Standardized testing is not my favorite part of teaching, for many reasons that I have discussed at length on my blog – Raki’s Rad Resources. These reasons are not my focus today.
However, no matter what I think of testing, my students still have to take them. My goal as a teacher is to prepare my students for the obstacles they will experience.
I must also prepare them for standardized testing by teaching them test taking strategies. Just like everything else I teach my students, we start early and we practice often.
Why Should Elementary Students Use Test Taking Strategies?
When you think about it, test taking strategies like “read the questions first” and “underline key words” are really activities to help students understand what the question is asking them. They are clarifying their understanding for themselves in preparation for a time when they can’t ask clarifying questions.
Building independent students who can understand the questions they are asked is a win win situation. This is true even if they never take a standardized test.
Additionally, test taking strategies build critical thinking skills by asking students to identify pieces of a question that don’t make sense.
So teaching elementary students to take a test should be approached as teaching students to think. Since this is our ultimate goal for them anyways, this should be no big jump.
Introduce, Practice and Reinforce
Now, I don’t teach students to multiply the day before their multiplication quiz and I definitely don’t introduce reading comprehension strategies the week before I assess their reading.
Just like all other skills, we need to introduce test taking strategies as early on as we can. This gives us time to practice the skills over and over, building familiarity with them until they are second nature.
Of course, I don’t give my students tests every day, but I teach them how to use the same strategies for in regular class assignments like reading questions, writing prompts, and math word problems, etc. This way we literally practice every day.
So on test day I have done everything I can to make sure that my kiddos are prepared for that test. And the kiddos just see it as what we do! There is no need for them to do anything extra!
Free Printable Posters
Posters that can be put on your wall or into your students’ interactive notebooks are a great way to introduce and review these strategies. At my Teachers Pay Teachers store, you can download 2 free posters – one for math and one for reading.
Hope you have a happy testing season! Remember your kids have grown so much, no matter what the test scores show!