Crunch Time Motivation!

I know “Crunch Time” sounds like a new type of exercise, but it’s actually an endearing term we use in my school to describe what goes on in our classrooms the few weeks before our big state test known as FCATthe infamous FCAT.  You see on April 15th students in the state of Florida begin taking high stakes testing; and for my little 3rd graders this means A LOT! For these 8-9 year olds, this test determines whether a student moves on to fourth grade or has to repeat the year. (Yes, there is a Plan B, as I like to refer to it, in case the students don’t pass… but honestly who wants to be placed in that situation?) So what do I do differently during the next two weeks to prepare my kiddos you might ask? It’s simple…  a lot of…cheerleader MOTIVATION, AFFIRMATIONS, and last minute PREPARATIONS! For today’s post I’m going to share what I do to help improve my students level of motivation. By this time of year, many kids are starting to taste the Summer sun and as a result motivation seems to suffer. So the first thing I do is share a GREAT story with them! My kids love to listen to stories. One of my all time favorite books to read during this time is Julie Danneberg’s book The Big Test. the This story is about a teacher named Mrs. Hartwell who’s preparing her class to take the Big Test. Since her students have spent the year preparing, she decides to focus on 3 skills…sitting quietly for a longer period of time, filling in bubbles correctly to avoid any “bubble trouble”, and following directions. Then on the final day before the test she tells them that she has the most important lesson of all to show them. This is my favorite part…test 2 She walks them all to the library. (You can see the  disgust and anxiety written across their little faces.) She then explains that “once you’ve learned what you can learn and know how to show what you know, the only thing left is to stop worrying and relax!” test 1 She then throws open the library door and invites everyone to come on in and play games, take part in arts and crafts, and my favorite… have a TASTE TEST! Isn’t that amazing? My kiddos love the story and it’s a great way to start relieving those testing jitters and capture the magic that is within a little bit of motivation. I honestly believe that students perform better when they are motivated.happy face Besides sharing this book, I also try to bring back some fun into the classroom. For example, just yesterday while reviewing the answers to a mock test we took on Monday, I had  my students draw symbols next to a question if they answered correctly. For example, while checking the answers for question #1 I told them to draw a happy face if they answered the question correctly. Then for #2 I had them draw an Easter egg for another correct answer, and so on and so forth. They loved it! Its amazing how such a simple symbol made what seemed to be a boring task quite entertaining.   JPEG Revised We also played a game, while reviewing our mock test, that we like to call “Silly, Tricky, or Distracter”. For this game different students try to identify the answer choices that they feel were meant to trick them, distract them, or make them giggle (silly answer). Believe it or not the kiddos were engaged and coming up with great rationalizations. We even joked about who was going to join me at Testing Headquarters  to create test questions when I retired from teaching. But this is not all I have planned to help motivate my kiddos. No way Jose… LOL  Slide1  You see today I sent home these TOP SECRET envelopes for parents asking them to personalize 4 different colored note cards (1 for each day of testing) for their children. I encouraged my parents to involve close friends and relatives to write special messages and words of inspiration so that students will feel that they have a big support group behind them during testing week. I even included a list with sample phrases they could choose from. Slide2 Then on each morning of testing, I’ll place one colored note card on each student’s desk. As they walk into the classroom they will each be greeting with their own personalized messages. I have done this for the past 4 years and must say it has been a HUGE hit! By the 3rd day of testing students are waiting at my door before the bell rings trying to peek inside to catch a glimpse of their letters. I can’t wait to see their reactions! If you’d like to snag your own FREE copy of the parent TOP SECRET letter and notecards to personalize simply click here or on the pictures above. If you do end up using them in your own classroom, I’d love to hear about your student’s reactions. It’s going to be priceless…! And in case you were wondering what do I do when I have a child whose parents do not return the cards… because unfortunately this does happen some times. Well, I simply ask my principal to complete one of the cards. (The students love that!) or I’ve had teachers that have had that child in the past complete them. I’ve even been known to visit siblings that are in the school and have them complete a card. I ALWAYS make sure to have a card for each student on all 4 days of testing. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about how I keep my students motivated. I’d love to hear some of your tips. Stay tuned to my next post where I’ll share the role affirmations play in my classroom during Crunch Time. Until then… happy teaching! XOXO, Melissa Signature

Previous Story
Next Story

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Eclectic Educating
    April 3, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    Thank you for sharing that book! I have been trying to find something to read before the testing begins. I think it will be great for my intervention groups!

    Eclectic Educating

  • Reply
    Melissa Yalesias
    April 3, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    That book is one of my favorite! Some other books that are great for testing time are Testing Miss Malarkey and The Biggest Test in the Universe.
    Thanks for stopping by… I'd love to hear how it goes!
    :0) Melissa

  • Reply
    Donna Boucher
    April 6, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Awesome!! I'm featuring this post on Bagels and Blogs tomorrow. 🙂

    Math Coach’s Corner

  • Reply
    April 7, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    So many great ideas 🙂 I always read that book, too. I am definitely downloading your notes. I've always left notes from me, but this idea is so much better! Thank you for sharing!

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.