Why We Need to Teach Leadership in Elementary School

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“The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.”

– John Buchan

Leadership is one of the hardest words to define. Is the President of the United States a leader? What about your local business people or librarian – are they leaders? Are you a leader?

When it comes down to it, leadership is part of everyone – your Mom, your dentist, your yoga instructor, your trash collector – and yes, even you can be a leader. Even if you were a follower.

Followers are waiting to be leaders.

They’re waiting for their time. But, why wait? A lot of leaders don’t make their mark until college – or even later. They spend the majority of their life following. And following doesn’t get you anywhere.

The problem is this: followers won’t know they are capable of leading unless someone puts them in a leadership position, teaches them how to get things done, and bring a team along with them.

Here’s why student leadership is so important:

(even for when you’re teaching your students “sharing is caring”)

1. Focus

Finding something to do is easy as a student – there’s homework in every class, hanging out with friends, practicing for a role in the play, etc. Student’s lives are chaos. Leadership skills help students focus on what’s important. They know what needs to happen to get everything done. Whether that means scheduling it out on a calendar or sacrifice (see #3), it’s going to help everyone if they’re focused.

2. Courage

You’re at the top of a wall, facing the opposite direction of your peers down below. One step backwards, and you’re falling into the arms of your classmates. That’s terrifying (so are spiders). Leadership gives students an extra dose of courage. And if you’re teaching a classroom of leaders, they’ll coach each other through the team exercise. Courage gives students the power to do anything. After all, the scariest thing for students to do is get something started. Be courageous. Start a movement.

3. Sacrifice

Leaders realize what needs to go to get the team (you know, the followers) to the finish line: sacrifice. I remember when I was on a particular team project. My team members could have cared less about the project (because they knew I was the leader). I stayed up all night to get the project done – and done well. That’s sacrifice. Teach you students early and you’ll see an instant bump in quality. Because to do well you have to do less.

4. Planning

Disorganization is not the name of the game for young leaders. Teach project management to a leader and they’ll put it into action by splitting up the project, delegating, and bringing everyone else full circle.

5. Execution

Related to planning, execution is what leaders do: They get things done. Crossing a task off their to-do list is amazing, Turning in a research paper? Even better? Walking out the door on the last day of class? The best. Students who live for execution of tasks have leadership potential because they are fantastic planners (see #4). They know what needs to be done. Wouldn’t it be great if your students always knew what needed to be done and, well, just did it? That’s leadership. Students helping students to complete the task.

6. Team

Speaking of help, another reason to teach leadership to your students is the team aspect. Ever since you teach them to add and subtract, they’ll be in teams. Whether it’s helping each other, or trying to figure out how to approach a problem, good team work comes from amazing leadership. And amazing leadership doesn’t always have to come from you. In fact, it’s more important if it comes from your students. Go team!

7. Impact

I even went to economics & leadership camp. Yep – I spent one week of my summer in Boulder, CO learning economics in the morning and leadership in the afternoon. I not only made life-long friends, but was able to walk away being deeply impacted by what I learned and experienced. Leadership is powerful. Leadership is life-changing. Be a part of that impact for your students.

Leadership, while important for self-development, is also crucial for others to see – “Yes, I can do the same thing Billy is doing. I’m just as capable”. No, it’s not competition. It’s simply survival. Leaders get ahead. Leaders get things done. And they do it selflessly.

To hit the point further home for you, I compiled a list of my favorite TED Talks on leadership – and why they’re important to watch with your students. If you want to develop your students into the leaders of tomorrow, they may have to learn far beyond the textbook. Enjoy 🙂

The Best TED Talks on Leadership:

TED Talks are a great way to supplement your curriculum. And they cover pretty much any subject. The following three talks are some of my favorites when it comes to leadership and inspiring action in your students. Oh, and don’t worry – they are all PG – safe for any age.

1. Drew Dudley

There’s a reason this talk is number one – it’s my favorite. I watched this at the recommendation of a college friend who works in higher education (plus it’s a story about what happened at course registration in college). Have you had a lollipop moment? I highly recommend sharing this video with your students.

2. Simon Sinek

This is a fabulous talk on the importance of leadership in the workplace. Ideal for high school or college-aged kids, Sinek talks about the power of starting with why people do things – not how or what or who – but why.

 3. Amy Cuddy

After you watch this talk, you ‘ll never cross your arms during a conversation again. While not directly about leadership, Dr. Cuddy explains how your body, while in power position, can make an incredible different on you – and those around you.

With a list of reasons and great videos in hand, you’re left with one simple question:

How do you turn your students into leaders?

It’s quite simple actually. (Ok, nothing is really that simple). Here’s my 5-step process to take your students from lazy to leader (and it helps you in the process!).

 Step 1: Identify students to turn into leaders (TEAM).

Start with a small group to see if this works. If it does, roll it out to the whole class. There’s no use in getting the whole class involved unless they want to be involved.

Step 2:  Get feedback on your class – What’s working? What isn’t? (PLAN)

This could be risky, but hopefully you’ve created an open dialog with your students to be able to say what’s going on – and what simply isn’t working.

Step 3: Narrow down what you and your students would like to change (FOCUS)

You can’t tackle 10 changes at once. Work with a focused list of three to make class time with your students even better.

Step 4: Start with one change and see how it goes (EXECUTION)

Pick one thing to change in your classroom for the week – or two weeks if you’re on a rotating schedule. This helps your small group plan how they’re going to make the biggest impact. Speaking of impact….

Step 5: See how it went with your small group and the rest of the class (IMPACT)

Get feedback from your small team and the rest of the class to see if they change in your classroom made a difference – if there was any true impact.

See what I did there? I’m walking you through leadership in the classroom (while getting you valuable feedback on how your class is going). Cool, huh?

In the end, leadership can be taught. It needs to be taught early so that your students have the impact you want them to have and they want to make. With a couple classroom lessons and several opportunities to put what they’ve learned into action, you’ll be teaching a bunch of little leaders in no time.

What do you think? Should leadership be taught at such an early age? Or, is it important to have leaders and followers? Let me know in the comments below.


And, if you enjoyed this resource, check out QuizBean – it’s a fun tool to help you build those leadership quizzes 🙂



True/False and Multiple Correct Questions Now Available

True/False and Multiple Correct Now Available
It’s official! QuizBean now has four question types available to you to build your next quiz online. Here’s what we’re up to:

Plus, we took it one step further….When you build a quiz, you can mix question types. That means Question 1 can be true/false. Question 2 can be multiple choice and Question 3 can be multiple correct.

So, what are you waiting for? Start your next quiz!


I Dare You To Not Use An Infographic In Your Next Lesson Plan

Infographics are a cliche in 2014. But for good reason.

The power of the infographic is undeniable. Creating a visual representation of real-life data or information is a powerful way to connect to your audience. Especially if your audience is a classroom full of students. As the school day goes on your students get antsy. They start to mentally drift in and out of your lessons. It’s a real battle to keep their attention.

For example, imagine you’re a student. It’s 2:15p.m. You have 50 minutes until the end of the school day. Oh, and it’s Friday. The last thing you want to do is listen to a lesson about biology. You have more important things to think about, right? So what lesson are you more likely to engage with?

This lecture:

The typical definition-explanation lecture.

Or this lecture:

infographics for teachings

A visual-engaging lecture.

Both lectures serve the purpose of teaching your students about biology.

The difference is the level of engagement. With a more visually oriented lesson your more likely to win the attention of your students. And that’s the point. Building authentic engagement. The more time a student spends engaged during lessons, the more they learn (Gettinger & Ball, 2007). Visualizations of subject matter give your student direct impressions and immediate access to the lesson. Unlike the typical chalkboard counter example, which can seem distant and passive.

The key point is infographics are a supplemental solution to increasing student engagement in your lesson plans. Especially on Friday 😛

Where do you find infographics for your classroom? Let me show you.

How to Search for Infographics

1. Google Search

Do a few Google searches to find relevant infographics for the subjects you teach. An easy way to go about this is to do the following search:

Now look through the Google results. Skimming the images results is super helpful too.

There’s 8,190,000 results for this query. You should find plenty of useful infographics.

2. Look through Pinterest

Pinterest is an amazing resource for image-based ideas. Just go over to Pinterest and start searching relevant subjects.

Look at all the results!

3. Visual.ly

Visual.ly is the web’s best directory for infographics. It’s a great resource for finding awesome infographics.

keep in mind you don’t have to add “infographic” after your subject. Just search your subject.

Again, a lot of useful results!

It’s that easy.

In less than 10 minutes you’ll have an awesome way to take your lesson plan to the next level. Build authentic engagement. And have your students undivided attention. I dare you to not use an infographic in your next lesson plan.

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Are you ready to supercharge your productivity? Try Quizbean today.

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17 Ways to Not Make Friends With Your Principal [GIF]

The Principal runs the show (even though it could be argued the front office runs the show). Anyway, you’ve got to get on his/her good side. Otherwise, you might get the ax. And you don’t want to get the ax, do you?

It takes a delicate soul to get on the good side of the principal. After, they’re dealing with all kinds of craziness from 6am – 4pm when they (maybe) get to go home to their family.

So, how do you make friends with your principal?

Well, it’s more about what NOT to do. Scroll through the list below for a good laugh. And if you love it, feel free to share it with your teacher friends (just not your principal :p)

How to NOT make friends with your principal:

1. Never leave a project incomplete


2. Don’t throw paper all over the office

3. Don’t talk on your cell phone IN a meeting

4. Watch what you say and where you say it. Pizza places are notorious for principal’s.

5. Stop being confident

6. Don’t go all face-desk on them, either.

7. Make sure your lesson plan isn’t “school-friendly”

8. Call every student’s parents

9. Get caught not grading papers

10. Your principal should not have to say this to you

11. Never volunteer for anything

12. Like coaching sports

13. Or getting your students to sell wrapping paper and chocolate for a field trip

But the chocolate part would be fun…

14. Not being a big fan of your co-workers

15. Complain about your salary

Even though it really isn’t high enough. Seriously.

16. Have a ridiculous melt-down in the hallway

17. Leave students outside in the winter during recess

Are we spot on or what?

 


Introducing QuizBank: Made by Teachers Just Like You

With over 3,000 users, there are tons of quizzes on QuizBean. From neurons (which I failed miserably), to history, and geography – you guys have created a quiz about everything.

Until now, those quizzes have been kept in your own QuizBean account. They’ve been a secret from the thousands of other teachers who teach the same subject.

That’s why we adopted the motto we all learned in kindergarten: Sharing is Caring.

Introducing the QuizBank from QuizBean (and no, it’s not full of money)

…..it’s full of quizzes! Read on:

The QuizBank is rich with quizzes for any subject – math, history, Spanish, French, science, social studies, and plenty more. Here’s a pretty screenshot:

Ready-to-go quizzes made by teachers

Looking for a quiz to add to your arsenal? Try a quiz from the Quiz Bank. It includes quizzes made by teachers just like you.

Let’s do a quick walk-through of the quiz-bank:

1. Share & add your quizzes

Simply go to any of your quiz detail pages and select “Share in the QuizBank”. The link is highlighted in the picture below. Only add the quizzes you want to add. You can always remove them later!

Share your quiz in the QuizBean QuizBank

2. Search the bank to find the perfect quiz

Want to find a history quiz that’s for remembering what happened in 1742 (hmm…)? You can do that with QuizBean’s search feature. And if you find a science teacher in New Mexico who makes great biology quizzes, you’ll be able to find all of their quizzes in one place. Take that, Google!

3. Discover the number of downloads

If you’re sharing your quizzes in the QuizBank, don’t you want to know how many times your quiz has been downloaded? You can within your account dashboard. We’ll tell you how many times it’s been downloaded. Plus, if you might even make it on the most-shared quizzes page, too. That’s like the equivalent to adult gold stars.

How awesome can the QuizBank get?

That’s up to you!We’re always look for more QuizBean champions to add their quizzes to the QuizBank. To kick off the QuizBank, our team will be adding enough Common Core quizzes to sink a ship (Here’s 10 common core quizzes to get you started).

Want to add your quizzes to the QuizBank. Here’s the link to login. Or, if you’re a newbie, we highly suggest you sign up for QuizBean – that link is here. And it’s freeeeee. Like buy one get one free. Except you don’t have to buy one.

Have a good one! 🙂

The QuizBean team


8 Tips to Make Your Online Class Successful

Make Your Online Class Successful

It seems like you can learn anything online these days. From knitting, to coding, cake decorating, to building a tiny home – literally anything!

Online courses have become one of the best ways to get content to the masses.

You don’t have to be in a classroom. You can do your homework whenever – and where-ever. And you can meet and discuss class topics in a civilized manner.

But you can make your online class even more awesome with the tips below:

1. Good title and description

Want students to take your class? It all starts with the title and description. They are the first things your prospective students read to see if they are even the least bit interested in taking your class. And don’t forget to focus on benefits. What will your students get out your class? What will they leave with? Make sure those benefits are in your description.

2. Amazing audio and video

Some online courses don’t have any additional media, but if you’ve got videos or podcasts, make sure your audio is amazing. Bad audio is just horrible. Make it seem like your students are right there with you

3. Varied “classroom” activities with mixed media

mixed media

Online courses shouldn’t involve an incredible amount of reading. Technology provides for awesome ways to connect with your students – like blogs, YouTube videos, Slideshare presentations, TED talks, etc. It keeps students on their toes, and provides for a great motivator when they know they won’t have to read “just another textbook”.

4. One-on-one attention

Can you give your students one-on-one attention after class? If so, it’ll dramatically improve their experience with your online class. Why? Because people love personalized help – especially when they don’t understand the subject matter. Still hold office hours – like you would in a college class.

5. Team collaboration

Everyone secretly hates team projects because one person always ends up doing 80% of the work (I was that kid in school). But, with the internet, team projects have changed. Now, you can see if people have viewed Google Docs, edit work live, and even hold meetings face-to-face without getting out of your pajamas.

6. Legitimate student assessment

From online quizzes to media projects or team final exams, there are a lot of ways to quickly assess your students learning from your online course. When it’s not just pages and pages of multiple choice bubbles, it stays interesting. Keep it real and honest when it comes to student assessment.

7. Easy-to-Use Tools

Can you create tools to help your students learn concepts quicker? Maybe calculators? Resource sections on a blog? What about other class-specific tools. And pro tip: Give them away for free. Don’t make students pay. They already pay enough for the course and the paper weights…..err….textbooks.

8. Get feedback

Get feedback from students

If you’ve completed an online course already, what feedback did you get? Did you get feedback? Feedback from your past students helps you improve your teaching style, your course outlines, and content. Plus, even how you get feedback. Maybe it makes sense to get feedback half way through instead of just at the end. After all, when they class is done, you can’t really make changes….

Have you taught on online class? What tips do you have to share?


10 of the Worst School Cafeteria Lunches

Frozen peas. Nasty chicken. White bread.

School lunches have come a far way in recent years. There’s tons of support for local farmers, no-preservative foods, and even incorporation of home-cooked recipes.

But there are still cafeteria lunches that should simply not be ingested. We scoured the internet to find 15 of the worst. And beware: you may not want to eat lunch after this 🙂

1. They call this “chicken”

2. Where are the green veggies?

3. Love the fishwich

4. This needs no words

5. F for French Fries or F for Fail?

6. At least there’s sprinkles

7. These look familiar?

8. I know….it’s depressing

9. What is wrong with that banana?

10. Oh, look! Nachos for lunch!

 

Are you finished? Seriously – those are some nasty school lunches. I kind of can’t believe that’s being served somewhere. What do you guys have for lunch at school? Do you ever get hot lunch or are you a lunchbox kid? Let me know in the comments below!


7 Traits You Need to be the Best Teacher Ever

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I’ve had some amazing teachers over the years. From my kindergarten teacher who taught us basic French, to my 7th grade social studies teacher who not only taught me about the world, but how to shoot a basketball. And then there was my 12th grade human biology professor who helped me appreciate science more than anyone ever has. Plus, I’ve had countless great college professors — too many to list here.

It takes a lot to be a great teacher. While some teachers skate by until the next mandatory vacation rolls around, others pour their heart and soul into teaching.

It’s challenging to do the later.

For this week’s post, I wanted to think about what it takes to be an amazing teacher. What sets other teacher’s apart? Why were some of my teachers amazing and others not-so-much?

During my research I came across BuzzFeed’s 23 Defining Traits of Your Favorite Teacher – it was a humorous page to start my research with. As I progressed through other blogs, I accumulated a large list. Then, I narrowed it down to what I think are the 7 traits you need to be the best teacher ever.

Here’s what it really takes:

1. Empathy

You have to understand what your students are going through. The pressures of life are amounting to greater than they ever were. And you can’t just brush it off. Teachers are becoming coaches, counselors, and support for students who need that role in their life. Being a teacher is more than imparting knowledge. It’s about making a difference beyond the textbook, too.

2. Listening Skills

Having been in the workforce for a few years now, I appreciate people who listen. People who take the time to internalize what you’re saying and not ready their response only to say something that isn’t beneficial. Listening is more powerful than speaking in my opinion. And the teachers I’ve had were great at this.

3. Creativity

I had a freshman geometry teacher lay on her desk and fall on the floor just to demonstrate the concept of slope. Awesome. And don’t even get me started on what my human biology teacher would do….Anyway, creativity is the crux of keeping students engaged. If you can make any topic interesting, I guarantee it’ll keep your students 1. awake and 2. participating in class.

4. Organization

It drove me nuts when my teachers were not prepared for class. You told me to read a certain chapter and be prepared to discuss it. You should be ready, too. Stay organized. Keep your desk clean.  Make sure you know what you’re going to talk about for that class – and maybe even the next class. An organized lesson plan is your key to success in the classroom.

5. Sense of Humor

I’ve had my good share of funny teachers. And I can remember when I laughed, class flew by. It was interesting. It kept me on my toes, and I was engaged. I wasn’t on Facebook checking out what my friends had for lunch. I was learning – and laughing. Great combination if you ask me.

6. High standards

All of the amazing teachers I’ve had have pushed my limits. They’ve been challenging, demanding (ok, maybe not my kindergarten teacher), and they’ve expected nothing less than perfection. But they also provided the tools and resourced to help their students succeed. High standards is something you learn. Learning is done in school. Therefor, it’s one of your main jobs to instill high standards in your students. Other teachers will thank you.

7. Team Player

You have to work with other teachers. It’s just part of your job description. Whether you’re planning to team-teach, coordinate lesson plans, or even help a young teacher become better, you’re all on the same team. Great teachers are the coach of this team. They motivate, encourage, and support.

Of course, this list is up for debate. I’d like to open it up to your comments. What traits did your favorite teachers have and what do you believe teachers need to be the best teacher ever? Fire away in the comments below.


The Pros & Cons of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

byod

Schools are now allowing students to bring their devices – read: technology – into the classroom. From smartphones to ipads, laptops to smart watches, it’s almost impossible to

Pros of BYOD

1. Learn quicker

I hand-wrote (and sometimes re-wrote) my notes from every class in a color-coded notebook system (OK – type A here). With laptops and tablets, students are able to get information down faster. Plus, they’re able to read it when they go back to study before an exam. Don’t let technology get in the way of better, more efficient learning.

2. Apply technology to real life

Technology gets used everywhere – on fieldtrips, in the classroom, and even for sports. And with students having their phones practically glued to their face, you might as well put it to good use, right? With BYOD, students are able to learn how technology helps them be more productive, conduct research, and communicate in a professional manner.

3. Help teachers better use technology

As I write this post, I’m imagining some of my elementary and middle school teachers using technology like smartphones and iPads to facilitate lessons plans. I just can’t see it happening. But, with a BYOD policy, it may help them better use technology to enhance what they’re teaching. And, that’s an added benefit. Not only do students get to use their own device, but teachers get to learn more about them (and impress their spouse at the dinner table :p).

4. There are apps for everything

Have you seen the apps available in the Apple Store or Google Play? It’s in the millions. That tells me that if you’re looking to do something on a phone or tablet, you’ve got endless options. There are drawing apps, math apps, quiz apps, and even apps to help keep attendance.

5. Happier students

When I was at a high school entrepreneurship talk a few weeks back, I sat at a table with junior and senior business students who could not let go of their cell phones (thankfully, they paid attention to my talk). Technology is woven into today’s modern student (do I have to show you the baby playing with an iPad again?). They’re simply comfortable with it. And when they’re in a comfortable environment, they’re happy.

The Pros & Cons of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) from quizbean

Cons of BYOD

1. Student distraction

Students almost always text during class. Regardless of whether or not it’s useful texting (unlikely), it’s a distraction. And students won’t pay attention to you. I mean, sometimes the phone is more interesting than the teacher. But, with distraction comes less learning. If you’re going to adopt a BYOD program, make sure you set limits with your students.

2. Access to devices

Not everyone has a smartphone. Some have tablets – others have laptops. . You may not have a computer lab, either. The bottom line – access is a battle. Using technology means your students all have to have access to it or it becomes useless. Make sure there’s a way that every student has access to the right devices at the right time.

3. Cost of technology

Along with access, you’re looking at a hefty upfront cost. And I know many schools don’t have a penny to spend, but if you adopt a BYOD policy, students bring their own device. Then, however, you run into students who may have some financial hardship which could make them the only student without technology in the classroom.

4. Classroom usefulness

There are some classes where BYOD simply would not work for the curriculum – at least not all the time. A lot of math classes are still taught on whiteboards/chalkboards, and some English literature classes still go right from the book (see #3 for cost). So, BYOD is classroom dependent but I’m sure you’ll be able to find a use for your classroom – even if it isn’t every class.

What do you think? Is it smart for teachers to let students bring their own devices to class? Let me know in the comments below.


7 Test Prep Strategies to Utilize in Your Classroom

7 test prep strategies

It’s test day.

The classroom is quiet and your students look more tired than usual. Some of them are doing a last-minute study review, others look around the classroom anxiously. You wonder how many of them stayed up all night binge studying? Or didn’t study at all.

I’ll tell you firsthand, being unprepared or exhausted on test day is a bad feeling. It leads to poor performance on tests (just ask my chemistry teacher) and negatively affects students’ ability to recall important information.

Preparing for a test does not have to be overwhelming or intimidating. It just takes a small effort on your students’ part. Here are 7 test-prep strategies to utilize in your classroom to help your students beat common test-day frustrations.

7 Test Prep Strategies to Utilize in Your Classroom

1. Get organized

Preparing for a test does not start on the day before the exam. It starts on the first day of class. Make sure your students have a class folder to keep assignments organized. Also remind students to date and title each day’s class notes. That way it’s easy to find and highlight the material they need to study for the test.

2. Make a Study Schedule

Make review sessions of the week’s material a priority (and we don’t just mean another homework assignment). Put the upcoming test on the student’s radar and it discourages binge studying.

3. Study in Groups

You know the saying, “Strength in numbers.” Well, that applies to studying, too. During the first week of class, plan a number of social lesson plans that let students get acquainted with each other. Encourage students to find a group and exchange email or phone numbers to help kickstart the process.

4. Make student feedback easy

You’re not a robot and neither are your students. You know what I mean. You’re in front of the class teaching and all you see is a classroom of blank faces staring back at you. You have no idea if the lesson is sinking in or not. That’s why its important to have an easy method for student feedback. What’s making sense? What’s not. Here’s one teacher’s take on the matter: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/2251868537847040/

5. Flashcards

Yes, I said it, flashcards. There’s a reason flashcards have not fallen out of fashion. They work. Flashcards promote active recall of information and they provide students with a quick way to assess their knowledge of the material. Have each student make a list of all the unfamiliar terms and concepts they’re struggling with in class and then have them make flashcards. Just remember to tell them to randomize the card order after a few run throughs to keep it fresh.

6. Active Homework

Keep your students on their toes by coming up with different styles of homework. Doing the same homework task over and over again for each chapter is boring. Not to mention your students begin to feel like robots by the middle of the school year. For example, if you teach English, you usually have students read a chapter in a novel then do a short journal about it, right? Next time, have them storyboard their favorite part of the chapter. Your students will thank you.

7. Post-test Review

 I know, I know. This article is about test-prep. But a lot of teachers forget how crucial and helpful it is to go over the test after it’s graded.This type of review is not just going over the correct answers to the questions. Its about engaging the material covered in the test in a thoughtful, meaningful way that addresses concepts students struggled with. A post-test review keeps students engaged and gives them one more chance to fully comprehend the material.

See? There are a lot of strategic ways to get your students to prepare for tests both in and outside the classroom. Do you have a creative, engaging way to prepare students for test day? Let us know in the comments below!