Well, it's silent in the Elms right now -- something that rarely happens when we're learning. The GORP fueled students are bent over their MCAs, working hard and trying to remember that, this once, it's not O.K. to ask a neighbor for help.
- Have fun - smiling releases chemicals that enable us to think better. I give the students test taking nick names on their GORP cups (ala World Wide Wrestling)-- "The Bubbler," "The Eliminator." This kind of silliness helps students relax and feel comfortable as they are taking tests.
- Get interested - you do much better on tests if you're paying attention. We talk about our "Wonder and Awe" habit of mind and how it can help us be better readers and thinkers as we're moving through new material. I always share that I once had to take a two hour reading test that was entirely about the history of buttons. If I would have been bored, I would have been sunk.
- Be prepared - know the format of the test and its purpose. I encourage students to always take a pre-test if it's offered so that they can feel very comfortable when they are sitting down to the test. They know what to expect.
- Take your time - I am almost always the last person to finish a test. We teach that "check your answers" means "think through the answer from scratch." For open ended questions, we urge students to write more than they think they need to, to be clear in their response (marking the different things they were asked to provide), and to be obvious ("as it says in the article"). This type of specialized writing takes time to develop but we do introduce the frameworks for successful standardized test writing.