The Week Before STAAR

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Mrs. Marino’s 4th Grade Class

The week before the dreaded test. The test that makes teachers and students across the state shudder, stress, and scream. I have decided that I am over that mindset. I’m tired. My students have worked incredibly hard this year, and so have I. We are ready. We have made progress. Am I worried about the outcome? No, I am not. How can I say that? I say it because I have full confidence that on the day of the test my students, my babies, will absolutely try their very best. They will do THEIR best under THEIR circumstances. I hope they have slept. I pray that they have eaten. I hope they had running water the night before so that they are able to take a bath. With all the bubbles to fill in and boxes to check on the big STAAR test, the state missed a few. They don’t let us fill in if the kid has running water, electricity, or if their parents are currently going through a divorce. They don’t care if a family member has recently passed away, if their dad is in jail, or if they are sharing a one-room house with ten other people. The state didn’t ask me if I thought my students had slept enough in the past month to even focus at school. I don’t get to check a box that says, “We are simply surviving.” You see I am kind of mad right now. I am a little ticked. I am mad for every momma, every teacher, every administrator and every student that has to adhere to the scrutiny of not being good enough because of one day. I refuse to let one day define me. I refuse to let one day define my students and my school. So this week, the week before the test, we are going to have fun. We are going to be bigger and better than a one-day chance. We are going camping! On Monday morning my students will walk into the school and see a huge sign that says, “Welcome to Camp Write-A-Long – Where every kid is a STAAR!!” I hope that they are beyond surprised. Now let me say this – I’m not fancy, and I’m certainly not rich. All the decorations that I have made are what I had. I also robbed my husband’s camping equipment. The only thing I purchased for this would be the contact paper that looks like wood. It was two dollars a roll from the dollar store. My sweet friend Kaylee Aulbaugh told me about this idea, and I thought it was just what we needed at WES. So Maggie (my 6 yr. old) and I worked Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in my class in hopes that we could take some stress off the test for these kiddos. Here are some of the pictures of the stations that we created. I think I ended up with 14 stations. Kaylee sent me a camp song to start each morning off with, and let me tell you they are CUTE. On Thursday we will sing all of the songs, and then I will pass out the camp mail – the letters that I write my students each year. We will also have some yummy trail mix. I hope that this week is fun, engaging, and effective. I hope that my students will start the week of the test refreshed and rested. I hope that they know that I love them.

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The creek has writing prompts written on the fish. This is where they will practice introductions and conclusions. I have four tables set up like the one with the whiteboards with different activities at each.

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This activity is described in the picture above.

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The “tent” is where they will write their expository this week. The fishing net is for students to send mail back and forth to each other. The sleeping bag is an area for them to edit examples of stories.

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The index cards have magnets on the back of them. The students will place them with the correct article. The paper covered in wood contact paper is where they will create Sassy Sentences with adjectives. They will be able to write on the contact paper and then erase it right off. Fun!

There are several other stations not listed. Like I said – nothing fancy. However, I know my students are going to have a fun week of learning instead of a dreadful week of drill and kill.


4 thoughts on “The Week Before STAAR

  1. This wouldn’t be acceptable in Tennessee. I teach kindergarten, and for our state test SAT10), we have to remove or cover up ANYTHING in our room that might in any way help them on the test…word wall, classroom library, even the clock on the wall! We even have to take down or cover up anything in our hallways. 😟. The fact that we are giving kindergartners a standardized bubble test is insane to begin with…

    • We have to cover all of our stuff up as well. This is the week before, though. I spent yesterday evening taking everything down and covering up anything else, so we would be ready to go on Monday. My walls are blank now.

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