Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sparking Student Motivation- State Tests

I was inspired by Joanne over at Head Over Heels for Teaching with her state test motivation!  This year am I am loving the fact that I don't  have to administer a test in Spain- but I easily remember the prep, worry, and fear that goes into it.  Last year was my first year administering the test to 5th graders.  Wooh- it was a doozy.  However, me and my fab co-teacher did everything in our power to motivate our learners.  We decorated our room in a fun (walls-completely-covered) way, we bribed students to continue working the entire testing time, and we passed out pounds and pounds of mints, decorated #2 pencils, and encouraging notes. 

To administer the test in Colorado, everything in our classroom must be taken down or covered.  Taking everything down is so much more work than just covering it all.  So Ms. co-teacher and I had a little fun decorating everything with a Dr. You Know Who theme! 

Before- Posters and learning everywhere!
 Aaand, after!

 So sad and covered... but our class was so excited by the decorations when they walked in that they were okay with all of our learning being covered for a little while. 

We also stocked up on tons and tons of mints.  We passed them out during the test and pretty much let them have as many as they wanted.  Who knows if mints really help increase their short term memory- but if they believe it does, then that's all that matters! We also had their families write letters to them to pass out the first day.  Grab an editable copy of the letters <here>!  To keep them motivated we passed out letters from us half way through the testing weeks.

We also got a ton of tickets... like the type you get at a carnival!  Halfway through the test every day, we passed a ticket out to anyone who was still working.  Then, 10 minutes before the test ended, we passed out another set of tickets to anyone still actively working. At the end of each day we drew two tickets and the winners could choose from all sorts of prizes. At the end of the entire testing period {three weeks worth!} we had a party and did a huge drawing- with one grand prize of a Kindle!!  Students who finished early would spend their time looking over their tests just to get more tickets.  It worked really well and I plan on doing it again in the future. 
Motivating students to do well on a test they never see again can be hard.  I'm not normally a huge fan of external motivation- but for this instance I think it's helpful and important!  What are some other ways you motivate your learners?  I look forward to hearing some other things people do!

Stop by Head Over Heels for Teaching to link up!! 


  1. I do like the ticket idea - I have been giving them out for academic focus and am wondering if i could use them during testing. (Our test rules are so very strict - we actually have to sign a document that says if we do anything wrong we can lose our teaching certificate!)

    1. Ah that's so scary! I'm already nervous enough during the tests. I hate to say anything to my kiddos even if they just have a simple question... but with your teaching certificate on the line... I can't even imagine. Thanks for stopping by! I hope you have a great week :)

  2. I love your cover up decorations Kelly Anne! They look amazing! I always cover instead of take down too, but you've motivated me to use some kind of theme! We're not allowed to use mints during testing anymore. I teach in the state as Mrs. Spangler (above commenter) and it's really strict. So, I just give them a mint before we start and write down names who are double checking their answers during testing. Thanks for sharing your creativity and linking up!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

    1. Thank you Joanne!! I look forward to seeing what theme you use!! I'm nervous about switching teaching states soon- some are SO much more strict than where I've been. Fingers crossed :) Thanks for stopping by- have a great week!!

  3. What a great idea to make a cover up and do not cheat message turn into a fun, you can do this message. Love it!!!!!


    1. Thanks Kristin!! It made me a lot more happy about having to cover up everything- definitely a Win-Win :)

  4. That is so creative with your cover up deceptions, Kelly Anne! We also pass out mints and the students enjoy that. I love that your students who finish early will actively check their test booklets to earn more tickets. We really have to train the fourth graders about what it looks like to "check" their test. So many of them flip through the book fast and think that is checking! Great post! :)
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  5. I love the ticket idea! Like some of the above teachers, our testing rules are SO strict, but I could be jotting names down during the test and then awarding tickets after...hmmmm? I will have to ask our administration about that!

    Kate :)
    McDee's Busy Bees

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