Our district just completed our "first round" of standardized testing for the year last week, and let me tell you - it was no picnic. For me or the kids. Blah. Double blah. I just HATE this time of year. And now we are taking tests like this TWICE each year. Boooooo.
Okay, I do understand WHY we are required to test our students. I just don't like it. I wish I could change it. But I can't. So, as I paced slowly around the classroom last week for hours on end, I had to come up with some "creative" ways to keep myself from going brain-dead from boredom while not breaking any of the test security rules that could get me fired. Um, yeah. I need my job still.
So today I'm sharing ten of the ideas I came up with.
Hopefully you'll be able to use some of these while monitoring your own students during the upcoming state testing that we all dread.
Strap on that FitBit or clip on a pedometer. Let's see exactly how many steps (and consequently how many miles) you can walk during each test. And, hey! As a STEM teacher I am all about data analysis, so keep track of the number of steps, the testing time, and the tested subject. I wonder if I take more steps on the first day of testing or the last? On the math test day or the reading? During a longer test or a shorter one? Just be sure not to write anything down DURING the test. That's a big NO-NO!
As you wander up and down the rows of hard-working students in your room, come up with an adjective to describe each of your students. The challenge? See if you can choose an adjective that fits their personality that also begins with the same letter of their name. For example, I could be Kind-hearted Kim (first name) or Creative Coker (last name).Once you've chosen an adjective, practice the names as you pass each student (in your head, of course) and see if you can memorize them by the end of the testing period. It's actually pretty challenging. It kept me busy for 75 minutes!
It's no secret that I love a good song parody. Especially when it's something science related. Read about some of the songs I use when I teach science concepts here. I'm usually pretty lucky to find some great songs on YouTube, but there are some topics I teach in science that I haven't been able to find a great song for. So while you are walking around watching your students during testing, think of one of the more recognizable songs (that tends to get stuck in your head easily) and try to make up your own lyrics to fit a topic you teach. Last year my husband and I put together a song parody for the TCAP Test Pep Rally and shared it with the school. I happen to think it's brilliant. :) And yes, that IS my hubby dancing around randomly...
Not really, but IMAGINE that you were in charge of the world. What rules, laws, changes would you implement? Be creative. I actually blogged about this LOOOOOONG ago on my family blog after asking my own kids what they would do if they were in charge of the world. While my list has changed some, there are definitely some that I would STILL add to my list today.
Along the same lines as #2, choose a cartoon character that you think each student is most similar to and imagine that character sitting at the desk trying to pass the test. I've got one student that I SWEAR would make the best Ferb (from Phineas and Ferb). Imagining him sitting quietly taking the test cracks me up!
Now, don't get me wrong here. I'm not saying to stand in the front of the room and do a series of jumping jacks or a kickboxing routine, but there are some exercises you can do without disrupting your students. Besides, they should be completely focused on the task at hand anyway, right?!? For example, do some toe raises. Every so often, stop walking and lift your toes while keeping your heels firmly on the ground. Another idea is to do a few sets of shoulder shrugs. Shrug one shoulder toward your ear, hold and then relax. Repeat with your other shoulder. Another great one is doing hand stretches. Simply tense and relax the muscles in your hands. Make fists, spread your fingers and bend your fingers. And last but not least, try contracting your abs as hard as possible and hold it for about 5 seconds. Release and then repeat again.
As you pace the room trying not to regret choosing teaching as a profession (just kidding), look closely at your classroom. How could you improve its overall visual appeal? Think like an interior designer on one of those addictive HGTV shows and try to mentally rearrange the desks and other furniture to create a more inviting space. Is there a way to add a "pop of color" to spice up the place? What about a whole room revamp? Last year I came up with the idea of switching out my student desks for a set of larger tables. This year I actually got to do it and I have to say I LOVE the results! So use this time to rethink your room. You might be surprised with how much you like it!
Need some inspiration before the tests begin? Check out this board on Pinterest.
If you've been teaching for a long time, this one will be great for you. I saw someone post on social media once that teaching is the one profession that will make you rethink all future baby names for your own children. Well, now is your chance to make some changes - temporarily. Pretend you were in charge of giving your students their names at birth. What names would YOU have given them? Does that one girl in the back of the room really look like a "Lydia"? Or would you call her "Amanda" instead? Trust me. This is an interesting mental exercise.
I love the Back to the Future movies. Even though the first one is my favorite, I've always thought it would be interesting to go into the future to see how my life and my kids' lives have turned out. So try this. Imagine you have traveled into the future 20 years. This will make your students adults. What job do you think each student will have? I seriously have one kiddo in my class that will be president some day. I kinda wish he was running in the current election He'd have my vote for sure!
One of the things I love most about my little brother (who is actually a grown man and father of two kids of his own) is that he will always answer a question. No matter how silly it is. And he will give it a lot of thought and justify his reasoning even if it is completely outrageous. So think of some really crazy "Would you rather..." questions and try to answer them in all seriousness. See if you can come up with a rational justification for your choice. For example, when asked "Would you rather have really long nose hairs or a huge outie belly button?" my brother explained that he would choose the long nose hairs because he could trim those every day but a huge belly button would get caught on the waist of his pants all of the time. Pretty reasonable. Ha!
So now that YOU'RE prepared for the next round of standardized testing, how about a little something to help motivate your students and show them you care? Grab a set of these motivational treat labels to encourage your students to do their best on state standardized tests (or any other class or local test).
(Click on the image above to download.)
The great part about these labels is that they are formatted to print directly onto Avery 5160 address labels. Excellent for the busy and overworked teacher (Aren't we all?) who still wants to do something sweet for the students.