Yup, that's right. Standardized testing begins on Monday with an Editing and Revising test. Over the last 8 years of my teaching career I have slowly fallen into that pattern of teaching to the test. Yes, I admit it, I do teach to the test. I swore up and down as a pre-service and beginning teacher that I would never teach to the test; that only (insert negative adjective here) teachers did that. It has always been my belief that if I was teaching quality, motivating, engaging and meaningful lessons to my students, they would of course succeed on the test. However, as the years have gone on, I have seen that my students need to be actively prepared for the assessment.
Basically - here's the gist of it. The test isn't really an authentic assessment of what I teach my students or of the amazing learning and growth the accomplish over the course of the year. Since the test doesn't accurately assess them, it's not fair for me to let them be blindsided by the questions. Therefore, I have to teach to the test for a short period of time.
And...I HATE it! There is nothing enjoyable about teaching students how to respond to an open-ended reading question. There is nothing authentic in that experience. As a passionate, adult reader I never answer questions like that in writing. I don't follow a response format. However, it must be done on the test. I do my best to make the learning fun, but as we get closer and closer to those tests, the pressure builds and I feel the weight of it on my shoulders, almost like Harry Potter seeing the Death Eaters or the black shadows that haunt Luce in Fallen by Lauren Kate.
I've decided two things:
1. I can't get rid of them...so I can only do my best to help my students beat them. How do I do that? I use a ton of resources written by the amazing...Nancy Boyles! Check them out...they are really clear, concise and easy to implement in the classroom.
2. I have to motivate my kids and bring a sense of fun to the whole thing. To that end I made my students little bags of peppermints with tags on them that say, "You were "mint" to succeed, so do your best on this test!" I am hoping these will help ease the tension and bring a smile to my kiddo's faces on Monday.
How do you prepare your kids for the standardized tests that plague our schools? Any great resources or strategies? I would love to hear them!
Happy Testing - Jenny