PARCC-and so it begins…

by becky on March 8, 2015

If you live in the United States, chances are pretty good that you have heard of the new standardized test correlated with the CCSS that has begun rolling out this week—PARCC. I know that many of you live in areas that have  opted out of the new standards and the PARCC, but I live in Illinois and we have decided to stick with this “new” plan.  I won’t offer my full opinion on these standards yet, because they have only been implemented in my area for a few years, but there are parts I fully agree with and parts I feel  make learning (and teaching) more complicated than they need to be. Until I’m the Queen of the World ;-),or until I move somewhere else, I will do my best to teach the new standards and prepare my students for the new wave of testing.

That being said, for the past 11 years of my career, one thing I have always been able to count on is that the Tuesday after Casimir Pulaski Day (celebrated in IL) marked the beginning of implementing the ISAT’s. As a veteran of proctoring these tests, I was a *little* excited that this year, as a 2nd grade teacher,  I would not be reading the directions verbatim for 5+ days. It was always a joke by the last day of testing, that the students could repeat back to me exactly what they were to do. At least things were consistent-lol.

I always tried to express the importance of taking these tests seriously, but I didn’t want my students to feel overly stressed. I would take the weeks prior to the testing to strengthen their test taking skills. Each week we would focus on a different testing strategy to give them the confidence they need to feel their most prepared. I would then post the strategies around the classroom to be a visible reminder.


Even though I no longer administer the ISAT’s, these posters are GREAT reminders for any standardized test your students may take. In my district, in addition to the PARCC, students also take the MAP test 2 times a year. You can never go wrong with test prep.

Moving on to this year, if your district is administering the PARCC, then I’m thinking that your schools may have been a *bit* frazzled the last few weeks making sure there are enough testing places, working computers, internet access, etc… My new AP put it best, “It’s hard to have questions, because we don’t know what we don’t know.” Agreed.
To help relieve some testing stress AND to have my students perform a Random Act of Kindness, I decided to pull from my file and have my kiddos create some pre-testing treats for the 3rd grade students we share a hallway with. I think it’s good to do things like this every once in a while to remind kids that it feels good to do nice things for other people WITHOUT expecting things in return. SO many times this year, I’ve had to bite my tongue with the “what do we get?” mentality. I know it’s sadly the way of the world these days, but sometimes we should ALL do things just to be nice. This was the perfect opportunity to put my feelings into action.
First, I found out how many students each class had and when their first day of testing begins. That’s another HUGE difference between previous standarized tests and the PARCC. Before, (in my district) all teachers in a grade level tested at the same time. In my district, schedules have been upheaved, rearranaged, and flipped around. This will go on for weeks. I feel so bad for all kids, but especially the high anxiety students who have difficulty adujusting to change. Oy! Anyway, I found out there are 86 3rd graders in my hallway. I went to the grocery store and bought enough water bottles and Blow Pops for each student. Then, the fun began. In my Rock the Test file, I have two versions of water bottle labels.
water bottles
I decided to go with the pre-printed labels to save time. I didn’t want to use too much instructional time, but I still wanted them to be cute, fun, and motivating. The pre-printed labels fit the bill! The kids LOVED coloring them. They worked super hard!
Once their labels were colored, then they cut them out and glued them around each water bottle. I emphasized them to be tight. They did such a good job. They took this VERY seriously!
Once the labels were attached to the water bottles, we began putting together the Blow Pops. All 86+ of them 🙂 This is when we needed a reminder that this something nice we are doing for others, not ourselves. You can imagine the groans.
I had all intentions of having a “treat” for my kiddos later in the week, but they didn’t know that. I literally heard one of my kids say, “This is torture.” Oh, the dramatics of second graders.
I added a cute poem/card that all the kiddos signed and so that I could keep everything organized by class.
The final product delivered the day of each class’s first test:

If you are interested in purchasing my “Are you ready to Rock the Test?” file check out the preview below and click to visit my store.
 Finally, to throw my kiddos a bone, I decided that to celebrate the good Dr.’s Birthday, we would play Dr. Seuss Bingo. I saw a cute idea on Pinterest where they create their own Bingo Board filled with titles of books and characters from Dr. Seuss’s stories.
dr seuss bingo
They were able to choose from extra Blow Pops, twizzlers, and Dr. Seuss pencils. Everything was right in my kiddo’s world. If you want a copy of this quick activity, click the picture above. 🙂
I hope this post gave you some ideas for how you can motivate your students for high stake testing. I’m going to give away 5 copies of my Rock the Test file to the first five comments. Make sure you include how you or your school gets kids ready and include your email address
Good Luck and have a Great Week!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrea March 8, 2015 at 11:17 pm

I too spend time talking about test taking strategies and have them practice what they need to do when they take the test. It was easier to practice when it was a paper pencil test, now it’s on the computer which of course is not the same. My district for the first few days of testing provides each child with a mini breakfast-juice and a granola bar or fruit.


becky March 9, 2015 at 2:20 am

Hi Andrea! I think the fact that the entire test is computer based is what is stressing out most of my district. Fingers crossed there aren’t too many technical issues. Good luck with your testing! I’ll be sending you the file tonight. 🙂



Janine Fernandez March 9, 2015 at 12:59 am

I am loving all of your rock the test goodies! We take the Florida Standards Assessment for the first rime next week and these would be awesome for my kiddos!


becky March 9, 2015 at 2:20 am

Hi Janine! I’m so glad you can use the file. I’ll be sending it tonight. Good luck with your testing!

Becky 🙂


courtney March 9, 2015 at 2:54 am

With our tests coming up, I’m feeling the pressure, especially with all of these snow days! I can’t wait to shower my teammates wit encouragement!


becky March 10, 2015 at 12:08 am

Yay! I’m glad you are looking forward to using the file. I’ll send it tonight. Best of luck with all your testing!
Becky 🙂


Suzy March 9, 2015 at 9:22 am

Luckily we don’t have this huge test…just Iowa Tests in the fall. Wanted to thank you for the Seuss bingo…will be great fun next year!!


becky March 10, 2015 at 1:08 am

Hi Suzy,

I’m so jealous of all the states that opted out. But, hopefully you can use some of the pieces of the file next Fall. 🙂 I’ll send the file tonight!

Becky 🙂


Anna Oikonomou June 7, 2015 at 5:53 am

I’m sooooooo glad to have stumbled upon you, Becky! Kudos for this excellent trove of teaching magic! I’m truly impressed by the love and art of your teaching. I’m sure your lucky class startlets amazed their examiners.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: