Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher: Test Prep: Welcome to Spring Training!

Test Prep: Welcome to Spring Training!

I don't know any teacher who is a big fan of standardized testing. However, they are a fact of life. So when life gives you lemon- make lemon aid! That is exactly what I do with test prep. I make it FUN!

In fact, we don't call it test prep in my classroom. We call it spring training!

First thing when they come back from Spring Break, we read this poem: What if school were more like baseball? I ask the kids if they would like it is school was more like baseball. Of course they say "YES!" And I respond, "Then lets make it more like baseball! But we have to get ready for the big games (test days) with lots of batting practice."

We start by setting some spring training goals...

These goals can be very helpful to me as a teacher!

Since I teach third grade, it is the first year of standardized testing for my students. They need some instruction in how to be good test takers. So we make a a game day playbook! 

I teach them a few tips at a time and display these cute posters as I teach the tip.

The students have mini versions of each poster that they glue into their play book. Then they write about what it means and how they will use that tip on game day.

I carry the sports test prep theme into our math centers. For the two weeks right before testing, they will be working on these task cards.

I also play an interactive baseball math review game with them once a week. They LOVE this! A student comes up to bat. They are given a review question and if they get it right and can prove why it is right, they run to first base. If they get it wrong, their team gets an out. The game is a hit (pun intended!) and it gets them out of their seats. 

The day before testing, each kid makes a promise. I encourage them to make a promise that is going to help them individually. So my little guy who has 48 tardies- I will encourage him to make a promise to be on time ever day of testing. My little diva who always finishes everything first will be encouraged to make a promise to slow down and check her answers. We make this fun craft with them,

After school, I hang these on our classroom door with a sign that says "Mrs. Sears' class is going to hit it out of the park!" As the students come in on game day- I have them reread their promise.

After game day, we celebrate!!! I bring in hot dogs and cracker jacks and we watch the movie Everyone's Hero. It is an adorable movie with a really sweet message. 

You can grab all of these materials in my Game Day Test Prep and Game Day Task Card Units.

What do you do to make test prep fun and meaningful?


  1. Great ideas! Sadly, we seem to always be in "Test Prep" mode. We have Benchmarks tests on the computer, STAR tests in math and reading, and this year the new ACT Aspire. Ugh!

    Before this test overload, I tried to instill a calmness about testing. General outlook of NEVER thinking they are smarter than the test. You are only smarter than the test if you have proved your answer choice-(look at the text or worked out the math). All year I refer to "Goober". Goober is a 3rd grader who doesn't think things through, and I will show examples of what Goober does. They have to tell me what Goober did wrong (didn't add what he regrouped, etc). They think it's funny. Chalk it up to my southern roots.

    We share our mistakes ALL year long. They become eager to share, become reflective learners, and learn to find their own mistakes in advance. They will tell me during a regular assessment, "I found one!" and be so excited!
    In all, I think test prep is a year-long mindset.
    I will do sample problems on the Elmo that might be different than what they are used to. They either raise their sets of ABCD cards (4 colors) or write ABCD on a white board. I will say "think it"....they choose and wait. Then, "show me". If all are right, I let them know. If not, I will go back to the choice and show how certain choices are eliminated and then the correct answer. By this time in the year, those that picked something else will tell me, "Oh, I was thinking......". We do this with the lights out, and it is super calm and relaxing. Short spurts of this over time is very effective.

  2. This is my first year having to prep kiddos for standardized tests so I'm learning as I go. I love this post... so many great ideas!!

    We did a practice test a couple weeks ago. It was helpful for me AND the kiddos... gave us an idea of what to expect. First we talked about what you can and can't do during the test
    Then we acted out scenarios. Before the practice test started, we danced to an AIMS "testing day" version of "all the single ladies". That was fun.

    Then the practice tests happened. We spentba good amount of time discussing test anxieties, questions and "I can" cheers.

    Still nervous for the actual test though. :-O

    aka Miss B.