Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Stress Free Giveaway and Surviving Testing Season!

Glad to be joining up {We Teach} teachers and Fancy Free in 4th for some stress relief tips and a great giveaway!! The best part is that it is so easy to enter. At this point in the year we all need something easy.

Whew! Just let me catch my breath for a bit because it has been a tad stressful lately. We've been preparing our kiddos for SBAC Common Core Online Testing with practice sessions during computer lab the past few weeks, so they are familiar with the online format. And this week we started our first real testing week glitches and all. Of course, I offered to try the iPads with attached keyboards again. It wasn't so fun piloting them last year, but I thought what could go wrong on round two? The bonus part was I could bring the iPads into my classroom this year instead of testing in the library. 

The only problem with being gung ho and ready to try them on Monday was that none of them were charged with most only having three percent battery left or dead. EEEK! Whomp whom! No one plugged in the charging cart last week. Oh well, now that we solved this problem the rest of the week should go smoothly. I just need to squeeze in four two-hour test windows this week and next, then I'm golden. The testing season will be over, and me and my kiddos can breathe a sigh of relief. I am also grateful that the first two years of Smarter Balanced Online Assessments in California will not count against us while we work out all the kinks.

Meanwhile here are some things I do to keep my students and me from feeling stressed out while testing. Don't forget to check out more stress free tips and the end of this post!

1) I send home a letter with reminders to get students to bed early, and I request that parents send in healthy snacks for State Testing time. Students love taking time to eat something to fuel their brain before they get to work. At my school, we have an approved healthy snack list, and parents donate for the entire class which also gives them time towards parent participation hours. 

2) For homework, I only assign a quick review of basic facts and a reading log during test weeks. I don't want students stressing out or staying up to finish any homework.

3) Before the test begins, we do a little yoga and a breathing exercise to get out any test anxiety. I tell my students they only need to show what they know. My favorite one to do is the volcano breathe. This video has a cute kiddo showing how it is done. I guide my students to push all their negative energy into their hands first, in mountain pose, then hold in a deep breath, before they explode and exhale out their hot fiery breath. We repeat this a few times until I think we feel better and look more relaxed.

4) During testing, I leave tickets on my students desks if I see them working hard. It might be because I see them using scrap paper to show their work in Math, or that they return to reread the text and underline or highlight key info that helps them answer a question. The tickets then go in for the daily raffle, and I pick one student who gets to choose from my huge box of prizes, filled with Target dollar deals! Normally, I only hold my raffle monthly and chose five students, but this is a special time of year where my students need even more motivation to work hard. I especially like to reward students I see using these free test taking strategies I have previously taught them.

 Test Taking Tips Strategy Poster FREE

5) After testing is over we do something fun like Go Noodle (Sign up and use it for free) or crafts! Students deserve a nice brain break for working so hard. Melt beads, lanyards, and yarn weaving are some fun options I have done before. For reading and writing workshop during testing weeks we delve into our Mystery Unit where my students love becoming detectives every year.  We use Amy Lemon's Mystery Unit and some other resources I have gathered. Students present an oral book report with their "case files" and write their own mystery as well. This might be because mystery books were my favorite genre when I was a kid. I also had an ongoing competition with my best friend to see who could finish reading the entire Nancy Drew Series which went up to 80 or more books I believe. I'm also doing Earth Day with my kiddos this week using my packet of activities, that you can learn about below.

6) Finally, monitoring your students taking tests all day can be taxing and tiring, especially knowing that their scores are considered to be a reflection of your teaching ability. While most students will try their best, there are always a few who will struggle, or guess their way through despite your best efforts to motivate them. This may leave you feeling extremely grumpy. So GO HOME right after school and treat yourself. Enjoy your fave TV show, or get in some much-needed exercise to release the stress that State Testing brings on. Why not indulge in a yummy Birthday Cake Frappuccino from Starbucks on the way home? You've earned it! It's caffeine free and still available on the secret menu, minus the raspberry whip cream. I've already had two just last week, and I can't wait to try their new S'more Frapp coming out next week! 

The best part of this blog post is that now you can treat yourself to just about anything with our Stress-Free Giveaway, including a Starbucks gift card so you can go to Frappucino Heaven!!! Just be sure to scroll right on the Rafflecopter to see the other entries and gift cards for TpT, Target, and Amazon too. Go on, enter them all, you deserve a chance at winning!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you for entering our raffle and I hope you take a moment to check out all the other bloggers and their stress free tips below.


  1. I love all your ideas! I can visualize myself going through the Starbucks drive thru to get an after school treat while doing the Volcano breathing!
    Thanks for linking up!

    Fancy Free in Fourth

  2. My kids LOVE Go Noodle, too! I'll have to try Volcano Breath! Thanks for the great ideas, Julie!

  3. Great idea and I love that you send a note home to families with ideas of how they can help. Testing can be super stressful for all. Thanks for sharing.

  4. You’ve got some interesting points in this article. I would have never considered any of these if I didn’t come across this. Pay Someone To Do My Essay Uk