Sunday, April 28, 2013

STAR Test Workshops: Sneak Peek

Happy Sunday all!

We had a FABULOUS weekend in our Kids Under Construction studio. We had lots of students that wanted to attend our STAR testing workshops, and many of these students had all kinds of time conflicts. We adjusted some of our workshops to accommodate their needs, and these are some of the pictures of the workshop that we held Saturday morning. 

If you couldn't join us this year, we hope you can join us next year. The kids had so much fun, I loved getting a chance to team teach with Georganne (one of our amazing tutors), and they left feeling prepared, confident, and excited about their upcoming celebrations of knowledge.

If you'd like additional resources or links, just let us know!

I got the idea for this sign from a local salvage yard. I was originally looking for an easel, but I found this ladder, and I knew that if I could fasten chalkboard panels to the front, I could use it to advertise our camps for people walking by. A friend of mine posted a picture of her daughter's one year photos, and included in them was a picture of a chalkboard sign from the photography studio. It said, "Welcome Ava," and I thought that was just so sweet and personalized and welcoming. As I was erasing our sign, I thought I'd do the same. I love this vase that a parent made me last year so much that I just had to fill it with sunflowers. I think that it adds warmth and coziness to our studio, don't you? The figurine was a gift from my mom from my grand opening. Her hope was that I'd see it and remember that no matter what, my first priority is to lift a student's spirit.

Before students arrived, we had the above goodies ready for them to choose from. Obviously, they each took one of each. The top ones were recipes for breakfast milkshakes with fun straws attached. You can find the recipe here. The rest were goodies that they could look forward to coming home to after testing. Half of the cards didn't download properly, so I had to make a quick look alike, hence the blue "pants" that I hand cut last minute.

These are a few of the informational sheets that we used to walk students through the tests. They have approximate testing schedules, examples of topics that the questions will address, and the percentage breakdowns of the questions on the exam.

Snacks for hungry minds!

We had our students make name tents as they arrived. On the inside, they drew pictures and wrote words to show us what kinds of things they liked. On the back, they wrote down some questions that they had about the test, what they wanted to know more about, and why they were with us on a WEEKEND. What?! Who wants to do more work on a weekend? These kids!

Here are the kids working away on a few practice questions. Yes, they are actually rereading for evidence to prove that they found the "exactor" and not the "distracter" answer. I's a miracle.

We had to throw in a few mystery goodies just for fun.

Aren't they just the cutest things ever?! They were all so sweet and encouraging of one another.

Here are their goody bags, all filled up. If you know anything about me, you know how much it kills me that the actual bags themselves are freezer bags. Next workshop, I'll have to search for something way more fun.

At the end of the workshop, I asked students to tell me what "stuck" with them from the morning. I will keep these in mind for next year, and make sure that I keep the strategies that they found helpful.

We finished the workshop with the above book. Georganne ordered it from Barnes and Noble this week, and we were hoping that the books would come in by Friday so that I could pick them up. We got the email that they had arrived at the store at 45 minutes before our workshop was over. In a necessary panic, I called my dad and asked him if he would #realquickrightnow pick it up for me so that I could use it as a closing activity. Thank heavens for fathers that will deliver. He picked up the book and had it to us exactly 10 minutes before the workshop was over. If you haven't read it, it's hysterical. If you're a teacher and you don't laugh at how funny-cause-it's-true this is, then something isn't right with the world. Here are a few of our favorite pages:

Here in Long Beach, students have their practice test tomorrow, and THE TEST starts on Tuesday. We hope everyone gets some good sleep and a nutritious breakfast.

Happy testing!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

STAR Testing Workshops

STAR testing is right around the corner for us California folks, and for those of you in LBUSD, testing begins the week of April 29th. If you do the math on that one, it's 11 days from today! Students will spend 2 weeks taking the English Language Arts and math portions (and other tests depending on what grade they are in, see that schedule here) and 1 week making up missed portions of the test, if needed.

This year, we are offering grade level workshops to help our students review concepts, preview practice questions, learn test-taking strategies, and build confidence. Each workshop spans 2 weekends and includes 4 total hours of instruction. We have gathered some of the best strategies from teachers, administrators, and district personnel throughout the district to put together a fun, interactive, confidence-building workshop series. Many of the strategies that students will learn in this workshop can also be used for in-class tests as well.

My absolute favorite part of this workshop is the parent resources. It sounds completely boring, and you're probably thinking that means some photocopied and stapled informational letters about the exams, some flashcards that are cut crooked and totally boring (that you'll never use), and a list of links that you can visit for more information. Parents will receive a goody bag full of all kinds of wonderful ideas, including but not limited to, breakfast bags, encouraging notes to slip into students' pockets, and exercise ideas that parents can do with their children at home in the morning or on the way to school. Are you intrigued yet? To see snapshots of the materials being made, follow us on Instagram @kidsunderconstruction.

STAR tests can be overwhelming for students and anxiety-inducing for parents, but we're here to help turn these standardized tests into celebrations of knowledge. We hope you will either join us on forward this information to someone that can. For more information, or to register, visit our website here.