During this time of year, many of us are faced with the challenges of preparing for a state assessment to evaluate your students’ understanding of grade level content and skills. Determining the best way to review, especially in the midst of teaching the remainder of your required curriculum can create a lot of stress for students and teachers alike. In order to hopefully alleviate some of that stress, during the month of March, I will be sharing Rock Star Reviews, ideas for reviewing your grade level content and skills.

Today’s strategy is one that I learned about at a summer math conference. It’s called STAAR 2000. STAAR is the name of Texas’s state assessment and 2000 is the number of questions I expect my students to answer correctly. I’ve used this strategy with both middle school and elementary school students.

To set up the strategy, I create a visual like the one below. I draw a large thermometer on chart paper and calibrate it in fifties or hundreds. On the other side of the thermometer, I set goals for the students. Each reward is listed next to the number of questions the class needs to answer correctly to get the reward. I display this chart paper on a bulletin board and the students watch the total grow each day.

Basically, the strategy works like this:

1. I decide on a review tool to use. For me, I like something that has 5 – 6 questions on a page that cover a broad-range of Texas-correlated objectives, like operations, measurement, and statistics.

2. When the school day begins, students get 10 – 20 minutes to complete the questions. Even though there are only 5 – 6, most of the students generally need all 20 minutes.

3. During our math block, we review the answers. I typically do this by having the students present their work and solution to the class on the document camera. Not only does this allow the students to show what they know, I can see very quickly what I need to continue to review.

4. When we have finished reviewing all of the questions, I ask the students to total the number of questions they answered correctly and record the number correct at the top of the page. (**Note: **When we begin the review of the questions, I require that all pencils be put away and remain out of sight. We use colored pencils to grade.)

5. I track and record individual student data and then total the number of correct responses, or points, for the class.

6. When students earn the rewards, they receive them on the next day or so as to not lose momentum. **Note: **While I always base our original goal on the number of days we have available to review before test day, things happen. Sometimes we end up with days where we can’t work on the review and get behind. Other times, the students are not answering the questions as well as expected. In either case, I have been known to readjust the point totals and the rewards because I want the students to earn the rewards. In fact, I always block off the day after the test well in advance for the movie and popcorn!

** Sound Off!**– How do you review for big assessments?

Leah Popinski says

What a great idea. I love that there is an individual and a group goal. It really helps kids to work together to improve.