Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Paying out for Test Prep

I've mentioned before how I use a classroom money system in my room, and how much the students LOVE earning their Hollywood Bucks. It's gotten to the point where I have to stop kids from selling their real-life items for those laminated pieces of card stock! The kids use their Hollywood bucks to buy classroom coupons, and very rarely (only once this entire year) will I throw out some dollar store items. Anyway, with FCAT looming for my 3rd graders in April, it's about time for dreaded test prep. Yes, we've been spiraling math and reading throughout the year, but sometimes you want to get down and dirty and go back to skills you taught in September, in a small group fashion. 

What better way to review than to make HUGE packets of math word problems that target every standard they need to know, right?! Now, I can't begin to tell you how happy my teacher heart was when I discovered that Discovery Education online offers probes that can be printed specific to skill deficits. We use Discovery Education for our DEA testing, which shows growth from the beginning, middle, and then end of the year. 

I already know my students would not be so excited about a huge packet of word problems, but I wanted a way to review and just practice solving word problems, so I thought I'd jazz it up a little by adding 2 things 3rd graders love.

1. Colored mechanical pencils
2. Classroom money

That's all! And man, was it successful! I told my students they would earn $1 for each correctly answered problem, and I don't know that I've seen them so motivated before to find the right answer. I had students who never re-read ANYTHING, read these questions 4 times! Seriously!

Students would read the problem, read again and take notes using the stop sign strategy or underline important information, solve, and give me a thumbs-up when done. We would check/discuss, and then students got to add a check or "X" on their "payout" sheet. 

When it was time for our math rotations to switch, they neatly put their gi-normous packets in a pile and kept their payout sheets. One by one they proudly showed me their sheets and I exchanged those for money. I don't think I've had a small group where they all walked away smiling!

**I realize not everyone has a Hollywood themed classroom like me, so I also offer the same packet of classroom money and reward coupons in a non-Hollywood format. You can check that out here. :) 

Now.. I was very sure to remind my lovelies of my number one class rule, just in case they happened to answer a question incorrectly and have to record an "X"...

And that, my friends, is test-prep that doesn't bore! Add some simple incentives to motivate your babies and keep your sanity!


  1. Thank you so much for your sweet comment on my blog! I am new to yours but it looks great! :)

    I am so excited for you that your husband is coming home soon! The banner is adorable. Could you just add more string so the two outside words hang lower and don't overlap, or will that be too much of a pain to walk under? haha!


  2. Yay that your husband is coming home! I've never hear of Discovery Education-I hope I can access it because I have FCAT looming around the corner too! I love rule #1! I don't have a money system for correct answers, but I have tickets-we should have some kind of challenge between our classes-that would motivate them! :)
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

    1. We should SO have some kind of a challenge. That would be even more motivation!

    2. Our county has Discovery Education too...not sure if you can access it. Our school buys Buckle Down workbooks that are NGSSS aligned to go back and practice skills for Reading and Math. They are extremely helpful. I might need you BOTH to come motivate my students!
      Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  3. This will go perfectly with my end of the year theme: ELA Idol! Thank you so much for sharing!

  4. YAY that your hubby comes home soon! I taught almost all of last year with my hubby deployed and a little one at home. It's so tough to balance it all! Your banner is adorable!
    Chalk & Apples

  5. Wahoo!! So happy for you that your hubby is coming home this week! Your banner is so adorable and looks great hung! I love how motivated your students were when working for those dollars. It's amazing what a little motivation can do! :)
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  6. So glad your husband is coming home! I'm so thankful for him and all our service men and women…and their families! Enjoy his homecoming!

  7. I really enjoy your blog and since I think you bring some sunshine to the teacher blogging world, I nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger Award. You can check out the details on my blog here.

    Teacher Will Run for Books