Slice of Life Tuesday: What’s it feel like to take the state test ? Sharing student slices

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Join us at Two Writing Teachers for the Tuesday Slice of Life writing community!

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What does it feel like to take a week’s worth of standardized tests? My kiddos wrote slices to share their experiences:

K: My hands were trembling. Sweat was beading on the back of my neck. Butterflies were fluttering in my stomach and my head wouldn’t stop pounding. I couldn’t stop thinking about what was going to happen when I opened that booklet. A million questions were thundering in my mind. What if I didn’t know any of the answers? What if I couldn’t understand anything? What if I run out of time? All of these questions had answers, and none of them were pretty. Mrs. S. started handing out the booklets. Would I do well? I guess I would find out pretty soon…
I followed the rest of her instructions in a daze. Copy the SMID number. Bubble in the test form. Listen to the instructions. Finally, she said,
“Open your answer folder to page 2 and your test booklet to page 5. You may begin”. It had started…
I skimmed the instructions, and read what was being asked of me. I realized that I had nothing to worry about; I understood everything just fine! Thankfully we had gone over this in class, and I knew everything that I had to do. I had to plan, write an introduction paragraph with a hook and my thesis statement, I had to write three body paragraphs, and finally write a conclusion with a personal comment and a call to action.
Because of this experience, I learned that I shouldn’t over-worry about upcoming events. I should realize that whatever was going to happen, would happen. It’s all “destiny”. And I now know that in the end, everything will turn out just fine…

A: I clutched my pencils a little tighter and bit my lip as I walked into what would be my NJ Ask testing room. Though I felt very prepared of the test, I couldn’t help but feel nervous as I found my seat. The room was very plain and spacy- everything was too formal. It was the exact opposite of Mrs. Smith’s awesome, cheery classroom that I was used to. I slowly walked to the back of the classroom to the long line for the pencil sharpener with my friend Jenna. We whispered to each other how we were nervous, but felt like we could do it. Complaining then comforting each other. I was glad to have a friend I could let out my feelings to.
Finally, Mrs. R. announced that we had to sit in our seats, and the tests were passed out. After reading a really boring and long speech about the Ask and the instructions, we finally were about to begin. All of my nervousness came rushing back to me as I readied my pencil. “Go!” announced Mrs. R. I pushed away all feelings and just wrote. I did everything that Mrs. Smith had drilled into my brain. Mark up the text, read the passage, answer questions. The time flew by, but I was done and confident when Mrs. R. announced the time had finished. I finally heard the words I couldn’t wait for. “You have now completed section one of the NJ Ask.” YESSS!!

J: The week of the NJ ASK… a dreaded week for both students and teachers. No one really likes it! All week you miss precious learning.  A lot of teachers say that (like Mrs. Smith) but I like it. After testing, at least if yo are in room 202, we get to play with and see friends we usually don’t get to see. After testing we get time to relax too. I think it is fun. The NJ ASK is also very pressuring. It is so formal you want to get it right. I get very nervous and worked up before it. Yet I know it means absolutely nothing. All week having to be on time with all the strict rules with #2 pencils, sitting down and being quiet (2 things I don’t like to do!) for a long time. Sucking on my LifeSavers and trying to find the answer. All the formality and strictness make me nervous when taking it, but it is over! I am so jubilant! I am as happy as a turkey on the day after Thanksgiving! The stress has been lifted off my shoulders like it just grew legs and walked away. Though, what I really think of when I finish the NJ ASK is, the NJ ASK is at the end of the school year. So… IT IS ALMOST SUMMER!!!

E: I walked into room E203 and saw the desks in rows as it was time for the NJ ask. I sat down with my sharpened #2 pencils and was ready to go. After section 1 was a persuasive essay. “For section 2 of the writing section of the NJ ask.. ” The directions felt like they went on for ever. I wanted to just stand up and say, “Begin”, because I was ready. Mrs. Smith prepared me with 7th grade prompts when we were writing 6th grade prompts, which she revealed to us on the day after the writing section was over, so I was prepared. Then I heard the word, “Begin.” I started to plan everything out, remembering the wet noodle. “There are 5 minutes left in part 2 of the writing section and you should be checking your work and reading over what you’ve written.” I was sitting there for 20 minutes because Mrs. Smith gave us half the time to write for ask prep. “Pencils down.” The sound of pencils hitting the desks came and the persuasive essay was over. I pat myself on the back because I felt like I got a 6. I carried the 6 out of 6 mentality the whole NJ ask, and it probably paid off.

And here’s the slice I shared with my kiddos:

Mrs. Smith: When I open the door to our classroom on Monday morning, it looks just plain weird. Desks in rows! That’s a look that can mean only one thing – it’s testing time in Room 202. I place a name tag on each desk, and open four bags of peppermint LifeSavers – just a little something to keep kids alert during their writing prompts.
Soon, we are all arranged, #2 pencils have been sharpened, and students are ready to place their pencils in their test packets, break the seal of the day, and begin. As soon as I say the word, heads are bent and pencils begin scribbling away like mad.
My eyes scan the room for “my kids” – have they remembered the “rule of the wet noodle”? Yes! I see THEIR pencils working away at unpacking the task and creating their box and bullets. I can’t help but smile…and I do. A great, big, Texas size smile – as someone in our class once said.

…and now we are back to regular programming.  Our desks are back in pods of four, our reading area is back to its regular size (not squished due to testing rows with spaced specifically), and our days have resumed their happy routines.  The only vestige of testing days? Our classroom is still peppermint scented…:)

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16 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: What’s it feel like to take the state test ? Sharing student slices

  1. Oh, my heart breaks reading these words! Having said that…their slices are AH-MAZING!!! I feel like I’m in the room. What talented writers you have in your classroom! I’m so glad you’re done. We are starting on Friday. Sigh…

  2. These are so well written, all the way to yours! I have come to loathe testing week, but your students have given me a different perspective, seeing it as an opportunity to show what they know. Maybe I need to “chill a little.”

  3. I loved reading these! Very well written…great mentor text for me, who hasn’t taught big kids in a long time. I’m glad they all came away realizing testing is no big deal.

  4. Enter Room 202 as a sixth grader in the fall, exit Room 202 a powerful writer. Awesome writing from your kids (and you too)! Glad the room is back to normal.

  5. These slices give us a real look at the feelings, Tara. Although nervous, they also feel prepared, which is terrific. Love the ‘happy as a turkey after Thanksgiving’! And your ending, ‘peppermint scented’. Glad it’s over for you.

  6. Wow Tara. You have done your work. These are amazing reflections. I not only loved the way they put their thoughts together, but what they realized about themselves. They learned to write and write well but also how to face challenges. You have made testing a learning experience. Bravo!

  7. Love the comments from your kids. I totally understand how even filling out the information page can be unnerving…making sure the proper bubble is colored in correctly. Sounds like they were well prepared, though.

  8. Your students know what to do because you have taught them well. They know how to write; they have had multiple exposures to different writing forms. They have confidence. Tara, well done!

  9. Loved the line: “exact opposite of Mrs. Smith’s awesome, cheery classroom that I was used to”!!! That must have made you feel so good! Sounds like you prepared them really well, Tara. Nice life lessons coming out of some questionably relevant tests.

  10. Thanks for sharing these very real feelings, both yours and the students. So glad the testing is behind you.

  11. We begin testing this Friday. We are field testing SBAC, so it’s a learning experience for everyone. I can’t wait to be finished. We’ve had three weeks of crazy schedules because our school had to do each grade level a different week. I loved reading your student’s slices and so glad your shared yours too!

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