Standardized tests can be stressful for students. Teachers want their students to relax and do their best to demonstrate what they know. But content knowledge is only half the battle. A number of test-taking strategies can improve students' performance. Helping them distill meaning from these tips by creating wikis and other Web 2.0 projects to share with their classmates can make them better test takers.
LESSON DESCRIPTION: Standardized testing has long been a primary means through which state departments of education gauge the effectiveness of their public schools and measure student achievement. Each spring, Pennsylvania students in select grades are required to take the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) exams to demonstrate their proficiency in reading, math, writing and science.
In this activity, students build a class wiki through which they create and share resources to help one another prepare for their state's standardized tests. If your students aren't already familiar with authorSTREAM, Glogster and Wikispaces, begin with a lesson on these Web 2.0 tools. Teaching students how to use video cameras and Windows Movie Maker also can be helpful.
Before introducing the lesson, gather test-taking strategies – especially those provided in your state's test preparation materials – and determine the best method for presenting them. You might want to create a web page or slideshow presentation summarizing the tips. Ask students to share their own tips as well. Next, explain that students will be teaching others what they know about test taking by working together on a wikispace. Share examples of other students' work to spark your class's creativity (see "Resources" below).
Divide students into collaborative groups. Together, group members must decide on a relevant project for posting on the wiki. For example, students could create a skit that compares and contrasts good test-taking behaviors. Be sure to meet with each group to approve their idea or guide them toward a more acceptable one before they begin working on their specific project.
Select one group to be responsible for building the class's wiki framework. These students will decide how the content should be organized. They also will provide technical support to classmates who need help posting their completed projects for others to reference.
SUBJECT AREA: Area: Designed for fifth-grade students preparing for the PSSA exams, this activity addresses test-taking strategies and teaches students to work collaboratively to produce media projects using Web 2.0 tools. The lesson can be modified to suit many topics and grade levels.
CURRICULUM STANDARDS: This lesson fulfills the Communication and Collaboration standard outlined in the International Society for Technology in Education's National Educational Technology Standards for Students: Students use digital media and environments to work collaboratively to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.
GRADING RUBRIC: Students' grades should be based on their ability to work in a group and to develop a project that:
âœ” Adapt this project for a variety of topics. My 2009–2010 class, for example, built wikis and blogs on such subjects as the original 13 colonies of the United States and swine flu.
âœ” Allow students to come up with their own project ideas.
âœ” Introduce students to as many Web 2.0 tools as possible.