Friday, April 18, 2014

Five For Friday

Even though this was the week before our big state test (STAAR) for my 4th graders, it has really been one of my favorite weeks of the year!  I'll link up some of my reasons why for this week's Five For Friday linky over at Doodle Bugs.


For one thing, getting dressed for work this week was really fun.  We had a "testing tips" dress code.  My favorite days were Monday and Tuesday.  On Monday, we wore our PJ's to represent getting a good night's sleep before testing days.  The kids loved these slippers I wore around all day with my pajama set.

Tuesday we wore bright fruity colors to represent eating a healthy breakfast.  I loved getting to wear extremely bright colors all together at the same time and not caring if they matched or not because it was for a fun reason!


I feel like the biggest part of making sure kids work their hardest next week is the MOTIVATION piece.  I still did whole group and small group review every day this week, but I also made sure to include some inspiration every day.  One day, we watched Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco on  We discussed how we could use Patricia's story of starting off as a struggling reader to growing into one of the most famous children's authors as inspiration for working our hardest on the test.  

Another day, I used an article about bristlecone pine trees from this book:

The article describes how this type of tree has been alive for 5,000 years, even though it struggles in harsh conditions, such as strong winds and little rain.  It grows slowly, which helps make it dense and strong.  We applied this to testing, making connections like that we need to work slowly on the test in order to make our final scores stronger.

Today, I used an idea from this test prep pack:

I showed the kids an online video version of "The Tortoise and the Hare."  We decided that we want to be like the tortoise when we take the test: stay focused on our goal, work slow and steady, and believe in ourselves.  

I told the kids that they have 3 role models to keep in mind during testing next week, especially if they find their energy levels or motivation dropping.  They can think of Patricia Polacco, the bristlecone pine tree, and the tortoise!


We had the most amazing STAAR pep rally at my school today.  I've taught at this school for 6 years, and we have never done anything like this before.  It was the highlight of my week.  Grades K-2 made huge signs and held them up while the upper grades entered the gym.  All the younger kids were cheering for us, and there was lively music playing.  Our Dance teacher taught some of the 2nd grade girls some STAAR cheers that they performed on stage.  The teachers were called out to go do the Cupid Shuffle in front of everyone.  Student volunteers were chosen to have fun dancing to The Wobble.  There was even a relay race to see who could bubble in these 2 huge bubbles the quickest (to represent bubbling in our answer documents completely haha!)  The principal gave a speech about thinking about the people who love us and care about us instead of feeling scared or nervous.  

Best part of my day - his speech brought 2 of my sweet boys to tears.  At first, I thought they were feeling scared for the test.  Turned out, they were just overwhelmed by the principal's words.  They were full of joy and inspiration.  Cutest thing ever!  I was there to pat them on the back and tell them my emotions get the best of me all the time too!


Besides cheering for us at the pep rally, our reading buddies also made us the sweetest little STAAR care packages.  They wrote their buddies encouraging notes with the cutest pictures, and they gave each of my students a blow pop (You're going to blow this test out of the water), some cookies (You're one smart cookie), and some Smarties (You're a smarty pants).  These care packages really brightened up my students' day and they felt so supported.


Finally, something un-test related.  My boyfriend's birthday was this week.  I made him my BBQ chicken pizza that he absolutely can never get enough of.  The recipe is inspired by California Pizza Kitchen's version.

I buy a store-bought pizza crust.  For the toppings, I crisp up some bacon and chicken.  I mix BBQ sauce in with the chicken. Then I put BBQ sauce on the crust, top it with chopped red onion and jalapeno, as well as the bacon and chicken. Last, I pile on smoked gouda cheese.  Pop it in the oven according to the directions on the pizza crust, and there you go.  I promised him I'll make it again soon...he wanted 2 whole pizzas this time and they only lasted him about a day and a half!  It's a real treat for him when I make this pizza because I'm vegan and really don't care for handling meat. So that makes him appreciate it even more.

I also got him tickets off of Living Social for 2 private dance lessons.  Can't wait to go to them!

Whew, that was a long post!  Now to start my relaxing weekend and rest myself up for 2 full days of testing next week.  I hope my students feel as calm and confident as I do!


  1. Hi Rebecca! What a great way to get the kids to relax before the test! I would love it if my school did something like this for our upper grade students. I feel like everyone is so stressed...maybe I'll steal an idea or two ;) Thanks for sharing and good luck on the STAAR :)

    1. Hi Jen! Yes, this is the first year my school has done something like this, and you can really feel the difference. I feel more like kids are excited to show what they know rather than dreading the testing next week. Feel free to steal any or all ideas lol!

  2. I love the tortoise and the hare analogy for test taking! I will be using that one next year! Thanks!

    1. Definitely! I thought it was a great idea too. I highly recommend that whole Reading test prep pack - I used it all this week. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment!

  3. I love your STAAR care packages. I need to make something similar for the small group I am testing next week! By the way, your pizza looks amazing....I can see why your boyfriend loves it!

    PAWSitively Teaching.

    1. Thanks Lisa! I was so glad the other classes made baggies for my class, because I don't think I was going to get around to it! The pizza in the picture isn't mine....mine had a lot more cheese! But I forgot to snap a pic of it.

  4. WOW! The pizza sounds WONDERFUL! And the description of the STAAR rally sound so fun, it was like I was there.

  5. Haha thanks Barbara! It was so much fun!