State and other testing often means disrupted schedules for a period of time. It may include alternate school days, make-up days, or other issues. This is compounded in multi-grade classrooms. Plus, there is a shift in focus from the current classwork to testing, which can prove challenging for students (and sometimes teachers) to keep track of where they left off.
Here’s some ideas for how to navigate the disruptions and get back on track quickly.
- Use short texts, treating each discretely until the end of the unit wraps things up. This might include poems (since April is Poetry Month), short stories, informational text articles, short writing analysis or activities or a mix to create a thematic unit. By using short text, each text can be completed independently, with the appropriate activities, in a short period of time. Students missing don’t fall behind in a larger text or forget what happened before hand.
- Offer a choice of creative projects and activities to help students stay engaged. Testing or other disruptions can affect focus and interest, but allowing both choice and creative projects, it offers a low-energy buy-in to re-engage students.
- Alternately, include projects that allow for student interest and choice. A Song Lyric Literary Analysis, for example, allows students to chose a song they enjoy to practice literary analysis.
- Use projects and flexible timelines which allows students to complete tasks in alternate order to increase completion. Students can ‘eat the frog’ (as the expression goes) and tackle the biggest or most challenging part, or if they’re burned out, distracted, or otherwise struggling, they can work on smaller or more interesting (to them) pieces in order to keep making progress. Set the due date for all items, but let students chose the order.
- For example, when assigning the Company Project, I give them all the guidelines and grading for the required parts (poster, letters, advertisement) and they work in whatever order they choose.
- End a unit before testing begins. Make sure all is wrapped up. Then start a new unit, project, mini-unit or other flexible activity for covering the time period of the most disruption. Allow time for students who are pulled away (or focused on other things) time to catch up after things settle down. A lonely Monday or Friday in a week of testing is great for a movie-vs-book comparison, time spend reviewing literary or poetry terms, or a short project, such as one focused on impacts or effects of standardized testing.
Want more ideas for disruptive school weeks? Read about ways to Survive the Days before Thanksgiving Break and Still Engage in Learning
If you’re already looking towards the end of the school year, check out these posts:
- Useful End of the Year Activities
- Teaching Summer School
- and Using the Grade Book for Data-Based Reflection (with free download)