Planning the Small Details to Prep my Students for the Big Test
It’s March, which means I’ve found myself in test prep season yet again. Since apparently I’ll never be satisfied (cue Angelica Schyler for all my Hamilton lovers), I’ve switched up my test prep plan another year.
*By the way* Hi, I’m Adrienne! I’m in my 12th year of teaching 3rd grade and since I’ve taught departmentalized reading for 6 of those years, I’ve prepared 20 classes of 3rd graders for the end of year state reading test. *Now, back to it!*
I’ve been neglecting my blog this school year, but after sharing bit about my test prep program on Instagram and getting amazing feedback and a ton of questions, I decided I would sit down and pour myself into sharing the details in an effort to make another teacher’s life easier.
When I sat down to type this blog post in Word, I ended up with 9 pages! To save you from scrolling into infinity, I decided to create a downloadable PDF explaining my test prep program in detail. It is free and you can grab it by entering your email below. *I also threw in some editable templates with the PDF! You can grab my sticker sheet, student goal setting sheet, and test prep program planning templates.
This post will cover the basics of how I run test pep in my classroom, but you want to grab the PDF for 9 pages of details, layouts, and templates!
Establishing a New Routine
I’m a sucker for routine. Having 3 classes of third graders cycling through my room during the day would be a chaotic whirlwind without routine. On the first day of our test prep kickoff, I have a class meeting to set individual goals and walk students through our new routine.
The first part of our 75 minute block will remain independent reading. We have read for at least 20 minutes at the top of each reading block all year and we aren’t going to change that now. The next 20 minutes of our daily routine is our whole group lesson and the last 35 minutes are spent with student practice. Student practice can be individual, small group, or buddies.
Another way I work in routine is through our lessons and activities. Each day of the week will have the same activity every week. For example, every Tuesday during the whole group lesson, we will play an IXL game whole group. Once I know this, I just need to plug in 6 weeks worth of IXL skills and match them with game ideas. Every Tuesday during student practice, we will do nonfiction article comparing activities, so I can just plug in the articles I want to use for a 6 week period.
Planning the Lessons & Activities
I mentioned above how I use the same type of activities for each specific day of the week, over 6 weeks. I like to lay my plans out this way because then I just need to come up with 10 types of activities. I come up with 5 different types of whole group lessons, then I just cycle the same 5 types each week. I also come up with 5 types of student practice activities and cycle those for 6 weeks.
My 19 page free eBook includes much more detail on this and explains the type of activities I chose and why. When choosing what type of activities I want to be spiraled each week, I ask myself:
-What do students need to be able to do to pass the state test?
-What deficits, struggles, or gaps were shown by data throughout the school year?
Incentives & Rewards
To keep my students motivated and encouraged, I have a few different reward systems in place. My students favorite piece to the program is their sticker sheet. Before getting started on the student practice portion of the day, I will tell the students what the target is. For example, the target might be to get 7 out of 10 questions right or to highlighting evidence for all of the questions. Students who meet the target get a sticker.
On Friday, students who have all 5 stickers get to select a big water bottle sticker, they LOVE these! Then, I pull 5 students names randomly for the prize box. Students can only get prize box on Fridays if I pull their name AND they have all 5 stickers from the week.
Thanks for making it this far! If you’d like a much more in depth printable version of this blog post along with a plan sheet, a sticker sheet, and a goal setting sheet, just click the button below!
Before You Go…
On another note, I’ve been thinking about creating a membership for teachers. Teachers who would like to participate in the membership would pay $15 a month for access to all 50 of my math, grammar, and reading mini lesson PowerPoints. Each month I would add lesson plans and new mini lesson PowerPoints. If you have a minute, I’d love your thoughts on this as I continue to build out this idea. You can take a quick survey by clicking on the book image to the left.
Talk to you soon,