Testing is finished and I still have hours left in the day, what would be best for my students? This is a constant question that teachers have because so much is left up to what happens during the day and during testing. It is hard to break normal routines because you know that the students still have so many days of testing left and you don’t want to set a precedent of “you finish early, we get free time.” Instead, you need a plan that is low prep, flexible on time, still follows your classroom routines and will challenge the students but not further exhaust them. While you know your students best, this post will hopefully give you some ideas that you can take into your classroom that will help you out with your learners. Keep in mind that when we are testing math, we are not able to continue teaching math and when we are testing reading/writing, we are not able to continue teaching reading and writing, so please make sure that when you are choosing effective after testing activities, this state regulation is kept in mind.
Activities Focused on Encouragement
- Write encouraging letters to other students or to their buddy up class, brainstorm what they would like to hear and give them time to apply their artistic talents as they write these letters
- Create “thinking caps” like the ones Ms. Miller had her students make last year! (Check out the picture above for an example)
- Think of a creative catch phrase for a future testing shirt – what would your shirt say and how would it help you succeed on the SBAC?
- The Compliments Project from Cult of Pedagogy as written by Jennifer Gonzalez has students write compliments to each other in a public place – one student is in a seat and others write compliments on the board behind them. This would be great to do on the butcher paper that is covering your help charts – students would be broken into smaller groups and each would take a turn sitting in a chair while their peers write positive messages on the paper behind them.
- Breathing exercises, Ms. S Lopez does a great activity where she has her two aromatherapy diffusers going and students choose one scent to line up at, they take a deep breath and they find somewhere comfortable to lay (usually on the floor) and she plays positive motivation messages on an app or website like Calm or Mind Yeti while they relax. Here are some links you can use if you are interested in this strategy:
- Class Dojo Mindfulness Lessons
- Mojo Meets the Beast: this activity talks about emotions being overwhelming, gives students time to draw their own “beast” and gives strategies on how to use self control when emotions are feeling really strong.
- Class Dojo Growth Mindset Lessons:
- Reflecting on our Language: helps learners understand more about how to communicate effectively, would be a great lesson to do before having them write inspirational letters to each other.
- Reflection Triangles: guides learners in a reflection activity focused on thinking about how much they have learned this school year.
- Becoming a Goal Setter: great to do the day before testing or after the first day so students can set goals and measure their progress during reflection times.
- Class Dojo Perseverance Lessons:
- All Lessons on Perseverance: I would recommend this entire perseverance series because it really builds on itself and can be effective when our learners feel like they are stuck and won’t get better. This can be a tough mindset to break out of and the videos and activity help learners relate to other people they may have heard of who have also felt discouraged but who have overcome that barrier and still met their goals.
- Class Dojo Story Telling Lessons:
- Storytelling: this is a great activity for students to do right after testing especially since we are starting the first week with math assessments. This activity goes over the process of storytelling and allows students to create their own characters and helps them develop a strong plot.
- Mind Yeti Moments:
- Mind Yeti Focus: allow students to find a comfortable place somewhere in the room and give have them listen to the audio as they relax and reflect – also see the links in the breathing exercises section if you like what you see in the focus section!
Ideas From Other Bloggers
- Genius Hour from AJ Juliani: Genius Hour is a time when students get to explore something that they are curious or passionate about, a great way to encourage students to continue challenging themselves and re-energize their minds after a long day of testing!
- Movie Makers: give students time to reflect on the learning they have accomplished this year and create an iMove that shares the progress they have made over the course of this school year or over their time as a whole in school. This could include a reflection of their goals and objectives for the year as well as a segment where they make new goals.
For even more great ideas:
- Check out the Cult of Pedagogy blog post by clicking this link . Jennifer Gonzalez has organized her blog post so that you can choose activities based on how much prep time you have!
- Check out this PDF from Breeze Through Math – 50 Great Ideas for Use After State Testing which can be found for a free download at this link on Teachers Pay Teachers. This is also suggested in the Cult of Pedagogy blog post suggested above.
- Low cost STEM challenges can be found at this website from Frugal Fun
- VAPA art lessons for grades K-12 can be found at this website from teacher.org
Regardless of what goes on during testing, it is great when our learners can remember that they are there to show what they know and to prove that they have know more than they did the last time they took the interim assessment or they know more than they did the last time they took the SBAC or Local Measures assessment. We know that everyone will do whatever possible to maintain a growth mindset!