What Mrs Sykes Can't Do...

OK.  We did our first day of county-mandated standardized testing today with my 2nd graders.  My poor little 7 and barely 8 year olds who did not know they were taking this test until Monday, when we tracked back in after our 3 week vacation.  (It was just told to us in the past month that we were doing this test!)  Who had very little experience bubbling test items on a Scantron sheet with a number 2 pencil, being sure to erase any stray marks and not redraw a circle if they accidentally erase a circle because the redrawn circle may be scored as your answer.  We practiced bubbling for 3 days.

Ick.  Double ick.  Super double-dog ick.  Years ago, I used to teach 3rd grade.  I loved teaching 3rd grade.  The curriculum was interesting, the kids had a wonderful sense of humor, and I worked with fabulous teachers. The issue was the testing.  I gave 8 standardized tests during a year, testing everything from their writing skills to  their likelihood for entering the Gifted program.  It stressed me out.  It's not developmentally appropriate to expect them to sit and stay focused for spans over 2 hours, and then use the scores to decide if they should be promoted, gifted, goat farmers, whatever...  I'll let you use your inferring skills to decipher why I don't teach 3rd grade anymore.

But I digress...  The point of this post is how I have tried this week to take the fear away from the testing.  First of all, we renamed the test "Our Time to Shine!"  We made up a little jazz-hands movement to go with it every time we said it.  It made them laugh {almost} every time.  We talked about how a test is just a way to show what a great job you are doing.  Then I had to explain that Ms. B. and I couldn't read any of the test to them.  You know me... I needed an anchor chart!  Here it is:
Well, we made it.  One child cried, and some of my struggling readers finished 40 reading questions (with passages) in 25 minutes, but we held it together as a group.  I stopped another child on number 45, reminding her that there were only 40 questions.  It took us a while to figure out all the places she misaligned. If you are in a state/district that routinely tests 2nd graders and below, my hat's off to you!!  I could barely take the stress of it today, and I have 2 more days next week...  {Breathe}  In. Out. In. Out. {wine} In. Out. {wine} That's better... ;)  How do you handle testing in your class? 
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