Classroom, Games, Grammar, Middle School, state assessment, student needs, Teaching, Teaching tools, Texas

Games for the Win- Using Games to Spice Up STAAR Test Prep

I teach middle school, and mixing it up is really important to keep the kids on their toes especially when it comes to test prep. One of the best things when I was a kid was seeing the TV and VCR set up and ready to go for the class period. Movie day! We don’t need that archaic set up anymore, and were not really allowed to show videos (except for excerpts), so kids today don’t get that “movie day” feeling very often. Except when I have the game board up at the beginning of class.

The kids love to see a game board up!

Reviewing State Standards for Test Prep

I started using whole class games in my 6th and 7th grade classes several years ago as a way to review standards for our state tests. It was an easy and fun way to quickly remind kids of test taking strategies and things to remember when testing (like dictionary use) the day before the test. It’s also a good break from any drill and kill you might be required to do in your classroom. I began with the Reading STAAR Review Game and the Writing STAAR Review Game (I’m in Texas). They worked so well that I made new ones for the next year, 2.0 versions as it were, so that I could use them with the different grade levels and still have the information be fresh. (Reading STAAR Review Game 2.0, Writing STAAR Review Game 2.0) When I moved up to 8th grade, I found that they loved the games just a much as the younger kids did. They were refreshing a lot of the skills they’d need on the state test, but they were having fun doing it. After seeing the response, I wondered how I could implement these types of games in other units.

Grammar Games

One of the things I’ve talked about a lot is finding time for grammar in your schedule. It’s also nice to have a way to quickly assess what types of skills your kids need to refresh. Because of this, I made a series of grammar games to use as previews. The first thing I did was make a Parts of Speech Review Game because my kids always need a refresher on this subject before we can move on to other topics. I have an Editing and Revision Game that works great right before a writing test, a Grammar Review Game to use as a preview or review, and a Sentence Structure Review Game that’s great for reminding kids that they have learned the types and kinds of sentences as well as what makes a complete sentence. My Middle School Grammar Game talks about more advanced topics like prepositional or infinitive phrases and commonly misspelled words. All of these are found in my Middle School Grammar Game Bundle.

Other Review Games

I extended my games to include reviews for literary elements, poetry, inferencing practice, dictionary use, and figurative language. I also made review games to go with the literature pieces that we use:

  1. Romeo and Juliet
  2. Of Mice and Men
  3. Shakespeare/Elizabethan England
  4. To Kill a Mockingbird
  5. Edgar Allan Poe

Use a game today!

After using these games multiple times, I can tell you that the kids respond really well to the review and the competitive aspect of the games. I hope one of these might help fill a hole in your curriculum!