5 Top Tips for Test Prep

 

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Seriously, how did it go so fast? Here we are almost to the end of the year, enjoying the Spring weather and looking forward to lazy days of Summer … BUT … we have to get through end of year testing first! 

Here are a few tips to make test prep successful:

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Tip 1:  Prioritize areas of need – I don’t know where you are, but here in Texas we have SO MUCH to teach in a school year! When it comes time to review and get ready for testing it can be overwhelming trying to review it all! So take some time to sit down and reflect on what skills your students need to review the most. It is often different every year with each group of students.  Spend extra time on the skills your students need the most.

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Tip 2:  Use student strengths to build confidence. So after you reflect on which key objectives and skills you need to review the most, spend some time reflecting on what your students are really good at! Review these skills (less than priority skills, but still review) to keep them fresh in your student’s minds and also to build confidence! If the students can see what they are good at, they will not be as stressed about what they still need to practice. I like to encourage my students by pointing out skills they found difficult at the beginning of the year and have now mastered! I say things like “Wow! Remember how hard ___ was at the beginning of the year and look how great you are with it now!” or “You have learned so much! You are so ready to ACE this on your test!.”

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Tip 3: Make it fun!  Realistically you can’t make every second of every day fun, but do what you can when you can. When students are having fun they are more engaged in learning! Play games, set up scavenger hunts, play music or decorate your classroom like the circus! Anything to keep your class from feeling so bogged down by the stress of “The Test”.

baseball task cards  elapsed time word problem scavenger hunt  beach ball math break

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Tip 4: Smile!  This might not sound like a test taking tip, but trust me on this one! When your students see you all super stressed out, they feel it! Smiling will help everyone relax!  Maybe some yoga? Or a funny cat video on YouTube?

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Tip 5:  Add movement!  Take some breaks to move around! If kids are in their seats too long they get sleepy and bored! Play multiplication games with a beach ball, take a walk around your hallway, do jumping jacks … have a 3 minute “dance party” as a break between lessons.  You could even use a Math Song to dance to! I love this Eight Times Tables Song!

St. Patrick’s Day Classroom Fun!

Are your little leprechauns looking for a pot of gold?  St. Patrick’s Day can be a lot of fun and also educational!  Here are a few great ideas!

Crafts!!!

I absolutely love crafts for any occasion! Here are a few fun crafts for St. Patrick’s Day:

Leprechaun Mask  by Abc Creative Learning

Paper Strip Shamrocks by Sugarbee Crafts

Water Bottle Shamrock Stamp by Crafty Morning

Math!!!

I guess it is no secret!  I also love Math!

Lucky Charms Graph by How to Homeschool My Child

Ten Lucky Leprechauns by One Sharp Bunch

March Math Freebie by ME!

And just for fun …

St. Patrick’s Day Joke Cootie Catcher  by Bren Did

Leprechaun Poop by Penny Pinchin Mom

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Top 5 Tips for Decomposing Fractions

As I have mentioned in previous posts about fractions, starting with hands on and pictorial activities is vital for helping primary intermediate level students understand fractions. Today I would like to share my top 5 tips for decomposing fractions. These are mainly focused on 3rd – 5th grade, but may be helpful for some older and younger students as well.

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1.)  I love using my pizza game for hands on fractions!  If you don’t have a pizza game, you can use plastic fraction circles or make pizza fractions from paper plates. Show your students a fraction of a pizza such as 5/6. After guided them to name the fraction, show them one way to decompose it by giving 2/6 to one student and 3/6 to another student. Point out that 2/6 + 3/6 is a way to decompose 5/6 and ask if they can name any other ways.  Act out other representations such as 2/6 + 1/6 + 2/6 by giving those slices to other students.  Try this with several different students.

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2.)  Give students color tiles or unifix cubes. Give specific directions such as make a rectangle with 3 red, 2 blue and 7 yellow.  What fraction of your tiles are not yellow? (5/12)  Move the red and blue apart a little to show how 5/12 can also be represented as 3/12 + 2/12.  Do this with a few other fractions as well.

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3.) Give students pictures of fractions and have them cut them up to show ways to decompose the fraction.

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4.) Coloring Practice – Give students pictures of fractions with nothing shaded.  Give them directions on what color to color different parts.  Then guide them to write number sentences to decompose the fractions.

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5.) Play Games!  Make your own games to practice decomposing fractions or try one of the games I have available on my TpT page.

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Helping Students Understand Fractions

 

Fractions can be a difficult subject for some students. Even students who seem to “get it” when doing simpler fraction work may become quickly confused by more complex skills such as comparing or adding fractions.

So, what can a teacher or parent do to help students develop a deeper understanding of fractions?

  1. Start with concrete, and real world examples:

    How about pizza! Yum! If you are at home you can use a real pizza to discuss how the equal parts of your pizza make a whole.  For example if your pizza is cut into 8 equal slices, talk to your child about how each slice is one-eighth of the whole pizza.  If you are making your own pizza you can slice it into halves first, then fourths, then eighths and discuss the pattern that you develop.  As the pizza is cut into smaller pieces, there are more pieces to make the whole.  In the classroom, you can use “pretend pizza” like this one from Learning Resources. Or you can have your students make their own pizzas out of paper plates.  Fun!

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