The season of the standardized test is upon us. Probably the most dreaded time of the year for teachers and students alike.
Why? The end of the school year is in sight. Summer is just around the corner. The months of April and May should be a happy time!
So, why do teachers hate standardized testing with such a fiery passion? There are many, many, many reasons, of course…too many to name, but I’ll venture a few. Standardized tests, in their very nature, are antithetical to my classroom environment. I work to differentiate instruction to meet the learning needs of my students. Standardized tests require every student to successfully (hopefully) complete the exact same test, regardless of how they learn best. The questions seem to be created to try to “trip up” the students, or at the very least make them second guess their responses. How is this a true illustration of what the students have learned?
To make matters worse, the increasingly huge emphasis placed upon performance on standardized tests is a HUGE stress to teachers and students alike. As a teacher, I have difficulty with the fact that my abilities as a teacher as well as what my students have learned about American Government is determined by one 50 question multiple choice test that my students take at the end of the year. Am I teaching important information about our system of government, or teaching them how to regurgitate information on a test?
Aren’t we supposed to be moving away from the memorize-test-repeat model?
I could rant for hours about the lovely world of standardized tests, and I’m sure that most of you could do the same.
However (insert hair flip here!!) let’s move on to how I plan to make standardized test review a tad less mind-numbingly boring and a bit more exciting.
In addition to taking practice tests, creating flashcards, and playing review games (I hate the practice test routine, but I feel like it just has to be done), we’ll be playing both versions of “Show What You Know,” a game I created one night as I was attempting to fall asleep.
I’m sure you’ve been here, too. The moment you’re about to close your eyes, a random idea pops into your head. Synapses start firing and before you know it, you’ve got an activity in your head.
Some people may have jumped out of bed, fired up the laptop and started typing the idea before it drifted into the night. Not me! I texted my mom some disconnected phrases and said, “remind me of this in the morning.”
Here’s a rundown of the basics of “Show What You Know (version 1 – choice),” which is best described as a mashup of Pictionary, charades, and simple definition
- Students draw a card from the stack
- This card includes a term and four description options
- Students must describe the term for their group using one of the options, each worth a certain amount of points
- For example, students can define the term to earn 1 point for their group or can act out the term to earn 7 points for their group (other options are available as well)
“Show What You Know (version 1-choice)” allows students, as the title implies, to choose how they wish to describe the term to their group. If they’re comfortable with the term (and with acting a tad silly) then they earn more points.
“Show What You Know (version 2-luck of the draw)” requires students to choose a card from the term deck and a card from the action deck. The same description options are available however, students draw their action card from the pile instead of choosing their own. A bit more intense! (If students don’t feel comfortable with the action card they’ve drawn, teachers can choose to penalize the team (or not) however they wish. For example, let’s say I draw Judicial Review and have to act out the term. Maybe I don’t remember the term or just don’t feel comfortable acting it out in front of my peers. I could choose another action card and maybe lose a point or have less time to complete the task. Just a thought 🙂
Both decks of “Show What You Know” are available through my Teachers Pay Teachers store and the Teaching with Technology store.
Join my mailing list and receive a code for a HUGE discount for either of these decks!
Thanks for reading 🙂