It is that time of year- the dreaded test prep season. My state isn't even finished writing the test that we will be giving this spring. Sigh... I don't love testing. Who does? But I have found lots of way to make the test prep a little more fun. It's all about the TASK CARDS!
Let's face it- we don't have extra time in our day. Quick line-up activities are perfect for the busy classroom. When my class is getting ready to leave for recess, lunch or specials- I pull out a set of task cards. I show a card to one student at a time. As they answer correctly, they get to line up. If they get it wrong, they stay in their seat. If we have enough time, I can come back to those students who missed their question on the first round. The best part is that is we run out of time, I can just have the rest of the class line up as usual. No big deal! If that happens, I just start on the opposite side of the class the next time we line up. It is good practice, and it gives me a little glimpse into the skills and the students that need more teaching.
During test prep, I like to use my Game Day Math Test Prep Task cards. They review a ton of the math skills that my third graders learn during the year. I make one recording book and then the students rotate through the 13 sets of task cards and sorts while I work with small groups. I check their recording books regularly so that I know who still needs help on a skill. My students love them because they are hands-on and they get to choose the order in which they complete the centers.
For reading, I created a similar type of resource. There are task cards that cover all of the major literature and informational text standards.
I choose different sets of task cards and pick 5 or 6 from each set. Each set is a different category on my game board. Just sequence them from easiest to the most challenging. Flip them over backwards and with a dry erase marker (on lamination) write $100-$500 on the cards.
I divide the class in half. Students take turns choosing a category and dollar amount. But I make all students solve the question on their white board. If all students are not working, then I will ask the opposing team to answer for the points.
Last year, I allowed my students to come in the classroom 30 minutes before school to play review jeopardy for the week prior to testing. I had more than half of my class there everyday! It is THAT fun! And they barely notice how much they are learning.
My first year teaching, my neighbor teacher taught me about entrance tickets. She called it "Price of Admission." It is just like an exit ticket, except the children are answering the question on their way in the room in the morning. It makes for a great warm-up. During bell work, you can pull those few strugglers for another mini lesson.
There are different ways to do a scoot, but this is how I manage them in my classroom: All students are given a recording sheet. Then I lay the task cards out around the desks. Students are instructed to work on the card closest to them and then scoot around the desks answering all of the cards. They do not need to be answered in order. The student just needs to put the answer in the correct place on the recording sheet.
Everyone is working independently (although you could do a partner scoot if you wanted), so this allows me to scoot around with my intervention and SPED kiddos. I read the cards to them and help them find the correct place to answer on their recording sheets.
I often use scoots in place of a traditional assessments, so I usually collect the recording forms and grade them. This is a good way to know which students need more help and plan your small group intervention. Sometimes, depending on time and the skill, I will display the answer key and we will go over the answers as a class. My hope is that students are correcting their work and understanding their mistakes. Good review!
As much as we try to meet every need of every student in our class, we have to admit we are only one person and there are a lot more of 'them." During test prep, I do my best to meet with small groups of students to work on a skill that I noticed they were struggling with. Sometimes, after meeting with the group, I still feel that a student needs more practice. Sometimes a parent is contacting me and asking for more practice for their child. Instead of searching through boring workbook pages, print out the black line version of a task card set and send it home with the answer key. Students can work through a few at a time with parent support. Parents could even hide them around the house to add some interest. Amanda said that some of her students actually use them to play pretend school. How awesome is that?
I am sorry for such a long post, but I hope that you were able to find some new and fun ways to incorporate test prep into your day! My biggest suggestion is to keep a set or two of task cards close by at all time. You might have a minute during restroom break time or five minutes before pack up time. It might only be enough for a card or two, but it is so much better than nothing!
Do you need some task cards to use for your test prep? I have dozens and dozens of sets for 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade. Click on the picture below to see them.