Thursday, March 14, 2013

5 Ways to Liven Up Standardized Test Practice

We had our 4th quarter training session for the math department last week.  I was asked to talk about our ISTEP (Indiana's state test) resources. Each of the textbook series comes with a practice book of standardized test questions.  You could always just have the students work in the book and talk about the questions, but what fun is that.

1.  My students will do anything I ask them to if it is on the whiteboard.  They love to write on it.  I often use the dry erase boards when we play review games.  The group comes up with an answer together and when I say that time is up, they hold their boards up.  You could use the white boards in groups or individually.

2.  I was at the HASTI (Hoosier Assoc. of Science Teachers, Inc.) conference last month and went to a workshop by representatives of Dinah Zike. It was about using foldables for assessment.  We made the foldable that is below.  You fold over about 1/2 in. to glue to notebook.  With the rest, you cut into fourths and label A, B, C, D. When you ask the students to show their answer, they hold all but their answer choice down.

3.  My students LOVE using the clickers.  There is just something about using technology that gets the students fired up.  We use clickers from Turning Technologies. The only bad thing is trying to get the "recorder" to capture their answer.  The kids sometimes have to push their buttons many times to get their answer recorded.

4.  Last year our district had principals visit other buildings and do evaluations.  Of course, mine would come the week we were doing test prep.  I hunted for something that would be engaging for the students and look good for the evaluation.  I found Laura Candler's Buddy Test Prep.

The students work through a set of problems on their own.  When they are done they mark their answers in blue.  They then partner up with a buddy to discuss the problems.  If the student changes an answer after working with the buddy, they cross out their original answer with purple and circle their new answer.  The class then discusses each of the problems marking them with a green check mark or red X.

When I did this for the observation, I also added in the clickers...lots going on that day!!

5.  This last idea is what I call the cheap interactive smartboard.  I have a Mimio Pad. I can pull anything up on my computer, project it with the Dukane and use the Mimio Pad to do everything I would do with the mouse or keyboard plus I can use the drawing tool. You could use this to have a student work through a math problem, showing their classmates how they solved it.  I've used this when practicing for the constructed response portion of our state test.

I hope this gives you some ideas that you can use to get your students ready for your state testing. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and visit!


  1. Great tips, Amy! My students are the exact same way with the whiteboards!! They LOVE them! Great way to get them engaged in test prep. My first year teaching I panicked because I thought I had to buy a bunch of expensive games for indoor recess...I quickly learned that you can give a third grader a mini whiteboard and a dry erase marker and they will be happy as a clam. :)

    1. My students would use the whiteboard for everything if I let them, LOL! At the end of the day, someone always ends up volunteering to clean the large dry erase board in the room....9 times out of 10 the draw something in the process.

  2. I love your post, Amy! Such great tips! Thanks for sharing. :)

  3. I love the index card idea! We are about to begin test prep so this will be very helpful. Thanks!

    The 4th Grade Journey

    1. I'm glad you found something you could use. Thanks for visiting!

  4. These are great ideas! We just finished our state tests, but I am going to use the activities as review for our regular classroom tests. Even if the test will not be multiple choice, it will be a fun way to review. Thanks for sharing.

    Third Grade Galore

    1. Wow, that is early to be completely done. Any of these could be used for a test review. I usually use the whiteboard with groups to play my review games.

  5. My kids love to use their A,B,C,D index cards when we review for a test or the ISTEP. I almost went to HASTI, but I did catch a quick Foldables presentation recently and got LOTS of ideas.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

    1. Are you going to blog about them? I'd love to see what ideas you got. LOVE meeting other Hoosier bloggers!


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