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Ahoy! MEAP Tests Attacked by Fourth-grade Pirates

Pirates stormed Page Elementary in September. Dressed in eye patches, bandanas and pirate shirts, they roamed the halls on a mission for for a different kind of treasure than jewels and money. The merry band was preparing to attack the MEAP tests.

“As we prepare for the MEAP, I was hoping strategies would ‘stick’ if the students had a more enticing way to remember how to answer questions,” said fourth-grade teacher Sarah Keizer. “We have done all sorts of MEAPMichael Gelmi, principal at Page Elementary in Caledonia, joined in Talk Like a Pirate Day with student Gianni Perra review in the past, but nothing consistent every year. I think this pirate theme has simply made reviewing more fun for students.”

The entire school was allowed to dress up on Talk Like a Pirate Day Sept. 19 to kick off the project, then Keizer kept the pirate theme going with Page Elementary student Adrianna Beard shows off her pirate costumeher class for MEAP review.

“We’ve been able to make MEAP review fun,” she said

The Michigan Educational Assessment Program test dates this year for students in third- to ninth-grade in public schools are Oct. 8-16.The tests determine whether students are meeting state grade-level expectations.

Keizer discovered the idea in a magazine and brainstormed ways to use it in her classroom. She kept to her normal lesson plans, but gave each concept a pirate twist.

The word “pirate” is being used an acronym for test-taking strategies so students know how to answer MEAP-like questions, Keizer said. What the letters stand for are: P – Prepare to Succeed, I – Inspect the Directions, R – Read, remember, reduce, A – Answer or abandon, T – Turn Back, E – Estimate and S – Survey.Getting into the pirate spirit are (left to right) Lily Foy, Broklynne Shy and Ainsley Oliver

Lessons include learning about story leads that “hook” the reader; testing comprehension with a story called “Ships, Ahoy” and figuring out math with handmade treasure chests. Students will have to redraw a section of the U.S. and turn it into a treasure map with a list of clues and a classmate will try to find the buried treasure.

“I am wacky when it comes to creative fun days with kids,” Keizer wrote in a note explaining the idea to fellow teachers. “You can laugh at me … I can handle it!

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Linda Odette
Linda Odette
Linda Odette is a freelance writer and editor with more than 30 years of experience in journalism. She’s worked primarily as an editor in feature departments at newspapers in West Michigan, including the Grand Rapids Press, the Muskegon Chronicle and the Holland Sentinel. She lives in East Grand Rapids near the Eastown edge, has a teenage son and a daughter in college. Read Linda's full bio or email Linda.

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