The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Let the Testing Begin!

We do a lot of testing in education. And we do a lot of different kinds of testing. In addition to the testing done in the classroom, such as chapter and unit tests for math, science, and social studies, there are shorter formative assessments that we use to quickly gauge students’ understanding of various learning objectives, and then there are district benchmark assessments.

Most of the time, these assessments are spread out throughout the year, semester, or quarter. Other times, we have a sudden perfect storm of assessments. This week is one of those times.

It started with a practice test for math yesterday. It continued with a district math benchmark this morning. The class has four separate assessments on Wednesday, then another district benchmark on Thursday and the week wraps up with a spelling test on Friday.

Like I said, it is a perfect storm of assessing.

As a result of all these assessments, our regular schedule has been thrown askew. Not only have I had to rearrange some parts of our day, I’ve also had to find ways to meaningfully fill small gaps of time. I hate busywork and I hate doing anything that feels like I am simply wasting my students’ time.

To prevent these kinds of “downtime,” I have established different routines and activities in the class to fill these small gaps. One of the activities my students enjoy the most is when we do an “around the world” multiplication facts game. It is quite simple: I have two of my twelve-sided dice in a container that I use to random generate two numbers to be multiplied. I start with two students standing and I give them two numbers to multiply. Whoever gets it right advances and the student who gets it wrong sits down. The official goal is make it around the entire class without getting stopped. In reality, the furthest a student has made it has been eight seats. Still, it is a great way to give them an opportunity to practice crucial math skills!

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