Friday, January 6, 2012

Puttting the Magic in Test Prep Part 1

Have you ever put your foot in your mouth? Well, I did this the other day. I posted the picture above on my fan page and then went to read a friend's new blog post. She had just posted about getting ready for the "Big Test" She totally busted me and commented on my fan page, too. I felt compelled to elaborate on this statement. I do test prep! Don't we all do test prep? These are high stakes tests, and I feel the pressure just like everyone else. What I don't do is skill and drill, or should I say skill and kill. I would like to do a series of posts about how I put the magic in test prep.
This week we worked on informational texts. There is ALWAYS informational passages on the test. Yes, I could have copied a released item, had them read and answer the questions, but instead I gave them a real recipe and instructions on how to make a six point snowflake. Students had to READ both and make the items. If I had wanted to take a grade, I could have graded the finished product. I would love to tell you everyone of my little darlings did perfectly, but they most certainly did not. Several did not read carefully and thus made some major mistakes. They learned how important it is to read carefully and follow ALL the instructions. I had one student put their whole cookie with icing in the microwave along with the marshmallow. I'm sure I don't have to tell you what a hot mess that was. She argued passionately that she had followed the directions. I gave her the opportunity to reread the directions and try again. When she did this she quickly discovered her mistake.   I could have done a hundred worksheets with this child, and  it might never have hit home how important it is to follow all the steps. The difference in worksheets and real world is they CARE when it makes a difference in their life. I also flat out refused to help them in any way. Yes, I knew she was sticking her whole cookie in the microwave, but I knew she would learn from her mistake. By the way, you are probably wondering about the cost. It was minimal. The following were enough supplies for my class of 21 students:
Copy paper  for snowflakes- Free
Craft sticks-Free (If you don't have these in your closet already, I bet the art teacher would donate some for your classroom.)
1 package of cookies- $1.00
1 tub of white icing- Free (this was left over from our Christmas craft but would be $1.00)
1 giant tub of sprinkles (this will last me for many years, too)- $1.00
1 package of large marshmallows- $1.00
Life Lesson- Priceless

Click on the pictures for your free Googledoc copies.

Teaching Tip of the Week
Teach to a theme.

Click on the cover for a free online version of this book. 

 I really like themes, and this week it was all about SNOW. I read the FREE online book, Snowmen at Night. Then we brainstormed and filled in our graphic organizer. Finally, I gave the students the prompt: What do snowmen do at night?

 Click on the picture for your free copy.

If you enjoyed any of these activities, I would appreciate you following me. Either way I wish luck as you continue to create magic in your classroom!


  1. Thanks Amber! My teaching buddy is going to try it next week, so I'm curious to know how it works out for her.

  2. I really like both of these ideas and will try them this week before open house!

  3. Thanks! I would love to hear how it went and get some suggestions from others on how to improve this.

  4. Selina, I love your idea. Unfortunately, test prep is a must but I agree with you it doesn't have to be paper pencil. It not only bores my students but bores me too!! I will have to try your idea for sure!

  5. Thanks, I hope it goes well for you.

  6. Just found your blog and I'm lovin' it! Thanks for the link to the online book too. I use this book for writing. We read this and then brainstorm things in their houses that may come alive when they're asleep. They write such funny poems with their crazy ideas! They need to be rhyming poems which makes it even more fun!

  7. Thanks so much! That is a great idea. I'll have to try that with my students. Thanks for sharing!

  8. The book is not available :(

    1. The books have probably changed over time. This post was from 2012. :)