Here are some great ways to introduce the “Test LadyTM“:

Cathy Strawer, Colleen Hostetler, and Jenni Kramer are fourth grade teachers at Topeka Elementary. Here’s what they did — “We had our own ISTEP Lady come and review key prompt writing skills with the kids. She dressed wildly, with a hat, sequins, and fishnet stockings! The kids thought she was a HOOT!”

Wanting to both introduce the ISTEP Lady concept and give students a writing prompt experience, Cathy Falk and John Chowning from Levan Scott Academy (Ft. Wayne, IN) merged the two ideas. They devised the following writing prompt: Your principal has told you about a special person, the ISTEP Lady, who will be grading ISTEP Test #3. Write a story about her. Describe the ISTEP Lady. Is she tough or nice? Where does she work? Be sure to tell what the ISTEP Lady will be looking for in each student’s writing.

South Adams Middle School teacher Melissa Beitler initially discussed the role of the ISTEP scorer and the 6-Trait skills that would be expected of a sixth grade writer. Then, she had students write a specific description of the ISTEP scorer they imagined in their own minds. (Paragraph 1: appearance, personality, family; Paragraph 2: likes/dislikes; Paragraph 3: writing expectations). The final piece to the activity included students drawing the face of the ISTEP scorer onto a paper plate. Check out some of the Paper Plate Portraits and two student-written descriptions.

Great Teacher Comments:

Austin Theobald, 3rd grade teacher at Loper Elementary School, introduced his students to the Test Lady. They call her Dorothy Bridgeford. Austin asked his students to create paper plate portraits of Dorothy. He was more than pleased with the results. One child used macaroni and tortilla chips. Another student borrowed his mom’s make-up! Now the portraits are hanging above the chalkboard in his classroom…waiting. Thanks, Austin, for sharing how you’re getting your students ready to write for the test!

Paper Plate Portraits of the Test Lady

Test Lady Door Decor–from Jenny Gibson, Resource Room Teacher

I turned my door into the Test Lady! She is larger than life with white hair, a pretty dress, a watch (since ISTEP is timed), and she is wearing a name tag that says, “Hello! My name is…Test LADY” She is sweet looking, but she is holding the “ISTEP Scoring Guide” in her hands.

In the past, I have had students draw their own pics of the Test Lady. This year, I thought I would show them my idea of what “she” looks like. I can now refer to her in writing lessons, reading lessons, and math lessons and say that we can ask her questions now, but when ISTEP gets here, we won’t be able to explain ourselves to her. I told them that after ISTEP, she will be leaving in order to grade their tests. We have to make sure we give “her” all the info needed in our ISTEP booklets. It is a great way to have students add detail to their writing–and show all work in math!

We talk about her all year, but it is nice to have a visual reference!

Test Lady Door Decor

Test Lady in 2nd Grade–from Kate Walker, teacher at Cedarville Elementary (New Haven, IN)

I have never heard you speak before Saturday but have been implementing the 6 traits since I started my teaching career. It was nice to see your energy and passion for writing. It made me excited to come to my classroom on Monday and share with my students all that you taught me at the conference.

One new idea that I had came from the Test Lady story you shared. I am in 2nd grade so I don’t have “that lady” yet. (NOTE: ISTEP in Indiana doesn’t begin until third grade.) So often I feel the kids get bored writing to me and to each other. So I thought I could put a twist on the Lady. For homework, each child rummaged through magazines, newspapers, etc. to find 2-3 pictures of people–anyone, old, young, etc. They will cut those out, go through the telephone book and name them. We will have a classroom binder of pictures of people that we will write to regularly. When we need a new audience, I will go through, pick a person, hang the picture on the chalkboard, and there’s the audience for the day. I’m giving them practice with the idea of writing to a person they don’t really know and have never met–just like kids have to do on ISTEP. That’s just one idea I had from Saturday’s conference. Thank you for all of the others!

Test-Lady T-Shirts–from Kelsey Clark (and colleagues), Oak Trace Elementary (Westfield, IN)

We REALLY talked up the Test Lady this fall before testing and just had a BALL doing so! The kids asked us question after question about whether or not we had met her, what she really looked like, why she is SO mean and picky, etc. The week of ISTEP can be so excruciating, and we wanted to liven the kids back up towards the end of the week. They had already drawn their pictures of the Test Lady, so we decided to draw our version on T-shirts and wear them to school. The kids LOVED it!!! One student saw our shirts and immediately said, “I KNEW she had glasses!” Ha! Ha!

Test Lady T-Shirts

The Test Lady was just such a fun thing for our kids, and we wanted to thank you for the idea! We were BLOWN away by how they actually remembered to “trick” the Test Lady on the test!

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