14 April 2015

Surviving Standardized Testing!

Our First Day of School 2014 Picture

The Year is Drawing to a Close

Our curriculum books are nearing the end.  We have finished our 24 weeks of Classical Conversations Cycle 3. We have learned so much in the past 7 months and we still have about 6-7 weeks of school left.  But now its time to really start assessing how much the big kids have learned and see how well I have taught them.

This year I wanted to do standardized testing for many reasons.  Actually, I wanted to test last year but with the move happening and being in my third trimester with Amelia I decided to wait until I could test both big kids this year since Mark has almost completed Kindergarten and Julia is now towards the end of Second Grade.  If I tested last year Julia would've done it alone.  This year I was able to prepare both kids at the same time and each of them got to experience it together but in their own age appropriate group.

We started prepping for the test at the beginning of January and our official test was the second week in April 6-8 (during most school's spring breaks).  In January I registered my children online and bought sample test booklets through BJU Press and I even bought practice workbooks in Reading and Math at Barnes and Noble.  I figured that we could work on it a little bit each day.  
We also did some fun activities when we completed the sample test and workbooks as a reward for the hard effort and time they put in.

Testing Skills To Teach Young Children:

1. Do your best!

I went over this a lot with my kids.  I told them that this test is just one way of showing us (John and I) how much they have learned.  We already know they are brilliant.  This is their first big standardized test and it will help all of us to see how they compare to other children in the country and help us to see if they are at the correct grade level.  Testing is just one tool to use to assess, there are so many other ones!  Some kids are more articulate and verbal (Julia), some kids love to read quietly and solve problems (Mark), some kids just want the test to be over as quickly as possible (Julia), some kids find tests to be really easy (Mark), some kids love a new challenge (both my kids).  I am excited to see our results.  All I wanted them to do was their best.  

2. Take your time! 

For the kids who just want to hurry up and be done it is helpful to tell them to take their time. So often students make silly errors when they rush.  It is really great to prepare ahead of time with a practice test from BJU press because we were able to see how the testing process works and go over the right answers (they give you the answers at the end to review with your kids.  It was an extra $15 but worth it. 

Teaching students to read each question throughly, and to eliminate wrong answers is a really important life skill.  We worked on eliminating obvious wrong answers and talking through the process of choosing the best answer for each problem.  It's was a lot easier to teach this for Math than it was for History, Science, and Reading Comprehension.  I noticed throughout this testing process that Mark is a naturally good test taker.  He just gravitates towards all the right answers.  Julia is a true thinker, and sometimes she over thinks questions.  She did well, but I could see that sometimes she didn't understand the question completely and over thought her answer choice.  It's something that we can work on for future tests.

3. Choose an answer even if you aren't sure!

I wish I would have gone over this one a bit more.  Remind students to try not to leave blank answers when they are unsure.  It is actually better to take an educated guess than to leave the answer blank.  At least then if you guess, you have a chance of being right as opposed to automatically getting all the blanks wrong.  Explaining this ahead of time is key!

4. Don't forget to pray before the test!

Don't be so focused on getting to the test on time, packing lunches and snacks, filling out forms, and remembering your number 2 pencils, that you forget to pray.  (I'm so thankful my kids both had proctors who prayed before the test because the first day I totally forgot with all the rushing and preparing I was doing.)  It's so important to trust God with these special moments and to teach our kids that ultimately God has a plan, all we can do is our best.  And it is so important that if they are nervous to pray because God loves when we bring our concerns to Him.  It was a good thing for me to remember because my kids were not nervous at all, but I was for them!  And in the hustle and bustle I forgot to pray in the car with them and so it was a great opportunity for me to say, hey guys, mommy forgot to pray with you, let's do it now!

The three testing days went faster than we expected.  Mark's test was only Monday and Tuesday.  Julia's was all three days with 3-4 sections each day.  So we showed up around 8:30 and left around noon each day.  By the time we got home the kids were ready to eat and play.  I let the rest of the days be very low key, no school work type days.  We even went to the park the first day and got ice cream because it was so hot out!

We survived our first standardized test with two babies in tow!  Micah and Amelia hung out in the nursery while I served there with the other little people.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

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