A while ago, I reviewed two books by a local author, Shannon Fitzgerald (Halloween Night and Thanksgiving Weekend).
She has now provided me with a third book, perhaps her best, different in scope, intended audience and artwork from her first two, but great for teachers in late elementary school on up to middle school.
The title is Test Day, Team Player.
The setting of this story is a regular education classroom before the End-of-Grade testing begins. Some of the students are experiencing anxiety, and the teacher in the book leads a group effort to conquer their fears. In this case, the group plan was to wear a class color (all the students wore blue shirts) while the teacher nurtured a group mindset of support for one another while they individually tried their best on the tests. The author is a former classroom teacher who successfully used this method to help her students get through this annual event. Stakes are high in NC and sadly kids feel it.
One reviewer on Amazon wrote: "End of year testing causes real anxiety for young children, and this book tackles it head on. Rarely does one see the words testing and teamwork together, but the combination works. This book finds a positive message in overcoming challenges and fears together through companionship."
Our local paper summed this book up, along with the illustrations with this article.
In other words,Test Day, Team Player is an awesome resource for a regular education teacher.
From a special education perspective, I would highly recommend this book to supplement Social Thinking with a social skills group. Even though the author is unfamiliar with this curriculum, she is using the testing situation to teach 'being part of a group' rather than 'just me'. I was amazed at how Ms. Fitzgerald intuitively figured out this social skills concept. I guess she was a natural teacher!
The 'just me' approach to a testing situation creates unnecessary anxiety, whereas a team approach helps to facilitate students supporting each other and more of a feeling of 'being in it together'. This would be a nice tool to use to collaborate with a regular classroom teacher while trying to help the more anxious students in the group.
At the end of the book, the auther gives suggestions for how to make this happen in a classroom.
One final note here is that the illustrations were beautifully done by an East Chapel Hill High School Student, Danielle Losos. Even her front cover illustration meshes well with Social Thinking--complete with thought bubbles, facial expressions, and body language for students in a class or social skills group to interpret. ('What are thoughts vs feelings?' is another component of Social Thinking).
Here is an article about this talented high school artist.
I have really enjoyed all of Shannon Fitzgerald's books. This one is perfect for getting ready for the dreaded testing season. Since I'm now officially retired, I get to miss it this year :)
The kids won't get to skip it though, and this book will help them get through the tests, feeling supported by their classmates while they each try their best.
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