Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Test Prep

The Test is next week.  Love it or hate it, it is what it is, and we've been working hard to get ready for it.  Review and prep can get boring, though, so here are a few ways I've found to make it a little less blah.

Grudgeball.  I found the idea (and the pic) at To Engage Them All, and my kids have loved having a different way to practice.  Be sure to visit her blog for the original rules, but here's how I've changed them for my kids:
  • I split them into teams, and I put the team numbers on the board.
  • I project a question and call on one team to answer it.  If they get it right, they get two X's on the board.  If they don't, play passes to the next team, who has 10 seconds to answer (keeps everyone thinking the whole time).  I started out with the original "erase the X" rules, but I think my thirds are a little young to handle it - they were getting upset when another team took their points, so we voted and they chose to change the rules some.
  • If the team gets the correct answer, they can shoot for an extra X.  One of my kids brought in an over-the-door basketball hoop and a ball.  I tape off a place on the floor for them to stand, and they give it a try.  This has absolutely no academic purpose, but it does keep it fun.

Scoot.  This is fun - and quiet.  And cheap.  You just put a different task card on each kid's desk and make sure each one is numbered.  Then you can either make a recording sheet (which is just a sheet with numbered boxes for them to record their answers to each card) or have them use good ole notebook paper.  Each student stands behind his or her desk, you set the timer (I usually do 1 minute), and they have that long to record the answer on their sheet.  When the timer goes off, they scoot to the next desk, and play continues until they're back to their own desk.  I love this because:
  • Everyone already has task cards.  It's so easy to adapt.
  • It's quiet.  I allow zero talking.  They're already so hyper this time of year, this is calming.
  • It's pretty quick.  Minimal prep.
  • And it gets them up and moving.  
Check out the blog post at Task Card Corner - that's where I found the idea and the image.

Kahoot.  This requires a little more prep and available technology, but my kids BEG for Kahoot.  Basically, you upload questions (you can include images, too, which I love), start the game, and kids log on from any type of device - phone, iPad, or laptop.  The question pops up, and the kids have a predetermined amount of time to respond on their devices.  When everyone's answered or when the time's up, the correct answer pops up.  What's really fun is that points are awarded for correct, quick answers, and kids see class standings after every question.  I love this because:
  • It's just cool.  The kids love answering on their devices and seeing the standings pop up.
  • It takes a little time to create the questions, but once you do, they're shareable.  So, you could team up with other teachers to divide and conquer, and then share.
  • I love to let my kids create Kahoot questions.  They write the question and the multiple choice answers that go with.  This is fantastic practice for identifying distractors, since they're actually writing them, thinking about common mistakes kids make.
Tennessee is moving to a new test next year, and I don't think prepping will be as big of a deal - or even possible, outside of familiarity with the test format - so in many ways I'm looking forward to that.  In the meantime, we are reviewing like crazy, and these are my three favorite ways to do it.  I know there are a lot more out there, though.  What do you do to get your kids ready?

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