March 11, 2013

Pumping Kids Up for THE TEST!

We are knee deep in state testing here in Illinois!  4 tests down, 4 to go.  (We only give one test a day so the kids don't get overwhelmed and exhausted, but it makes for a looong two weeks of testing...)  I wanted to dedicate a post to sharing some of the ways I pump my kiddos up for testing--both state testing and every test we take.  I try to keep testing really light and positive.  All year long I talk about tests as a "big game" or "championship"--the result of all of our practice, hard work, and "training."  When I introduce a test on a regular day, I usually do it something like this.  "You guys, we have something exciting happening this week!  We get to show our learning on a test!"  Then I have the kids cheer. :)  I know, it sounds silly, but after making tests a positive thing all year, the kids actually buy into it and cheer all by themselves. ;)  
Shared these testing treats last year, inspired by this pin
Next, when I pass out tests, I have the kids write "Bring it On!" on the top.  I use this ALLLL the time--any time we are about to do something tough, I say, "This is challenging!  What do we say to a challenge??" and the kids shout, "Bring it on!"
I've shared my affirmation wall before, and while I refer to it every day, I make sure to refer to it a little extra during testing time.  
I truly believe that these affirmations--both posting them on my walls and weaving them into the culture of my classroom--make a difference in my students' attitudes.  I hope that if there is one gift I can give them, it's that they carry these affirmations with them after they leave my classroom.  I cover the kiddos' name tags before testing because we aren't allowed to have any tools (multiplication charts, etc.) on their desks, and I let the kids doodle on them.  I also encourage them to write some positive "words of encouragement" to remember during testing.  Love this girl's:
I talk to the kids all the the time about my running, training, and racing.  Why?  Because I like them to say, "WOW, you ran that far?" and ask, "Did you WIN your half marathon??"?  Haha not exactly.  I like them to see me set big goals, work hard to train for them, and risk it all on race days.  I talk to them about how nervous I get before a race and how I have to tell myself to trust my training, tell myself, 'You can do it!', and visualize myself succeeding.  They love hearing about it, and I feel like it sets a good example for them of how hard work pays off.  I call our test prep "training" for our big event--THE TEST. :)  I like to have them visualize opening their test booklets, visualize knowing EVERY ANSWER, and visualize succeeding and proud after finishing.

My absolute favorite test motivation strategy came to me randomly my first year teaching when I had 5 extra minutes the week before testing.  I had the kids write a letter to the class, wishing them good luck and offering "words of encouragement" to make their classmates feel confident before testing.  What started as a "filler" became a yearly tradition.  I LOVE it.  The kids write the sweetest, most thoughtful notes to the class. I read a few before testing every day, and the kids love them.  Some of this year's favorites:

Please ignore the atrocious spelling...we're working on it...

How do you keep spirits high during test time?


  1. My motivational strategies for state testing are in this post: I actually showed the "Secret Stuff" clip from Space Jam today and the kids totally got the extended metaphor of the big game and "the test". I can't wait to give them their water bottles with the special labels on them tomorrow when we start the writing test, which is our first of the three for fifth grade. GOOD LUCK to you and your class, Stacy @

  2. Great post. I'll use some of this.


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