Dawn Darche (second from right), Sterling Education Association president, and Vince Agostine, principal, with eighth grade students from Sterling Community School. Red wrist bands were given to students and staff members who committed to being Rested, Relaxed and Ready! at a pep rally held Monday, February 22.
Teachers are focusing on much more than academics as they prepare to administer tests. They’re tending to their students’ nutrition, enthusiasm, confidence, and desire to excel in countless ways. That’s what CEA has heard from members in recent days.
And we’d like to hear from you about what you have been doing in your school. You too probably lead activities similar to the ones mentioned below. Join your colleagues in celebrating each other’s work because you’re certainly giving your all!
Rigorous academic preparation
During vacation week some schools held CMT boot camps. One school is holding a TechWeek this week for CMT prep awareness. Every student in grades six through eight is able to use a technology-based learning environment each day.
The four grade level teachers become experts in one kind of “technology” and the students rotate through. For example: day 1 – TI84 Navigator quiz and review, day 2 – SMARTBoard Jeopardy, day 3 – web-based tutorials, day 4 – blogging about your learning. All of the classes are geared toward specific strands on the CMT. Students had previously discussed their own learning needs with their teachers and are able to pick websites that are targeted to those needs.
Schools involve parents in test preparation whenever possible. Some schools host parent nights that give an opportunity for parents to ask questions and for teachers to go over the CMT schedule. Many send letters home to parents asking them to limit absences and make sure their children get a good night’s sleep and proper nutrition.
Many schools around Connecticut are holding pep rallies and assemblies this week in preparation for the CMT. Here are some of the activities that schools include in their pep rallies:
- Awards are given to students who did well last year – both for high scores and improved scores.
- T-shirts are thrown to the students.
- Teachers perform a CMT rap.
- Students learn about being Rested, Relaxed, and Ready!
- Students view video clips about test preparation.
- If students commit to taking specific actions, homeroom teachers give them a red wrist band to serve as a daily reminder.
- Student council and some teachers put on a brief, humorous skit that focuses on being Rested, Relaxed, and Ready and nutritious eating during CMT testing.
- Lower grade students write letters of support for third and fourth graders.
- CMTs are renamed “Celebrate My Talents.”
- A dance routine created by a reading specialist is performed by some third and fourth graders.
- Students sing a CMT song written by the school’s music teacher.
- A poetry contest is held ahead of time for third and fourth graders – they have to include encouragement for the CMTs in their poems. Prizes include gift certificates to an upcoming book fair, and winners read their poems during the assembly.
- Students view a slide show of third and fourth graders working on various aspects of CMT skills.
- The entire student body participates in a CMT cheer.
- On stage the principal presents each third and fourth grader with a special memento to remind them to do their best on the test.
- Students sing the school song and other songs adapted with new lyrics about reading, math, and test taking.
- A silly skit is preformed that gives advice on how to be successful on the test.
- Students perform the school cheer and special math and writing cheers.
- Well wishes made up by each teacher are read to the student body.
During test days
Schools also have lots of special activities to encourage students during test days. These include:
- Organizing a breakfast for all students on days when they take mastery tests. The Board of Education pays for the food and various organizations and individuals pitch in. There is no breakfast program at the school normally.
- One school will have “fairy godmothers” spreading “fairy dust” in the form of reading strategies.
- On test days students will receive small prizes when they are on time and in their seats for the start of the test.
- Captain Writing (assistant principal on roller blades) will make an appearance in each third and fourth grade room. Each student will be given a magical writing pencil and pencil sharpener.
- Kids are given raffle tickets if they meet certain requirements and a daily winner is chosen. After the CMT is complete, each school has a celebration.
- Each test day students receive an encouraging note (written by a different teacher each day) with a little gift, such as a new pencil, pack of Smarties, or eraser.
- Incentives are offered to the groups with the best attendance and those who use all the time available to answer questions and check them over. A school wide goal is to increase the percent of attendance from last year (the school found that students in attendance the day of the test do better than those who take make-up tests).
What has your school been doing to prepare for the CMT or CAPT? Share in the comments.