In third grade we began our talk about the STAAR test. Each year students come in with many false rumors about STAAR that often catastrophize the situation. I like to take time to explain the reality of STAAR, answer all of their questions and dispel any myths they've heard. After our discussion, I like to read Hooray for Diffendoofer Day written by Dr. Seuss, with help by Lane Smith and Jack Prelutsky. What's great about this book is that it puts a silly spin on standardized testing and it also commemorates the legacy of Dr. Seuss, who was unable to finish the book before his passing. There is a second part in the back of the book that explains how this story came to be, showing his original rough drafts and drawings.
In the story students love their school, their teachers and all of the quirky things they are learning. But one day their principal informs them that they will have to take a test in 10 minutes and if they do not perform well their school will close down. Agh! Worst case scenario! I won't ruin the story, but there is a positive message that comes from it and our students always sigh in relief that our testing is nothing like theirs.
After the story we make test-taking foldables that students can use to remind them how to put their best foot forward. I downloaded the template from Savvy School Counselor on TeachersPayTeachers and let the students be creative with the title for each tab. Here are some of their completed tips: