A Teacher’s Guide to Surviving Standardized Testing Season


Teachers across the state of Pennsylvania are gearing up for the most dreaded weeks of the school year. Yes, worse than the Monday – Wednesday of Thanksgiving week; yes, worse that the week before the winter recess. It’s standardized test season!

Here is a checklist to help you and your students survive:

1.) Have your kids clean out their desks completely. Old papers can go home, books can be stored in bookcases, coat closets, or their lockers.

2.) Talk to your students who struggle the most with these situations about where they will be seated in the classroom. I ask them directly – where do you think you will be most successful?

3.) Space the desks so you can easily walk through every aisle. There is nothing worse than banging into the sides of desks for a few hours as you are active monitoring!

4.) No matter how much you are feeling the pressure from administrators or the district, do not pass this anxiety on to your students. Stop calling them “high-stakes” tests, or making it seem like it’s the most important thing they will do all year. Remind them to just do the best they can, that’s all we can ask.

5.) Sharpen all the pencils. And then sharpen some more. Oh, while you are at it, buy a new pencil sharpener. The one you have will undoubtably break.

6.) Remember you are not going to have your prep at your scheduled time. If this means missing a usual morning break, get up and have your coffee earlier. Then you won’t have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the test!

7.) Buy the jumbo size bag of mint Lifesavers. When you see a student start to get tired or lose focus, drop one on their desk.

8.) Tissues, tissues, tissues!

9.) Bring your fitbit. Time to get your steps in!⋅

10.) Encourage them to bring healthy snacks to eat between test sections. Bring some in for students you know may not be able to do this.

11.) As you look around your room (and NOT AT TEST QUESTIONS) remember that there is something really off about covering up books and other learning tools in buildings that are suppose to be dedicated to educating. Is a sign that says READ over a classroom library really going to give a kid an answer on a test?!

12.) Remember that throughout the school year, you have taught and they have learned. No score on any standardized test can judge your merit as a teacher or everything your students’ have accomplished.

Good luck! Eight weeks until Memorial Day weekend!






My Friday Favorites 06.24.16

Happy Friday! I hope today is the start of a great weekend for you and yours.
Here are the things I am loving this week!

On TV – Netflix released season 4 of Orange is the New Black a week ago. Last year, I binged watched through the weekend finishing season 3 in 48 hours. I vowed to make the show last a little longer this time and I stretched it until Wednesday. This season was by far the most heartbreaking yet. Unfair judicial and prison systems, racism, corporate greed, privilege, religion and mental illness were just a few of the timely topics unearthed in these 13 episodes. No spoilers here.

On the Page – Real Simple Magazine’s July 2016 issue is full of summer fun.  Great tips on how to actually relax on your vacation, gaining control of your inbox, and party tricks for your summer get-togethers. Of course, the “Ask the Organizer” section is always a fav of mine!

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On the Web – I’m a teacher and it is my first full week of summer vacation. But that doesn’t mean my brain stops thinking about the classroom. Especially this summer as I am switching grades and teaching 4th grade for the first time in 20 years! I bookmarked this article Dollar Store Dos and Don’ts for Teachers by Genia Connell on Scholastic.com. It is so easy to buy something because it is inexpensive. This article has test driven lots of Dollar Store items for you!  

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In the Kitchen -Meal prepping is something I am completely committed to during the academic year, but it always seems to fall to the side in the summer. Anna Nguyen, Philadelphia’s Healthy Kid blogger shared Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Liz Coover’s  5 Tips to get Meal Planning Into Your Family Schedule. Time to get back into a routine! I roasted summer squash and zucchini for the week and made tuna that we can grab easily to make basil wraps.

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On Instagram – This week I picked a color of the week and posted pics of my favorite apple green things!  I loved searching for other #applegreen photos and I pushed the like-heart a LOT!!  I loved, loved, loved these apple green canisters in Edita Trinkunaite’s kitchen. Check out her other amazing food pics on her IG @edita.trinkunaite

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What are you loving this week? Leave me a comment and let me know. Thanks for reading.

Teacher Binder

This semester I am teaching my first college course.  I was a classroom teacher for years, for all different age groups, before switching to the non-profit arts sector eight years ago.  I have really enjoyed being back in the classroom, especially at the college level. The course is an elective for Elementary Education majors that concentrates on integrating the Arts across the Curriculum.

Lesson Plan Binder

Before the course started, I organized a binder for class with the syllabus on the first page and the following sections:





In addition to the syllabus; I write a lesson plan for each class.

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This course concentrates on the pre-school through third grade age group. I try to incorporate a lot of different visual arts elements to teach counting, shapes, and colors.

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Are you currently teaching this age group?  Or have your own children this age and would like to know more about how to incorporates the arts in their development?  I have many lessons and activities that use visual arts, music, dance, and theater to enhance learning. Leave me a comment; I’d love to share ideas with you!