OKLAHOMA CITY (May 7, 2014) – Testing season can be a stressful time for students, but a number of innovative teachers throughout Oklahoma have tapped their creative energies to make the experience fun and interesting for their classes.
At West Elementary School in Weatherford Public Schools, teachers got their fourth- and fifth-grade students pumped up with a “Testing Pep Rally.” Teachers donned brightly colored wigs and “Rock the Test” T-shirts for an assembly in which they strutted their stuff to Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and other adrenaline-charged songs. A couple of high school seniors gave the kids tips on how to be ready for tests.
“We just tell the students that you’ve been taught everything you know. Do your best and you’ll be fine,” said principal Ryan Lauder.
The Weatherford teachers aren’t the only ones who have taken to the dance floor for the sake of the kids. At Coolidge Elementary in Oklahoma City Public Schools, teachers headlined an assembly for a tongue-in-cheek version of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it).” The lyrics were customized a bit for the occasion: “If the answer’s right, put a mark on it.”
That wasn’t all. Kids who arrived at school by 8 a.m. were eligible for drawings for prizes such as Frisbees, hula hoops and sidewalk chalk. Students also found encouragement through an array of posters that lined the halls.
“It truly takes a village to take the test at Coolidge Elementary,” said Coolidge principal Annette Williams.
At Hilldale Elementary in the Putnam City School District, things have gone to the dogs — at least in the third-grade classroom of Bobby Rockel. When some of his students expressed anxiety about the tests, he hit on the idea of motivating the kids by urging them to release their inner bulldog.
“A bulldog came to mind,” said Rockel. “They're stubborn, have tenacity, are stout, look intimidating and play a mean game of tug o’ war.”
So his students resolved to be bulldogs this year. They erupt with barking before a test or big assignment and watch a quick video of bulldogs playing tug of war. Occasionally the kids jump out of their seats to dance along to — wait for it — “Who Let the Dogs Out?”
In Tulsa’s Union Public Schools, teacher Samantha Gross was brave enough to dive into the songbook of Disney’s hit movie, Frozen.
The night before her third-grade students were scheduled to take the reading test, Gross’ husband videotaped her singing “Do You Want to Pass the State Test?” The tune is a reworking of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”
“I expose my kids to YouTube videos all the time, because that’s how we’re learning right now. It’s all audio and visual,” explained Gross, who is in her first year teacher teaching third grade. “I wanted to create something that was really personal to our class.”
The following morning, Gross showed the video to her students — after first closing the classroom door, of course, lest anyone else hear her Princess Anna imitation. The kids were delighted.
Little did Gross realize at the time that her husband had posted the video on YouTube.
“It took some guts to actually do it,” she said with a laugh. “It wasn’t supposed to get out the way it did.”