Now for the reeeaallllly good stuff!

Refer to tips part 1 if you’re not sure what I’m talking about here.

The thing that makes testing less stressful and much more fun for me is creating a class versus test approach. I’m going to share with you how I do that today.

{But first, as promised, pictures of our pins}

I remember my first year teaching. I was so worried about the ISAT tests. I didn’t know how to gauge whether or not my students would do well. I had never seen the test, I didn’t know what to expect. Even though I am against rewarding (read this book to understand more about why), I felt I needed to give the students an incentive.

So I told them if 87% of the class passed the test I would give them pizza. I didn’t know what I was doing or how to approach it.

I still remember sitting in a team meeting with my principal that year when he asked if any of us had an incentive in store. I replied that I had plans for a pizza party if we met our class goal. After the principal left, one of the teachers on my team said to another (very loudly), ‘How is a pizza party going to help them pass a test?”

{It was rude. And is that experience compiled with many many (countless) others lead me to this discovery.}

I know that prizes and incentives won’t help them pass. Doing my job all year is what most ensures success (along with the help of every other staff member in the building in the years prior to my year). But I do know that testing is not fun, it causes anxiety in some kids, and it’s long. I wanted to give them a reason to put their best effort into the test.

They earned their pizza party. I was pleased. But I learned something with that test…that year was my first year (I was not yet married) and I had the kids put on stickers that read “Team Larson.” That was my first experience with the class versus the test. That’s what helped me to realize that if the students want to please you, they will put their best foot forward regardless. But I wanted do still do something fun for them.

Then Misty told me about something the teachers at the school she was student teaching at were doing as ISAT incentives. They were doing raffle prizes with a raffle ticket for each point of growth.

I loved the idea! I loved the focus on growth rather than passing the test. That year, I moved to fourth grade and I shared the idea with my team. They were much more receptive and even did it themselves. Two of the teachers still do it every year. We would give out one ticket for each point of growth on every test, the students would put their ticket in a drawing for a raffle prize of their choice. One teacher buys bunches of books, toys, and gadgets and puts them together in baskets (but that’s a little too costly for me). I did gifts that were virtually costless (getting there).

It can be organized so that each student can only win one prize and you can then ensure that everyone will win something. It’s been a lot of fun and it’s made testing time much more enjoyable.

Now, though, I’m a third grade teacher. My students don’t have previous scores to go on to find growth. I still didn’t want to focus on passing, though. So this year, we are turning our points into money to be used in a silent auction.

Every point a student scores on the test becomes $1 of classroom auction money. I then have various prizes. The passing scores for 3rd graders are in the 190s and 200s so I made the starting bid for each item $200.00. That way it motivates students to get the best possible score, but even if they don’t, they can still participate and bid.

What are they bidding on?

Prize 1-Lunch with my parents

Prize 2-Breakfast of champions. They come in early and I make them hot chocolate and serve them one of Zach’s grandma’s delicious cinnamon rolls (they are the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had and she’s done this for me for a few years now)

Prize 3-After school fun. Stay late and watch a movie while enjoying a snack with me

Prize 4-Play basketball and enjoy an extra recess with my brother

Prize 5-Lunch and board games with Mr. and Mrs. Hatch

Prize 6-Book basket. One copy of our published class book plus a bunch of other good reads.

Prize 7-Cooking class…I’ll take you to the teacher’s lounge to make lunch and eat it with me

All bids start at $200.00

Additional prizes:

Mystery Grab Bags

Treats

Class books (copies of books that we put together in class. I.e. Homophone books, antonym books, etc…)

After all three tests are complete, students can add up their “money” and place one bid on as many items as they want. I am awarding a certain number of students each prize. They can only win one main prize each, but the additional prizes are separate and they may win several of those if they have the money to bid on it.

And that’s how we really take on the test!

**Tomorrow is one more tip….but I also have to mention prayer. I pray. My family prays. My grandparents better be pulling for me. We’re taking it a day early tomorrow, last-minute maneuvering of the schedule…so you know, if you wanted to pray, too….that would be MUCH appreciated!

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