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Did you hear that? It’s that faint sound enthusiasm being let out of your classroom. Take the groaning sounds out of test-prepping time. So, instead of only preparing review chapters and practice tests, play games!
Let’s face it test-prep time is by far the most dreaded time of a school year for both the students and the teachers. I mean what could possibly beat the #1 way to teach students how to hate coming to school and learning. It is stressful, exhausting and downright boring and that’s my opinion, the teacher! Students like this time of the year even less. Furthermore, unfortunately it begins right after the wonderful holidays. Certain to suck out every joyful moment you had during those times. And speaking from experience any kind of alternative ways used to teach a lesson that was implemented before this time immediately turns to this enormous countdown clock to “test time”.
I mean there’s a lot riding on those scores but no pressure… yeah right.
Over the years, I have tried to talk myself off the ledge and make great efforts at incorporating engaging activities for my students while still ensuring they are learning and practicing the skills, strategies, and knowledge required to pass the upcoming exams.
So, I have personally used each one of these engaging activities in my classroom.
Jeopardy takes first place because this game can be used for every subject from Math to Writing. The game Jeopardy is structured as an array with rows and columns. The top row squares have the categories for example, geometry, fractions, and decimals. The column squares would have the questions or statements based up the category topic for example: What geometrical shape is a quadrilateral with four equal sides and four equal angles?
You can create a jeopardy board with paper using colored paper to represent the concepts (for the creative and adventurous type) or you can create a jeopardy board on PowerPoint (for the technologically inclined teacher such as myself). The students really enjoy playing this game!
To teach is to learn twice—Joseph Joubert
2. Teacher for Day
This concept can be applied to and renamed as “Teacher for review” or “Teacher for a lesson”. You get what I mean. We are teachers rename as you see fit. Though this is not much of a game, it would be an awesome activity for the students for test-prep. The students become the teachers for the review lesson. Bonus: the ‘teacher’ student learns the lesson twice. The ‘teacher’ student can conduct test-prep review during collaborative grouping. With this scenario, you can have multiple teachers (a teacher for each group). The ‘teacher’ students are active learners responsibly engaged in their own learning. There is also an element for self-evaluation for the student as well. By the way students love to be the teacher!
The game Memory or what a student once told me “Oh miss this is just a matching game.” Memory can be used for test-prep in a variety of ways or learning and practicing math concepts such as multiplication, or algebraic expressions. I love this game for language arts such as grammar or vocabulary terms. You can even use it for reading comprehension such as Q &A. The basic rules for Memory is there are 2 players, each competing for the most matches. The one with the most matches can be “graded” (bonus) for understanding the concept that the game focused on.
Educational Bingo that is! There are so many ways you can use bingo in the classroom as a test-prep activity. This immediately changes a dreaded test prep into an exciting one. Educational bingo is perfect for multiplication facts, states and capitals, grammar, review of historical events and the list goes on. Bingo cards can be printed blank, laminated and reused over and over. Even when it’s not test prep. I use it to break up the monotony of lessons.
5. Wheel of Fortune
I have left the Wheel of Fortune game for last because it can result on some serious learning fun and… it also takes some time to prepare. At first glance, Wheel of fortune lends itself towards words, phrases, and sentences for Science, Social Studies, etc. But it can be used for Math as well such as definitions, formulas, geometrical shapes characteristics you get the picture; all great for test-prep. Now back to the prep time. It will take many weekends to create this masterpiece but I promise you it will be used year after year. And I have to tell you I had so much fun creating this game board there was glitter, glue and paint. Need I say more?
Final words on test prep
Inspire active learning. When a lesson is structured as a game, what was an eye-rolling, sighing day is a play day with a bonus. The active learning encourages interactive engagement with a little friendly competition thrown in. Your students will be having so much fun they won’t realize they are preparing for a test.
I would so love to hear what test prep alternative methods you have used to engage your students during test-prep time. Have you tried any of these activities? Do you have others you have used in your classroom? Let me know!
Happy teaching and learning!