Monday, March 2, 2015

Super STAAR Standardized Test Takers

Hi everyone. I'm from Queen of the Jungle and so excited to be guest posting on this blog!  I work with teachers in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade to improve instruction and prepare students for standardized testing. 

We are well into the spring semester now and March and April are just around the corner.  In many states that means it is time for Standardized Testing.  As a Texas teacher, I am most familiar with STAAR-State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness.  3rd, 4th and 5th graders in my school take STAAR.  At this point in the year, the teachers in those grades are busy teaching last minute skills and objectives, and spiraling as many topics as they can before the big test.  So, how do you review with students and keep them from getting burned out and bored? How do you keep them motivated and excited to learn? How do you get them to become a Super STAAR Test Taker?

I have found that one of the best ways to keep students engaged as we practice Standardized Test format practice packets and workbooks is to use the materials to play a variety of games. Games make practicing more fun for students.  Friendly competition between teams encourages them to give their best effort.  Cooperative discussion and agreement before providing answers allows for support and positive interaction among students.

Here are a few ideas:

1, 2, 3, Show Me: Each student gets 4 sticky notes, or they can fold and cut a piece of paper into four pieces.  On the first note they write A, on the second they write B, on the third they write C on the last they write D.  As a class you will be reviewing items that are in standardized test format.  Read the question. Then prompt students to think about what you are going to ask them, but not to call out an answer.  Prompt them with:  "Which answer choice is the worst choice as an answer?  It is not even in the ball park?"  Students think but don't do anything until you say "1, 2, 3 Show Me"  Then all at once, they pick up the sticky note that has the letter of the answer that is the worst choice.  Discuss the results and have students justify their thinking.  Follow the same procedures with questions like: "Which answer choice is still a bad answer choice?" "Which answer choice is good but not the best?" "Which answer choice answers the question?"  Your questions can also be specific to the content, for example: "Which answer choice uses addition, but is not the correct answer?" "Which answer choice gives the main idea but not the summary?"  This game teaches students to really think about and analyze their answer choices.

Challenges:  Divide the class into two teams.  Call one student from each team to the front of the room with their test practice packet.  They are the challengers.  Put a bell or buzzer between them.  Choose a problem for them to solve.  The whole class solves at their seats as well.  The first challenger to solve it rings the bell.  If they get it correct, the team gets a point.  If they miss it, the other challenger gets a chance.  If they both get it wrong, they can pick someone from their team to help them.  Kids enjoy the friendly competition of this game.

STAAR Battle (or Space Battle if you don't take STAAR) One game my students love to play is what I call STAAR Battle. The game can be played by drawing space ships and shields on the chalk or white board.  The game can also be played by using the STAAR Battle game found on my TPT store.  Download for free by clicking on the picture below:

How to play: Divide the class into 2-4 teams. Post one Space ship for each team on a chalkboard, white board, bulletin board, magnetic board or other location. Give each Space Ship the same number of Shields (5-8).  The more shields you give a ship, the longer the Battle will last. 

All students solve the problem you call out.  When students are finished with the problem, choose a team to begin the battle.  If you have more than two teams, choose teams with popsicle sticks.  The first team discusses the answer among themselves. Once they have agreed, they report to the class and justify why they have chosen their answer.  If they are correct, they get to roll the die.  If incorrect, the other team gets a chance.  

Add or remove Shields as described. Continue play until all shields from one ship are destroyed.  This ship is eliminated.  All remaining ships win the Battle.  Or continue play between remaining ships until only one ship remains.  The last remaining ship wins the battle.  

This game is so much fun for students. We even keep track of wins on a graph like the one below. As each team reaches 5 wins, they receive a special reward.

I hope this might give you a few new ideas to try with your class.  Stop by my Blog at:

Again, all of the items you see above can be downloaded for free on my TPT store.  Good luck with your upcoming tests!!


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