Snow may still be on the ground (for some of us), but state assessments are just around the corner. You’ve followed the curriculum, practiced the standards, and feel confident your students have received the content they need. So, what else can you do to make sure they’re fully prepared for test day? Here are three crunch time tips.
Practice the procedures
There are a few benefits to practicing the testing procedures in addition to the content.
First, a practice round gives students some insight into timing. Most kids don’t know what an hour (or any other time limit) feels like. They might get on a roll, look up at the clock, realize they only have 10 minutes left and rush through the rest of the section. Practice helps them understand what they can get done in a certain amount of time.
Practice also gives you a chance to check out the technology, since many state tests are now administered online. Every assessment is going through an iterative process, working out the bugs they’ve seen in these past few years. This means things might be slightly different with the programs, or they’ll require different devices on which to run.
Finally, testing often requires teachers to speak from a script. This can be distracting for students who are used to their teachers being much more casual. Find an old script and get your students accustomed to what a testing period actually sounds like.
Brush up on breathing and stretching
A big source of test anxiety is general discomfort. There are a couple of ways to get students more relaxed for the marathon that is test day.
Here’s a quick rundown of some breathing exercises proven to lower stress levels in 10 minutes or less. They will help get students’ brains oxygenated and calm nerves.
Students can also get stiff sitting in an uncomfortable chair without support. Here is an article from WebMD describing 12 stretches that can be done in a chair. Pick out the ones that seem the least likely to disturb the rest of the students and give kids some practice time.
Stock up on supplies now
Food is fuel, and if your students skip breakfast, hunger can quickly become a major source of distraction on test day. Organize your colleagues and make a concerted effort to provide some healthy, hearty snacks for students on test day (trail mix, granola bars, and fruit are all easy options). Look for sales at warehouse clubs and grocery stores to keep the bill in check.
And of course, plenty of students will forget to bring pencils for the test. If you still test using paper (or students are able to use scratch paper), start looking for deals on the good old Number 2’s now—guaranteed you’ll save the day for at least one student when the testing period rolls around.
Looking for more tips to help your students have a successful spring testing season? Check out this blog for strategies on How Teachers Can Help Students Cope with Test Anxiety!