Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Student Motivators During Testing Season

If you are teacher, last month and this month are the months that we dread!
Thankfully all of my testing is OVER! DONE!
March was our crazy month, and thankfully since we were the only subject testing in that month it didn't seem that crazy. 
I'm actually very happy that ELA was the first subject to test. 
Come May when Science is testing, the students will be over it. 

Today I wanted to share a few ways that we try to motivate our students. 
Let's be honest, I'm sure testing isn't anyone's favorite. 
The teachers don't love and the students don't love it. 
Still trying to figure out who loves it so much that we keep doing it over and over!
I will credit our state and say they have cut down the hours of testing over the past few years. 
At one point in time I think we were near 20 hours of testing! 
Thank goodness that's over!

We know our kids don't love standardized tests, so we do a few things as a school to try to make it a little less stressful for them. 


Some of my co-workers are super funny and creative.
Last year they started making memes to give to the students before testing started. 
It was a simple little funny picture and saying that could set the students nerves aside for a minute before we started the couple hours of testing. 

The students love these!
Each teacher makes memes for their testing group. 
It's about 20 memes per teacher. 
If we don't know the specific interests of that student, we will ask another teacher to make one for us. 
This allows us to personalize the sayings or memes to each student. 

This past testing round we had certain students who love Hamilton or animals or the "How bow dah?" girl, and so we made memes with those themes, and the students couldn't have loved them more. 

Free Day After Testing

I teach at a junior high that only has 7th and 8th grade. 
We structure our schedule on testing days so that whatever grade is testing starts testing first thing in the morning. 
This allows us to start and finish testing before the rest of our district really gets going. 
Our elementary buildings start school after us and the high school. 
We also don't really have enough bandwidth for everyone in the district to use the internet at the same time. 
Starting early eliminates more internet issues and puts the students nerves at ease. 

We tell the students if they give 100% on their test, that we will give them the rest of the day off. 
99% of the students work really hard to get their free afternoon!
Now this does require other subject teachers giving up their teaching time, but we all agree that it's worth it in the end. 
Students typically head to one of their explo classes (like gym, music, art, careers, etc.)
After their explo class they go to lunch, and then we show a movie (students have 2 movie rooms to pick from). 
After the movie we had a knockout tournament on one day, and a dodgeball tournament on another. 
I realize this might not be feasible in all schools, but this has worked wonders for us. 
The students really buy into getting a free afternoon if they work hard on the test.


Aside from our regular standardized AIR Testing, we also have STAR Testing. 
The students took the STAR Test about 5 times throughout the year. 
It's 32 multiple choice questions about anything Reading related. 
We finished our last STAR last week. 
This time around we used a little pop motivation. 

Personally, I'm against students drinking pop, but if it motivates them on a test, I'm all for it!
Our goal on the STAR is for students to surpass the test score that they obtained in the Fall. 
We told students if they got their best score or beat their Fall score that they could get a can of pop, Gatorade or water. 

I'm not even kidding you when I say that the students who sometimes blow this test off and struggle majorly with reading were working their behinds off!
We've been having problems with our Chromebooks and the internet recently, so both 8th grade ELA classes tested together in our large lab. 
One student, who I don't have in my ELA class turned to me as soon as he was done to ask who could show him if he went up. 
This kid was using his cursor to guide over words as he was reading, and he took his time to read all questions and answer choices. 

Now, pop or Gatorade or water doesn't bribe all students. 
Some of mine told me their mom would buy them a whole case of pop, but it definitely lit up the eyes of students who don't get those drink options on a regular basis and those who sometimes struggle with reading. 

Testing is rough. 
The tests keep getting harder and harder as the years pass. 
You really can't simply guess anymore. 
No loves it, but it's necessary. 
We try to do our best to keep our kids motivated and upbeat. 
Those are a few of my junior high's ideas. 
What ideas do you guys have?

1 comment:

  1. I love the idea of personalized memes- that's super cute! I'd love to give the kids free time as a whole school, but a certain department at my campus wants the kids right back in class taking notes and prepping for teacher made tests. Ugh! Texas has pushed our tests back to May to give us more time to teach and prep which is nice, but I'd like for it to just go away period! Have a great Wednesday!