Standardized testing season is upon us, but it’s never too late to help your students better prepare. Show them that getting ready for standardized tests can be fun and educational. Let’s take a look at some ideas you can use to equip your students with the right tools to help them ace this year’s tests.
1. Flip It Around
Sometimes all it takes to make an experience more interesting is a new perspective. Ask your students to construct test questions based on a set of given answers — much like the game Jeopardy. This helps them connect responses to questions and identify patterns that will guide them to the correct answers.
Speaking of game show formats, playing Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is another fun way to spice up the learning process. Allow each student to “phone a friend” and call on another student to help if he or she gets stuck. There are many ways to incorporate games into the learning process, and research has shown that teachers see higher student engagement when they use gamification activities in their classrooms. Try using variations of the Wheel of Fortune, The Price Is Right, or common everyday games like hangman, word searches, or crossword puzzles to engage students and get them excited about the learning process.
3. Speed Test
A huge part of standardized test preparation is teaching students how to prioritize their time. If they spend too much time on one hard question, they may miss the opportunity to answer several easy ones. Teach them time management by creating a mock standardized test and ask them to complete it as quickly as possible. Give them tools to help prioritization, such as marking the difficult questions beforehand and suggesting they attempt those last. Encourage them to get the highest number of questions correct in the time allotted and let them complete the test multiple times so that they can see their scores improve.
Have your students make their own quizzes with questions they expect to see on a standardized test. Then, have them partner with other students and switch quizzes. Try to match students with different skill sets to increase the challenge and expose them to a broader base of questions. After your students have had the chance to quiz each other, collect all the quizzes and ask your students to vote on the best questions. Give prizes to those students who managed to construct the best of the bunch.
5. Loosen Up
Part of any standardized test is the stress that undoubtedly comes along with it. In order to keep students engaged and learning, it’s important to take breaks and teach them how to cope with the stress of testing. Make sure your students get a chance to take a break and have fun during testing season. Play a collaborative game like Human Knot, do some light yoga, perform some breathing exercises, or play some soft background music and encourage a time of creativity. Ask each student to identify his or her personal favorite ways to reduce stress, and then make a list of these fun ways to relax so that the entire classroom can learn about solutions for coping with stress.
6. Google It
Students are used to spending a lot of time online. Use this to your advantage by asking them to search for answers to their own questions. Make it a competition and see which student can find the answer to a question the fastest or identify the most credible resource. Give extra points for students who know the answers before they begin to search.
7. Study Guide Arts and Crafts
Who says studying can’t be fun? Part of learning and committing information to memory comes down to repetition. To make repetition fun, pull out the scissors, construction paper, glitter, and glue, and let your students get crafty with their study guides. Ask them to create guides that show off their artistic abilities, and then have them fill the guides with their study tips. Hold an art competition and vote on whose study guide is the most creative and whose has the most valuable information. This will teach students important lessons on how to study more effectively while also exposing them to competing ideas about what information is the most important to have on hand.
8. Send Them on an Amazing Race
Sitting in a seat all day can be boring and lead to wandering thoughts and fidgety feet. Give students something active to do to engage their minds, and you’ll kill two birds with one stone. Separate students into groups and set up stations throughout the school. Position a clue master at each station (use students, fellow teachers, or parents). Have each group of students answer each clue master’s questions to obtain a new clue that will help them navigate to the next location. This game has the added benefit of helping students stay calm and think rationally under pressure. They must learn how to problem-solve on the fly and remain confident in their critical thinking skills.
When preparing students for standardized testing, half the battle is keeping them engaged in the subject matter. Any subject can be fun if it’s paired with a challenging and exciting method of delivery.