Taking the DRILL and KILL out of Test Prep!

Hello teacher friends, and welcome to my beautiful brand NEW blog design! I hope you love it as much as I do!  Kassie Garlock from Designs by Kassie is nothing short of a digital design genious, and I feel like a teenager writing in a brand new shiny notebook on her first day of school! You’ll also notice matching colorful facelifts on my TpT store banner, Facebook page, and Pinterest board. Color me HAPPY!!!

But enough about that.  Let’s get to the nitty gritty of what every upper grade teacher is REALLY feeling right now…the doom and gloom of state TESTING less than 2 months away.  As a former third grade teacher, I remember this pit-in-the-stomach feeling all too well.  Time to REVIEW.  Time to BUCKLE DOWN. Time to DRILL and KILL. No time for science and social studies! No time for FUN!

But does it REALLY have to be that way?? After my first year teaching third grade, I decided that enough was enough.  There HAD to be a better way than sucking the joy out of teaching and life out of learning before testing every year.  Here’s my list of tried and true tips and links to some of my best-selling products to help you and your students keep swimming…

1. Enough with the all day test prep.  Small bites are best!
There is absolutely NO need to completely cease your regular curriculum and instruction in lieu of hours of review each day.  It’s too much for the kids to digest and too much for you to teach!  A short daily review is the perfect solution. And the earlier you start, the shorter it can be!  Next year, consider starting short daily spiraled reviews as early as January or February.
2. Review when the kids are fresh.
Elementary teachers know that this means the early mornings are best. The students’ brains are fresh and awake.  In fact, Morning Work is the perfect time for review because you can go over responses and address misconceptions as a whole class during Morning Meeting or right before you begin regular whole class instruction.
3. DIFFERENTIATE whenever possible.
Isn’t that what Guided Reading and Intervention time is for anyway?!  Not all kids have the same needs when it comes to tested skills.  Take a good hard look at your most recent data and pull small groups based on their most critical needs,  Have a few that need help with inferencing? Group them together and hit it hard. Did 80% of your students miss the questions on making change from $5.00?  Time for a whole class lesson or game.  Did 99% of your students nail fact and opinion?  Time to put it on the back burner.
This is also the PERFECT time of year to collaborate with your team and divide your students based on needs.  Last year, my team and I scheduled several days of rotations for four different skills that were “in the red” for most of our students.  We made our lessons interactive and engaging, even playing Battleship with fruit loops to practice coordinate graphing.  Not to mention, we had the time and energy to plan better activities and teach them four times!
4. Make it FUN!  
Put test prep activities and games in Literacy Centers! Let them work with partners!  Let them use colorful highlighters!  Get them up and moving whenever possible! Make them FORGET they are even doing test prep.  I gauged the success of my Daily Flip Its and Literacy Links by the fact that my kids ASKED to do them if we had missed a day of school or run short on time.
5.  Out of time?  Send it home!
There’s no reason why test prep extensions can’r replace regular assigned homework for the few weeks leading up to testing.  There’s only so many hours in the day, and the extra practice at home can often be critical for more complex skills.
Okay, so here are my BIG THREE TEST PREP PRODUCTS that are ideal for third and fourth graders! First up, one of my all time best sellers and highest reviewed products:





“Daily Flip Its” provide 75 DAYS (15 weeks) of fun, fast, foldable ELA test prep for third and fourth graders with a daily spiraled review of all essential skills! Each booklet is ideal for Morning Work or Homework, taking approximately 10-15 minutes to complete and 10-15 minutes to review. 

Consistent daily routines include:
“Explain It” (Common Core aligned academic vocabulary)
“Highlight It” (skills in context)
“Match It” (matched word skills, vocabulary, definitions, and more)
“Bubble It” (2 multiple choice questions reviewing a wide variety of ELA skills)

This package includes:
-75 Daily Flip Its
-300 page Teacher’s Edition with full-sized pages (Ideal for review on Interactive Whiteboards or document cameras)
-Teacher Tracking Forms for all Flip Its

Try one week of Flip Its for FREE at the following link!

Next up,




“Math Flip Its” provide 20 days (4 weeks) of fun, fast, foldable math test prep for third graders with “solve and respond” writing extensions for all essential Common Core standards! Each booklet is ideal for Morning Work or Homework, taking approximately 10-15 minutes to complete and 10-15 minutes to review. 

Package also includes a 100 page Teacher’s Edition with full sized renders of each Math Flip It! Perfect for whole class review on an interactive whiteboard or document camera!

Consistent daily routines include:
“Explain It” (Common Core aligned academic vocabulary)
“Apply It” (basic skills in context)
“Extend It” (critical application of skills)
“Solve It” (2 multiple choice questions reviewing a wide variety of math skills)
“Solve and Respond” (Common Core aligned extensions and written prompts)

This package includes:
-20 Math Flip Its
-20 “Solve and Respond” extensions
-Teacher Tracking Forms for all Flip Its
-100 page Teacher’s Edition with full-sized renders of Flip Its
Finally, perfect for literacy centers and partner work, here are





These Literacy Links are an ideal variation of “I have…Who has” activities for ELA test prep and can be used independently or with partners! Ideal for Grades 3-4

Students match up links to create paper chains and demonstrate their learning through writing extensions of the following 14 topics:

*Informational Text Features (free with preview)
*Comprehension Strategies
*Story Elements
*Reference Materials
*Poetry and Figurative Language
*Guide Words
*Compound Words