Saturday, April 1, 2017

Teaching Season is Here!!

Books, Student, Studying, Learn, ReadI got an e-mail Monday during our planning day. I about freaked out. It said "Tentative State Testing Schedule."

Holy Moly.

I whipped out my Erin Condren planner and said, "13 days? That's it??"

Ya'll-- I had 13 days left to re-cram everything I have ever taught this year into my lovely little ones. UGH.

Then I got to thinking about this saying I heard last week--"If you think you have to hold on to it, then you are doubting yourself as an educator..." we were definitely talking about the hoarding problem that plagues all teachers...but I got to thinking...

"If I think I have to reteach everything, I am really doubting myself as an educator."

Why do we feel like we have to help students cram for the test? I mean that's stressful on us as well as them, right? So, what should we do instead? I HAVE TO RETEACH THEM EVERYTHING. Ha! It's game show time. It's individualized center time. It's conferencing time. It's not stress time.

There are a bunch of books that help with anxiety and testing. Every year we do a bunch of things that help our kids relax because after all they are 8-10, and they need some ways to release the relax themselves. One of our classroom favorites is Wilma Jean the Worry Machine by Julia Cook (purchase yours through this affiliate link)

One of my favorite activities to do is one our guidance counselor did with us last year. We all (even the teachers) got a piece of lightly colored paper after reading Wilma Jean. We were asked to close our eyes. Imagine the most peaceful place for you. Is it the recess yard? The library? Your bedroom? The football field? Where do you feel the most peaceful? Now on your paper you can do one of two things...

1) Draw it out. What you saw--draw it! (I even let them use my awesome smelling Scentos markers to do this activity)

Kid, Hands, Picture, Pen, White, Children, Child
2) If you don't want to draw, write it out like a Wordle. What words come to mind? What do you see? What do hear? What do you smell?

After they got done, we asked for people to show their special peaceful places off. We made a special place in our binders for them. When kids got worried or overwhelmed, they opened their binder and took a look at their peaceful place. It was awesome! The kids loved it--even my kids who are so not worried about anything #catchthesarcasm !!

That brings me back to my instruction. I still have to teach, but I don't want them to be stressed. So, what's a teacher to do? Here is what we are doing! You can follow my Instagram @exploringiselementary to see us in action in the next few weeks:

1. Task cards. The task cards we are using are old state tests paired with stories. I have them laminated and in a scoot position. We are going to each read the story, analyze it, and carry it with us as we enter our answers into our technology--and if they are doing our EL testing still good ol' pencil and paper action will be happening!

2. Kahoot is gonna be our friend!

3. Game shows with are testing books. We have Coach books that we are to work out of because they cost us a lot of money. -.- So, we are going to get the answers on our own. Then talk it over with our tablemates using accountable talk. Finally, it's game show time. I got these awesome buzzers a few years ago. I have kids start in the back of the room and do something physical or STEM related before they run to the front and hit the buzzer to answer the question. If they are correct they get a point, if not they have to go back and start the challenge over before they can answer again. I have music playing in the background and it's the F-word!! FUN!!!

4. PLINKO. Ya'll the kids love to play Plinko. I use my equity sticks after the kids have discussed their answers, and if they get it right they get to drop the disk! If not, they get to pull the equity stick of the next person who gets to go. If that person doesn't get it, then it goes back to the original table. It goes on until the questions are complete!

5. Finally-- our very own triathlon! Our whole team gets in on this one. Each of us takes on a tested subject. We set up centers based on the biggest testing strands. In our homerooms, we begin with the lighting ceremony. One of our standards is that the kids have to create a working circuit. So, we create lighted torches. Then we parade around the school with our torches.

We get back to class and the "Olympic triathlon" begins!!

Students have 30 minutes to get through the centers in the classroom. For every correct answer, for every leader-like moment they exhibit, and for good sportsmanship the class gets a point. (Enter Class Dojo!) At the end of the 30 minutes, we rotate classes and do another subject area. At the end of the games the classes will be awarded the Gold, Silver, and Bronze (and maybe some other prizes too!)  It's so much fun!

So, there is how we set our kids up for the BIG TEST! What do you do to get your kids pepped up for the test??

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