As a fifth grade Science teacher, I am very familiar with the panic that sets in about this time of the year. It’s getting too close to time for the standardized testing to begin. This is when I start to question my efforts for the school year. Did I cover all of the standards? Have I identified all the students who need extra help? Are my kiddos ready?!?!
There are a few simple teaching and test prep strategies I have put in routine each year that I feel help me better prepare the kids for what is covered.
1. Science Movies Lunch Club
I pick 10 students who could use some extra science knowledge and invite them to join me to watch science movies in my class during lunch. Sometimes I will tell them they can bring a friend, too. Many websites offer educational science videos that you can play for them. I love Discovery Education! I usually offer this lunch club a couple times a week and it’s completely voluntary
2. Science Review Stations
I like to start in January and let the students rotate through review stations that cover the 5th grade STAAR standards. I’ve made Fridays STAAR Stations days, so the kids can work together on activities to review concepts. Click on the picture below if you want my STAAR Stations kit.
This is something I usually start even earlier than January, but it’s never too late! Here’s my method: I give the small practice assessment. The students turn it in for me to grade and analyze. You can chart the Standards each student misses for a more in depth tutoring or small group. Then, I hand them back to the students and we walk through each question step by step as a class modeling good test taking strategies. I never mark on the assessment while grading it, so the students can assess themselves as we go back over it. I also do not usually take a grade for the grade book on these either. I really love the Kamico diagnostic series. It’s a little pricey, but very challenging and does a great job preparing for the test.
4. Science Small Groups
I will pick small groups to work with as often as possible. This allows more one-on-one teaching time. I will sit at their table and work through short multiple choice questions with them. I am working on getting my kit up on my TeachersPayTeachers store, soon! I like to use test strategy cards that allow students to pick the best strategy for working the problem we are looking at. These cards may say things like “draw a diagram” or “define key words” to help remind students about ways to work test problems in Science.
5. Diagram Quick Draws
Having the students practice drawing Science diagrams over and over will help them stick in the students memory. I will call out a diagram and the students will draw it by memory. I will walk around and look over their drawings and maybe give a hint if they are struggling. We go over the answer key diagram so they can make any changes they missed. They can then draw these diagrams to help answer questions on the test. If they see the question is about moon phases, they can draw our moon phase diagram. I also use diagrams to help with the Accommodated test takers. They are allowed unlabeled diagrams, so practicing drawing and labeling each diagram will help the students know their Accommodated diagrams better on test day. If you need a set of diagrams click on the picture below!
These are a few of the most important test prep I do with my class. I want to make each student as prepared as possible for the test and relive some of the test taking anxiety they will have. I know my kiddos stress over standardized tests, so better test prep will make them more able and confident to pass the test.
**The diagnostic testing can help you make tutoring groups as well. You can work through the tests during tutoring for extra test taking practice. Adding a small lab for exploring each question is a great way to build their knowledge and help them see the real life applications of a question.