Four Fun Ways to Make State Testing Meaningful

May 13, 2021

Like it or not, State Testing in 2021 is mandatory. I just asked over 85,000 teachers and 50,000 principals a very important question about this:

“What great ideas do you have for making state testing a positive experience this year?”

What happened next surprised me. I was expecting a flood of the usual awesome, inspiring, creative ideas. That’s not what happened. Here is the unanimous response:

From Principals

Crickets.
Not one response or comment. Actually, nine principals messaged me that they were clueless and eagerly waiting for others to respond. I hope they aren’t holding their breath.

From Teachers

Immediate response. No crickets…instead hordes of raucous hyenas clicking on hundreds of laughing emojis and tons of memes with such messages as, “You’ve got to be kidding!!” and “No way!!!”, etc. etc.…………

One grumpy teacher private messaged me, “There is nothing positive about testing this year, and there’s no way anybody wants to even try to make it so. We shouldn’t even be testing at all.”

Wow! I’ve been thinking about that for a while, and still have mixed feelings.

But two facts remain. First of all, testing is going to happen in some shape or form.

Secondly, it’s in your power to make it a positive or negative experience for students, teachers, and yourself! Why not choose positive?

So here are four ways to take charge of this testing mandate and turn it into the best thing that happens at your school this year.

Turn it into a GAME

You may already have students playing games to practice important skills. The best games and the best use of games however, is when students create their own games to review and demonstrate the concepts and skills they have learned over the year. Students love making their own games patterned after familiar games with a math twist. They can’t wait to share their game with classmates and participate in a “Game-a-thon” day where everyone gets to sample all the games…with refreshments, of course!

Turn it into a PROJECT

Math prep doesn’t have to be “worksheety” drill and kill. Allow students to review all the priority standards by creating a project. Some of the favorite ideas among my clients are:

  • My Year Book of Everything I Learned This Year
  • My Math Scrapbook
  • Wow! I Learned All This Poster
  • Better Than a YouTuber My Math Video

Turn it into a PERFORMANCE

Nothing spells student engagement and parent involvement than a performance. Students can sum up their learning with raps, songs, and skits. It can be a class project with different groups collaborating to create different verses, scenes, etc that represent different standards or topics.

Include all learners by assigning specific tasks or allowing students to sign up for the role they want to play. You’ll possibly need artists, writers, singers, rappers, musicians, directors, etc.

Be sure to plan a way to share with parents and other audiences. Think about live, virtual, and recorded methods of presenting.

Turn it into an EVENT

Take your projects and performances and celebrate completion with an event, or just create a standalone math-themed event. Again, here are some favorites that I’ve helped clients execute.

Math Fair (Great for Projects!) Invite friends and family and record a “Live Tour” of the fair. If your students are all or partially remote, they can take turns sharing their projects on their camera. To increase engagement, set the expectation that other students will complete a “review” of each project presented. Give them a template that includes positive feedback only. (My favorite part, Two things you did really well, etc.)

Your School Name Has Math Talent! (Math Talent Show) You guessed it; this is an event where all those great performances focused on math get shared in public. Be sure to record because they will want to view it later. Some groups have a celebration viewing party after completing the testing complete with refreshments.

Math Olympics (Like Field Day!) Student groups prepare physical challenges involving the math they’ve learned. They then take turns leading the rest of the group through the challenges they have created. Students love it when they earn points and prizes for this. Of course you can award bronze, silver, and gold medals too! The beauty of a math Olympics, is you can do this outdoors or indoors if bad weather drops in. This can even be done with virtual students. (Ask me how I ran a 10 day Virtual Math Challenge Summer Camp in 2020!)

Summing Up

Prepping for State Testing can be a fun, positive experience for everyone. And where there’s fun, there is always learning…and super engagement!

If you’re thinking these ideas might be a lot of work, aren’t in your budget, or you’re not sure where to begin, don’t worry. I’ve got you on this.

Reach out and schedule a quick call with me. I’ll help you tailor one of these ideas to make it super easy for you to pull off with little or no cost. (Click that Schedule Meeting Button below!)

**(But just be prepared for the miles of smiles you’ll be creating for your teachers, students, and maybe even those grumpies who have been complaining about testing. Don’t be surprised if they beg you to make your great idea an annual event!)

Linda -Headshot

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