March is said to “come in like a lion” and I couldn’t agree more. As the month begins, we teachers are all about to enter the season that leads us up to the biggest event of the school year -standardized testing. As we scramble to review what we can and encourage students along the way, nothing will prepare us better than being well organized and planned.
For me, this meant mapping my daily teaching points out on a monthly calendar (grab one here!), then plugging in all the resources I had into these lessons. I also set aside 9 days for 3 full “mock” exams, knowing that this would greatly benefit my students and work out all the kinks!
Most importantly, I created my Writing Unit Plans for my Writer’s Workshop Unit: Getting Writers Ready for the Common Core and Standardized Tests – TCRWP. These lessons were written for 4th grade, however the unit is identical for grades 3, grade 4, and grade 5. Which means the teaching points are valid for all, you’ll only need to switch the resources used (I reference NY Ready in my lessons).
As our week of testing is set to start, I thought I would share with you a wonderful book, just in time for testing season! I think you will find that it is a wonderful book to read to your students prior to (or during testing). Testing Miss Malarkey by Judy Finchler is a great read-aloud that through its humor, introduces the topic of test anxiety and opens it up for discussion with your class.
The book tells the story of standardized testing through the point of view of the students. It’s amusing in that the the students detail how stressed out the teachers become about the tests and show how the whole atmosphere in the school changes during testing. I just enjoy how it allows me to talk to my students about the obvious changes they are seeing around the school, and possibly at home. Things like the emergence of “brain food,” the sudden need for number 2 pencils, and the appearance of quiet signs and new rules for quietly navigating the halls. The theme of the book is that while things are wacky, they will all go back to normal soon enough. Check it out, I know you will be happy you did!