Your room is decorated and each desk is placed perfectly in a row. Tiny treats line the desk and you are ready to welcome your new students for the first day of 3rd grade. This is a happy time but you know that there is a dark cloud that lingers in the corner. One of dread and fear, that fear is state testing. As teachers, we all know this fear but for third grade teachers this is something different. In many states in the US this test will determine if your students will be promoted to 4th grade. This is a huge responsibility for teachers and their developing students. This is why it’s so important to have a plan and begin preparing for this test early. This means you will be pushing them a lot but that push will be accompanied by fun, encouragement and most of all love. Here are 5 tips for 3rd grade teachers, so you can be test ready by April.
The first few weeks of school can feel like an exhausting blur– but it’s worth dedicating time every day towards building these important connections. Building these relationships early-on has lasting effects throughout the school year. As the year progresses, we build strong relationships with our students that are crucial for them to be successful. This is where you being to build trust with your students, get to know them and they get to know you. It all starts with the relationship. We all know “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like”,So invest in building relationships first.
Teach the bulk of Content in these 4 months
There is so much content to teach in the year.. Let me be really honest here for a moment, there is no way we can teach every standard, for every subject in 9 months. And even if you do manage to teach each one, can you guarantee that you taught them with fidelity? Teachers this is not possible. Focus on teaching the standards that will appear most on the test from October to January. I know this sounds like teaching to the state test. It might be, but that is part of the job. This doesn’t mean that we don’t make it fun, creative and interactive.
For these four months (October, November, December and January), we dig deep into our standards not by just identifying the answer to some multiple choice questions but by allowing students a wide range of methods for demonstrating comprehension, including writing, creating art, and making up songs. I love to do “show what you know” with my students. At the end of a unit I will sometimes have my student “Show What You Know”, This is when students really get to demonstrate mastery of an objective in their way. Some students will create displays, write raps, or make up skits.This is when the content really sticks.
Use February and March to Reteach
Use February and March to teach the less weighted standards, or the standards that will have less questions on your state test. This is when you can teach the standards that typically have one or two questions on the state test. More importantly this is also the time you can go back to perform targeted reteaching( I’m sure there is a fancy educational word for this, lol). During these last few months focus on students who still need to learn a skill that was previously taught. Hopefully your school has an interventionist who can help with this. If your school does not have an interventionist,You can begin by pulling only the students who still need help with this skill.
Practice like you Test
This is a skill you don’t want to begin right before the test. I usually begin giving my short students practice tests in January. Actually practice for this skill starts at the beginning of the school year, when you are building relationships and classroom procedures. In 6 standardized test tips I give you all the details on how to do this. When you give your short practice test be sure to include testing procedure for your state. In my state students must stay seated during the test and are not allowed to talk. Be sure to encourage your kiddo the whole way through, And have a cool treat for them afterwards.
Only Third grade teachers know the heartache we feel when we have to tell a parent and a student they will have to repeat third grade. Remember to build relationships,teach the bulk of your content in those 4 months, Use February and March to reteach and practice like you test. We know in some instances retention is unavoidable. My hope is that these tips will help you create a plan that gives your students more time and opportunities to flourish.