Testing and Moving

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The testing moment is upon us…..

Or perhaps the testing beast….

Or testing nightmare….

Testing delight???

OK.  That might be pushing the envelope a bit much.  In a little over a month, students in Washington will be taking the much anticipated state test in reading, writing, math, and science.  It is at this moment that anxiety starts to set in for teachers and students.  As an English teacher for 7th and 8th grade students, my brain starts to overload as I think about three tests (two in writing and one in reading).  This is the testing season where I attempt to review, reteach, review, reteach, review,……. Some would argue that this is teaching to the test, which is probable accurate to some degree.  I also think it is emphasize skills students need to have in reading and writing.  I just wish the demands and repercussions of the test were not so high or stressful.

I believe, during this testing season, it is critical  to get students up and moving.  It helps to calm the anxiety of both teachers and students. It can help break up monotony as well as re-energize students as they make mind-body connections to the content being studied.

It may sound silly, but little moments of physical activity can create a surge in success for students.  One of the teachers in my building created a thesis statement dance, so we have decided to create an entire essay dance.  Students roll their eyes during it, but they have fun and they are constantly reviewing it physically and mentally as we prepare them for the essays they have to write.  Will this actually help them on the test?  We won’t know for sure.  We only wait several months before the testing results are relinquished from the realms of the state.  Until then, I believe that during this testing season, it is possible to experience positive stress, have fun, teach with high expectations and standards, and be human!

Traveling the Word Wall

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Vocabulary.

I could let people stew on this word for quite some time.  There is a great deal conversation about vocabulary, how to effectively teach it, the difference between tier one, two, and three vocabulary words, Common Core and its effect on teaching vocabulary, and the list goes on.

The past couple of years, I have had students create a word wall, or hallway, of  words they have studied or want to know more about.  The list explodes beyond the classroom door to create a rainbow of colored word strips throughout the hallway.  All students, regardless of whether or not they have me as a student, see the words every day.  Since the hallway spans several classrooms, there is room for hundreds of words.  It is fun to watch students, and teachers I might add, look at the words before school, during passing time, and after school.

At multiple times during the school year, once words start to cover the hallway, I lead my classes on a word wall walk.  Students bring their notebooks and silently examine the words on the wall.  We move through the hall for a couple minutes giving students a chance to write down at least five words they want to use in their writing.  We then return to the classroom to begin using the words to address a writing prompt, or we continue our journey through campus looking for school settings that inspire us to write about our words.

The great accomplishment of this activity is that once students see words that they have chosen for their writing activities, they tend to see them on a daily, or weekly, basis in the hallway and are reminded of them as they travel to various classes or exit toward their homes.