Imaginative Activities vs.Test Preparation
Imagination is crucial to developing skills that will help children become happy and successful in all areas of life, and yet, test preparation demands a large part of a learner's day. Both are essential to success in the real world, but neither to the exclusion of the other. The chart compares benefits of imaginative activities to benefits of testing preparation. Are you doing both?
Imaginative Activities
Test Preparation
Creative problem solving helps students to contemplate a variety of outcomes to a problem. Multiple Choice helps students find the one correct answer to someone else's question.
Role Playing lets students safely experiment with different ways of managing a new or difficult circumstance. It is emotional, so it is retained in the long-term memory. The experience will be ready to serve at a moment's notice.
Following directions helps students to become good followers. All of us must be good followers in some parts of our lives. On a test, being able to follow directions helps students successfully retrace someone else's steps to an already-solved problem which is safe, but may never appear in real life and is easily forgotten.

Children who can accurately predict what might happen based on evidence and experience manage to do better in school and get better jobs when they are out of school.

Inference questions on tests reflect a student's ability to predict accurately from the passage. Example: "From the passage you can tell that..."

Group interaction and discussion prepares children to become valuable, creative contributors to group progress. Individual problem solving and teacher-centered activities help a student rely on his/her own devices, but may encourage a "loner" or elitist mentality.
Open-Ended, Inductive Reasoning allows children to try out a variety of real-life skills and apply them to authentic situations. (Example: I only have $5. What could I buy that would help me survive if I were lost in the woods for a week?) Closed-ended, Deductive Reasoning leads to one answer that may or may not be easily transferred to other situations. (Example: 4 people were going camping. They brought 12 pounds of food. In 7 days, how much food would be allowed for each person?)
Imaginative Play that is sparked with emotion builds a high-level vocabulary in reading and pretend-play.
Testing a vocabulary list before or after reading a required passage may help students read more fluently but retention depends on application and extension.
Imaginative children grow up to be adults who are creative thinkers, problem solvers, and innovators.

Without balance with imaginative activities, students trained to become good test takers may become adults who are good, dependable employees that can follow directions but have little creative or problem solving abilities. They will be especially good at bubbling in circles.

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