Third grade is the first year students begin taking the STAAR test. With this new responsibility comes new anxieties. Starting about a month before testing, I work to ease these nerves with our third graders. One of my favorite books to do this with is Hooray for Diffendoofer Day written by Dr. Seuss, with the help of Lane Smith and Jack Prelutsky. What makes this book so special is that Dr. Seuss was never able to finish it, but two of his friends looked through his drafts and completed the story for publication.
In the book students are faced with an unexpected test that begins in 10 minutes. If they fail it, the school will close down and they will have to move to another dreary town. The students panic at first, but are reassured when they begin the test and see that their teachers have prepared them for it by teaching them to think. This book is a great springboard to dispelling the myths of the STAAR test that students hear from their peers. I let them ask every "what if" and share every worry that is in their mind about the upcoming testing.
Then we channeled our discussion into providing support for other students that will be taking the STAAR test earlier then them, our fifth graders. Although they've been testing for a few years now, they still feel that same anxiety and nervousness that you feel. One way we can help ease this is by writing them inspirational letters. Each third grader then wrote a supportive letter to a fifth grader sharing that they believe in them to do their best and other tips that might be helpful.
Upon receiving these letters, the fifth graders were so excited to find out who wrote them their letter and many of them wrote thank you notes back. :)