Ways to Keep State Test Review Exciting

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I loathe having to prep for state or standardized tests of any kind. This is not going to be a post about how you SHOULD spend instructional time prepping for state tests, but rather a list of fun ideas if your school REQUIRES that you do it.

#1 - Sticky Hands

This was hands down one of my students favorite ways to prep! I definitely recommend for 4th grade and above because of the coordination it requires. I used to take the boring paper state test questions and cut them up, multiple copies so there's at least 5 of every question. Lay out the strips on the floor in an open area and grab some giant sticky hands (I got mine from the party section at Target!) Split students into groups and give them paper to work out the problems (this works best for math questions). Each person in the group will take a turn running to the center area and using a sticky hand to fling and grab a piece of paper. If they grab one they already have, they just throw it back until they grab one their group hasn't answered yet.

The basic rules are simple - set expectations that it doesn't get too chaotic, everyone shows work and agrees on an answer until the next person goes up, and be careful! The sticky hands can retract pretty quickly and swing the paper back at them, so I tell them to pay close attention! Try it out yourself first or watch the video below to make sure this would work for your group of students.

Don't have gigantic sticky hands or want a no cost version with the same engagement? Print off task cards and cut apart, crumple them up, and have a "snowball" fight. Play some music, toss test questions, and when the music stops, everyone has to pick up a card to solve! Add in a paper where they have to show their work to hold them accountable for solving. I have also adapted this version by putting all of the snowballs in one area and they can only throw at the SmartBoard (put up a picture of some fun targets!)

#2 - Glow Day

This one requires more prep, but every single year I have kids tell me it's the best day they have ever had at school. I plan to come up with a more detail blog post on Glow Day soon, but in the meantime - here is the product I created to run a fun and engaging test prep day! Here is a more detailed blog post with some must-know tips and tricks for a smooth day.

@beingmrsbrauner Always the best school day EVER! #teachersoftiktok #teacherlife #glowday #statetestprep #mylifebelikeoohaah ♬ Ooh Ahh - johnny boy

 #3 - 100s Chart Group Games

This one operates very similar to Sticky Hands. The goal of all of these games is that they are very low prep - using the test prep material but delivering the practice in an engaging format. This one works by projecting a 100s chart on your SmartBoard. Then, split kids into groups and give them the test questions. You could choose to have each group work at their own pace and come up every time they have an answer figured out (my preference) or have the whole class work one question at a time and then discuss the answer after.

One representative from each group (have them rotate who gets to do it) will come to you with their answer (have an answer key handy!) You tell them correct or incorrect. Incorrect answers go back to their group to rework (or wait for teacher explanation of the correct answer) and correct answers get to write their group's number on a post it and pick a number on the board to put their answer.

At the end of the questions, I use a random number generator to pick off a bunch of numbers and those "winning groups" get to earn a prize. This can be something super small or even intangible - it's just a fun way to incentivize participation and make it more exciting.

I hope these ideas help give you a couple of ways to keep the mandatory test prep exciting. I know as teachers we wish we could eliminate it all - but we can at least try to keep it interesting! 


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