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How to Actually Teach During Test Preparation

This year I decided that I wasn’t going to test prep my students to death by making them do endless amounts of math word problems during every class period. And yes, I do question whether or not this will be an epic failure. But I have to keep reminding myself that I went through the same thought process when I decided to transition from a 100% paper based classroom to a half paperless classroom with a Google Classroom integration. My students haven’t skipped a beat. They continue to grow academically and show progress on each district assessment.

My Mindset
However, as I write this blog post I have to ask myself would I even have the same hesitation if I worked with a different demographic of students? This is a rhetorical question with no answer required, because I already know the answer to the question! I’m pretty sure you’ve wanted to do some innovative teaching in your classroom, but have gone through this same thought process and then decided to stick to your routine. I understand because it’s safe.

My test preparation routine is fool-proof. I’m telling you it works! My students have done well on standardized tests, which allows me to enjoy a teaching career free of harassment from my principal and other district personnel.

You’re probably thinking why would you take a risk and do something different? Well, I’m glad you asked. 

I’m taking the risk, because I need balance and my students deserve it! Don’t get me wrong even though I’ve been successful with standardized test I still sometimes doubt my ability to get them to pass, because I’m waaay out of my comfort zone. 

In my blog post, Breaking the Pedagogy of Poverty Cycle, I talk about how so many educators live and die by the pedagogy of poverty. The rampant focus on test preparation is a part of the cycle. I’m not saying don’t prepare your students for the tests, but continue to educate your students in the process!

My New Test Prep Plan

Although testing may be a part of our lives I plan on actually teaching during test preparation by following this routine:

  1. Watch CNN Student News
  2. Test Prep- Kahoot, FlipGrid, or Plickers
  3. Mini Lesson basic to abstract ending with test prep
  4. New or Review Skill with blended learning
  5. Project Based Learning (PBL)

Normally, I shut my whole classroom down and the students and I spend a countless amount of classroom time on test prep packets. This year that routine will be a thing of the past!

The constant focus on test preparation is one of the main reason why veteran teachers are retiring. Most veteran teachers remember what it was like to teach without the threat of test scores. This is not our reality. For the foreseeable future, standardized tests will a part of teaching but the way that I approach test prep will be forever changed.

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I help math teachers who teach high need students to effectively manage their classrooms and deliver high quality math instruction. Learn more about me


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