Standardized Tests. Some would say that with a groan and an eye roll, but we at Infinite Horizons say it with a smile (and maybe even an exclamation point), because we know that the more you intentionally and transparently teach your students to know themselves as learners, the more they should be able to put that knowledge to use to prepare for standardized (and all other) exams. Testing time doesn’t have to be stressful, boring drudgery. There are ways to spice up the routine and make the experience enjoyable and worthwhile. (If you haven’t gathered information about your students so they can get to know themselves as learners click this link to get learning style and multiple intelligence surveys for K-2, 3-5 and secondary on our website.)
Here are Infinite Horizon’s “TOP 5” ways to make test prep fun and fruitful for you and your students:
ONE: Monitor your own attitude about the test. Our personal feelings about these tests are more obvious than we might think and more contagious than we realize. If test taking time is a struggle for you, try to find the silver lining in the testing experience so that your students can lean on your positivity. Think about the life skills that you are sharing with your students. Students will have stressful situations throughout their lives, testing can be a great way to learn to manage that stress in a productive way. Remember that the results of these tests can inform your teaching for the following year. There are a lot of positive ways to view these tests. Focus on those aspects in order to set the tone for the whole class. Also, remember that tests are gatekeepers for many professions, so it is a valuable life skill for your students to have in their life.
TWO: Make it personal. Remind students to use the knowledge of their own learning style when preparing for and taking the test. Use our free resource (Study Tips for YOUR Learning Style) to guide a class discussion and empower your students to capitalize on their strengths when studying or taking the exam.
THREE: Have fun reviewing for the test. Playing games is a great way to review content from earlier in the year. (See links in the resources section of this newsletter.) It is also fun to create review stations around the room that cover the key topics for the exam. Students can rotate through the stations in Core Groups, learning style groups, or even readiness level groups each day. Reviewing content will help the information pop for the students during the exam and help solidify it in their long-term memory.
FOUR: Go over proper test taking strategies and stress management with your students. Don’t assume that other teachers have taught your students test taking and stress management strategies. Use the resources included in this newsletter to help you prepare your class for the work ahead. For a more detailed unit on test preparation as a genre study, check out our book, ‘Winning Strategies for Test Taking.'
FIVE: Create a motivational song, chant, or dance to play before study sessions and before each exam. Music is a great motivator! Some schools have created hilarious music videos to help their students feel excited about acing the test. You can create your own class song, change the lyrics to an already existing song, or even dance and flex your muscles to something like the "Rocky" theme song. Check out the links in the free resource section on the right hand margin for some inspiration.
Credits: Michele Leip, with Kathleen Kryza