California Standards Test - How Your Students Can Learn and Enjoy Taking It

In California our big standardized test is approaching. In a project based learning school there is always a bit of apprehension because we know that we have taught for depth and not breadth. This means that students are over prepared for some topics and less prepared for others.

While we provide them with the usual advice of getting a good night's rest and have a simple breakfast available in the morning, we also emphasize the importance of using their critical thinking skills.

I have always looked at tests as a game or puzzle which explains why I was often not stressed about it. I love trying to figure out a problem and I won't lie, I have rederived some equations but I also found a deeper understanding of a concept as I was trying to figure it out. While others are trying to recall facts and equations, I lean upon my understanding of the world to help me answer questions. If that sounds esoteric or inefficient, remember that I live and look at problems as puzzles. I would rather turn the tests into another opportunity for thinking and discovery for my students than into something they have to do and will not enjoy.

Help your students to think critically about a question as opposed to trying to remember the information. In the "real world" there is no analogous situation, people do their work and are free to look up information as needed or if it is truly important they remember it from using it so often. Looking at the test as a game can turn a painful experience into a exhausting but fun game. There are no shortage of people decrying the need for better testing, but while we wait for that we can help our students see this as a challenge to enjoy. I am not defending the test or saying we should have more but hoping to make the best of a situation.

Long after they have forgotten the content of your class they will be using the critical thinking skills they develop. My 2 cents, take them for what they are worth to you.

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