Note: This post was updated in February 2019
As the dates for standardized testing get closer, Common Core test preparation is becoming a hot topic in classrooms across the country. When you think about test prep for Common Core State Standards (CCSS) assessments, you’re probably most familiar with workbooks, test booklets, or online tools specifically designed for your state’s standards.
When you’re reviewing skills and concepts with your students, you may need additional help — beyond the traditional in-class prep — to grab and keep their interest along the way. Take a look at the following Common Core test preparation activities for inspiration on getting young minds working in your classroom.
Common Core Test Prep Materials
A classroom of students sitting calmly at their desks, pouring over their practice materials, brows furrowed in concentration…well, it’s any teacher’s dream. It’s also a great way to get them used to the process of taking a test and prepare them for how to behave on test day. When students complete test preparation activities like practice worksheets or online practice, they not only feel confident with the test content, but it also removes the “unknowns” of test day and can reduce their test anxiety.
Test prep resources are focused on the content areas that will be assessed on test day, such as English language arts, mathematics, and science. They are a great way to reinforce the rigorous content and critical thinking skills required by the Common Core State Standards and other state standards. Look for materials that are written especially for the CCSS (tip: check the book’s table of contents) and feature lessons with a supportive gradual-release model. These materials also allow students to practice the various types of questions they’ll see on test day, so they become familiar with how the assessment will be presented.
Test Prep Activities That Get The Blood Pumping
You may find that, over time, practice tests aren’t enough to keep your class stimulated. There are many fun, nontraditional ways that you can engage your students while reinforcing your classroom instruction. Here’s your chance to let them get out their excess energy as they show what they know.
Alycia Zimmerman, a third-grade teacher in New York and guest blogger for Scholastic, offers a few get-up-and-get-moving games she uses in her classroom.
- Practice true and false questions by having students sit down if they think the answer is true and stand up if they think the answer is false.
- Want to get them into the groove with multiple-choice questions? Label each corner of your room A, B, C, and D, then let them hop, skip, and jump (wiggle or dance) their way to the corner they think represents the correct answer.
Bring Out Their Competitive Streaks with Test Prep
Nothing brings out a student’s very best better than a little healthy competition! For upper elementary and middle school students, try Common Core test preparation activities like in-class game shows. Use popular quiz show formats (think of Jeopardy, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, or Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?) to get your students racing to provide the right answers.
State standard tests encompass information that you’ve learned all year long, so make sure your test prep sessions include questions on lessons you completed last week, last month, as well as early in the school year.
Teachers have also started to create Escape Room-style test prep activities, with a series of questions and tasks that must be completed in a set period of time. If you’re interested in creating an Escape Room for your students, our Escape From Your Everyday Routine blog can get you started.
Using Tech for Common Core Test Preparation
For your students, every test prep activity feels a little more fun when they can use a laptop or iPad.
Publishers of printed state standards materials often offer their programs in eBook format, which is a great alternative for schools with 1:1 technology initiatives. There are different types of eBooks, from standard web-based PDFs to those that offer highly interactive, hands-on experiences.
Additionally, there are a number of Common Core apps that can be used in the classroom or for at-home practice.
Motivation All Around
During test day, it’s common for teachers to cover up instructional prompts that are hung throughout their classrooms. Use this as an opportunity to create motivational messages to your students. During your test prep sessions, set aside time to let your students decorate large sheets of paper with notes and drawings of encouragement to each other.