Solution to testing woes? Party planning!

We are in the middle of the WIDA ACCESS testing window.

And this test is a bear!

boardEvery student on our caseload must be tested individually in speaking, then there are group tests for reading, writing and listening. The writing test alone is supposed to take an hour.

It’s killer.

So what’s the antidote? Especially after such a long, harsh winter?


We just finished a unit not long ago on money, learning the names of coins and their denominations. We added, determined coin values, compared values… It was great.

Then we started testing. It was sad. Students who know they know stuff in their first language were discouraged. We got through it, but not without hard feelings. And that’s not the community we have been working so hard to build this year in this classroom.

Last week, Suzy had them write invitations to teachers they wanted to invite to the party. And all the students who graduated out of our class would be coming as well. They were asked to send an email to me (I was in Toronto at the TESOL conference… more on that later) to ask me if I would be there and to ask what I would bring.

It’s so important teaching them how to write emails and how to respond. It’s no longer expected that this is a new skill… It’s just expected.

So Monday, we sent emails answering the question, “What will you bring to the party?” They had to search for and send a picture of what they would bring so we could show the class. We made a list of things we should buy for the party. We teachers each pitched in, and we instructed students that whatever we bought had to inthestorecome in at less than $60. We had to think about all the things we needed, then find the prices. We went to the local supermarket’s webpage and searched for the items, then we reported out costs.

So on Tuesday, we went shopping. It had to be a quick trip, because Lindsay from Center for Mindful Learning was coming. We sent students off to look at the signs in the aisles and locate the items on our list, keeping in mind our budget and our guest list. When one student came back with 25 plates, we had to remind them that maybe we would have more than 25 people, and we might have to use some plates for serving. So they went back to find a bigger package. The same thing happened with plasticware.

So much fun!

I’m gathering pictures to talk about the party…



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