It’s Testing Season
And that means we have to get test motivated. What is test motivated? Keep reading… I’m gonna explain it all.
I don’t know about you, but spring means April showers, May flowers and standardized testing. I don’t know about you, but it instantly makes me shake my head.
Don’t get me wrong here, I understand that assessment is a crucial part of our students ability to reflect on their learning and set goals for improvement. However, I know that standardized tests are not the best way to engage our students and families in tangible next steps in moving their learning forward. On the contrary, school districts and “the powers that be” do rely on these tests. In fact, when I was buying a house I found MYSELF looking at the standardized test performance for nearby schools. Despite the challenges and frustrating aspects (and there are a lot), these tests are a part of school reality.
So, HOW do we prepare our students to show what they know on these tests and be confident in taking them? My answer is motivate them & teach them about how to approach the test with a growth mindset.
Don’t cram, instead motivate. I teach my students how to approach the test with a growth mindset so they can leave the test feeling confident. We use reflections, class discussions, and exercises to help students feel ready to take the test.
3 Test Taking Motivation Ideas
#1 I know that part of feeling ready to test is knowing exactly what to expect on testing day. So, I always start by showing my students the schedule and talking about the test details. We go over the format of the test, the types of questions (multiple choice, drag and drop, essay, etc.) I do this because I want to take away as many barriers I can for my students as possible.
#2 I know students need real strategies for real problems. What do I mean? How should a kid handle things if she’s tired of reading or can’t stop moving their legs? What about if they have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the test or their stomach is rumbling? I provide a lot of time for us to envision what those testing sessions will be like and all the possibilities of problems that might come up! This helps students feel confident they will know what to do in these situations.
#3 I know how to get the WHOLE child ready for test taking. We use chants & quotes to inspire us. As a class we practice mindfulness and breathing to help keep us calm and refocus ourselves when needed. Additionally, I teach my students exercises that cross the midline to help them “warm up their brain” as I call it. These activities address more than just the knowledge and skills and attend to the whole child taking the test.
If you need ideas for how to have these discussions virtually, check out this post.
Test Day Motivation Starts with Classroom Culture
A big part of test day motivation starts WAY before test day. In fact, it starts on day one and it is something I work on every single day of the year with my students. Classroom culture. We work so hard to make sure our classroom is a place that is inclusive, supportive, and responsive for each student to thrive. This is an undertaking my students and I are in together. I do everything I can to make sure my students are at the center of my decisions, instruction, and culture. If you’re ready to transform your classroom culture start here by grabbing my free ebook on 5 ways to make your classroom culture student-centered!
Now… back to Test Day Motivation
A lot of my preparations with my students happen before Test Day, however test day motivation is key! Here is what I do on the test day to prepare my students for testing!
Test Day Motivation for the Morning Entry
As students come in I keep it calm and positive. I try to ensure I have positive and personal interactions with each child. Side note: I’ve also already communicated with their parents that today is test day, so I’m hoping that positive and calm vibe started at home.
Next, we come right to the rug and circle up for our morning meeting. We spend time doing a check in greeting (my all time favorite). It goes like this…
“Good morning crew/class/friends
“Today I am feeling _______. One thing i’m feeling positive about in my life is _____.
I’m checked in”
The class repeats “Checked in” to verbally acknowledge that student.
For my younger friends (1st-3rd) I like to slow the pace down and have students do more of a call and response. So, it goes like this…
“Good morning friends.” Class responds, “Good morning (name).”
“I feel (sad).” Class, “Sad.”
“I’m checked in” Class, “Checked In”
We go over the schedule and take care of the logistics of the day– bathroom break, materials prep, etc.
We set our intention for the test. I do this by talking about affirmations with my students. I have each student write an affirmation or statement to themselves about the test. Then, they tuck the piece of paper into their pocket.
Test Motivation for right before the test
About 30 minutes before the test we start this test motivation routine!
I crank some positive vibes music (check out MissBensko on Spotify) and we DANCE. I dance with them and I encourage everyone to at least move their bodies by walking around the room. 6th graders ALWAYS roll their eyes at me when I tell them to dance. Either way, we move our bodies for about 10 minutes.
Then, I turn the music to lower energy tunes and we find a spot to get mindful (usually still standing because we’re about to sit for a LONG time).
We do our breathing exercises and brain exercises.
Then, we grab our seat. Once in the seat we find our learning posture and position our body so our brain can think. Then, we take a few more deep breaths and read our affirmation card or say it in our head.
Resources for Test Prep
If you’re looking for activities and reflections for test prep (for the whole child) I have what you’re looking for! I have compiled every trick and tip along with ready to use digital or print activities in a big-ole bundle for you. Check it out right here!