answers points. The team with the most points gets a small prize. I use this strategy a lot this year, because most of mine would do nothing if it wasn't their turn.
B. Teams take turns getting a question. If a team answers incorrectly, the next team can steal for double points. This works best with a small number of team. The danger of this strategy is that a few kids do all the work while the rest sit there. I watch to make sure all members are participating,
To help you with your test prep, I am including a sampler freebie of my 5th Grade Subtracting Decimals Task Cards. For those of your teaching 4th grade, you may be able to use these cards as well. My son has been doing many of these same activities in his class. For the freebie, please click here or the image below.
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