[Test Preparation] 4 Creative Classroom Strategies

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 -- Sarah Cornelius

Testing season has come around again, and as always, we realize that means extra stress for both teachers and their students. Looking for some fresh ideas to help your students prepare and keep everyone’s test anxiety to a minimum? We’ve put together four of our favorite creative classroom test-prep strategies!

1. Create Your Own “Breakfast Club”

No need to start handing out detentions to make this idea work! The hours before school can be a great time to offer your students the opportunity for additional review. Try holding several of these sessions in the weeks leading up to testing days. Focus on a different set of review topics each day or poll your students to determine what they want to spend time reviewing. Get parents involved to help provide breakfast treats—it’s amazing how far some good food can go in getting children out of bed! Review sessions held in this kind of informal, voluntary environment when students are just beginning their day and still fresh can help them both relax and really engage with the material. Plus, everyone will walk away with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you went above and beyond to prepare.

2. Tune in with Relaxation

Incorporating regular relaxation practice into your classroom routine can be a great preemptive way to help your students (and yourself!) deal with the stress that comes with testing season. Try incorporating “brain breaks” with simple yoga sequences at transition times throughout your day. Research has even shown that short bursts of physical activity like this stimulate brain communication and help students develop fine and gross motor skills. You can also try starting each day with quiet time—dim the classroom lights, turn on some light music (classical music is a good option), and go through a sequence of breathing activities. Regular opportunities to practice relaxation techniques like these can help your students better manage stressful situations (like testing!) in the moment.

3. Take Advantage of Tech

Online tools can be a big help when crunch time for reviewing hits. Standards mastery programs, such as Edmentum’s Study Island, offer teachers the ability to benchmark their students against state standards, target instruction, and provide individualized opportunities for practice in the specific knowledge and skill areas where students are lacking. Gamification in these programs makes review and practice activities engaging for students and can help tap into students’ intrinsic motivation. Online practice programs also expose students to an online testing environment and technology-enhanced item types, which are key to success on next-generation assessments.

4. Let Students Be the Teacher

Aristotle is attributed with the saying, “Teaching is the highest form of understanding.” Help your students achieve a deep understanding of test material by giving them the chance to lead review sessions. Try having students create study guides or practice quizzes for their classmates, and then work on them in small groups. Creating these materials will help students think critically about what kind of questions they may encounter on test day. Reviewing their own materials with other students who complete them will help students articulate and deepen their understanding of different topics.

Looking for more classroom tips, strategies, and resources to support your testing season review efforts? Download Edmentum’s Test-Preparation Toolkit!