Although I’m no longer in the classroom, I can still feel for the students and teachers who go through the pressures of state testing. It was an extremely stressful time, sometimes even at home, but there were also valuable esteem-building moments when results came in and scores achieved (or exceeded) expectations.
As an elementary school teacher, I had the option to be creative with testing activities. Our staff engaged parents, offering easy ways to get involved, such as meal ideas, study tips, and making sure their kids got enough sleep. We also had a tight-knit staff that shared ideas and helped calm each others nerves.
abcteach has a number of great testing materials from both our free and member sites. As you find what works best for your class, we also hope you enjoy the following ideas that made our students feel more relaxed about their testing:
• Put little labels on their desks with DYB (“Do Your Best”). This also goes on the board in bold letters.
• Buy a wand and before the beginning of a session, quietly tap and give a positive word of encouragement to each child.
• Hand out green sharpened pencils; green is another positive color (“Go for it!”). Always have a backup jar available in case one breaks.
• If your school allows, let students sit in whatever position feel comfortable: on knees or on a foot. Some students even need to lie down on the floor.
• Also if your school permits, have parents bring in water bottles that can be kept aside their child’s desk. At break time, when tests were out of the way, they can have a drink. This eliminates a line-up at the fountain.
• Bring out a jar of peppermint candy (sugar free). Each child receives one, if they choose, but they’re only allowed during testing. There have been studies that found this helps calm nerves and upset stomachs.
• In between sections, have students stand up and do jumping jacks or play “Simon Says.” This helps relax their bodies and cramped fingers.
• Make classroom GORP (“good old raisins and peanuts”). Talk with parents to arrange ingredients and make sure there are no food allergies.
Nancy Elton, abcteach team