Is your test prep game in need of a rebound? Sure, March Madness is starting this week, but for us teachers, it’s testing season. With standardized state assessments and AP exams right around the corner, I worked on my game plan for test prep, and I’m sharing it today.
1. Escape Room Review
My favorite way to review for standardized tests is by engaging students in the ulitmate review challenge: escape rooms. I’ve created escape rooms for poetry, literary analysis, and nonfiction, and they are always a fan favorite for my students (and for me)! Students are highly engaged in the reiew tasks, which means they’re preparing for their tests, but they’re doing it in a fun way. You can read more about how to create an escape room for your classroom here.
2. Card Challenge Quizzes
I was first introduced to this strategy by a former co-worker, and since then, I’ve used it every year with so much success. She came up with the idea of using a quiz bank to combat students sharing questions with later periods in the day. If you teach the same class more than once a day, this type of sharing is sure to happen. However, using a bank method with a random draw for questions minimizes the likelihood that they’ll share answers. If nothing else, it works because they don’t know which questions they’ll receive on quiz day. To make the stakes a bit higher and since we’re using cards anyway, the quiz is also a game of chance. If students pull a straight (it doesn’t have to be in order) with Ace being high or low, they don’t have to take the quiz and everyone gets a perfect score!
Here’s how it works:
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A card quiz is a really easy idea to make reading check quizzes (or any type of objective quiz) a fun game of chance. ♦️♠️♣️♥️ In this video, I’m answering your questions from my stories last week, and I’ll explain how I create and facilitate a card quiz. . If you have any questions, ask me in the comments! . . . . . #iteachela #highschoolteacher #iteachhighschool #iteachhs #secondaryela #teachersfollowteachers #nctevillage
3. Prompt-Essay Writing Prep
When it comes to acing high-stakes, on-demand writing, the first and, in my opinion, most important factor is understanding exactly what the prompt asks you to do. Because standardized writing is graded holistically, it is impossible for students to score above average if they do not directly answer the prompt. If a student writes an essay with advanced diction, pristine organization, and an insightful analysis but doesn’t directly answer the prompt, their effort was all for naught. Even though students do not have time to complete developed prewriting on timed tests, the skills that are required for this analysis can be practiced and perfected. Conducting a prompt analysis is a great way to practice these skills. Here’s how we do it:
1. I give them 30 seconds to read the prompt.
2. Then, I ask them to turn the prompt over and immediately write down what the prompt was asking them to do.
3. We review their responses. It’s not surprising with such a short reading that students miss something from the prompt. During this discussion, I make the point that hurried reading of the prompt when I time them or they’re under pressure result in the same problem: lack of understanding.
We use a prompt essay writing process notebook to practice these skills in conjunction with organization. I’ve found that practicing these skills in a low-stakes environment gives them confidence and “brain-memory” to be able to do it on demand.
4. Scorer Training
I had an epiphany after I attended an AP training. I was learning how to score these essays, so I can help my students, but wouldn’t it also help them to learn what the AP readers are looking for? I decided it was important for them to learn about the grading process, so we do intensive grading training, just like the scorers of standardized tests. They learn that holistic scoring means their writing will be scored as a whole rather than individual sections. I show them the difference between a holistic rubric used for standardized tests and an analytical essay that breaks down each category for scoring with a set number of points.
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This is how I set up peer review for AP, but it could work for any class. I number across desks with sticky notes (you know I love them! 😂) for how many students I have in class. I use washi tape to cover the names because it comes off easily afterwards, and it’s not see-through (but most of all bc it’s pretty!). Then, I give each paper two sticky notes. I distribute the papers and the holistic rubric, and the students read and provide comments on the sticky notes. Once they’re done, they put their numbered sticky notes back on the original table under the same number. We repeat for the second reviewer. This works really well because the second reviewer isn’t influenced by the first reviewer, but we can stick them all back together at the end for the owner. Finally, the owner reviews his/her own after now having read two other papers and becoming familiar with the rubric. Not only does this process give them valuable feedback, but it really helps them understand what the scorers need to see for a high scoring essay. 🎉
5. QR Code Word Walls
QR Code Word Walls are a great way to improve retention of important testing terms, literary devices, or advanced vocabulary. Because students are engaged in the process of teaching, they are more likely to recall the terms later on. You can check out the details here.
6. Text-Dependent Analysis Resources
7. Test Prep Games
8. Digital Test Prep Resources
There are some great ditigal test prep resources that are both engaging and effective. Here are some of the best ones to check out:
What I love about these options is that you can create your own review games or you can often find games already create that can be edited. For example, my husband who teaches AP Gov and AP US History found ready-made Kahoots for every single chapter of his textbook. He didn’t have to create any of them scratch, but could save and edit them as his own.
I hope you found some ideas that you can use to preapre your students for a class assessment or a standardized test. If you liked this post, I would love for you to share it on Pinterest!
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