Friday, April 20, 2012

Test Prep Blitz

This week has been one of the most emotionally draining weeks of my life... and teaching career.  Not my worst... but it's definitely up there.  We spent a whole week deviating from Reading Street to reinforce concepts and practice for the Ohio Achievement Assessment.  Today was a "Blitz Day", so we spent all day on Reading, and that meant a whole LOT of planning for me since we plan for our support staff in these kinds of situations.  I pretty much lived in my home office all week, and I am exhausted.  Beyond the test stress that I experience every year at this time, our district sadly had to let make several cuts this week.  I am very fortunate that I was not one of them, but my heart goes out to all of my colleagues who received bad news this week.  And lastly, my sweet grandmother passed today.  She had a massive stroke yesterday, and since she has been fighting melanoma for almost two years, her body just couldn't overcome it. If you're wondering what I am doing on my blog, it's honestly my coping mechanism.  I just have to stay busy... because I don't want to dwell on the loss of my grandmother.  She's never going to experience sadness or feel pain ever again, and for that, I am thankful.  God blessed me with a wonderful grandmother, and now she is with Him.  There is so much comfort in that realization.

So, with that said, here's a little peek at our week.  Our Ohio Achievement Assessment covers synonyms.  I did a super quick review with Christie's adorable Synonym Rolls unit... and a few of Cara's cute printables.  It was not nearly as cute... or as yummy as their lessons since we didn't make chef hats or cinnamon rolls... BUT I am now confident that they will remember the difference between synonyms and antonyms next Tuesday! Plus, we managed to brainstorm a whole lot of alternatives for said in the meantime... so I managed to sneak in a little writing instruction too!

We also played a few sessions of Vocabulary Star throughout the week to review test vocabulary, and this was a HUGE hit with the kids.  It's a game of musical chairs, essentially, but nobody gets "out"! The kids walk around the room until the music stops.  Whoever lands on a Vocabulary Star spot gives a definition or example of a test prep term.  Usually four students are standing each time, so this helps speed up the process, and it helps ensure that everyone gets a turn.   {I am pretty sure they think I am a total weirdo since I play songs from Rhinoceros Tap and The Philadelphia Chickens CD/book combos.  They totally crack me up!}  This is one of my favorite review activities every single year!

We've also spent some time reviewing Brain and Book... a process we utilize at my school for ALL students K-4.  This is not my original idea... so I can't take ANY credit for it, but it's a great process.
If you think this is something that could benefit your kiddos, you can check it out HERE for FREE! 

We have a little rockstar theme going for this OAA, and I am LOVING it.  Here's our red carpet... 

 We have a Wall of Fame {in progress} right now too.  I am going to add more stars next week... 
what you can't see is that I also put our class picture on the door under the window!

These shooting stars are lining our Wall of Fame... pretty much flanking the celebrity door.  The kiddos worked with four different teachers today, and they earned a certain color for good behavior at each center.  They used the rainbow strips and the star to make their own shooting stars... our take on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  :)  After all, my kiddos are going to Rock the OAA!

We used Tiffany Gannon's Rock-themed test prep posters and her guitar template for our posters.  {I always cover up a ton of bulletin board space with posters rather than taking everything down!

Here's a quick video run-down of the rest of our photo-worthy activities.  I'm hitting the wall!
The SmartBoard interactive practice session was obtained from SMART Exchange.   We used the fingerprint cards I talked about in  last week's post with this.

We also spent some time practicing graphic organizers.  When I say we, I mean that I handed all of this over to one of our fab Title teachers, and I took pictures to document later, because I was working on extended responses with the groups.  :)  I took the less-than-exciting center to drive it home! This Venn is from Lesson Plan S.O.S.  The bits and pieces for the popcorn web are by Abby.  I seriously survived this week with a little help from my bloggy friends.  Otherwise, I am fairly certain that  would have had to give up eating and sleeping for the week!  So thanks bloggy buds! 

I'll try to pop in sometime next week with an update on anything that transpires on Monday.  As you can see... I still have some fun up my sleeves thanks to a few of  Cara's synonym/antonym, contractions, and compound word centers and Working 4 the Classroom's cute strategy chains!  I also prepared Kristen's cute boombox and plan on one more round of Vocabulary Star!

What do you do to prepare your kiddos for standardized testing?  I'd love to hear...


  1. I am so sorry to hear about your grandmother.

    I hope your class does a good job on the big test:) Best of luck!

  2. I am in awe of your work! WOW! I know you want to move to the 3rd floor, right? I am sorry to hear about your grandma. So thankful for the grace of God and the promise of heaven! Thanks for being an inspiration...professionally and personally.

  3. So sorry to hear about your loss. You have such a positive attitude and are very inspirational! Looks like a lot of fun and great learning going on in your room. I hope you are able to have a restful weekend and celebrate your sweet grandma's life.

    And yay for blogging friends!


    Sprinkle Teaching Magic

  4. Sorry for your loss..I loved reading about all of the wonderful things you made to help the class with testing! We just finished week 1 in NY ..math is next week, can't wait for it to be over! Your classroom looks like a great place to be. Try to enjoy your weekend.

  5. Hi Amanda!
    I just wanted to give you a virtual hug! Sounds like a pretty bad week. Your test prep stuff is amazing though! What hard work and I'm sure it paid off. :) I'm in cleveland and we've been practicing for the OAA's too. I heard about all the cuts in the cleveland schools and It's so discouraging, but I can't imagine giving up and finding another occupation. I pray for your colleagues. Have a restful weekend.


  6. Sorry for your loss! I absolutely LOVE your musical chairs idea! I was looking for ideas to add in to my games to prep for on End of Grade test. This will be on the list! Thanks for sharing :)

    Twins, Teaching and Tacos.

  7. Thanks for sharing all these cool ideas! Love your blog!

  8. Wow!! Your students are lucky to have you as their teacher! I am in awe. Best of luck to them and you in the next weeks.
    Sorry to hear about your sweet grandmother. My prayers go out to you and your family.
    Eileen Griffin

  9. Prayers for you and your family on the loss of your grandma, grandmas are certainly very special people.

    I just found out yesterday that I'm moving back to a testing grade, fourth, and I LOVE the idea of an OAA blitz! :) Our fourth grade did a math Olympics to review math, I think a reading blitz would be a perfect addition next year! Thanks for sharing your creativity!
    Stories From Second

  10. Sorry to hear about your loss. Thoughts and prayers for you and your family.

    I love all of your review ideas. The Cinnamon Roll Synonyms is so stinkin' cute! Thanks for sharing.

    The Teacher's Backpack

  11. I am sorry about your grandmother. May God's comfort and love fill your heart and be with you and with your family.

    I hope all goes well for you and your kids during the test. I am sure they are going to "rock it" :)

    I wish you were my daughter's teacher. I bet she would feel confident and prepared with all of that encouragement. Your kids and their families are so blessed :)


  12. Thinking of you and your family.

    This post is so packed full of ideas for review. Even though I'm not a state testing grade, I can't wait to incorporate some of these things as review in my room! Thank you for sharing.

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

  13. SO sorry sweet girl.
    testing is stressful enough! I adore Angela, too! When I taught 4th she was like a virtual teammate {at least for me!}
    I love the fingerprint response cards and I teach brain and book clues as well as questions! You are not alone! It's a tough standardized world out there!

  14. Officially became your latest follower using Google friend (even though I have been following you using Reader).
    Come and check out my Dr. Jean giveaway!
    My Second Sense

  15. Thanks so much for sharing. These ideas are fantastic!

  16. I'm so sorry to hear about your grandmother, Amanda. I totally know what you mean about blogging being your coping mechanism - it's totally like therapy! My school is also getting ready for testing, so I appreciate all your great ideas! Thanks for sharing!
    Teaching With Style

  17. Amanda,

    I too am sorry for your loss. I love your stuff and I use it all the time here in VA. My kids are still struggling with the dictionary definitions like you have in your smartboard review from SMART exchange. Do you remember what you found it under? I''d love to use it!

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