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April 15, 2010 Testing Days: Take Time to Explore! By Eric Antuna

    'Tis the season for state testing. Many of us may be taking time to go over last minute skills and cram in as many review problems as possible for students to practice just before the test. During high stakes testing – between reviewing concepts and recalling facts – take some time to do some fun activities to get your kids' minds off testing. Even if you are not in a testing grade, you can try a couple of ideas I've taken from the internet to work on student skills and get them exploring and using scientific investigations to keep their minds engaged in more authentic learning.

    Start A Butterfly Garden

    Learn about the life cycles of insects with the growing of your very own butterfly garden! You can order your kit from The Scholastic Store for only $24.99! There's a 15% off code with the code SSEARTH2! Kids can learn about the cycle and watch them grow day after day and journal the progress. A nice distraction from the stress and anxiety that high stakes testing can cause.

    Plant a Garden

    Well, it doesn't have to be fancy, but a few trips to the grocery store to pick up a some lima beans, pinto beans, or kidney beans can get students started on a scientific investigation. Ask students to hypothesize which bean will grow the fastest, biggest, tallest or slowest. Students can observe, and write their results in their journal daily, then graph their bean progress on an classroom chart.

    Make a Movie

    Students can review concepts for themselves and other students by making movies of skills and concepts. It takes a few piece of equipment to get things started, but it's doable!  You can see from Megan Power's blog: Making Movies with Students: Filming. I'll show how I created movies with my students to help practice different skills and concepts in a future post.

    Do you have any ideas or activities that students can do during testing? Please share!

    Thanks for reading!



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