Are you a teacher who wants to make test preparation fun and engaging for your elementary students without putting too much pressure on them? Engaging students in review and test prep can be challenging, especially when you want them to take the “big” tests seriously. However, it doesn’t have to be tedious or stressful for you or your students. In this blog post, I will share some tips and activities that can make test preparation enjoyable and effective. Read on to learn how to create a supportive and engaging environment for your students during test prep.
Table of Contents
Review and Test Corrections
When grading assessments, formal and informal, I keep track of the skills that students missed the most and make sure that I plan for reteaching and reviewing those skills in whole group or small groups. I use whole group to reteach and review concepts that all or most students missed and I create small groups of students to reteach specific skills that some students missed.
After a test review, I offer my students extra credit if they review and correct the answers they missed. Students must show their work and I give them half the points back as extra credit. I also allow my students to retake a test if they scored a C or below. For my gradebook, I keep note of the original score in the comments but give students the updated score for their grades.
For each test we take throughout the year, I give my students a little quarter-page test checklist. My students use the checklist to ensure that they use the best test-taking strategies. I give my students extra credit for showing evidence of using strategies for each question. I conference with students after every test and go over what they can work on to improve their test scores and having a checklist is very helpful.
(Scroll down to get a FREE copy of these Test Checklists)
As we get closer to the “big test”, I’ll take every completed checklist (and I check to make sure that students showed evidence of completing the steps), fold it, and throw it in a basket. I’ll pick out two, three, or four checklists and reward those students with a bigger prize like free computer time, a trip to the treasure box, or a lunch bunch.
I am a fan of motivating students with low cost rewards for good behavior, good character, and putting forth good effort. I enjoy earning little rewards in life (Starbucks stars anyone?) and kids do too. I have some simple no-cost and inexpensive reward ideas for you to use in your classroom. These rewards can be given to students who put in the effort to prepare for a test and also make the effort to correct their mistakes after the test.
Homework Pass: Give students a homework pass if they complete a test study guide or test corrections.
Lunch with the Teacher: Let students who achieve a certain goal have lunch with the teacher. This can be a great opportunity for students to get to know their teacher better and build community. Students are often motivated to enjoy lunch away from the cafeteria.
Class Party: Plan a small class party with games and snacks. Set a goal for the entire class to achieve, such as scoring a certain percentage on a practice test, and once the goal is met, have the party.
Praise and Recognition: Simply praising and recognizing students for their hard work and effort can be a great motivator. Let students know you are proud of them and their efforts, and celebrate their progress along the way.
Task cards can be a great tool for test prep as they allow for a variety of activities and can be easily differentiated for different levels and learning styles. Here are some ideas for teachers to use task cards for test prep:
Review: Use task cards as a review activity by having students work in pairs or small groups to complete the cards. Students can take turns reading the questions and answering them, and then discussing the answers with their peers.
Stations: Set up task card stations around the classroom where students can work on different topics or skills. Have a timer or bell to signal when it is time to rotate to the next station. This can be a fun and engaging way to review a variety of concepts.
Scavenger hunt: Hang the task cards up around the room. Have students find each one and record their answers on a recording sheet. This gets students up and moving and can be a fun and interactive way to review.
Differentiation: Use task cards to differentiate instruction by providing different levels of questions for different learners. For example, provide basic questions for struggling learners and more challenging questions for advanced learners.
Game: Turn task card review into a game by dividing the class into teams and having them compete to answer the most questions correctly in a set amount of time. This can add an element of competition and fun to test prep.
Scoot: Place a task card on each student’s desk. Give each student a recording sheet. Set a timer and have students read and solve the task card on their desk and when the timer goes off, they “scoot” to the next desk to solve a new one.
Collaboration is a great way to reinforce learning and can be an effective strategy for test prep practice. Here are some ideas to have students work with a partner for test prep practice:
Partner quizzes: Create quizzes or review sheets for students to complete with their partners. Encourage them to discuss and explain their answers to each other to reinforce understanding of the concepts.
Peer tutoring: Assign students to be peer tutors for each other, and have them explain concepts and help each other with difficult problems.
Vocabulary games: Create vocabulary games such as matching, charades, or Pictionary for students to play with their partners. This can help reinforce key vocabulary terms.
Peer editing: Assign students to be peer editors for each other’s written work. Encourage them to provide feedback and suggestions for improvement.
Partner Practice: Have students work on a worksheet together and have them alternate problems. Have each student coach their partner as they work through each problem.
Games are a great and fun way to get students to practice and review skills. Here are some ideas to use games for test prep in your classroom:
Four Corners: Label each corner of your classroom as A, B, C, and D. For each question, students move to the corner of their answer choice and discuss why they chose that answer with other classmates there before the correct answer choice is revealed. Then students discuss why that is the correct answer.
Jeopardy: Create a Jeopardy-style game using test prep questions. Divide students into teams and have them take turns answering questions to earn points.
Board games: Create a board game based on the test prep material. Students can work in pairs or small groups to play the game and answer questions as they move along the board.
Bingo: Create Bingo cards using test prep vocabulary terms or math facts. Call out definitions or questions related to the terms, and students can mark off the corresponding square on their Bingo cards.
Online Games: : Use the online platform Quizizz or Blooket to create a quiz game using test prep questions. Students can play individually or in teams, and the platform provides immediate feedback on correct and incorrect answers.
Science Review Game on Blooket
Memory: Create a memory game using test prep vocabulary terms or concepts. Students can play in pairs and try to match the term with its corresponding definition or concept.
Charades: Have students act out vocabulary terms or concepts related to the test prep material. Their partner or group can try to guess the term or concept based on their acting.
Matching: Create a matching game using test prep vocabulary terms and their corresponding definitions or concepts. Students can work in pairs or small groups to match the terms with their definitions.
My students also love any opportunity to practice on the computer. Digital activities with interactive pieces simulated “hands-on” practice and are engaging and fun for students. Using online assignments makes it easy to target specific skills for specific students to review and practice what they need to work on.
And finally? CELEBRATE!
After we finish our review and test prep, we have a little pep rally right before the big test day. I have my students make motivational signs and posters to hang on the classroom and hallway walls. My students have worked hard and are ready for the big day. I write a special note to each student and place it on their desk the morning of the big test to make them smile and help reduce any anxiety. I know they’re ready to do their best!
Get your FREE Test-Taking Checklist to help your students do their best on any test!
I hope that these Test Prep ideas are helpful to you!
Give your students all the tools they need to successfully show what they know.
You also might be interested in: