Whitney Green is an assistant principal at Ooltewah Elementary in Hamilton County Schools, Chattanooga, TN. She currently leads the implementation of EL K-5th and is taking full advantage of utilizing Kiddom within the classrooms at Ooltewah Elementary as both have positively affected her students success this year. She is excited to share her drive and her experiences with others.
AP Whitney Green shares tools and tips to help teachers and admins with test prep.
It’s that time of year, testing season is just around the corner… use these tools and tips to keep teachers and students feeling prepared! Below is a list of specific items that are tried and true to support students’ mastery of the standards in order for them to be successful with test prep.
Assess, assess, assess!
Assessing I think sometimes is a misconception to teachers as they feel it always has to be a formal assessment. This is a myth. Assessing could be done as you scan the room, using select and sequence to highlight specific information you want shared with the whole class that the student you select presents. This also can be a great time to also highlight common misconceptions you uncover as you scan the room.
Using both informal and formal data supports how we adapt our instruction to meet the needs of the students before a test. Exit tickets are my favorite! I used to use exit tickets at the end of every lesson. It was quick and easy. I would pass out cut lined paper, pretty small in size, and the student would work out their problem on it. This worked well for math, but can also work for ELA. You will just need a passage they can sight in order to show their thinking.
Identifying in advance standards that students are struggling with allows the teacher to adapt their teaching and create small groups based on this information. Once you collect the exit tickets, sort them into 3 piles. Got it, Some understanding, and Needs more support. Use this information for your warm-ups. Work directly with those who need More Support, and pair up the Got It students with the Some Understanding group. Utilize your students for this support! I think sometimes we limit our students by not utilizing them for peer support. Students sharing and working with one another on test prep allows them to hear and see the material in a different way.
Providing daily review of material at the beginning or end of a lesson is critical. Part of the success with students mastering standards is to constantly review material, always keeping material fresh in their minds. I cannot stress this enough that reviewing is the ultimate key to successful test prep. Make sure your review is short each day and only focus on one or two standards a day. I also recommend spending this time reviewing the same standards for the entire week, rather than changing up the standards daily.
Provide quizzes made from test questions during bell work each day.
In the first 15 minutes of class, students can jump on a tool like Kiddom to test their knowledge, and Kiddom will auto-grade the assignments so your skills reports will update automatically. This is a quick and efficient way to collect data that can easily be adapted to meet the needs of your students. Teachers can barely keep up with their current workload, so adding more to their daily plate needs to be something that they find value in.
Kiddom allows the teacher to easily assign a standards based assessment that can be auto-graded! Who would have ever thought that assessing students would be so easy? When reviewing the results, it will break down the information in order to see what standards are mastered and what standards still need to be covered. Kiddom also allows you to group students so you can differentiate the assessments moving forward. A time saver and it aligns with your state standards! Is there anything better?
Hold a “practice test” through a tool like Kiddom.
Research has actually shown doing a “bootcamp” for test prep is not effective, even though it seems teachers gravitate to this style of review. Using practice tests throughout the quarter/semester can be used as milestones along the way. For these practice tests, I would recommend 8-10 questions. This is enough questions to gauge the different standards you are assessing on as more of a summative assessment.
Another misconception I have found is that teachers develop 20 questions tests that may only cover a few standards. This is unnecessary. If you have a curriculum coach in your building, this is a great way to utilize them when working with teams to create common assessments together. Also, make sure you are using questions that align with the big assessment coming up. We always want to prepare our students and throughout the years, we have found our students tend to struggle with the types of questions, rather than the content.
Set up a test using a tool that autogrades to save your teachers a few steps when it comes to grading. What’s great is any one of your admins with access to the Kiddom account will be able to view how students are testing in each class.
This is a newer strategy I have used that I honestly was skeptical about. I never knew the power in previewing material for students who tend to struggle. I look at it like this, instead of always being a lap behind others as material is presented to them for the first time, they get the advantage of seeing it early so they can engage with the material. We have offered after-school Previewing for students to access material a week in advance. This allows students time to work with the same material, coming into class feeling confident in their abilities thanks to adequate test prep.
Small groups are vital when preparing for tests/assessments. Using small groups is differentiated instruction at its finest. Creating small groups should be fluid as students will move in and out of groups based on their needs. Those that forever keep the same groups of students together are not adapting to that student. While in these small groups, using the I do, we do, you do strategy has to be one of the best methods to allow for real time data. During the you do portion, you can assess and see student understanding independently to then make decisions for students who now have a better understanding of the standard. Those who still are unable to solve the problem independently will stay with you longer. Again, real time data!
I can promise you, if you are proactive vs. reactive to your reviewing for big tests, students will be better off. I like to say that we are being prescriptive to our students. I know some may say, will this work for a certain demographic or type of student, the answer is no. I have used this method with different demographics of students and it has always worked. Also, working with teachers on these different is also key when discussing these tips. Do not expect teachers to automatically know how to implement these strategies, as I know from my own experience, they usually don’t. Providing PD or individual support during their collaborative planning meetings is a great time to review these ideas. Creating common assessments together as a team is also critical, in order to decrease variability among the teachers. During these meetings, create these exit tickets together. In order to meet the needs of their individual students, they may have to create some assessments on their own, but the majority should be created as teams. Next steps would be to bring student samples to meetings and review the data. This is a great time to share ideas on how they are effectively meeting the needs of their students with specific standards. Just remember the two P’s, proactive and prescriptive.
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