We’re coming up on state testing. As today was the last day before spring break, and the kids’ minds had already hopped a flight to a distant beach, I decided it really wasn’t worth fighting with them to try to get them to do actual work, so instead, I rummaged through the closet and brought out my all-time favorite test-prep strategy: Clue.
Standardized test scores rise in direct proportion to the test-taker’s ability to guess correct responses on multiple-choice questions. Clue revolves around eliminating distractors to arrive at the correct answer, which makes it a great way to practice this skill.
It’s also a lot of fun, which makes it a good activity for days when nobody really wants to be at school. I forgot to take pictures this morning, because I was too busy playing the game with my sophomores, but it was fun to watch the kids catch on to the idea that they could use logic to eliminate some of the suspects, weapons, and locations even if they hadn’t seen the cards. We talked about how they could use the same kind of reasoning to eliminate distractors on their state tests next month, and after a couple of rounds, they’d gotten pretty good at it.
If you spin it right, this approach has the added advantage of reducing testing anxiety. In my classes, I emphasize the idea that standardized tests are nothing but a high-stakes game that pits students against the evil testing companies that stand to profit from their failure, so the best way to stick it to The Man is by passing the test on the first try. If the kids walk in like Bobby Fischer approaching a chessboard, they’re likely to score higher than if they walk in assuming they’re outmatched before they start.