Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ice Cream Sundaes for Test Taking Review

Friday was our last day before "the big day," otherwise known as FCAT. I may be as nervous/anxious/excited as my kids, because this is my first year administering this test, and it's their first year taking this test. We worked hard all year, reviewed super hard all week, and so on Friday we put everything together in a fun, stress-free way.

First up.. ice cream sundaes! Each topping represented a skill I wanted my kids to remember for their reading tests.

1. Twizzlers, because we want to box the title and predict the passage
2. Nerds, because the smart people read the questions first
3. M&M's, because we want the  passage to linger in our minds (not our hands!)

 4. Sprinkles, because we want to find our answers in the text that may be sprinkled about
5. Smarties, because we check our answer like smarties
6. kisses, because we kiss our brains when we're done for all our hard work

After they made their sundaes, we used this review sheet to make the idea concrete of why exactly we were using each candy. They loved it! Let's just hope they remember this candy on Monday and Tuesday!

Would you like a copy of these?! You can grab the signs here and the recording sheet here!

Next up.. rockin' guitar people! I used a pack I found on TPT to create these adorable people, and then
made a bulletin board. So much fun!

My personal favorite right here! "FCAT is my middle name" Love!

On the Set List I had my kids write a few sentences about what they planned to do to be successful. Some are quite funny! 

"How I will be successful is by not going to la-la land. I will stay focused. I will do my best to pass FCAT."

Lastly... my kids have NO IDEA about these, but most all my parents sent in letters for their babies to read each day of testing. I have conducted secret operations to get all these letters here in time for testing, so I only had to write a few myself. Totally didn't mind! My kids will read these before testing, and also have a "Ray of Sunshine," a little pre-made note on their desk first thing. (The parent letters I sent home asking for notes to be sent in are in the Ray of Sunshine pack!)

If you need a great way to motivate your students before testing, I highly recommend this! My kids had a great day that should lead to great testing days!

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tried it Tuesday: Test Prep Review That Isn't Uber Boring

Yeah, we have our state testing next week, meaning this week is a whirlwind of reviewing strategies and concepts I want fresh in my friends' minds. So, I'm here with you to share some test prep activities we are doing in room 19 this week.. and a FREEBIE!

To begin, we made an interactive notebook foldable to review our reading strategies. I attempted to create this on powerpoint, but with the margins being funny, it never folded correctly. After about an hour I resorted to using the ol' sharpie. As you can see, the copier slightly cut off the "Rock That Test!", but my kids got the point. 

After reviewing these strategies we then specifically applied them to a reading selection. I walked around the entire time monitoring to make sure they actually read the questions first and went back and found their answers in the text. It's amazing how well they do when they re-read to find answers! ;)

For motivation, because let's face it, practicing this is not super fun, I awarded bunny money. This is a freebie my friend from Inspired Owl's Corner shared in her store. 

My kids know they get to buy special prizes with their special bunny money, and this seriously motivates them. Motivation... not bribery! ;)

Today we went on to review more, through a fun game of jeopardy! I made 5 different categories: 
1. Vocabulary
2. Antonyms/Synonyms
3-5: Reading passages from our county's book series

I thought this was a GREAT idea because students were still reading passages, but then answered the questions that were on the game show. We of course read the questions first, since that's one of our test-taking strategies! The kids could choose the vocab and antonym/synonym questions in any order they pleased, but once they chose a passage, we went ahead and read the passage, and answered all the questions for that passage so it was fresh. They answered individually on white boards, and each received a tally for getting it correct. The person who picked the question got 2 tallies if they were correct, since it was "their question."

I LOVED how all the students were going back in the text to find their answers. They were underlining and writing question numbers like crazy. Such a happy teacher moment!

For Wednesday and Thursday we're going to practice mock testing sessions that are pretty real to life. My 3rd graders haven't experienced this yet, so their seats will be moved and everything in the room will be covered. We're going to practice doing absolutely nothing when we're done testing, because that isn't a concept they get yet. :) 

Then on Friday we're going to get pumped up by rocking out with this craft. 

They'll do a little writing piece putting together everything we've practiced this week to tell how they're going to "rock the test!"

Because my kids responded so well to ELA jeopardy, I created a review math version as well! 

Click on the picture if you'd like a copy for yourself! It's a facebook fan freebie! Like my page and then click on Fan Freebies!

Good luck to all my fellow testers out there!

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Monday Made It: Nonfiction Text Structure Craft

I had every intention of writing this post over the weekend, but then on Saturday we decided to take an impromptu trip to Atlanta to visit the zoo and mall. My little one loved seeing all the animals and this mama loved seeing her excitement! Last week was crazy busy, so this trip was a welcomed one!

My focus in class last week was squeezing in that one last topic I hadn't yet covered before our standardized testing next week: nonfiction text structures. At first I was super anxious and worried that my kids somehow wouldn't understand anything I'd say, or they would forget everything we've ever learned (testing nerves, I'm sure). Much to my surprise and relief, my kids ROCKED text structures! I'm now glad I taught this when I did, because I've already taught all the skills before, but now taught them in terms on their structure in a text.

I definitely contribute my kids' success to the lovely and crazy-talented Deb Hanson. I used 3 of her products in my class and the kids were so engaged during all the lessons. Here's what we did...

To start, I introduced with an anchor chart, while the students also made anchor charts in their notebooks. I wanted them to be engaged and be reacquainted with the names of the thinking maps/organizers we were using.  (Please don't judge my lack of artistic ability!)

At the top of the notebook page is a little excerpt about text structures.. what they are in reference to a "building." We read that together first, then proceeded to our anchor charts.

Next, we used Deb's PowerPoint to further dig into text structures. I whipped up this interactive notebook page to help keep my kids organized, and it went well with the PowerPoint. We looked at each type of structure one by one. Deb made a sample passage (related to soccer) for each type, to give students an example of what it looks and sounds like. She then included a slide that showed the information using an organizer. Also included were questions (seen below) that students should ask themselves to determine the correct structure when reading a passage. These questions are what my kids jotted down and used throughout the week.

My favorite part about the PowerPoint was definitely what followed--more passages, this time with a bubble gum theme (how cool!) to assess students. I had my kids read a selection, write on an index card what they thought, and then we checked, and moved on to the next. My kids even did well on this, mainly because they were so engaged through the entire lesson.

On Tuesday, we did more work in our notebooks.

We started with a passage about sharks (that I found in a random teaching book I have). Here are the steps we took:
1. Read passage
2. Predict which text structure you think you see (using questions already in notebook)
3. Re-read, this time underlining information that supports your thinking
4. Draw your thinking map (using anchor chart), and insert information into your thinking map
5. Did it work?

Many kids thought this passage could have been compare/contrast, so I had them first underline in one color information to support description. We put our descriptive info into our bubble maps, then re-read, this time underlining information in a different color that would support compare/contrast. My kids came to the conclusion through this, that description was a better choice. They also realized, on their own, that sometimes more than one characteristic of a structure may be present.

My kids then practice with 2 more passages from Deb's assessment packet, with more independence this time. Again, they ROCKED it!

See how she marked one out?! Love when they think like this!

On Wednesday we got to the crafting part. Total. Engagement. Seriously! There were a series of passages they had to first read and determine text structure, have checked, and then make their clipboards.

On Friday, when I gave my class their assessment, which was a mixture of more passages from Deb's pack and another reading selection with text structure questions, 16 out of 22 students got an A or B. I was to the moon excited! Thanks, Deb! Definitely check our her amazing resources, and link up for Monday Made It! 

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Five for Friday

It's finally FRIDAY! It doesn't even feel like I was on Spring Break last week--no, that seems like it was an eternity ago. Why does that always happen?! Anyway, after a busy day, I'm still linking up for some Five for Friday fun with Doodle Bugs Teaching.

This week we studied non fiction text structures using Deb Hanson's materials on TPT. This was my first time purchasing from Deb, but definitely not my last. She is a ROCK STAR, people. Fa' real. I'll be back later this weekend to share exactly what we did. Let me just say that 16 of my kiddos received an A or B on their assessment today... which is kind of a big deal! 

On a personal level, I went with the hubster to Target tonight for a little shopping fun. This always happens. I have every intention on buying a new outfit for myself (for a change!) and end up buying this... 
Also, I created a binder to stay organized with my paperwork for grad school. (Love the clipart from Melonheadz!) 

I also did a little shopping in the dollar spot for my kiddos in my class. Next week we'll be doing some serious test prep, so I'll be introducing some new prizes along with our class coupons

 I'm so excited about these! Before today, I simply had Popsicle sticks with student names written on them. I love this so much more! Matches with my theme perfectly! Clipart from Ashley Hughes. 

If you follow me on Instagram (you should!) I posted this picture this week. We have FCAT testing beginning next Monday, so I have my notes of encouragement prepped and ready to go! I plan on leaving a note on their desk all 4 days of testing, along with a letter their parent wrote to them. My sweet principal volunteered to write letters to any students whose parents don't send any in. How awesome is that?! This pack, along with editable parent letter, is available in my shop for just $2! 

That's all for now, friends. Be sure to link up with Doodle Bugs and share your week with us in pictures. Also, check back this weekend for a post on text structures. :)

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