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Chapter 16: Improving State Test Scores with the Super Improvers Team

Describe the strengths and weaknesses of the plan described in this chapter for improving state test scores.

Pages 107-113
Full credit: 25 WBT Certification Points
Partial credit: 10 WBT Certification Points


  1. Kay Spencer
    Chapter 16

    I have always practiced test taking procedures, but I have never used the wonderful strategies described in this chapter. I also found the daily time suggestion helpful, and including the Super Improvers Team will certainly motivate my students.

    The Prove It + Show Work will benefit my students. The Common Core standards require students to prove and show text evidence for responses. The sentence frames are going to provide a simple structure to encourage reasoning. Since communication skills are a huge part of Common Core standards, working with a partner will also provide opportunities to communicate.

    A weakness in Prove It + Show Work + Doofus/Trickster/ Smarty strategy is that our math test is not multiple choice, but I still think the basic Doofus/Trickster/Smarty strategy will work. The students could come up with Doofus/Trickster/Smarty answers on their own. It would be good practice and fun too.

    Double Underlining is a great strategy if you are using a paper test, but our test is computerized. We are however, allowed to use paper and pencil, so my students could be taught to write key ideas rather than underline key ideas.

    Add the Headings strategy will help my students maintain focus. I believe that all of the “visible techniques,” along with the Super Improvers Team rewards, are going to make a positive difference. This chapter is going to revolutionize the way I do standardized testing. I am going to include all the strategies. The information in this chapter opened my eyes to the need for an ongoing, growing plan which includes motivating rewards.

  2. Kay,
    Prove It brings critical thinking to the forefront as we encourage students to support their choices with strong evidence. We also use Prove It to explain why an answer is incorrect as well. Nicely written! Here are 25 points for you!

  3. The scoreboard level I am most likely to use is Level Three. I really like the idea of having students use free time (recess) to address behavior that needs to be corrected. The color-coded cards are an excellent way to show growth. For example If I give a white card and the behavior is corrected I can reinforce the correct behavior with the purple cards. The use of color-coded cards allows me to stop the behavior without disrupting the flow of instruction.

    The cards can be as simple as colored index cards or construction paper. I will start the Scoreboard Level Three after about a month of school, and it will be used all year in my class.

    The amount of time I spend on each level will depend on the students in my class. I see merit in each level, however I am not sure how I would use Level Four in my class. I just do not like the idea of “Please, stop!” .
    I will use Levels One, Two, and Three all year. For me to use Levels Four, Five, Six and Seven would require a very uniquely demanding group of students. It is, however, good to have a few tricks up my sleeve when needed.

    Dian Isert

  4. Dian,
    Oops, I think you posted this on the wrong page....the prompt for this page is "Chapter 16: Improving State Test Scores with the Super Improvers Team
    Describe the strengths and weaknesses of the plan described in this chapter for improving state test scores."

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Madeline Mahan Chapter 16- Improving State Standards with the Super Improvers Team

    The most obvious strength of this plan to improve state test scores is that it’s FUN. Test preparation techniques are usually very cut and dry for both students and teachers. Using terms like “Doofus,” “Trickster,” and “Smarty” automatically encourages students to participate. By incorporating the Super Improver Team and rewarding students for utilizing otherwise boring skills, students are actually enjoying test preparation! As all teachers know, when students are motivated, learning is much more meaningful! Teachers are also more likely to start test prep at the beginning of the year when they are enjoying themselves.
    Another strength of this plan is that it’s ongoing. By starting the 2nd week of school, students become used to proving their answers and showing their work. As Coach B says, “our students need lots of daily reps practicing test taking procedures” (Biffle, 107). We would expect nothing less from an athlete preparing for a championship or a performer rehearsing for a concert! By the time the test comes around, there is nothing scary or unfamiliar about multiple-choice questions. Coach Biffle’s plan lays out a timeline that is easy to follow and logically builds on itself. By the 36th week, students are spending large amounts of time defending answers, showing work, and critically thinking about test questions.
    A weakness of this plan is that most Common Core tests are now short-answer rather than multiple-choice. This means students do not need to identify choices as “Doofus,” “Trickster,” or “Smarty.” However, students proving their answers and showing their work will still prepare them for these new tests. Teachers could create short-answer examples for students to analyze. Students could grade these with the same rubric that will be used to grade their answers. Students could also label short answer questions as "Answer Nows" or "Flippers." Depending on writing prompts, teachers could come up with other labels for students to use on short answer questions.
    Another weakness (although minor) is that it is geared toward paper tests. Teachers might have to slightly alter some techniques, such as underlining and going back to answer questions according to their specific computer program. For example, a recent benchmark at my school did not allow students to underline in the reading section. Students were also not given scratch paper for the reading test, so they were unable to write out their “because” statements to prove or eliminate answers. If our state chooses this program for future state assessments, I will need to find an alternative to these techniques.
    Madeline Mahan

    1. Madeline,
      Nice post! Even with the testing changes, practicing these skills can help our students as they practice critical thinking (using non-examples and using their because clappers to explain why an answer is correct or not correct). Those skills will be transferable. Here are 25 certification points!

  7. There are many strengths of the plan provided in this chapter. First, this plan allows students to not become bored by endless practice. In other words, providing students with worksheets and released items leads to burnout for teachers and students; especially when they do not really understand why it is important. Next, this system provides for a small amount of time spent daily instead of pressure preparation. Using 10 minutes of class time to do interactive activities that prepare for testing is better than waiting until test time, then cramming it all in. Further, the plan provided suggestions for engaging students in learning, not just guessing as well as making the preparation process interactive and fun. These are very important considerations when teaching anything.

    I love that this plan focuses on reasoning skills. Usually standardized testing just looks for an answer, but does not really challenge students to think. This plan also introduces a fun and quirky way of implementing the process of elimination which kids will remember for the remainder of their educational experiences. Many tests continue to use a multiple choice format, beyond the Benchmarks. Students continue to take the ITBS, ACT and other standardized measures which are largely multiple choice so these methods are important.

    I like the idea of changing the techniques once in a while so the students do not become uninterested. The plan outlined in the text provides specific changes and skills to be taught as the school year progresses and these skills are very important for students. Weaknesses of this plan might include problems related to computerized tests. Some are computerized and more will become computerized in the future. However, these skills can be applied to computerized exams as well. The limitation is that the visible aspects of double underlining and headings will likely become problematic or require adjustments on student’s part.

    Amanda Blum

    1. Amanda, changes in testing will require changes in the way we prepare students.TFinding important information, processing that information, and using critical thinking will always be the primary goal of any good test, whether computerized or not. Great job! Here are 25 certification points.

  8. Chapter 16: Improving State Test Scores with the Super Improvers Team

    The strengths of the plan for improving state test scores include the fact that the practice skills are linked directly with the opportunity for students to earn stars on the Super Improvers Team! Students are motivated daily (assuming skills are “rehearsed,” or practiced daily) to show improvement, thereby earning stars to climb the various levels of the Super Improvers Team. Students are rewarded for neatness, accuracy, speed, showing their work, the strength of their explanation (“because”), and even the proficiency with which they “teach their shoe.” Test preparation is no longer dull (more like a death knell to the senses); rather, it has been transformed into part of a living, breathing, learning-centered “video game.”

    The plan is implemented daily, and requires little instructional time: a mere ten minutes for mathematics, and another ten minutes for language arts. The instructional time we have gained as a result of practicing other Whole Brain Teaching strategies, such as the “Class-Yes” and “Teach-Okay,” easily affords the twenty minutes needed for test preparation.

    The skills (and the students’ improvement) are cumulative. The strategies are introduced with “Prove It + Show Work (math).” The ease with which this skill can be implemented and practiced is desirable in a teacher’s repertoire of strategies. Students can teach their partner or show their work (and evidence or proof) on personal whiteboards.

    We are teaching our students skills that are metacognitive in nature. We are arming our students with strategies that sharpen their reasoning and critical thinking skills, which are absolutely essential to perform to a degree of success on any state assessment. These skills are also transferable; it matters not whether the assessments are of the paper-and-pencil variety, or implemented electronically (via computer, as our own state assessment, the PARCC, will be next year).

    The only weakness I can determine is the individual teacher’s willingness and determination to implement the strategies in a consistent manner. It is imperative that teachers plan and implement strategies daily. As with an outstanding athlete who must practice daily to attain an elevated athletic status or ability, it is so with our students. As we progress into the twenty-first century, these skills are both integral and indispensable. We must implement these strategies with consistency and continuity. Our futures, and those of our students, depend on it.

    Jacqueline Nessuno

    1. Jacqueline,
      I agree, these skills are transferable to the computer with just a little tweaking! It is so important to teach the children viable strategies that they can use for a multitude of situations. I appreciate your statement "As we progress into the twenty-first century, these skills are both integral and indispensable". So true! Here are 25 certification points.

    2. Chapter 16 Improving State Test Scores with the Super Improvers Team Bethany Kirkland

      I thought that Chapter 16 would have little application to my current teaching setting, but once again Whole Brain Teaching (WBT) dominates! When I read the tennis game and practice analogy, I thought about test scores from two days ago. Upon review of the test components, I realized how little practice my students had on a particular skill tested. By beginning early in the school year incorporating WBT test taking procedures with the Super Improvers Team (SIT) strategy students will have a lot of time to practice test taking skills.

      There are many strengths described in this chapter. SIT can be used to reinforce students for practicing test taking strategies. The ladder to test taking success begins with Prove It, and moves up to Show Work + Doofus/Trickster/Smarty + Double Underlining + Heading. The teacher will have a better understanding of which strategies students can apply to test taking by teaching these observable, test taking strategies. I specifically like the critical thinking skills aspect, which asks students tell why they chose an answer using the “Because Clapper“.

      The weakness, as I see it, is the application of strategies to computer testing. However, if the students have plenty of practice, they should be able to generalize what they have learned and apply it to computerized testing.

    3. Bethany,
      I agree, adding the critical thinking "because clapper" really helps! Here are 25 certification points!

  9. Carrie Wood
    WBT Ch. 16

    There are many strengths to the plan described in chapter 16. First, dedicating 10 minutes of daily class time to interactive activities prepare students for the test better than waiting until test time to cram it all in.
    Next, the plan is fun! Using terms like “Doofus,” “Trickster,” and “Smarty” encourages students to participate and think. Students enjoy the test preparation and the learning is more meaningful.
    A weakness of the plan is that most standardized tests are short-answer questions rather than multiple choice. However students proving their answers and showing their work support a deeper understanding of the information, thus, still preparing them for the tests.
    Another downfall of the plan is that it is geared more towards paper tests rather than computer based testing. Teachers could incorporate techniques to educate their students on skills that can be applied to computerized testing as well.

    1. Carrie,
      You are right, using these strategies does help make learning more meaningful! They will easily learn to adapt the strategies to the computerized versions and will be even more successful! Here are 25 certification points.

  10. Chapter 16 Improving state Tests Scores with the Super Improvers Team
    The S.I.T is wonderful to have in the classroom. My students work diligently to move up the ladder and I have seen some major improvements in behavior. I have enjoyed reading this chapter and learning ways to help my students improve their test taking ability. The first strength of using the Prove-it! + Show Work (math) program is that the students get to collaborate with one another and discuss how they came up with an answer. Using the Because Clapper and silly words such as “Doofus”, “Trickster” and “Smarty” is a great way to keep the students engaged, and they can move up the ladder for meeting their personal goal. Another strength to this technique, is that my second graders need all the writing practice that they can possibly get. This technique encourages them to write out how they got their answers and if they finish early they can take a moment to read their explanations to their shoe… Ha-ha, what a sight to see! I would also like to add that the Prove it!+Show Work(math)+ Doofus/Trickster/Smarty teaches students how to look at a math problem and the answer choices on a test more carefully. First, they have to identify the wrong answers. Then, they have to take a second look at tricky answers that appear to be right at first glance. Finally, they have to find the correct answer by working out the problem step by step, showing their work to get the smarty answer.
    The Prove it!+Show Work(math)+Doofus/Trickster/Smarty+ Double Underlining + Headings is a nice add-on. However, I prefer to use the C.U.B.E.S method when showing my students how to break apart a word problem. The C.U.B.E.S method incorporates Circling the numbers, Underlining the question, Boxing the important words, Evaluating the steps to solve, and Solving. We learned this method by heart using great, big, gestures. I will have to start rewarding my students that use this method correctly. I have some students that do a very sloppy job and then have to double back.
    One of the weaknesses in this technique is that it will be a challenge, for me personally, not to reward the students that making academic achievement. I have some students that see the math in their head and therefore, they do not use any method when test taking. They hardly show their work and always finish early. However, now they will be rewarded for taking their time and explaining their answers. What a brilliant idea!
    Brandi Young

    1. Brandi,
      You could "reward" their academic achievement by moving them up the SIT. You can set goals with them referring to what you are looking for such as less sloppy, slowing down when working etc. You might be able to use Prove It on your last step of CUBES when they are solving the problem. Oops! Watch out for those small editing errors " not to reward the students that making academic achievement". Here are 20 certification points!

  11. Julia Berry / Chapter 16 / November

    I have never been more excited after I read chapter 16! Yes, I have been on the right track all these years teaching. My students put on their thinking caps and become detectives daily. They practice circling key words, deducing information into smaller chunks, and explain their reasoning as Holmes or Watson would when solving a case!
    There are so many strengths to using Super Improvers Team:
    1. Daily practice is needed so critical thinking becomes natural.
    2. SIT rewards the students get for any improvements. (Neatness, accuracy, speed.)
    3. Students are competing against themselves. Everyone has a chance to improve. This really makes a difference!
    4. Team teaching with a partner- “Because” which is the key word for all critical thinking.
    5. Teaches a student to look out for the three types of questions on the State tests (Doofus, Trickster, and Smarty questions.)
    6. Turns Drill and Practice into a lively game! (DVR is an excellent reward.)
    7. The Double underlining has the student reading twice.
    8. Headings help to deduce complex tasks to clear details; step by step.

    I can’t find any weakness with the Super Improvers Team! So, I decided to venture out of my comfort zone somewhat, and talk to teachers about this exciting approach to improve test scores, and I asked them to express any weaknesses. Here are some weaknesses teachers expressed to me:
    1. Not enough time to practice test taking skills each day. We barley have enough
    time to cover all the required subjects.
    2. If I teach these skills and the State test changes, what happens when they are
    not allowed to write one mark in the test booklets? This might confuse them.
    3. Sounds like a too much preparation for the SIT charts.
    4. We have practice test booklets to practice for the State tests, so why reinvent the

    Now, do not think all the teachers had something negative to say. I just picked out the weaknesses they expressed to share. Yes, we do have practice booklets. So, let your students practice underlining key words and phrases. Teach them about the three types of questions. Let them converse and team teach the “Because”, and teach them how to deduce information. My final remark to them was “We have to teach our students to think critically to become Super Test Takers! The stakes keep getting higher and higher and it is time to jump on board with SIT and motivate your students to do their very best! After all, isn’t this our job for every student to achieve and succeed?”

    1. Julia,
      Nicely done! I love that you presented this to your peers for feedback! These skills are necessary to help our students face these dreaded tests, but are also transferrable to other reading activities as well! Here are 25 certification points and a 5 point bonus!

  12. Julia Berry / Chapters 17-18 / November
    Dear Parents,

    You received a letter, at Open House, explaining that we would be using Whole Brain Teaching throughout the year. It is very important for your child to follow the Five Class Rules, so our teaching time is not compromised. The following are our Five Class Rules:
    1. Follow Directions Quickly
    2. Raise Your Hand For Permission To Speak
    3. Raise Your Hand For Permission To Leave Your Seat
    4. Make Smart Choices
    5. Keep Your Dear Teacher Happy
    In class, I will be using color-coded cards to help your child succeed with our rules and be rewarded for making smart choices!
    White cards: Your child needs extra practice following a rule. No more
    than two white cards will be given in a day.
    Purple cards: When a behavior is corrected later on in the day, a purple card is
    given as a reinforcement and a positive note may be sent
    Green cards: When a child needs to practice a rule in class, they will be given a green card. Once the rule is being followed, the child gets to add a tally mark (s) on the card. Your child can also earn a purple card for positive note.

    I will be sending home notes to let you know how your child is doing. Please sign and return the next day. If he or she is having difficulty with a rule (s), I ask that you take a couple of minutes to have your child practice. I will also keep you informed of your child’s smart choices with an “A for the day” note several times a week.
    I know with time and practice, all of our students will be able to follow our Five Class Rules! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call.
    Thank you for all your support in making this year a great success!

    Mrs. Berry

    1. Julia,
      I noticed you posted this under both chapters 16 and then again under 17/18 accidentally so I will award your points on the next page :)

  13. Chapter 16/Improving State Test Scores with The Super Improvers Team
    Deborah Gardner
    Practice makes perfect, and The Super Improvers Team is a perfect plan to improve state test scores. I feel that the most important aspect/strength of The Super Improvers Team is the daily practice of test taking strategies. Just as in the analogy of the tennis player, a daily workout is the principal way to improve skills. Ten minutes of focused, uninterrupted practice makes sense. It builds thinking skills through student participation and frequently encourages/ rewards success by “climbing the ladder of stars”. Nothing builds the desire to succeed like the taste of success! Additionally, this plan is highly animated with the students as energetic contributors. Students use sentence frames with the Because Clappers, search for text evidence, and understand the process of double underlining and proving the correct answer. Students also participate in “search and destroy” missions while detecting the three types of state test questions (Doofus, Trickster, and Smarty). (My students enjoy these candy treats as they identify the types of questions: Doofus--DumDum pops; Trickster--Tootsie Roll pops with their hidden centers; and “Smarties” for the Smarty question type.) Finally, combining the strategies in the hierarchy as indicated is a wonderful way to introduce and use the skills in a natural way that will eventually become automatic.
    To be honest, the only weakness I can see is limiting the practice to just ten minutes or so. I have found that the students want to spend extra time searching for the type of answers on most tests. Children also “write” more in the margins of the texts. This may interfere with the scoring of state tests if the showing of work is written close to the answer circles.

    Deborah Gardner

    1. Deborah,
      Nicely stated post! I can appreciate your comment on the ten minute practice. I found with my class, that as we approached the time for state testing, it was important that students had been gradually building up their endurance for taking longer, and more detailed tests. That meant slowly increasing the practice time to more than 10 minutes. Stars were awarded on the SIT during these practice sessions, and during the actual testing sessions, to students visibly displaying the good test taking strategies they had been working on through the year. This was really effective for all styles and levels of learners. Here are 25 points for you!

  14. Teaching a state tested grade level, I have always practiced test taking procedures. I have used different versions of the strategies described in this chapter. I found the daily time suggestions helpful, and the suggestions to include the Super Improvers Team will assist in motivated my students to use these testing strategies. I also really like the break down for how long to teach a concept and when to introduce the next strategy.
    The Prove It + Show Work is a great strategy I have been using for years. I departmentalize with another teacher and teach two hours of math a day. The number one rule in math class is to show all your work. I love the addition of the because clapper and having students explain why the answer is wrong. This is a great transition into Common Core where the students will have to explain their reasoning and answer in math. I have used this strategy when we discuss problems together on the Smart Board, but they extra step of them doing it together with partners would make it more powerful to student learning. With the Prove It, we have taught this with Chris Biffles UNRAAVEL method and I have seen enormous results in students reading comprehension when they have to prove where the answer came from in the story.
    A weakness in Doofus/Trickster/Smarty strategy for me is the names of what you call the problems. I love the concept, but when you work really hard to teach your students not to call people names, this kind of contradicts that.
    Double Underlining is a great strategy especially in math to focus on the key words, and information in a problem. I think students often just look at the numbers and decide what to do, so this helps them refocus on what the questions is asking, as well as how to solve the problem. I see nothing but benefits of this strategy for my students.
    I love the concept of Headings. I love that it takes the complex problem and breaks it down into clear steps. The only weakness I see with this strategy is that it is time consuming to do this with every problem and in Florida our assessments are timed, and I fear my students would run out of time to complete the test.
    I agree with the statement that students must have practice using test taking strategies as well as do simulation of the test to build up the stamina and understand the testing conditions. This chapter has excellent strategies and suggestions to prepare students.

    1. Correction to my post. The UNRAAVEL strategies are from Larry Bell. I was on a role with Whole Brain and Coach B's name just came out. Sorry.

    2. Tonya,
      Very detailed post! You may choose to relabel the answer choices to fit your class needs. Be careful editing your posts: '...will assist in motivated my students to use...', '...but they extra step of them doing...', ...'have seen enormous results in students reading comprehension...' I am sorry I am unable to award any regular points for this post, but you do earn a 5 point Bonus for the detailed response. Try again with another assignment.

  15. Chapter 16 - Improving State Test Scores with the Super Improvers Team
    I remember when I taught third grade the importance of teaching my students how to practice the ever so important test taking techniques and strategies that would aid them in the infamous state test. Even though I am a second grade teacher and we don't have state tests to worry about at the moment; it is VERY important that our children are being taught test taking skills and strategies. After all, the students do have subject area tests they must take throughout the year. The beginning of the chapter hit the nail on the head in saying that the two reasons students score poorly on state tests are because they don't receive enough practice taking tests and they have little motivation to practice the test taking procedures.
    One of the strengths that this chapter focuses on is emphasizing daily practicing test taking and test procedures for at least 10 minutes per subject (language arts and math). This works perfectly since my grade level is departmentalized; therefore, one teacher isn't having to go over test practice for every subject.
    I think that the Prove It!+Show work(math) strategies are awesome. They get our students to "dig deeper" and give valid reasons behind their choosing the correct answer. In turn, they must also be able to recognize and explain why certain choices are not the correct answer.. This plan is chocked full of strengths. I suppose the only weakness may be again if some students begin to lose interest in it. All in all, I believe that the strengths far outweigh the weakness. I also think that this process is something that students will remember and can be implemented from grades K- 12.
    Karlyn Davis

    1. Karlyn,
      Good job! The Super Improvers Team provides motivation for all students to grasp and display good test taking strategies. Here are 25 points for you!

  16. Currently, I am already doing something similar to this system. When given a test question, students have to identify two “doofus” answers in the four choices given first. One of them is typically a “trickster”. I call them other names, but the concept is close to the same. Students have been working on this since the beginning of the year. I do agree with this plan as it helps students with the process of elimination in a fun way. Each answer has a name in which students can use as tools to help choose the correct answer. I also like that there is a because involved in the answer choices. This allows students to think about why one is the correct answer and why the others may not. It gives students a way to defend their answer. I don’t see many weaknesses in this plan. As long as students are kept motivated and are rewarded accordingly for their hard work through the super improvers team, then there is nothing more to improve or change.

    Liz Cheney

    1. Liz,
      I like that you point out this system requires consistent practice of test taking skills throughout the year, along with the support of the SIT. Here are 25 points for you!

  17. The WBT plan for improving State Test Scores which is outlined in Chapter 16 is strong in so many ways. First of all, it is very important for teachers to realize that we must not only teach and practice content areas, but we must also teach and practice test taking procedures so that our students can actually convey the knowledge that they possess.

    I think designating 20 minutes of class time daily to simply teaching the mechanics of the tests is an excellent idea. This becomes part of the routine and allows for gradual and consistent practice while conditioning students to the fact that the tests WILL try to fool them and that they must be able to eliminate tricky answers as well as prove correct ones. Labeling multiple choice answers as “Doofus”, “Trickster”, and “Smarty” is funny and it will encourage children to participate in and even enjoy test preparation. Using the Because Clapper and Prove It! “turns a dry reasoning technique, process of elimination, into a lively game.”

    Also, the use of the Super Improver’s Team is a wonderful way to reward students for all efforts that are put forth for test practice. They can be awarded stars for neatness, teaching neighbors, “shoe teaching”, “strong becauses”, showing their work, etc… “Rewards are given for improvement, not academic achievement.” This gives children a visible goal and motivation to work towards an excellent score which has traditionally been meaningless.

    The main weakness of this plan is that now most standardized tests have short answer rather than multiple-choice questions, and they are computerized. However, identifying answers as “Doofus”, “Trickster”, and “Smarty” can still help children realize the types of answers they should give. Also, proving answers and showing work will help to deepen the understanding of concepts and thus aid in test preparation. Teachers can use these procedures in conjunction with techniques to educate their students on skills that can be applied to computerized testing as well.

    1. Julia,
      Very well stated! Here are 25 points and a 5 point Bonus! Wahooo!

  18. I love the way the plan begins with the first week of school and progresses towards the end of the year testing. That building process will pay dividends at the end of the year. I have always had my students underline or circle critical items in math or reading passages, but really like the logic behind double underlining. Double underlining = double reading. It will take a bit of time to make that common practice and ensure that each student is rereading before underlining a second time, but I like the concept. I also love the “because” clapper and explaining the reason why an answer is correct or incorrect. That is such a critical part of the learning process.

    One weakness I see is the change to Common Core testing which has much less emphasis on the doofus type answers. Most of the questions seem to have an answer that is close, one or two that are partially correct, and one that is the best answer. I have had to concentrate on making sure that students don’t stop when they find a correct answer. They must keep looking and make a judgment call as to which one is the BEST answer.

    Stephen Sublett

    1. Stephen,
      The double underlining strategy works wonders! Here are 25 certification points, nice job!

  19. Chapter 16 outlines a technique that can close the gap between what our kids know and how to convey it in a standardized test.

    The most appealing thing about this WBT method is that students practice around 20 minutes daily (10 for math, 10 for reading) starting from the second week of school. This practice will help students gain a familiarity with the test format and critical thinking questions, which should greatly reduce the panicked “cram” right before testing.

    The Prove It method should be a staple in answering all questions. Having students provide reasons as to why they choose a certain answer (and didn’t choose another) forces them to truly understand and take ownership of what they’re doing. They will be less likely to just pick an answer if they have to go through and show their reason for it anyway. It is the reading test’s answer to showing your work in math.

    I also found the use of Doofus, Trickster, and Smarty as a funny and enjoyable alternative to process of elimination. It characterizes answer choices and makes going through them entertaining. As well, it will make the test less intimidating if they view the answer choices in a fun way.

    It’s also nice that students focus on improvement rather than competition with one another, by implementing the Super Improvers Wall. This allows every student to feel motivated to do their best.

    The games listed at the end of the chapter are great as well and will provide students the novelty and fun their brains desire.

    The weakness I found was that it needs to focus more on how to complete short answer questions since those will be more prevalent in the future. Short answer questions will not be as easy to practice and will take more time because they involve writing. Perhaps they can be done over two practice sessions and use a rubric. Just an idea, I’m sure something great will come up!

    1. Josephine,
      Nice job! Here are 25 certification points and a 5 point bonus!

  20. Improving test scores is a daunting task for teachers, especially when students´ native language is not English.
    The major advantages of using this system is that students not only see examples of what will be on the exam but also use critical thinking to find the trick answers and the doofus answers. They have to give reasons for the correct answer. If the teacher accepts a correct answer from the top student in the class and does not ask for an explanation, the rest of the students will circle the correct answers and move on without thinking about why. Then, they will develop the strategy of copying from the top student or guessing! With this system, however, students are walked through the correct thought process for answering questions.
    A disadvantage of the system is that it will not work when students do not know the material being tested. If they choose the doofus answers on these questions it will be really hard for them not to be frustrated. Another disadvantage is that this system assumes that children can understand the question being asked. In order to understand which answers are tricks, doofuses and smarty, they have to understand what they are reading!

    1. Adrienne,
      This should really help them dig deeper so that they CAN understand what they are reading! And let's hope that they won't have many test items that they haven't learned yet...yikes!! Nice job! Here are 25 certification points!

  21. The points made in Chapter 16 about the fact that we expect students to do well on standardized tests even though we don’t change the way we prepare them is so true. We are constantly told that the children must do well on these high- stakes tests but we don’t give them the practice they need in order to figure out new information in a timely fashion. The strategy to begin early in the school year and take baby steps makes so much sense. I like the doofus, trickster, and smarty questions. By making it easy to recognize wrong answers at the beginning of the year, you can develop their reasoning skills with the because clapper. Adding a trickster answer later on will make them think not only of why it is not right but why it is almost right. My students are given many multiple-choice questions throughout the year but I have never suggested to them to label the answers with a d (doofus), t (trickster), or s (smarty). What a quick easy way to monitor how the children are thinking about the answers. If a child is marking and answer with a t, but the answer is obviously wrong, it is an indication that the child needs more intense tutoring on the subject.
    I like that the whole program for test preparation is built up from a strong foundation. The children are taught early in the year that they must prove it. This continues throughout the whole year. It fosters critical thinking for everything they do.
    I like the variations that can be used when practicing testing techniques. I particularly like the Answer Nows. This gives the children reinforcement in determining how to achieve a viable answer. I might add another category where the children have to decide if the answer comes from their own prior knowledge. These could be called Connectors.
    The one weakness I see in this approach is the underlining. We are not allowed to make extraneous marks in our test booklets. Teachers are not allowed to erase anything in a child’s booklet. Therefore, we could potentially have many students who underline too hard and thus leave marks in the booklets that could jeopardize their grade. Oral practice with recognizing key words and themes could and should be practiced throughout the year.
    Once again, Whole Brain Teaching has pointed out an obvious flaw in the educational system and given practicable suggestions on how to improve it. We can’t continue to do the wrong thing and expect better results. We need to change the way we approach testing and give our children the foundation they need in order to succeed.
    Liz Howard

    1. Liz,
      Using these strategies as they prepare for testing will help the children slow down and read carefully, hopefully then transferring that skill to the test, even if they have to do this step mentally. Great job! Here are 25 certification points!

  22. I am so happy that as a second grade teacher I get to avoid the high stakes testing! However, as part of a school that tests kids starting in third grade, I feel that I have a responsibility to lay a foundation for the future. I like the ideas that are stated in the chapter to work on improving scores. One strength that I noticed is that test taking practice starts at the beginning of the year by working on easy practice questions and answers, and having the students practice for 10 minutes each day for math and language arts. I also think a strength is tying test practice into SIT. Another strength is that as the weeks progress, the test taking practice becomes more challenging and uses released test questions to improve scores. I also like that the chapter is very specific in improving test taking scores by teaching strategies like: double underlining, prove it, and doofus, trickster and smarty questions. The WBT strategies of using gestures and because clapper are very powerful ways to improve test scores.
    I do not see any real weaknesses except that in the beginning, teachers would have to create easy test answers to questions. This would take some time but after the first time could be reused from year to year.
    Mary Carlson

    1. Mary,
      Good thoughts! I agree that it isn't too early in 2nd grade to lay that foundation. At least we can use these techniques to make test prep a little more fun! Here are 25 certification points!

  23. Chapter 16 Anne Corrigan

    I think one of the biggest strengths of the plan to improve state test scores is the weekly countdown at the beginning of the year. Traditionally, teachers don’t address test-taking strategies until January. Then it becomes crunch time and everyone becomes stressed. Starting at week 2 with the Prove-It! Strategy gets the students thinking critically. Not only do they have to prove why an answer is correct, but also they should be able to explain why one is not correct. Consistent use of this procedures makes it part of a familiar routine.
    My students loved “being in the loop” when I gave out the “secret” test taking strategy of Doofus/Trickster/Smarty. Once I let them in on the “secret” I was amaze at how quickly the students were able to pick out the trickster answers as well as proving why it was incorrect. This game made them excited to go back and find text evidence to prove why it was a wrong trickster answer.
    My students already knew to underline the important words or phrases of math real world problems or language arts questions. I found, though, they would underline and forget about them. Now that I make them use double underlining they know they must read it twice. Giving examples of ineffective highlighting (too much, too little) is a huge strength of this procedure and must be modeled and practiced often. One weakness of this procedure is that much of our testing is online so teaching paper and pencil underlining may not be generalized to computer testing. Most testing programs have a highlighting component so that skill would also need to be taught.
    Awarding Super Improving Stars for improvement in any of these strategies will further motivate students with test taking skills.

    1. Anne,
      Good analysis! With the testing craze, it is nice to have these strategies to help the kids be successful! Watch for those pesky editing errors "I was amaze at how quickly". Here are 25 certification points!

  24. The strengths of this plan to improve state test scores are summed up with the DVR method. Students need practice in state testing daily, involve visible techniques, and should be rewarded with Super Improver stars. Students need to be challenged, and if students are at the high academic level, then they do not have many students with which to compete. If they compete against themselves, they always have a challenging adversary! All students can improve their test skills, and the Super Improver stars reward their success.

    One weakness of the plan to improve state test scores is the Prove It! technique. Standard tests are becoming more automated. My Kindergarteners are taking their Discovery Education tests on the computer. Therefore, underlining key information will not work unless it is a paper test.

    Krissa White

    1. Krissa,
      I love your statement " If they compete against themselves, they always have a challenging adversary"! Nice job~ here are 25 certification points!

  25. For improving state test scores the strengths of the plan described in chapter 16 outweigh the weaknesses. It makes so much sense to have students practice assessment-type questions daily. Twenty minutes of class time is very easy to donate to assessment questions, especially if you incorporate the questions within the curriculum. I especially like the idea of giving students daily opportunities to climb up the Daily Improvers Ladder. This seems to be an effective means of motivating students to practice assessment-type questions easily. Labeling the answers doofus, trickster, or smarty and teaching the students to how to recognize each answer is really a great idea and students will enjoy working together to solve the daily sample questions. The weakness that I see with this plan is the extra planning it will require on the part of the teacher for daily questions as well as the additional time the teacher will have to spend learning how to apply the daily games to the scoreboard.
    Irish Brown

    1. Irish,
      Often, you can get the daily questions from practice tests or the previous year's benchmark tests etc. In reference to applying them to the scoreboard, you would continue to follow the same procedure and give points if they are focused, working hard, answering quickly etc. Points could be given on the Super Improver Wall for individual goals that were met in reference to the game. Here are 25 certification points.

  26. Within chapter 16, many of the strategies described were things that I already do within my classroom. One weakness of the plan, in my opinion, is the idea of teaching students that there is always a “doofus/trickster/smarty” within multiple choice answers. I do teach my students to eliminate obviously wrong answers and teach them to narrow down their answers. However, in a classroom full of students that are often many years below grade level, I don’t agree with teaching them this strategy. I feel like it could discourage students if they get the question wrong and it happened to be the “doofus” answer. Putting a silly negative name on an answer is definitely a strategy that could work with many children, but I think a weakness of this strategy is the way it could affect confidence in lower achieving students.

    1. Kasey,
      You would just need to reinforce that the "doofus" label is just another way of saying that it is an answer that you wouldn't be able to prove with evidence from the story or from the math problem etc. Make sure they understand that the child isn't a "doofus" if they make a mistake....we ALL make mistakes and that's how we learn! Here are 25 certification points!

  27. Chapter 16

    I loved reading this chapter! I immediately shared what I learned from this chapter with some of my co-teachers.
    The because clapper is my favorite technique. I have always had my students prove answers to me. I always have them tell me “why”. The because clapper is important because students have to think about “why” and verbalize their thoughts. Any confusion with concepts/skills will be easier to pinpoint when students are verbalizing thoughts and reasoning for their answers.
    The doofus, trickster and smarty technique makes so much sense. I love that students can make it a game to find the answer that matches each description.
    The only weakness that I could find is that the students are faced with a different type of testing materials. No longer are students given paper copies that they can double underline and write on. The challenge now is teaching students how to navigate the test on a computer screen. A lot of my students don’t want to take the time to scroll back to the beginning of the test to check over their answers. The students seem eager to pick their answers and click done!
    I have used these techniques with my students and found them beneficial. It gives them specific tools to use when they need to reason through some difficult questions.
    I look forward to seeing the gains that my students will make when they take the FCAT this Spring.

    Lori Crigler

    1. Lori,
      Nice work! It does present a challenge as testing is moving to more computerized versions, but these skills are easily transferrable if they will read slowly and carefully and take their time. Here are 25 certification points!

  28. Chapter 16 Describe the strengths and weaknesses of the plan described in this chapter for improving state test scores.
    This is difficult for me because it is what I have been doing in my classroom for the past seven years. Everything requires some kind of proof. (I do not teach any math, so I will not address the use in a math lesson.) I start by teaching my students what the question is asking for. Is it a main idea or theme question? We discuss what the question asks and if it needs text evidence to prove it. This is no easy task for an Inclusion class. As a whole group, we evaluate the question. Synonym and Antonym questions, prefixes, base words, and suffixes are questions that do not necessarily require text evidence. Often you can find the answer with in the question. You may have to say I can prove this because I know the prefix is at the front of the word and this prefix means------, so the answer is….

    I like the use of language such as doofus, trickster, and smarty. This help self-esteem when a student gives an incorrect answer. On the other hand, the use of text evidence can and is often interpreted based on a child’s life experiences. I often have to give a child points for an answer that is not the answer the test says is correct because the student makes a justifiable argument based on personal interpretation of the evidence from the text. This does not bother me because the goal is to have the child truly understand the text and make a connection to the text.
    My colleague’s usually score answers based solely on the test answer key. I believe this short changes the creative thinking and reasoning process of young minds.

    1. Dian,
      I agree, background knowledge and justifiable arguments are crucial to building comprehension! Watch out for those small editing errors "This help self-esteem" (helps) and "My colleague’s usually score" (no apostrophe needed). Here are 20 certification points!

  29. Ch. 16: Improving State Test Scores with the Super Improvers Team

    I think my favorite thing about this chapter is the breakdown on how long to teach a concept and when to introduce the next one. I teach a state tested grade and I am always on the lookout for the latest test taking strategy. I have used quite a few of the ones described in this chapter.

    I total agree with the test simulations. This not only builds up the students’ stamina it takes the shock factor away from the test because the student already knows what to expect.

    I have seen a huge change in grades since my students began using the UNRAAVEL technique. All the students in my grade level are required to use this method in their reading class. It is a very good way to have the students prove that they have comprehended the literature piece that they have read. This concept will come in great use for our students with the transition from state standards to Common Core testing.

    The one strategy that I did not care for was the Doofus/Trickster/Smarty. I did not care for the name calling. My students are already very challenging and allowing them to call one another a name goes against they respect concept that I am trying to in steal in my students.

    1. Karen,
      The Doofus/Trickster/Smarty terms are not for the students, they are for test questions. We would never want children calling each other those names!! On multiple choice questions, there is often an answer that is plainly not the correct choice. They would write Doofus by that answer. Then, there are usually a couple of tricky answers, so they will write Trickster next to those (and then revisit them after trying to provide evidence that they are correct or incorrect). Finally, they will write Smarty next to the answer they chose to be correct. Oops, you had a minor editing error "I total agree with the test simulations" (totally). Here are 20 certification points.

  30. I think that this is a fantastic chapter even with all the computerized testing going on. I teach 4th grade and we experience major testing every year. I have watched many teachers fall into the “FCAT Crunch” time mode and stress their students out to the max. I agree with Chris Biffle when he said that students need daily practice with test taking, starting with the beginning of the year. I love the Prove It + Show It. I already use my whiteboards in math and I think that this technique will help to increase their ability to justify their answers, which is going to be required on state testing very soon. Writing out their reasoning for their answers during daily practice helps them to visualize the same reasoning in their heads even when taking multiple choice tests on computers. Then they will be able to give better written responses when they start taking common core tests. The because clapper is awesome because it makes them think about why they picked their answer and give justification for it. Many of my students can’t explain in words why they picked their answers. I feel that this is just the result of multiple choice testing. They never have to explain why with a multiple choice test. All of the techniques in this chapter really help us to push our students to be more critical thinkers. It is hard for me to find a weakness with this chapter. I can see where many people might think that taking the time to teach the Doofus/Trickster/Smarty method is a weakness in the world of common core testing where there are no multiple choice questions, but I don’t think so. There will always be multiple choice tests out there, like the SAT, ACT, and college exams. I have always taught this skill to my students as the process of elimination. It is the same method, just without the funny names. I like the addition of the funny names and rewarding the students for identifying the answer choices as such. It definitely makes identifying the answers more fun. I think the methods in this chapter are effective even with computer testing. It is true that the students can’t highlight or underline on a computer test, but it’s not the highlighting and underlining that is most important. It is what we are teaching them with that skill that is important, which is to look back for keywords. If they are highlighting keywords all year, then when they are testing on the computer, their eyes are still searching for those keywords on the screen.

    Jackie Rabin

    1. Jackie,
      I agree, the focus is really the skill of looking for evidence (and keywords) when taking these tests, and this is a great technique to help them do so! Here are 25 certification points!

  31. I love the test prep strategies described in this chapter. Their number one strength is that they make test prep fun. I can not tell you how many times I have said to myself that there must be a more engaging way to do test prep. Leave it to WBT to have the answers! The game like format, along with catchy names like Doofus, Trickster, and Smarty are sure to grab and keep my students' attention.

    I also like the fact that test prep is ongoing. In the past I have often waited until a couple of weeks before testing to cram everything in that I felt my students would need to be ready for the "test". By the time the "test" actually arrived, my students were tested out. Ten minutes of practice is easy to fit into each day, and test prep burnout becomes a thing of the past. In addition to all of this, the easy to follow timeline that Coach B. has so kindly provided us with leaves no room for excuses.

    The biggest weakness that I could find is that so many of our tests are mainly short answer, as opposed to multiple choice. This eliminates the need for the labels Doofus, Trickster, and Smarty. However, the format of the Prove It game could still be used with short answer questions. You might just need to limit the number of short answer questions to one or two per day.

    The only other weakness that I could see is that strategies like "Double Underlining" would not be applicable on computer tests, which is all our district uses now. However, students could still be taught to find their proof and point to it on the screen.

    I tried out the Prove It game at the end of last year and loved it, as did my students. I can not wait until next year, when I can put all of the new WBT testing strategies in place that I have learned.

    1. Joyce,
      Nice analysis! Maybe your district will allow the students to highlight on the computer (in place of double underlining on paper). I'm glad to hear that these strategies will be so helpful in your classroom! Here are 25 certification points!

  32. Chapter 16: Improving State Test Scores with the Super Improvers Team
    The first strength of this plan, using the Super Improvers Team to improve state test scores, is that it’s fun! The plan turns a dry reasoning technique into a lively game by using words kids can relate to (doofus, trickster, smarty) and encourages students to participate because they are rewarded with stars for improvement.
    Another strength is that test prep is starting in the beginning of the school year opposed to just before testing time. The design of this plan does not have to stop at ten minutes of test prep practice per day. It can be implemented throughout the day when students are practicing what has been learned.
    This plan also increases over time. Just as students have mastered and earned stars for “Prove it! And Show Work”, the teacher will add “Doofus, Trickster, Smarty”. Now students have to step up by adding more to their responses before earning more stars. This process continues as time goes on by adding double underlining and then + headings.
    An additional strength is the identification of flippers, answer nows, and returners. By teaching students to label their questions with these three words will be beneficial in answering short response questions for common core testing.
    I see few weaknesses with this approach! However, in our district, paper testing is slowly going away. Fifth graders are already immersed in online, computer-based testing. In two years, all of third, fourth, and fifth graders will be strictly taking computer-based tests. Although, if these strategies are taught consistently, the students should be able to visualize the techniques when taking the test on a computer.

    Heidi Baird

    1. Heidi,
      I agree, if the strategies are taught well, they are transferrable to the online testing. Nice work! Here are 25 certification points!

  33. The “Doofus/trickster/smarty” description of multiple choice answers gest a big “oh yah” from me. I have discussed this concept with my students. But, this is a more fun way to do it. I have already started to develop some “Prove It” questions for the district mandated reading selections. Proving the answer slow students down and makes them think about the answer and reread when necessary. Giving evidence is an important aspect of the Smarter Balance Test. The drawback to this method is that it focuses on one type of question. But, as students became skilled at proving or disproving answers, they will become more skilled at evaluating other types of answers.
    I like how the Prove It practice spirals from easy to distinguish doofus / smarty answers to harder to discern trickster/smarty combinations. A disadvantage to this plan this that new students will struggle when they miss the earlier practices.
    Identifying key words, phrases, and numbers is a very important skill in any subject. It focuses thinking and helps with summarizing or problem solving. A disadvantage is that students can’t do a lot of writing in the textbooks. A way around this is to provide copied text, which is expensive. Some school limit the number of copies a teacher can make. I believe that students can highlight text on the Smart Balance Test.
    Adding headings to text aids that student in summarizing. I try to impress on my students that we read in content areas to learn. Being able to add hearings proves what has been learned.
    The whiteboard game is a fun way to practice content. It gives the teacher a quick, instant formative assessment without a pile of papers to assess. A drawback is that some students get very good at coping from other students. While this can be a learning experience anyway, it might not give the teacher a true picture of mastery.
    The Answer Now technique is one that needs to be taught early in the year. Students need to be able to decide if a question stands alone or if rereading is necessary. Some people might say that the time it takes to teach these skills take too much time away from content. But, once students have these critical thinking skills, learning other skills and content will go faster.
    The Multiplication grids give students the practice they need to master multiplication facts. I’m passing it on to the math teachers on my team. They might not want to take the time to implement.
    The Add, subtract, multiply, divide and First Step discussions will slow students down and make them think about their choices. Often students don’t do this. A draw back might be that students get off task or convince others of an incorrect operation.
    Key words has the same advantages and disadvantages of the other partner discussions.
    These new “to me” techniques have me excited about the upcoming year.
    Sheryl Larson

    1. Sheryl,
      I'm so glad you are excited to use these new critical thinking strategies! You mentioned new students may struggle with this so you might consider this a great opportunity to allow a "leader" in your class to implement a personal teach/okay time with that new student. Kids love to teach each other! There were a couple of tiny errors "Proving the answer slow students down" (slows), and "some students get very good at coping from other students" (copying). Nice work! Here are 20 certification points!

  34. There are many great strategies to help improve state test scores in this chapter. I love the tennis analogy. It would be completely ridiculous to expect someone to do well in a tennis game if they have never actually picked up a tennis ball. How do we expect our students to perform well in the game if they have never practiced? Our test scores can change with this fun and simple game.

    I love the Prove-It Strategy. I am constantly asking my students to show their work and to back up their answers with evidence. This strategy and game will help me to explicitly teach the types of answers I want them to provide. It will help me to also give feedback right away. I often use white boards but I do not require students to write out their answers. I think I should start. First of all, they love writing on the white boards. Second of all, they will get great practice writing answers with correct punctuation and content.

    One weakness to the Prove-It Strategy is that I do not give multiple-choice tests in my class and my students do not take state tests at the end of the year. I give mostly short answer tests in Math. I still think I can and should use this strategy in my classroom to help prepare my students for the PSSA’s (our state tests) when they are in Third Grade. The PSSA’s do include multiple-choice questions. So the more practice my students get the better prepared they will be.

    I also think the skills students are using during this game will help on all types of tests, not just multiple-choice tests. Students can learn to be critical of their own work. By identifying the Doofus, Trickster, and Smarty they are looking for specific qualities in a strong answer. Students can then look for those specific qualities in their own short answers on tests and in class discussions. I am so excited about the potential possibilities for student improvement.

    Since I do not give multiple-choice tests I was thinking of making a “Super Bowl” test to administer at the beginning and end of the year. This test will include Second Grade end-of-the-year material. This will be a great way to show improvement from the beginning to the end of the year and it will give students an opportunity to demonstrate the skills by using the strategies to answer the questions.

    I think the most difficult part of this strategy is trying to come up with quality questions that will be interesting and motivating for the students to answer. Hopefully I can work with my grade level team (I teach Second Grade) and perhaps some Third Grade teachers to come up with some challenging yet motivating questions. I can also change questions to match the topics I am teaching in each subject.

    Amber Hartzler
    2014 Intern

    1. Amber,
      I love that you are planning on collaborating with your team to create the challenging questions! Spread the WBT love! Here are 25 certification points!

  35. Since I am teaching kindergarten, I do not have to give high stakes test. However, I do have the responsibility of helping to lay the foundation for the exam preparation. I can begin using the “Because Clapper”, orally, to promote reasoning. I can also help them see the difference between a “weak because” and “strong because.”

    One advantage I see is focusing on improvement. This focus will be very helpful for our higher children. In Texas, part of our new accountability rating system is based on a student’s improvement. Last year we learned that our higher students, who had good scores, could actually hurt the school’s academic rating if they did not show improvement. Tying test taking practice to the SIT is a great idea. The higher performing students can work on showing their work and using the “Because Clapper” to prove that their answer is correct or that other answers are incorrect. Lower students know they are behind and many times feel like they will never catch up. Sometimes, they just quit trying because they think it is too hard. By focusing on individual improvement, each child can move up the SIT board. Seeing their improvement gives the lower students hope, encouragement and success.

    One other advantage is that test taking preparation starts at the beginning of the year. Practicing for the test is done for ten to twenty minutes each day. As a mother and a teacher, I hate when teachers “cram” for the test with their students. They take a month or two to emphasize the test and stop teaching. This puts undue stress on the teacher and the students. By taking a few minutes each day starting at the beginning of the year, stress is reduced and teaching can continue up to the day of the test.

    The only disadvantage I can see is it is crucial for the teacher to be consistent for the entire year. If not done daily, starting at the beginning of the year, the teacher may go back to “cram” mode. This is not fun or beneficial for students or teachers.

    Kim Kirkpatrick

    1. Kim,
      You pointed out some great reasons to incorporate the SIT with test preparation. I agree, the cramming for tests is miserable (and not very effective). Offering the quick daily reviews is very manageable when the SIT is involved! Here are 25 certification points and a 5 point bonus!

  36. Chapter 16 Improving Test Scores


    I agree with the statement of why so many students do not do well on state tests, ‘they don’t receive enough practice taking tests…’ (107) I live in Ontario, Canada, so our testing is probably different than the States. We have provincial testing in grade 3, 6, 9, and 10. For the last two years I have taught grade 3 – testing year! Although the grade 1 and 2 teachers were wonderfully, amazing teachers, they did not give tests – of any kind! I start out by giving short spelling test and proceed to other simple quizzes using multiple choice and short answer. This is all new for students and causes a lot of anxiety. Therefore, I find the suggestion that students ‘spend 20 minutes of class time daily, practicing…’ (107) to be the greatest strength of this plan. I like the DVR acronym and will share that with other staff. I also feel that starting the second week of school is a good strategy. The Prove It! + Show Work + Doofus/Trickster/Smarty will certainly make the process more engaging for the students. My class, last year, LOVED using the ‘because clapper’, so I see this as a strength to engagement with this plan. They love teaching each other. I am also in agreement with not waiting for the slowest student to finish, but what do you do about those few students? Will they not disengage if they are never waited for?

    Another strength is the double underlining. I have used hi-lighting, but the fact that the double underlining ensures the material being read at least twice is a benefit goes a step further. Setting up specific goals for SIT will be fun for the students.

    I feel all 6 of the suggestions on pages 112 and 113 will be advantageous for the students and I will employ them all.


    My students are very slow writers, so I do not think I would have them write ‘Doofus’ etc. I think I will have them so a sad face for ‘doofus’, a sticking tongue out face for ‘trickster’, and a smiley face for ‘smarty’. I feel that will increase participation. The ‘Doofus’ bank is a terrific idea to achieve immediate success.

    I am also concerned about the ‘Headings’. This would take most of my students about 30 – 45 minutes to write (no exaggeration – 8 of my students had scribing for last year’s test). I could start out by handing out a sheet with these headings, and they fill in the information and get some of the students to begin to do it themselves (a goal for SIT).

    Overall, this is another great WBT strategy. I cannot wait to try it out and see if test scores improve. It’s such a long wait……

    1. Bonnie,
      You highlighted some of the most important aspects of using these testing strategies! You also found some good modifications for your specific students to help them reach success! Here are 25 certification points!

  37. Chapter 16 Improving State Test Scores with the Super Improvers Team
    One massive strength of Whole Brain Teaching in many areas is the concept that if a student can verbalize a concept, he or she will do a better job in writing about it or choosing carefully from among multiple choice answers. This is the part of all the test taking strategies outlined in this chapter that I think would be most valuable for our school.
    Our state test includes multiple choice and open-ended questions. We are not allowed to see the multiple choice questions and answers when we get the scores back, but we can see the open-ended questions and answers that our students gave and compare those to the scores received.
    A strength of Prove It is that students must choose an answer and then give reasons why it is the correct answer and also explain why the other answers are incorrect. I think that often if you read and write silently you may miss mistakes, but if you speak them out loud you can hear if the answer makes sense or not and immediately correct your mistakes.. This should spill over into the open-ended items as well, because it should lead to a “habit of mind”. It should become automatic for students to carefully consider their answer and support it with evidence. The weakness lies in the word, “should”. Without teacher intent and follow-up, it may or may not carry over. I noticed that when I reread the last part I could hear myself reading it out loud in my head. Hopefully good students will hear the same voice in their heads when they are taking the state test.
    Therefore, teachers should intentionally include open-ended items in the test prep session and apply the same techniques, Prove It, Doofus, Trickster, Smarty, double underlining, show your work to open-ended constructed response type questions.
    Test prep should be a balance of both kinds of items with the emphasis on proving your answer.
    Carl Rust 300 cp

    1. Carl,
      Fantastic post! With a huge push in different varieties of question types and the depth of the answers students are expected to give, teachers will be well armed with this bag of Prove It Tricks. I have seen the positive outcome in my own students and I know any teacher that takes the time to use this strategy will see the same! Here are your 25 certification points and 5 bonus points!

  38. Chapter 16
    Using S.I.T. to Raise Test Scores

    If I had to list one strand that school districts across the country have in common, it would be that they constantly strive year after year to raise their state’s testing scores. Whether you teach in a grade that administers a high-stakes test or not, every grade and teacher plays a fundamental part in the performance of their school's students.
    I formerly taught in a grade that administered the L.E.A.P., Louisiana’s high-stakes test for fourth and eighth grades; however, I currently teach second grade in Louisiana. Students in the state of Louisiana do not begin taking standardized tests until the third grade. As most would agree, it would be unrealistic to expect to achieve advanced test scores without a strong foundation provided by teachers in grades K-2. Therefore, as mentioned above, all teachers play a vital role in the success of their school’s standardized test scores, whether they administer it or not.
    With that said, one of the strengths described in this chapter is that every teacher can allot time daily to practice test taking strategies. Techniques such as Prove It!, Prove It! + Show Work, Prove It! + Show Work + Doofus/Trickster/Smarty, or other test taking approaches would give students the practice and confidence needed to make logical decisions when given a test with a multiple choice format. Just imagine… if students were offered daily practice with test taking techniques such as these, even as early as kindergarten, by the time they were in third grade they would be prepared to blow a standardized test out of the water! #wow
    I struggled finding a “weakness” in this chapter. In my opinion, teaching students test taking techniques and preparing them all year for high stakes testing is rather flawless. However, I do feel that in addition to practicing techniques for multiple choice formats, students also need to be taught how to answer questions with a constructed response. By allowing time to practice writing constructed responses, students would most likely be more comfortable when expected to answer questions that require written expression. If students were provided weekly practice of speaking in complete sentences and using the Brainies in the younger grades, I can only imagine how exceptional their writing skills would be by the time they were in third grade.
    In conclusion, we cannot expect success on high stakes tests if we have not provided students the practice they need early on. S.I.T. could be an exceptional tool to use by establishing individual goals that students need to improve on. If your students are aware of a skill they need to improve on, they will most likely strive to meet that challenge... especially if earning a sticker on the Super Improver Wall happens to be an added bonus. The combination of the Super Improvers Team along with practicing test strategies all year long can definitely lead to a win/win situation for reaching advanced test scores.

    Kelly Avery
    2014 Intern

    1. Kelly,
      You hit the nail on the head....start with the little kiddos with these strategies and they will soar in the upper grades! Nice work! Here are 25 certification points!

  39. The main strength of this plan is improving those test scores. It also includes a few details that we require students to do anyway. They have to show their work in math and they have to prove their answers. I love the fact that they have to prove why the incorrect answers are incorrect. This definitely uses higher level thinking skills! Many times we just ask for a the correct answer but sometimes in order to find the correct answer you have to locate some of the incorrect answers to get you there. The act of underlining information will help to solidify these words in their minds. The 6 games that were included will certainly be helpful and make this daily practice fun and interesting! Not many negatives to include especially if those scores increase!

    1. Mitzi,
      Having the students prove the thinking behind their choices is a valuable skill to learn in every classroom! Here are 25 certification points!

  40. The system that is described for improving state standards has many wonderful aspects. It allows the class to practice test taking strategies from the beginning of the school year when there is no pressure to perform. My own girls both suffer from anxiety, and anything that can help alleviate the stress of test taking for them is crucial to their success. Practice makes proficient, and proficient students are confident students.
    Practical, visible techniques that are taught in WBT for test taking help ensure student success on state tests. It gives them ways that they can gain control of the material without feeling overwhelmed. Underlining, deciding if something is a Doofus, Trickery, or Smarty answer, and showing your work are things that even your weakest student can accomplish with practice. The prove it technique solidifies the students confidence in their answer and stops them from second guessing themselves.
    One weakness of this system would be the time factor. Many standardized tests are timed, and this system requires time consuming steps. This could hinder student performance because they are unable to finish in the time allotted.

    1. Melissa,
      I appreciate your statement that practice makes proficient, therefore confident students. You are right, this is a great tool to help alleviate some of the anxiety our students experience with all the testing they have to endure! Great job! Here are 25 certification points!

  41. S.I.T. has been especially helpful in that my test preparation has been met with much more eager minds than in previous years. Students have been taught to use various testing strategies throughout the year with the help of the Super Improvers Team. For example, students would determine the type of answer choices they have on various assessments: doofus, trickster, or smarty. They’d receive stars for improving on correctly identifying these throughout the year.

    The only weakness that I can see in using the S.I.T. during testing will be because I need to determine how to change my reward plan from last year (see below) to continue to be used during state testing this year as me move into testing solely on computers. I know it is going to be more challenging for me to see and keep track of whether or not they are using my strategies on the computer since they can’t easily annotate the text, and thus harder for me to implement on the days of testing.
    During testing week last year, I told my students that I would be looking for them to use specific strategies on the test that I’ve taught them during the year and would be making a note of it. The deal was that each time I saw someone use said strategy, I would record it and reward them with their total stars after testing was through for the day. Some days, the kids had a potential to earn 9 stars-*gasp* an unheard of amount- in one fell swoop! Not only did this help calm their nerves about the test and change their focus to something more fun and positive, but I have never seen so many students willingly and happily using my strategies during testing! For instance, I asked the students to be sure to look over the questions first before beginning to read the reading passages so they would have a more focused purpose for reading. Every… single… student… remembered to do this. I’ve never seen such a blindingly successful means for getting kids to remember to do important things during standardized testing- along with the unfathomable result of seeing them do it with knowing smiles and a sense of pride rather than with fear and anxiety! Those little black sharpie stars are my one-way ticket to Teacher Heaven during testing time!

    1. You have modified this in a perfect way to help with your computer based testing! That's what it is all about- meeting the varied needs of the kids and helping them pull it all together! Here are 25 certification points!

  42. Strengths: The first strength I notice in the plan for improving state test scores is the repetition and review of concepts being taught. Because the concepts being taught are reinforced throughout the year, students are better able to transition the learned information from short-term memory to long-term memory. The second strength of the plan is that students are encouraged to prove what they know and explain their thinking for why they chose a certain answer. This skill is often lacking for many students and as we move closer and closer to the first implementation of the new Common Core state testing, students need to be reaching those higher levels of thinking to be able to perform successfully. This plan definitely coincides with higher level thinking. The third strength of this plan is the ability for students to be able to gain strategies for answering multiple choice questions successfully. This is one area of testing that many students have difficulties. Multiple choice questions can be very tricky and uneasy to answer if you don’t have a strategy in place to help narrow down the choices to get to the right one. This plan offers students the ability to choose between Doofus, Tricker, and Smarty choices. The fourth strength is the fact that students have to show their work when answering questions. Work shown can be done when working on a math problem or when reading a language arts passage. Showing work when solving math problems or answering comprehension questions in reading provides evidence that what is being taught is then being learned and understood by students. Showing work also gives confirmation the student that the answer they choose is or is not correct based on the work shown. The fifth strength, but certainly not the last, is the ability for student to tie their improvements in test taking skills with the super improver team. It’s still individual growth, but it offers more growth to more students because every student has a chance to improve when practicing test taking skills. The plan is straightforward and moves pretty smoothly through the year. This will allow for students to make improvements all year long, not just for a few weeks when covering one concept.

    Weaknesses: One weakness that came to mind while reading this chapter is that it seems it can be difficult to meet the needs of every learner. The plan moves with the weeks of school and each step in the plan is designated to a certain number of weeks, very similar to grade-level curriculum. The weakness I see is that some students could get left behind from a lack of understanding a concept being taught, which can in turn prevent them from figuring out how to show their work or prove their answer because they don’t know what’s wrong in the first place. Here’s an example: I teach 5th grade and once we get past multiplication we move into new concepts that use multiplication as a foundation. If a student doesn’t understand multiplication in the beginning, they’re going to struggle with other concepts that need it as a foundation. When I work with my students who are struggling with multiplication and I ask them to show their work or explain to me why they got the answer they did, they have no idea what to tell me because they don’t know the true steps. But with almost every weakness, a strength can arise. Sometimes it takes a struggle to make a strength and that can be a positive to the weakness mentioned above.

    Ellen Vaught

    1. Ellen,
      Great analysis! You are right, you can usually take that weakness and use it to help your assessment and then better guide the student! Here are 25 certification points and a 5 point bonus!

  43. Utilizing the Super Improvers Team to improve test scores sounds like a very useful test preparation tool. A large part of testing is preparing students for the format. Unfortunately we have to help students understand the way tests work in order for them to be successful. The Prove It! method is important for students as they make selections. Do not select an answer that you can not prove is correct. I also think the doofus, trickster, and smarty is useful because multiple choice questions are designed to trick you. If we teach students how to identify the most logical answer, they will be able to immediately get rid of items that don’t fit at all. This improves their speed and thoughtful choice for each answer. Underlining important parts of questions and text is also useful because it allows students to dissect the text that starts out as confusing. As they underline the important pieces, the text begins to make sense and therefore they understand what the question is asking of them.

    The weakness of using Super Improvers Team to improve test scores is that it takes up precious class time. It is challenging to balance testing content and teaching content. In today’s educational world, testing a huge part of the daily grind. Teachers need to prove that their students are learning the content being taught. If you combine your Super Improvers Team with your weekly testing of current content, you can accomplish your test preparation as well as ensure students are learning the week’s content.

    1. Veronica,
      The Prove It method really does make a great difference because it causes the students to slow down and actually look at the material several times rather than zipping through it. I keep a Prove It sign up in my room to remind them to use the strategy on every assignment (especially close reading questions). Good job! Here are 25 certification points!

  44. I found this chapter interesting because our state and district are working to come up with a standardized test for all proficiency levels of all languages taught in public schools. It only makes sense that students are leveled according to proficiency rather than grade level or age. I have students from bilingual schools who are easily three levels above any eighth grader I have. I have always had the “show me” mentality maybe cause I am from Missouri originally and as far as I am concerned all assessments should be performanced based. Prove it! Our test is giving via electronic devices and requires students to listen, speak, write and read in the target language. I believe in preparing the students by practicing the same activity over and over so it feels natural and easy. My students are prepared for the assessment this year due to practice and proving it!

    1. Rebecca,
      I'm glad the Prove It strategy has been so successful for you! Here are 25 certification points.

  45. I believe that there are many strengths to this system and only one weakness to this plan. One strength of this plan is that it helps the students to really grasp how important state testing is. The state test identifies the strengths and weaknesses of a child and helps teachers see growth in scores or a decline in scores. When I tell my students that the ISTEP is coming up, they can’t really grasp the importance of it. They still think, even in 6th grade, that it is just a really long test that they have to take to see how well they are doing or what they need help in. All of this is true, except that they are forgetting how time-consuming this test is and how much preparation it takes to get them “test ready.” Using SIT with improving state test scores helps motivate students to take time to read through practice questions and work hard to prepare for the test.

    Another strength is that students do not become uninterested and bored with the endless practice that it takes to do well on the state test. I teach language arts and use Show Work, Doofus/Trickster/Smarty, Double Underlining, and Headings. All of these strategies are fun to use in the classroom and keep my students engaged! Also, all of this is happening while they are learning good test-taking skills! Show Work makes it so that my students have to show me how they answered a question. When I am having my students practice parts of speech, I may have a sentence written down and will have them identify and write the parts of speech. To “show their work,” I have them label the part of speech right above each individual word. In this case, they are showing me their work. For Doofus/Trickster/Smarty, I will have responses to literature and students will create their own answer key. They will give me two Doofus answers, one Trickster answer, and one Smarty answer. Each table of students will be given a different question that the other tables need to answer!
    Double Underlining has proven to be a highly used technique in my room. We read a lot on our iPads, so I have the students download a reading passage and open it in Notability. From there, the students can write on it, underline what they think is important, identify key ideas, and highlight words they are unfamiliar with. Students have to read a short passage twice and underline things twice so they really know it is an important idea.

    As hard as I read this chapter, I could only find one weakness. As I mentioned earlier, my students use their devices for everything. We are a one-to-one school and plan on taking our second round of state testing on the iPads. The one flaw o this plan is that is not really geared towards iPad and computer testing, but rather more towards pencil/paper tests.

    1. Hannah,
      Computer testing is a whole new ballgame for most of our kids, but luckily most of these testing skills will easily work for both types of tests. Even the practice of Smarty, Trickster, Doofus can help them make great gains (and slow down enough to gain more comprehension). Nice job! here are 25 certification points!

  46. There are many strengths described in this chapter about improving state tests scores. The first strength is using the Super Improvers Ladder to motivate students’ growth. The Super Improvers Program is already designed for individual accomplishments. I believe that test preparation also needs to be scaffolded because students are not beginning from the same starting line.

    The Prove It! activities and add-ons have several strengths for test preparation. First, Prove It! encourages students to show their work, justify answers, and classify those justifications as strong or weak using evidence. These are all excellent test prep strategies for the current trends in testing that require student justification and citation. The add-ons to Prove It! also provide students several crucial test taking strategies including rereading, underlining, double underlining, finding key words and phrases, etc. The use of Whole Brain techniques to teach and practice these techniques will keep students engaged and actively participating while improving their test taking strategies.

    One area of enhancement for improving test scores is the lack of integration of technology. Many of the high stakes tests are being administered electronically. It often the lack of practice in this mode of delivery that students will find challenging. Students need practice beyond paper/pencil and whiteboards in order to be able to excel in the electronic format. The transfer from one medium to other is not simple and students need plenty of practice in both.

    Megan Vescio Copeland
    Goldfarb Elementary School
    Las Vegas, NV

    1. Megan,
      Using Prove It and the add-ons can help each student feel more confident and prepared! I agree that integrating technology deserves a lot of practice in the area of testing strategies. You had one minor editing error " It often the lack of practice ". Here are 20 certification points!

  47. Favorite Strengths: 1) Daily practice of test related material yields better test taking. By practicing test taking procedures and receiving awards for improvement, the students want to continue attaining these skills. Daily practice is a great strength.
    2) Analyzing multiple choice questions with names such as Doofus, Trickster, and Smarty to label answers makes the questions fun to answer.
    3) You are still awarding super improver stars for doing well during this time.
    Weakness: I think the plan is full of strengths except I would not teach any underlining as stated on page 110, paragraph 2. If the state test says not to write in the book, I would not have them write at all.
    Regina-Champagne Babin

    1. Regina,
      Nice job,here are 25 certification points!

  48. Virginia has always been great for releasing test items to use in review and test preparation. For years, all teachers in testing grades have made good use of the materials provided by the state. For the past five years, our scores have been on the decline. There are many factors contributing to this trend. State learning objectives changed, testing methods changed, and poverty has played an ever increasing role in our students’ lives.

    The method for test prep described in Chapter 16 provides an extremely useful method for getting our students ready. Teachers in my building already practice with actual test items, but not in the interactive manner described and not on a daily basis. I feel that taking 10 minutes a day to really dissect the information in a test question will help students immensely when test time comes. Our students could dissect about 160 questions in each subject prior to testing time. I know this would have a positive impact on scores. The addition of labeling answers as “doofus”, “trickster”, and “smarty” adds an element of humor and game play that will appeal to students as well.

    I think my favorite part of the plan is explaining how/why each answer is right OR wrong. I truly believe that students do not own something until they can provide examples and non-examples and explain both. Forming habits for identifying important information (single & double underlining) is essential and what we strive to do. Making these skills part of the Super Improver Team will add the motivation students need to carry through with what they are being asked to do.

    In our situation, the only weakness I see is that we test completely online. We even have practice tests online, but there is no way to print any part of them out. Monitoring the application of these strategies in an actual testing situation could be difficult to manage and will require some thought and collaboration.

    Elisabeth Thompson

    1. Elisabeth,
      Great analysis! Will they let the students use the highlighter tool on the tests? That may help somewhat. Just practicing the skills daily will help them become better at looking deeper into the questions and looking for evidence before just quickly answering. Here are 25 certification points and a 5 point bonus!

  49. While teaching 5th grade, I had always practiced test taking procedures, but had never used the strategies described in this chapter. These techniques provide interactive opportunities to apply to testing.
    I was excited to see the emphasis on the time allotment for test practice limited to 20 minutes. I find that with the high stakes pressure of testing, many teachers spend 40-60 minutes or more on paper pencil test taking practice. Many times, there is no incentive or motivation for the students. Instead the students are burnt out and bored leading up to the test itself.
    Prove It + Show Work allows students to learn from one another. Using the sentence frames to encourage communication and reasoning supports the drive behind Common Core and provides practice with showing evidence in student responses. This allows time for me to circulate the room, conference with students and monitor student progress. I like the idea of changing the techniques so that test practice does not become monotonous.
    Most of all, it is important to maintain a stress free and encouraging classroom environment. With the focus on improvement and the strategies and games explained in this chapter, students will have opportunities to celebrate their achievements and perceive the test as a measure of personal success instead of a major obstacle. Using the SIT will help achieve this goal and keep students focused.
    Weaknesses of this plan are as a result of the more recent computerized tests. These limitations include the double underlining and headings strategies. Although the students may consciously make these adjustments, the children are not able to visually make the connections on paper.

    Bethann Barneman

    1. Bethann,
      You made a very important point - "With the focus on improvement and the strategies and games explained in this chapter, students will have opportunities to celebrate their achievements and perceive the test as a measure of personal success instead of a major obstacle." That is exactly what WBT is all about! Here are 25 certification points!

  50. Strengths:
    Using terms like “doofus,” “trickster,” and “smarty” create a fun atmosphere for discussing a topic that could be rather dull. I think there is such power in incorporating fun into lessons, which is what led me to Whole Brain Teaching in the first place. I like the idea of building up the test bank throughout the year, starting with every answer, except one, being a doofus answer. This would really give low and medium range children an opportunity to build some confidence test taking strategies. Also, having students prove their answer with the “Prove It!” method, really lends itself to giving text evidence. This strategy would be so useful when they begin to write out their text-based answer.

    Finding time in the chaotic and crazy life of third grade to do these strategies is difficult. Twenty minutes a day is a weakness of the plan, however, I see the great importance of teaching these strategies. I think I could blend these strategies in as I am teaching a whole group lesson. This would give me a way to assess my students on the skill that I am teaching. I would be using this time to benefit all of us.

    -Courtney Wood

    1. Courtney,
      You can blend these in with any lesson during the day. I like to have my students use these on homework, on morning work etc. The more practice the better! You are right, they do provide a fun atmosphere! Here are 25 certification points!

  51. SIT as a Tool for Improving State Test Scores

    I see SIT as a powerful tool in improving state test scores. Its ability to remove fear, infuse fun, and create confidence make it invaluable in preparing students for the spring tests. I also like how the program builds incrementally and helps to build endurance in students. The reward of stars can motivate students to work long and hard-especially in the spring. I personally like the use of sentence frames and whiteboards, both of which I am already comfortable using. I am excited to implement the Because Clapper, a fabulous kinesthetic response to train students to think of because as a key word in reasoning.

    Some could argue that spending 20 minutes per day in test preparation is too much time spent focusing on testing. It could be seen as placing undue emphasis on something that typically is stress-inducing. For me, those two concerns are easily put to rest when looking at the cost-benefit ratio. Finally, the only true potential weakness that I can see is the possibility that the concept of a “Doofus” answer could cause some students to feel discouraged on the state test if they are not able to identify which answer is totally wrong.

    Traci Katz

    1. Traci,
      You will love the "because clapper"! You will find yourself clapping when talking to adults (it is quite habit forming)! As students get older, there may not be as many "doofus" answers and it's ok to let them know that there may just be tricksters and smarties on some questions to help avoid discouragement. Here are 25 certification points!

  52. Whole brain teaching is a perfect fit in preparing students to take both state and grade level mandated tests. The Super Improvers Team provides an opportunity for students to take the test and then set a goal for improvement. We have a monthly test our TITILE reading students take, and setting a goal monthly with rewards on the S.IT. will be very motivating.
    All of our state mandated tests are taken on the computer. In math, students are allowed to use scratch paper. Even though the tests are computerized, I believe that the daily practice suggested will help students understand the type of answers they will see on these tests. I especially like having students practice explaining their answers using the word because. This helps them think through what answer is the best and why it should be chosen. Hopefully, this will help eliminate those students who randomly go through the test picking anything just to get it done.
    I like the Smarty/Doofus/Trickster strategy. Students will see this as a game and will like not “being tricked.” The progression of increasing the amount of trickster questions as the year goes on will challenge students as they become more familiar with test questioning.
    The only weakness of the plan in this chapter is the underlining and marking of important key words. I believe that could be practiced enough verbally that students could still use the strategy.

    1. Susan,
      Nice work! Here are 25 certification points!

  53. Improving scores on State Tests with the Super Improver Team
    • It is fun!
    • Continuous practice throughout the year
    • Step by step, week by week, it builds difficulty and provides necessary rehearsal
    • Teaches skills that will be useful throughout school
    • Can be used in real-life decisions also

    • May need to be adjusted based on delivery method of tests (computer vs. paper)
    • Students may need to adjust techniques “on the fly” if techniques taught are not able to be used during test
    • May be time consuming to prepare so many example

    Geni Ainge

    1. Geni,
      You are right, it is fun to use these strategies, and with all the testing, fun is important! Here are 25 certification points!

  54. Super Improvers climbing the ladder of practice test taking are given a firm foundation that is built upon gradually. They’re given time to practice and master each test taking strategy in a very concrete way, then encouraged to add more strategies by a carefully monitoring teacher. WBT takes the guesswork out of test taking and provides students with real strategies. Then it proves to them, with the student’s own practice, that the strategies work. Even if a student isn’t able to progress up the whole ladder, they still bring practiced strategies to the table instead of simply guessing their way through the test.

    A weakness of the ladder may be its emphasis on multiple-choice questions. Our achievement tests are primarily short-answer based and require students to write out their answers instead of choosing between the Doofus/Trickster/Smarty. I like that the ladder emphasizes proving their answers, and think that’s a great step toward writing excellent essays. However, the students need some guidance generating the actual answer that needs proven.

    1. Catherine,
      You made some great points! Here are 25 certification points!

  55. State tests have very little motivational power for children because the children gain no tangible benefit or reward from doing them and are often not even informed of their final score until several weeks later, if at all.

    “What if we rewarded kids for outstanding improvement while they were practising test taking procedures?” (Biffle, 2012)

    The strengths of using the ‘Prove It!’ technique when practising for tests are:

    1. Children work every day on the kinds of problems they will face in a state test. Repetition builds dendrites which results in children feeling much more confident with test layouts and understanding exactly what is expected of them during these exams.

    2. Critical thinking skills are improved as the class tells their neighbour, not only which of the multiple choice answers is right and which are wrong, but also WHY each answer is right or wrong. This builds a child’s confidence and allows a teacher to see which areas of the curriculum need to be revisited to improve comprehension.

    3. Pairing weaker and stronger students ensures that academically less able children are having questions and answers explained to them on a daily basis. This repetition is sometimes all that is needed to ensure less able students get that ‘light bulb’ moment of enlightenment.

    4. The Prove It! Technique is flexible because it can be used to practise answering both numeracy and literacy test questions. Students are encouraged to read through questions twice and to double underline key words or numbers. This allows a teacher to monitor progress and show examples of excellent underlining.

    5. Sparingly awarding stars on the Super Improvers Team for improvements in answers and comprehension will give students an instant reward for their efforts; something that is sorely lacking in normal test taking procedures.

    There is no immediately evident weakness to this method. It will take time to implement and it will require educators to build it in to their daily schedule. However, these are not weaknesses, only the harsh realities of helping our children improve their test taking capabilities.

    Quentin Dalrymple
    3/4th grade
    Perthsire, Scotland.

    1. Quentin,
      These strategies will help as we help the students build self confidence as they tackle these "exciting" tests! Here are 25 certification points!

  56. Prove it is a strength because showing the difference between a strong because and a weak because is important. So many of my first graders do not show a strong because. Modeling will help them differentiate. I can also see showing work being positive because it reminds them that showing their work needs to be neat. My first graders could use neatness in math to help keep them organized.

    Doofus, trickster, and smarty are very powerful. Before I read this book, I watched a video of this technique with math word problems. It has been amazing in my classroom. They are not discouraged by all the words and have been very successful with word problems because of this strategy.

    Double underlining will be beneficial for all of my students. My high readers tend to make silly mistakes while reading. This will help them make fewer mistakes. I love the idea of the answer now. I can’t wait to use it with my class.

    The negatives I see would be underlining everything, not being able to write on tests, and timed tests. They might give up or become frustrated. I could also turn these negatives into a positive. They may improve on how fast they finish because they have a consistent strategy they use. They may not be frustrated because they will understand the content better before the test even begins.
    Charisse Norton

    1. Charisse,
      You made some great points in how to turn the negatives into a positive! Here are 25 certification points!

  57. Nicole Desrosiers Weare, NH

    Having read the title of this chapter many times, I could never quite imagine how this could be done. I am a firm believer that repetition is needed in learning. When students have the opportunity to practice a skill over and over again they gain the knowledge and independence needed to perform with proficiency. The four strategies outlined in this chapter provide students with appropriate test taking practice and are great strengths within the realm of WBT. Not only are students working with multiple choice problems, but they are asked to practice using the “because” clapper to prove their answers. Having used the “because” clapper this year I know of the power it holds, even at the second grade level. Students are pushed to further their understanding more than merely stating “it is right because I know it”. Each strategy level builds on prior learning, allowing students to continuously dig deeper for correct answers.

    Yet another strength is the link to the Super Improvers Team. Having used this great teaching strategy this past year, I know that students will certainly work to reach higher than they have before. I also love the idea of the entire class earning a star when everyone has the correct answer. The only weakness I could possibly think of is that of time. While reading this amazing chapter I immediately began thinking of when and how I could implement this valuable routine into our second grade schedule. With so many new demands being placed on teachers each year, finding the time to implement a new routine seems daunting. Understanding the great importance of this practice routine, however, will help me to MAKE the time!

    1. Nicole,
      The Super Improvers Team is an element of WBT that is a complete game changer! The kids LOVE it and it is a wonderful way to celebrate each child individually! Here are 25 certification points!