Test prep in upper elementary is a necessary part of the educational process, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be fun, or that it needs to look the same every day.
When I was teaching upper elementary, we tried to allot 15-30 minutes every day for test prep or skill review.
To make that time meaningful, I approached this time very strategically using a 30 Day Plan.
First I would review the data I had for each student regarding each of the standards. From there, I used that data to help me make my plan.
I noted which students needed help with which standards and which students didn’t. I made the plan and focused on a different standard each day. Those who needed the most help had a meeting with me where we would practice that standard together. The other students would work on the standards that they were working toward proficiency on but still needed practice by playing games and doing small group activities.
Over the course of the 30 days, we reviewed at least 30 skills as a class. The students who needed extra support got it, while those that didn’t were given opportunities to ‘play’ with the standard.
To make it even easier for you to create your own 30 day plan with this 30 day plan download!
No boring test prep in upper elementary here!
Remember, test prep doesn’t have to look or feel like a test.
Using No-Fail Practice
Test prep is about making students more confident with their skills, so playing ‘no-fail’ games that allow students to review skills can be great confidence builders. If no-fail games aren’t available, then playing the same games a couple days in a row can also do the trick. Some people may consider this a waste of time, but by playing the same games over and over, students get used to how questions are asked and what types of answers are expected.
We have to remember that skill test prep and confidence-building need to go hand in hand to help students be successful when their support system isn’t allowed to help them.
We have several great resource lines that have this ‘no fail’ feel, but some of our newest ones (available in digital format) are the Sticker Style Activities. These activities are built within Google Forms and force students to discover the correct answer before continuing with the activity.
Activities for Individuals, Groups, and the Whole Class
Test prep can be a full-class activity, or it can work in small groups or even as individual projects.
For full-group review, I really like working through one of these Game Shows (mixing in the sounds from this sound board of course!) The game shows allow for all students to answer on whiteboards or record answers on answering sheets, and the teacher can use the student responses to gauge student success with each question.
Even though all students are answering the questions, the teacher can still keep the competition alive by abiding by the other rules of the game.
If you students use the game shows frequently as part of their center activities, these Game Shows can also be student-run, which allows the teacher to spend time documenting student answers and gathering data.
Don’t forget to take a look at our blog post on making the Game Show experience even more fun in the classroom!
When giving students test prep time in small groups, I enjoy giving students the opportunity to mix and match lots of skills, so using the U-KNOW decks or the Digital Board Games, are great options for making test prep a collaborative activity.
The questions from these games can also be mixed and matched to provide differentiation. Remember, U-KNOW decks can be mixed up, so you know your students are reviewing the exact skills you want them to work on! You can also let students play a few games of war as part of their U-KNOW test prep. Read more about how to play war with U-KNOW cards in this post!
Then, depending on the reading skills I want to see students review, these Close Reads with Mystery Pictures (available in monthly sets) are fun for giving students a little focused ‘me’ time while working with reading skills.
When creating a 30 Day Plan for test prep in upper elementary, teachers need to feel confident that they can work with students individually or in small groups without being concerned about the rest of the class sitting idly. The activities and games listed here can easily be student-led, so the teacher has the time to provide help to those who need it.
The FREE 30-Day Plan download will help you to make all these decisions and create a fool-proof plan quicker and easier with pages dedicated to deciding on which skills you’ll be working on, what games other students will play, what secondary focus (if any) you’ll focus on, and a place to document how the students are doing on each skill. Let this process make your planning easier!