A collection of articles my Dr. Marvin Marshall on LEARNING has recently been published in TEACHERS MATTER by Karen Boyes of New Zealand

here is the link:

http://marvinmarshall.com/files/pdf/teachers_matter.pdf

I have subscribed to Dr. Marshall's newsletter on Promoting Responsibility and Learning  for several years now and use the methods outlined in his book, Discipline Without Stress, Rewards and Punishment, in my classroom.

Here is the link to his website:

http://www.marvinmarshall.com/

Here is an excerpt from this months newsletter:

Schools and teachers are under a lot of pressure to meet standards. The pressure of taking standardized tests gets passed on to students.

Standardized tests can create crippling anxiety in students, and anxious kids perform below their true abilities. Students with test anxiety manage to get something down on paper, but their capacity to think clearly and solve problems accurately is reduced by their nervousness. This anxiety can expand to college admissions exams and lead to reduced motivation.

Apprehension about tests can be especially common among minority and female students. That's because the prospect of evaluation poses for them what psychologists call stereotype threats--the possibility that a poor performance will confirm negative assumptions about the group to which they belong. 

One step all students can take to improve their performance on tests is to change how they study for them. Many students have every reason to be nervous before an exam because they haven't prepared adequately and don't know how to do so. Then they sit down to take the test and they freak out because they've never practiced doing what the test is asking them to do. Reviewing class notes and textbooks can familiarize students with the material on a test, but it doesn't help them take the exam. 

Viewing a test more like a play with the preparation as a dress rehearsal that replicates the format and time limit of the exam helps. You would never just read over your lines and then show up on the opening night of a school play. It's the same thing with a test. To be ready for it, practice doing what you'll have to do in the test-taking situation.

Even little kids aren't immune to test anxiety. Researchers have seen evidence of it in students as young as first and second graders. Their worries tend to manifest in nonverbal signs such as stomach aces, difficulty sleeping, and a persistent urge to leave the classroom to go to the bathroom. 

This article from TIME MAGAZINE, February 11, 2013 (p.45), states that the author's son burst into tears the night before the big end-of-year exam, saying that he was afraid he wouldn't be promoted to the next grade.

Of course, thinking positively, making a choice to get a good night's sleep, and reflecting that a school standardized test is not life-threatening reduces text anxiety.

After reading this article I felt good about my approach to helping my students prepare for the ACT this year.  I gave them a practice ACT test in two parts that I had them record their answers on a scan form.  I then scanned their tests and gave them back with the correct answers, giving them an opportunity to see how they did, what they knew and what they needed to study.

I then followed up with a series of 6 minute ACT Practice warm-ups.  I took ACT type multiple choice problems on the topics I felt they needed the most help with.  It gave the students the opportunity to practice pacing themselves, one minute per problem, immediate feedback, and I could give them test taking tips.

Please share what you find helpful to your students.

Tags: ACT, classroom_management, heinrich, learning, professional_development, teaching, test_preparation

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