Hi Everyone!

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.
Subtracting Decimals


You can buy the full set of Subtracting Decimals task cards in my store.  One lucky blog reader can win a set by entering my giveaway and another set will be included in the Lesson Deli giveaway.

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The Lesson Deli ladies have a giveaway of all the test prep products featured in the bloghop plus a $50 Starbucks giftcard!  Each seller has a test prep freebie for you - and many have giveaways.  Please continue hopping to see all of the test prep tips!

Next up is Mrs. Hach's Owl Spot.


Morphology

Hey Everyone,
If you are like me, testing is just around the corner.  My class this year is fairly strong in reading, but not in math.  Since I am spending so much time on math, I want to make sure that I am really focusing on the language arts skills that my kids need.  
So what do they need you ask?  Writing and vocabulary.  A lot of my students do not come from vocabulary rich environments, and I decided to really spend time teaching word parts.  We recently spent a week on prefixes.
Erin at Learning to Be Awesome arranged a seller product swap.  I got to choose the product I wanted, and the prefix activity was perfect for my ELA plans.  2SpeakRight had a terrific prefix product that fit perfectly into my unit!

Day 1:  Prefix Lesson

We use Journeys in our school, and the Florida Test Power book has a great prefix lesson.  I did that lesson first.  It reviewed dis-, mis-, non-, and un-.  I am sure that your ELA curriculum has a lesson on prefixes somewhere.

Day 2-3:  Prefix Meanings Lesson

Deb Hanson recently put out an INB companion for her many ELA craftivities.  She has a great prefix project where students make a paint palette of prefixes, and she made a matching notebook piece.  I used those pages with my students.  The pages have paint cans and paint splotches.  Click here for her Interactive Notebook Craftivity Companion Freebie.

Step 1: Prep

Before the lesson, I printed a list of common English prefixes and their meanings.  Did you know that there are enough prefixes to fill 13 pages?!  The list I used can be found here.  
I made a list of the 16 prefixes that are used in the center activity (described next).  I also added in the prefixes for our first Journeys activity.  
I made 2 copies of the paint cans for each student.  On the paint cans we wrote the prefix, and we used one splotch for the meaning and the other for example words.

Step 2: Whole Class Lesson

I recommend breaking this up into two lessons.  I found it was harder for my kids than I thought it would be.  I told the class the prefix, and then they would think of example words and try to guess the prefix's meaning.  
After we completed one page of paint cans, I asked students see if any of the prefixes had similar meanings.  They worked with their shoulder partners.
Once they had determined which prefixes could be grouped, we colored the paint.  Prefixes with similar meanings were painted the same color.
After that we went on and did the rest of the prefixes following the same steps.

Day 4: Hands-On Prefix Activities

Step 1: Task Card Sort

Now that the students had the prefixes in their grammar notebooks, I had them work on Winter Prefix Practice by 2SpeakRight.  I did have kids work with a partner as some of the words can be challenging, and it is always more fun to work with a partner in fifth grade;)  I really love this center.  It is not a free product, but I will tell you that I liked it so much that I had my own fourth grader do it at home.  It comes with four prefix mats and word stems for each prefix, as well as a work sheet for each mat.  Students need to sort the stems onto the prefix mats.  Each prefix has five word stems that match.  Some mats are tricky, because the word stem could fit more than one prefix.  Students need to think it through to have five for each.  (Blank cards are included so that you can add different word stems.)  The work sheet has a place for students to write their words and then apply to word in sentences.  

Step 2: Prefix Trees

Now, not to toot my own horn, but the kids loved this and it took about 10-15 minutes of prep time!  I really love crafts, and I like to find ways to use crafts with meaning.  On the way to school I kept thinking that our prefix study needed something.   I had a pile of paper scraps on the counter and I saw brown strips - BAM.  Prefix trees.   The true beauty of this is that you just need long strips of brown paper, about 4" x 4" squares of other colors, and tape.  I decided to cut valentine colors and make heart leaves.  In March, I could use the Ellison press and cut out Shamrocks for leaves, etc.  An on-going, ever changing ELA board!
So as partners finished up, they turned in their task card answers and selected one of their prefixes to use for their tree.  I gave each group a small strip of brown to write the prefix and its meaning, then they taped that to the tree trunk.  Next, the partners had to work together to find word with their prefix (hint, hint - use the dictionary!)  I don't think my kids had been this engaged all year.  I asked each group to find at least 10 words for their tree, and I finally had to tell kids to stop so we could move on.  I told them that they could continue adding one words as they had free time.  As you can see, each tree was unique - the different groups were explaining to me why they put their leaves the way they did!  It was really amazing to see how much they liked this.  
Note:  I did have to teach how to cut paper hearts.  It is a bit shocking to me to see so many fifth graders without these skills, but many of my students do not get to do arts and crafts like I did as a child.  

Giveaway time!

The giveaway is now closed.

2SpeakRight and I are each giving away a set of the products we swapped.  Enter here and then head on over to their page to read about how they used my Box of Doughnuts book report in their classroom.  You can enter again on their blog!

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Do you have any great resources or tips for prefixes?


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