Each school year, as part of my National Model plan, I conduct school counseling group sessions for my third grade friends as we get closer to End-of-Grade (EOG) Testing time. This year, we met once a week for five weeks, and I really enjoyed this time with them and felt it was beneficial. During these sessions I’ve used some of my favorite products already mentioned on my blog previously as well as some of my own products. Today, I am sharing what I did for each of the sessions.
First of all, National Model action plans must be data driven. Since our students have started taking a Beginning-of-Grade (BOG) Test in September each year, I am able to use those results to create my small groups. This test is a predictor or indicator of sorts as to how students may do on the EOG. I usually pull students who missed being proficient (Level 3) by one, two or three points. Once I determine who those students are, I let their teachers know who must be in the group. Any empty spaces may be filled with students chosen by the teacher. Our group focus is test taking tips and decreasing test anxiety.
This year I had 31 students. (5 groups) Once the EOG scores are available, I’ll be able to see my results. I hope to see those BOG Level 2’s become EOG Level 3’s.
So, here’s an idea of how each of my group sessions went:
Session 1: When the students arrived for the first session, they completed this “How do you feel about the test today?” sheet. This is just one of many great resources you can find on The Ned Show website. It helped start our discussion about test anxiety. A good number of students circled nervous and concerned. Of course there were some confident students as well.
After completing and discussing this sheet, I read Julia Cook’s The Anti-Test Anxiety Society. Most of my students were excited to know this was the same author of a book I had shared with them in first grade called My Mouth is a Volcano. We always referred back to the book during our future sessions tying in the “Dynamic Dozen” and using the “Get to” part of your brain instead of the “Have to” part. This book was a perfect opener for my small groups!
After reading and discussing the book, the students began working on their test taking foldables. I had already printed them and cut the flaps for them, so they just needed to get the information written on the front of and under each of the flaps. They had time to complete and discuss three of the flaps during the first session. I told them they would do a few flaps each week until it was done.
Session Two: When the students entered, I had GoNoodle Flow pulled up on my laptop and facing them on the table. I wrote about GoNoodle Flow last year as a great tool to use for school counseling. Flow has great brain breaks that tie in well with helping students decrease test anxiety. I used On & Off with my groups. On & Off involves managing stress by making parts of the body tense and then letting go to relax. Students turn on the energy in their toes, legs, hands, arms and whole body. They really enjoyed doing the brain break. On & Off is something they can use discreetly anytime they are feeling some stress.
We reviewed the things we learned from BB, the main character from The Anti-Test Anxiety Society.
Next, we completed and discussed three more of the flaps on the test taking foldables.
Session Three: My laptop was on the table when students entered for session three. They thought they were going to do another brain break, but today it was time for Ned’s Test Prep Rap Song.
This was a fun way to incorporate all of those very important testing tips. After watching the video, each student got a copy of the Ned’s Top 10 Testing Tips activity sheet. We reviewed the tips learned in the test prep rap. Students took a few minutes to recall some of the things they heard in the rap. They also took a moment to do tip #10 which was to plan something fun to look forward to after the EOG Tests. Some memorable ideas were “just do nothing” and “eat fried chicken.” They were too funny!
We used the rest of the time to complete and discuss the last four flaps of the test taking foldables.
Session Four: When the students entered the room for this session, they saw a Treasure Chest on the table. I had them guess how each of the items in the chest related to test taking. You can read about what was in the chest in my post A Treasure Chest of Test Taking Tips. Next, we played Testing SMART Bingo. Although the students had fun playing Bingo, this gave us a great opportunity to discuss dozens of important tips to remember.
After Bingo, we discussed the final tips pre-printed on the inside of the foldables. The students were given a few minutes to put any final touches on their foldables.
Session Five: This session was essentially the Big Test. I wanted to see if they could use all of the tips and strategies we had learned about and discussed during the previous four sessions. I used the book Excite Me! Motivate Me! Test Me! (One of my favorites!!) They entered the room to find a sample scan-tron sheet. Their first “test” was to see if they could simply follow directions when bubbling. The test questions said things like “Fill in answer C for #4, #10 and #15.” Once they finished the test, they were supposed to have items 1-20 completed on the scan-tron. I would say 95% of my students did this successfully.
Next, they took “The Smart Test.” Many of the test questions had to do with test taking strategies. I gave them another bubble sheet and the test paper. I told them they may find something strange, but to just do what they had learned to do. The strange part: The test was missing #1. So they needed to make sure they bubbled beside the correct number or they would become misaligned. This is something that can easily happen when students are not paying close attention to what they are doing. During our time together, I always told them to look at the number of the test item and make sure it matched the number on the bubble sheet before they filled in the bubble. I found that 2-3 of my six students in each group would catch this immediately and skip #1 on the answer sheet. The others would eventually realize the further along they went, and they had to do some erasing.
As the students worked on their tests, I would give stickers as I saw them using the tips we had discussed throughout our time in group. It was wonderful to see them checking each question and making sure their bubble sheet answers were matching their test papers.
I gave them a final test from Focus on the Test which consisted of random reading and math skills. Nothing too difficult, just enough to practice the testing tips.
When all tests were finished, we went over and discussed each of the answers. The students then received all of their completed work from the previous sessions. I gave each a paper clip and a laminated bookmark with test taking tips.
I enjoyed these group session just as much as I believe the kids did. Twenty five small group sessions later, I can honestly say I’m looking forward to doing it all again next year!
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