It’s spring, which means rain showers, blooming flowers, and of course, exam exhaustion. How can you care for yourself and your students during this season while still achieving jaw-dropping results? Check out the tips from our content team experts.
English tips from YES Prep’s Emily Skiba:
- Write positive notes to students about how proud you are of them, the effort they have put in and the growth they have made.
- Deliver whole class glows and/or grows at the beginning or end of a period based on their focus and motivation and how that will help/hurt their STAAR performance.
- Give students an opportunity to reflect on their strengths outside of the classroom. Check out the example below a reflection YES Prep North Central teacher, Areli Barron, incorporated before her students took the English 8 STAAR:
Math tips from YES Prep’s Larkin Logette:
- Encourage students to make sense of the question.
- Using strategies such as estimation, yes because/ no because, summarizing, or drawing a picture helps students process the information more thoroughly.
- Encourage students to make use of the tools available.
- Regular access to and use of any appropriate tools such as official reference materials, dictionaries, and/or calculators that they will have access to on their exams, is important in preparing for an exam. You can find the official reference materials on your course SharePoint site, and you can find handouts and videos explaining some important calculator features here.
Science tips from YES Prep’s Helen Snodgrass:
- A very common misperception is that when studying, it is most helpful to spend time “reviewing” information, whether that is the teacher explaining content again or a student rereading notes on her own. It is actually significantly more helpful, even though it feels more challenging, to spend most of your review time being “tested” on the information, whether through a formal exit ticket or quiz or simply independent practice. So when planning review, try to shift more class time from a review of content towards independent practice of that content.
- For science (and probably all contents!), it is always helpful to prepare students to approach unfamiliar content because they will always see contexts and examples on tests that they have never seen before. Do this by:
- Building their confidence. Assure them that it is normal to see questions that look very challenging and unfamiliar, but that they have the skills to answer those skills.
- Model how you would approach such a question with the use of context clues and annotation strategies.
- Encourage them during all class practice, exit tickets, and quizzes to use those annotation strategies.
Social Studies tips from YES Prep’s Michael Buck:
- Help students internalize their strengths and weaknesses in the lead-up to the exam, and then give them a clear pathway to improving on those weaknesses by providing them with targeted study guides and review resources that will help them study on their own.
- Ensure students build the habit of reading the questions first before they read and analyze stimuli attached to the question. Students should also annotate questions by highlighting key words they remember from class and explicitly writing out what they learned about those words from class. This is particularly important for longer exams (such as the 8th grade STAAR test) where students have a significant amount of time to answer each question.
World Language tips from YES Prep’s Tatiana Caycedo:
- Do not leave review for the last weeks. Instead start integrating objectives now in the daily do-first.
- Think outside the box when reviewing vocabulary & grammar: creative writing activities, personal diary entries, autobiographies, inner animal, any self-center exercise works!
- Organize groups based on multiple intelligences and let them create their own product for a given objective.
- Don’t forget to use summarization to stick content in the long term memory.