One month, or exactly 4 weeks from today my 3rd grade students will take the PASS (Palmetto Assessment of State Standards) test. For two days in March they will take the writing portion, and then in May the remainder of the content area tests (reading, math, science and social studies) will be given.
I have known since August that this date was looming. We have been writing our little hearts out...editing and revising and even publishing at least once every two weeks. Quite frankly, my little friends are a little burned out on writing. But since the test is 4 weeks away...I have to keep reinforcing the writing process, grammar, spelling, punctuation, great topic sentences an staying on task.
Today, I was just not ready to start a new piece of writing. I was also not ready to do any more editing/proofing practice. And I could sense that my little friends were not either. SO I reached into my back of tricks so that we could honestly say we were working on something that would help us prepare for said upcoming writing test. I decided we were going to do some Mad Libs....you remember Mad Libs don't you? I remember as a kid, whenever we went on a car trip, my Mom always bought a pack or two of these to keep us occupied in the car. And at the school book fair, I always bought some. To this day, I owe my amazing use of adverbs and adjectives, singular and plural nouns to Mad Libs.
Well, to be fair to the Mad Lib people, we really did not do real Mad Libs...we did these....called Wacky Web tales. The cool thing about these, vs. Mad Libs is that the Wacky Web tales website does not show you the story with the fill in the blanks like Mad Libs. What you get is a list of types of words, such as clothing (singular), or present tense verb. You fill in the blanks without seeing the story, so you are not tempted to influence the quality of the end resulting story, like you can (and I did ) with Mad Libs. Then with the click of a button, your story appears with the words you provided. There is even a button for parts of speech help, in case students are stuck and can;t remember what an adjective is or a present tense verb.
The whole class got really into it, shouting out ideas for musical instrument (singular) and verbs ending in -ing. It was great to hear their laughter as we read the story aloud together (ah-ha! snuck in a little reading practice too!). They were practicing reading and writing and didn't even realize it because they were having so much fun!
Here is one of my favorite stories we created together today...
A Crazy Night at the Library
One night something really mean happened at the library. The characters in the stories started hopping from their books!
Harry Potter climbed into Charlotte's Web and started whistling with Wilbur the Pig! Captain Underpants wandered into an encyclopedia and ended up lost in Greenville!
The craziest part was when Percy Jackson wandered into Diary of a Wimpy Kid and said, “Oliver, I don't think we're in South Carolina any more.”
Then Mrs. Case walked in and said, “Wowza!! Everybody back in place!”
The characters burped around the room. Just in time! The students in grade 3 came in to get books for their reports, but it was safe. All the characters were back in the books where they belonged.
Lesson learned...even with pressure from standardized tests looming- I can still make learning interesting and fun and my students don't even realize that this was my intention all along!!!