Are you game for testing? Jumanji Themed Test-Prep Fun
Testing is wack. There, I said it. I hate the fact that my third graders are stressed to the point of tears for a stupid test. It’s not how I measure them as a learner and it’s not how I measure their growth. But, it is a measure that the district and the state use, so unfortunately every year around this time it’s like a big cloud darkens over the third, fourth, and fifth grade hallway. There might not be anything we can do about the fact that the kids have to test, but we can try to make them more confident and make the whole thing more fun! (Part 2 of this post is here.)
In my classroom, I do a workshop/center style daily prep review and I’m a sucker for a good theme. Last year was “Reading Boot Camp”. (I’m departmentalized and my focus is on reading for two groups of students.) The structure of my review time went SO well last year that I knew I wanted to repeat the same format, I just needed a new theme. I decided to get wild with a jungle, Jumanji theme!
How I Format My Review Time
From after Spring Break to the start of our reading SOL (which is only 3 weeks this year), I get two support staff pushed into my room for 30 minutes each day. This is when I do my review workshop, but you can still create a similar type of review even if you don’t have any help. I split my class into 4 groups and we work on a 4 day rotation cycle. The students visit a different station each day and start over with their first station again on day 5. To create my stations, I spent a lot of time thinking about what skills I really wanted my students to practice daily.
|Station||Type||Activity||Purpose||Gold Tags For…|
|1||with Me||online practice||-practice with an interface similar to what they will see on test day
-chunk passages and take notes
|-1 tag: chunking the passage without a reminder
-1-4tags: a tag for each chunk section where their jot note matches the section read
|2||with Support Staff||comprehension passages||-read a short passage and answer 8 questions in 30 minutes (pacing and stamina)
-review different text structures
-find text evidence in passage
|-1-8 tags: 1 tag for every question both answered correctly AND with highlighted evidence to prove answer|
|3||with Support Staff||skills in isolation, file folder centers||-refine skills in isolation
-review strategies taught throughout the year for specific skills
|-1 tag: focus at center
-1 tag: mostly correct answers to file folder center
-2 tags: all correct answers
|4||Independent||genre focus||-week 1: identification and purpose of nonfiction text features
-week 2: locating information from nonfiction text features
-week 3: author’s purpose and characteristic of genre types
|-1 tag: focused, on-task
-1-3 tags: 1 tags for each activity completed (these are typically shorter activities)
Pushing Them Along with Positive Reinforcement
The students are in groups, doing work I would have had them do anyway, how is this fun? Well, I like to add positive reinforcement. Students earn gold tags at each center and collect them for a reward. Gold tags are just yellow pieces of construction paper cut into strips. Last year students could trade in 8 gold tags for a spiffy pencil or a piece of candy. I knew it wouldn’t be fair to have students earn gold tags based on achievement alone because I have some really hard workers that struggle, so I decided to vary how they could earn points. Throughout the 4 stations, students can earn gold tags for effort, ability, and completion. Of course, my support staff and I can always give gold tags freely to students who have great behavior or go above and beyond with a task.
Getting’ Wild with Jumanji
Everything above is what I did last year and what I will do again this year. The main difference is that this year I will be incorporating a Jumanji theme! I plan on kicking off our testing season with a read aloud of the book Jumanji by Chris VanAllsburg. Then I’ll show students the game board I created (freebie below) and tell them that their goal, just like in the book, is to move from the deep jungle to the golden city of Jumanji. How do they do this? By earning gold tags!
The pictures on the game board are in the same order of the events from the book. Every other day or so, I will present the students with a scenario from the book and they will only be able to move forward on their personal game board if they have enough golden tags to move. For example, at the beginning of review time one day, I might put up the rhino slide and say “Oh no! The rhinos are stampeding! You can only escape for your life if you have 8 gold tags to move ahead!”
All the students with 8 gold tags can trade them in for a sticker to place on their game board. Sometimes I will surprise students with a candy or spiffy pencil along with their sticker. The other students will have to keep earning tags until they have enough to advance. The first 10 students (or however many popsicles come in a box) to finish the game will get a popsicle! I try to tell them this part ahead of time so that they are working for it. The game board has 16 spaces and my review stations will run for 16 days, so I’ll treat every day as a space, meaning the challenge will be every other day.
At the end of review season, which is after the big test, my students will relax with an indoor camping day! Tents, blankets, sleeping bags-the whole sha-bang! We’ll watch Jumanji and eat lunch in the classroom (the 1990’s version of the movie, not the recently released version).
Organizing All the Things
My students have card pockets on a bulletin board to hold their gold tags because I have a few sticky fingers in my class and it’s hard to steal another student’s tag when they are on a big board. Gameboards are glued to the front of a file folder that is stored in a file crate. Each student will have their own file folder, that also includes their personal goal glued to the back. Inside the folder, students keep all the work they need to hold on to for stations. If you don’t have a bulletin board, you could staple the sides of the file folder closed and have students store their gold tags inside. You could also give each student a 2-pocket folder, using one side for tags and the other for work storage.
Are you game for a freebie?
Does this sound like something your students could be in to? If your answer is even a little, tiny yes, then I encourage you to give it a go! It will make the whole process more enjoyable and give them incentives to do the work you were going to have them do anyway. You can grab the game board, goals sheet, and PowerPoint that I use for free by entering your email below. (You will get a password to access my freebie library page with this resource and more. The password will also be emailed to you.) If you grab the freebie, let me know how it works out for you either in the comments or by tagging me on social media (my links are above). If you have a system that really works for you, comment below! I love to get new ideas and I am constantly adding new ideas.
Talk to you soon,