Are you panicking yet over testing season coming up? I have always found that right after winter break, I would suddenly realize how close we were to testing time, and I became a drill sergeant! While testing is not always fun or interactive, I do believe that practicing on a regular basis up until the week of testing can really take the edge off! If we have practiced weekly, then on testing day I am fully confident telling students, "This is just like a practice day. You have done this lots of times – and you know what to do!"
One way I prepare students is with a weekly practice test that is timed. Because my desks are in groups of four, I want students to resist the urge to sneak a peek at their neighbor's paper. I wanted an easy way to create some privacy without having to get out bulky cardboard to set up and take down each time. Instead, I used two colored folders to create "offices." I buy the same colored folders in bulk at the beginning of the school year when they are a penny each. I probably have an extra 500 folders always on hand!
The folders are easy enough to place into my students’ desks and pull out when requested. They put them up and have a private area to work. It also minimizes the urge for those that speed through their test and then look around to see if they are the first one done. It is much harder to look through the folders without being caught!
If you start to have issues with students who are playing with their pencils through the crack in the folders, another option is to take some clear tape down the middle of two folders. They will lay flat and still be able to fit in a desk nicely, as well.
Students are not allowed to color, write their names, or personalize the folders for a reason: I want them to look uniform and be as little of a distraction as possible. Plus, that way they can be used from year to year! I have seen some teachers laminate the folders to make them even more sturdy, but I always worry about the students who like to pick and peel away at the lamination! File folders can also be used, but I do find that the colorful folders are cheaper and easier to replace (but of course, you may feel differently, so choose what you like the best).
How do you prepare for standardized testing season? Do you pull desks apart? Do you seat your students facing in different directions - or something else? I would love to see your tips as well in the comments below.
Happy Test Preparations!
For more handy pointers and advice to make your classroom run smoothly, register for our FREE webinar next Wednesday, February 15 at 4 p.m. EST: "Overcoming Organizing Obstacles" with Charity Preston, now!
Charity Preston, MA is the editor and creator of several websites, including The Organized Classroom Blog, Classroom Freebies, and Teaching Blog Central, among others. She received her undergraduate degree in early childhood education from Bowling Green State University, OH and a Master in Curriculum and Instruction from Nova Southeastern University, FL, as well as a gifted endorsement from Ohio University. She taught third grade in Lee County, FL for several years before relocating back to her hometown as a gifted intervention specialist. Charity is currently taking time off to run her online businesses and spend time with her toddler. She is married with two children, ages two and 14 and has two cats and a dog. Life is never dull in the Preston house!