This coming week my students will take the PSSA’s, Pennsylvania’s standardized assessment for grades 3-8. Each day this week from 9:00-11:30am, students will engage in the reading portion of the assessment. While I hope they all remember and apply everything I taught them this year, I also know that a week’s worth of tests is not an accurate depiction of my students’ skills or abilities.
Still, test-taking week is often stressful for both students and teachers. The “test” creates unnecessary chaos – routines are lost, schedules are hectic and everyone’s patience is just a little bit thin because they haven’t had spring break yet.
Despite all of these abnormalities in our usually structured day, I am still required to teach. However, I cannot teach anything related to reading or writing for fear that my students may (gasp) learn something that would help them on the state test.
I chalk this up to another ridiculous rule someone who was clearly never a teacher put into place. As educators, we are used to that, right?!
So, what can I teach? As a literacy teacher, my options are limited. Sure, I could turn on Netflix and listen to 25 students argue about what they want or do not want to watch. I could give them “free” time, which is what they claim they want even though after 10 minutes, they come tell me they’re “bored” and “Do I have anything they can do?”
Because I like structure and honestly, I also get bored during state tests, I like having an agenda for the students. They complain about actually having to “do something,” but deep down, they love that I am engaging them in something exciting. Thus, I scoured the Internet and put together some fun lessons to use during the dreaded state test week.
Some ideas for “teaching” during your state assessment:
- 50 Great Ideas for Use After State Testing I specifically love the California, Here We Come project, which is great if you see your students every day. Some tasks that can be done in a single class period are: School surveys, Letter to Self, Letter to incoming class of students, Kickball tournament.
- Murder Mysteries. While these may involve students making inferences, you’re not explicitly teaching anything. Plus, it’s fun! Games specifically for middle school: Case of the Missing Muffins, The Missing Mona Lisa
- Escape the Room. There are so many unique lessons on this for a variety of subjects. Read more about it here and here.
- Game Day. My students held a game day a few months back and it was a blast. They are now into cards and play at any chance they get. Have students bring in games for the day and have some low-key fun. Games my middle school students are currently loving: Speed (spit), UNO, Monopoly.
How do you survive teaching during testing week? Share your strategies in the comments!