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Test Prep with Flocabulary: 6 Tips for Navigating Testing Season

As high-stakes testing season approaches, the classroom can become a whirlwind of test prep. With these tests drawing nearer and nearer, it’s important for teachers to focus on more than just content because there’s more to being prepared than just knowing all the answers.

Students must be able to deal with stress and anxiety, have good studying habits and practice the act of taking a test itself. But how do you address these skills in the classroom? We asked teachers this very question, and here’s what we found.

Tip #1: Discussion is key

When students learn material, they don’t just retain it immediately. According to teachers, a critical way of nailing down information is by discussing it. There are lots of approaches to class discussions, but here at Flocab we build it into our lessons with Discussion Mode.

By having a conversation about what they’ve learned, students are able to interact with and form an understanding of the new information. You could also turn Discussion Mode questions into writing prompts for even more interaction!

chance-harding

Chance Harding
Instructional Innovation Specialist
Virginia

I find students can learn the most from the discussion mode. As a class we can go over the discussions to make sure we are on the same page and it’s important for students understand their own thinking.

brook-sharpnack

Brook Sharpnack
5th Grade ELA and Social Studies Teacher
Pennsylvania

About a week before our testing, I like to review test-taking strategies with my students. I like the Test-Taking Strategies Flocab lesson because it’s a way to review these strategies in a fun, exciting way. The discussion mode facilitates conversations about do’s and don’t when taking the test.

Tip #2: Music and rhythm help memory

It’s no secret that melodies easily get stuck in your head – shouldn’t it work that way with lyrics, too? Setting new information to a catchy beat or presenting it in lyric form makes it easier for students to remember and apply.

jordan-harrill

Jordan Harrill
7th Grade Social Studies Teacher
California

I have students watch the video and play the vocabulary game. Students love the engagement of the video and the great beats the vocab game provides.

I then have them create their own rap using the Lyric Lab. When it’s time to take the test, students will be reminded of their song they created. It is so awesome to watch kids humming or mouthing the words to their songs to help them during their test!

brook-sharpnack

Brook Sharpnack
5th Grade ELA and Social Studies Teacher
Pennsylvania

I can always notice some anxiety and nervousness in the days leading up to the test. The Flocab lessons help take some of the pressure off because they are catchy and the students remember the strategies and hints better.

I love seeing the students bobbing their heads or singing along. I definitely believe it is a boost to their self-confidence and makes them feel a little more relaxed come test time.

Tip #3: It’s not just about the content

Though the purpose of high-stakes testing is to assess what students know, there are a lot of other factors that can affect how well students perform. Students should learn about goal setting, time management, dealing with anxiety or nerves and other SEL topics.

Addressing these skills can do a lot to prepare students for tests and even teach them to prepare themselves. Our SEL lessons encourage a positive mindset and set your students up for success.

jordan-harrill

Jordan Harrill
7th Grade Social Studies Teacher
California

While scoring as high as possible on these tests is ideal, we know that it is not the only thing that matters to us as a school and community. It is only part of who they are, and we are much more interested in creating leaders that make their own way, and provide their own ladders of success in whatever field they choose.

My students were much more self-motivated and excited to take the tests. Since using these lessons, I noticed that the morning of the first day of testing, students were excited, not worried, loose, and more at ease. Those rhymes were flowing through their heads.

amanda-scott

Amanda Scott
3rd Grade Teacher
South Carolina

I like the Managing Worry video/lesson. Many of my students worry about how they will perform and we talk about calming strategies after watching the video.

katy-williams

Katy Williams
4th Grade Teacher
Indiana

When prepping for high-stakes testing, we usually focus less on actual content (avoiding the whole “teaching to the test” mentality) and more on skills and strategies. I focus on test taking strategies, ways to calm down and focus, and setting goals.

We always joke as a class that there is “a Flocab for everything!” Watching Flocab videos before testing makes it seem so much more routine and approachable. We watch at least 2 Flocab videos per week between our weekly vocab lesson and weekly skills, so seeing Flocab videos connected to testing helps their confidence. They know if there is a Flocab about it, it is a skill they can tackle!

Katy’s suggested test prep lessons:

Tip #4: Practice testing in a recognizable format

It’s much easier to prepare for and do well on something that you’ve seen before. When prepping students for high-stakes testing, many teachers said it was useful to be able to do dry runs of tests using formatting that would be familiar to students, come test day.

jordan-harrill

Jordan Harrill
7th Grade Social Studies Teacher
California

The Quiz is a great tool because you can reassign it if they do not pass, and this is reflective of what they would experience with the real test. I have had students in the past do both the read/respond and quiz. The read/respond activity gives them practice to go over comprehension, vocabulary, and test taking strategies.

Flocabulary has embedded those strategies and skills within the lesson itself! Its great and the kids love Flocab and are always excited to go for it. When it’s time to take the standardized test, my students are always a little bit more at ease and less nervous. Thanks Flocab!

Caitlyn-clayton

Caitlyn Clayton
8th Grade ELA Teacher
Illinois

The questions on the read and respond and the quizzes help students to practice answering questions that are similar in format to the ones they will see on our state tests.

Tip #5: Differentiate your instruction!

New feature alert!

Test prep is about to get even better: Flocab recently launched a differentiation feature within lesson assignments! To give each student the individualized attention they need, you can now customize which lessons you assign to which student based on their level of understanding.

The ability to create assignments for specific students rather than just the whole class empowers teachers to provide tailored instruction to diverse students. This feature is perfect for ensuring that each student in your class is as prepared as they can be for high-stakes tests. 

Tip #6: Explore our test prep content

With so many different Flocab lessons to choose from, there are a lot of options for enhancing your test prep plans. Teachers particularly like our Test-Taking Vocabulary and Test-Taking Strategies lessons for addressing high-stakes testing in the classroom.

Flocab Recommends

The Vocab Cards and Read & Respond for each lesson provide students another way to practice these test-taking skills. They’re printable, so you can even take the learning offline! This version of the Vocab Cards and Read & Respond can be found on all lessons under “Teacher Resources.” You can print these out, assign them for homework or have students keep a copy in a “test-prep” folder.

katy-williams

Katy Williams
4th Grade Teacher
Indiana

We have used the following videos for specifically for test prep:

-Test taking strategies: watched video with discussion mode, made a class list of our own test taking strategies and new ones we learned.

-Test taking vocabulary: We have watched the video then worked as a class to complete the vocab cards so they really knew what each word meant.

We will also watch and discuss other big topic videos before tests, like theme, main idea, text structures, etc. This year we may also use the 5 Paragraph Essay video before testing because of the big focus on writing in our state test.

We also use Flocab videos as a testing break/celebration time after testing is completed for the day. I will usually play some of their favorites so they can get up and sing/dance after a long testing session!

In this Flocabulary lesson, students learn how to implement their own test-taking strategies. These include getting enough rest, studying with a friend, how to approach questions and more. After watching the video, students can complete Read & Respond to practice some of the suggested strategies. Students can also write about their own strategies using Lyric Lab, a creative rhyme-writing tool.

This lesson teaches common test-taking vocabulary words, including many of Larry Bell’s 12 Powerful Words. Students review Tier 2 words like “infer,” “compare,” and “evaluate” within the compelling story of a trial. After watching the video, students can complete Vocab Cards to define and illustrate the vocabulary words in order to create their own memorable connection.

High-stakes testing season can be a stressful time for students AND teachers. By following these five tips, you can go into test prep feeling confident in both your ability to prepare students for high-stakes tests and their ability to ace those tests.

Cayley Ross

Cayley Ross is Flocabulary's Marketing Co-op. She is a senior at Northeastern University majoring in communication studies and minoring in English and graphic design.

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