Oh the joys of the end of the year, and for many of us state testing. For our students, this time can be stressful and even defeating if they are not ready. While I see the benefit of having students practice their stamina and working silently. I have also found ways to get students motivated to not only work hard on math, but they will also be begging for more practice.
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1. Have students hunt for the Questions
Many of us have our testing before or just after Easter. This is a great way to get students up and moving while also practicing the skills they need. This activity can be inside or outside, but a pretty day on the playground makes it extra fun. You can also use any questions, just cut them apart and put them in the eggs.
I take questions and hide them in eggs, each color egg has the same question in it. That way I can ensure that students get all of the questions and we can limit the number of eggs students find, allowing everyone to have a chance. Students then have a clipboard and answer sheet. Once they have all the correct answers (and work of course) they can get a treat. This is a great way to motivate them.
Do you need to differentiate to meet your students needs?
-Instead of each different color egg having a different question, make each group of students 1 color. Then you can put questions on their level in the eggs. This works best when students are working in groups to find the eggs.
- Have students collect less eggs, and answer less questions.
- Have students work in pairs with a student that is higher. The higher student can be the "teacher" and help the lower student to solve the problem.
Need Questions? You can check out my sets below.
2. Be the teacher
Allowing for students to take turns teaching is a great way to reinforce their understanding. One way I do this is to give each of the students a question to solve.
I make sure that each student gets a problem (I typically have 4 different questions) that they are able to solve. I want my lower students to also be successful in this activity.
After giving students time to solve the problems I pair students. They take turns being the "teacher" and teaching their partner how to solve the problem. When they are finished they find a new partner. I typically have students teach 2-4 students how to solve their problem. We then go over how to solve the problems together as a class.
3. Game Show Review
Who doesn't love a game show? This is a great way for students to work in small groups to solve challenging problems. Each team has a white board and marker. They take turns choosing the question they want to work on. If they get it correct, they get the points. If not, it goes to the next team who can steal the points. The team with the most points at the end gets a prize.
Check out My Game Shows Below:
3rd Grade Math Game Show Review
4th Grade Math Game Show Review
5th Grade Math Game Show Review
4. Stamina Knockout
One important part of testing is students being able to sit quietly and work for long periods of time. This does not fit into how I teach, and while this is my least favorite part of test prep, I do think it's important.
For a lot of us, our students are used to doing a workshop model in the classroom. They are allowed to move around the classroom freely, and work on different projects. While I truly believe that this has been a huge benefit to my students, it is not conducive to testing.
This is where stamina knockout comes in. We have access to practice tests through my district. You can also find practice booklets on many states testing sites. During the weeks leading up to the tests, we spend one day a week practicing our stamina.
We spend time discussing the importance of having stamina for sitting for long time. During the time that we are practicing I have them taking these practice tests. I mark each time a student gets up, or does something else that we can't do during the test. After we are done we look at our score as a class (I never single students out, this is a team effort). Over the weeks we try to have a lower score each week. If we beat our score from the week before, we get to go outside for extra recess.
5. Steal the Bacon
Many of us remember the days of playing the game "Steal the Bacon" in grade school. This is a great game that can be modified to play with students.
In case you don't know the game, you have an item (we used the chalk eraser when I was a kid, but anything will do) that is set up in the middle of two teams. Each team is lined up facing the item an equal distance apart. Each person has a number for their team, so you will have a number 1 on each team. You call the number, they run to grab the "bacon", and the person runs back to their team before being tagged.
To change this into test review I give each student a white board and marker. I show a problem on the board, I use my interactive whiteboard with these questions, but any set of questions works great. I give all the students time to answer the question. When students are finished they put the white board down. and stand in front of it. When we are ready I call a number. The students run to grab the item. If the winner has the correct answer, then the team gets a point.
A few things to consider:
- If you have struggling students, have students work together to come up with their answers. This allows for students who have more understanding to coach the lower students.
- You can also do this in smaller teams and allow them to solve the problem together. Just make sure that all of the teams are an equal distance from the prize.
Need Questions? Check out my daily math review.
3rd Grade Daily Math Review