¿Adónde vas para….?

In Spanish 1 we are practicing our oral Spanish, the verb ir, questioning, and location vocabulary.

  1. Write two questions to find out where your classmates go to do something. Ejemplo: ¿Adónde vas para estudiar?
  2. Question everyone in class in Spanish and write down their responses
  3. Make a graph for each question (bar, pie or line) to represent your results
  4. Lable your graph (sample)
  5. Write our your results in Spanish in complete sentences.
  6. Use color
  7. Present your findings to the class.

I did this assignment with my students today. I had them begin with presenting to a small group and for time purposes I had them elect the most interesting member to present to the class. I really liked what they came up with.  If I had had access to computers I would have liked to adapt this activity to have the students create a google spreadsheet and graph and embed them into a wiki and have them talk about their findings.

Oral Assessment

Oral Assessment is especially important in a class that stresses oral communication. The problem is assessing all students and doing it in a way that doesn’t take up all of your class time. I have been working with 25 other World Language teachers to rewrite our curriculum for level one. We’ve focused on creating a safety net for each language so that there is consistency across the schools in our district. With over 100 language teachers in the district this is important for both students who move schools and for teachers to elevate our practice. It helps us have common ground of our minimal expectations of achievement of our students.

I just learned about this in February and I really like it. It was very successful in my class. I want to do it 4 times in the year. I think this year I will get to it 2 more times. I am going to do some planning this summer to make sure that I get to it 4 times next year.

Here is how it works:
You give your students a topic, for example family. You give them time to brainstorm and come up with what they are going to talk about.  You let them have (a) visual(s) to talk about.

So for family I gave them this rubric and we talked about what they needed/could talk about (family, likes/dislikes/, personality/physical descriptions, clothing) I told them they would need to  choose 4 people from their family to describe. Then I allowed them time to brainstorm and come up with descriptions of the people they chose. Then they get to rehearse with out notes. I break the class up into about 5 to 6 groups of 4-5 students. Each group has a lead student, that student will rehearse/talk in Spanish/on topic for 90 seconds using their visual aids. The listeners take notes listening for the focus items and for repetition (I let them know that they should not say the same thing for every person they describe. Who want to hear the same thing 3 times?). At the end of 90 seconds, the listeners switch and move to the next leader. That way the lead student gets to rehearse 5-6 times and they have presented to every student in the class. At the end of rehearsal, the lead students then gets up in front of the class and talks for 60 seconds in Spanish using their visual aids (I choose 3 of the 4 people so they have to focus on the 3 – this makes it a bit more spontaneous). I video taped the 60 second presentations and watched them later so I could grade them. Also so I could have a record of them. (I want to make it so the students keep a record of their growth and oral proficiency in a portfolio, I just haven’t worked out how to do that and not have it be a HUGE management nightmare).

Variations:
1. have the students start by drawing 4 pictures on 1 piece of paper: where they go in their free time, their school day, their favorite class and their favorite thing to do. then have them talk about that
2. for more advanced students have them design their perfect sandwich and make the pieces of the sandwich. bread, ham, mayo, tomato, mustard, lettuce, egg. Then they tell you how to assemble the perfect sandwich. To make it more interesting the teacher only gives them 4 items from the sandwich they designed and they have 60 seconds to tell and show you how to build the sandwich.

This probably took a week total to do since I allowed them class time to do all of this. I think as I continue to do it with them I will allow less class time for the brainstorming/planning part of the assessment. (As they get used to it and understand better what we are doing). The students really like it. The rehearsal really helped to put them at ease and they really didn’t appear super nervous which allowed them to do their best.

Grades and assessment

My school site has been talking about grades a lot recently. We have a high number of F’s and D’s. Our population is over 60% English learners. Part of the discussion has been about:

  • Grades as punishment
  • Students having 6 different grading policies in each of their classes
  • In one department an A in one class is a B or a C in another (85% or higher = an A)
  • Make-up work and giving full or partial credit.
  • how many points you take off for failing to put the correct header

I really think that in order to give our students a fighting chance at success we need to make the school systems as easy as possible. Expecting a  11,  12, or 13 year old to sift through 5 or 6 different grading policies is too much. I think that our staff needs to come together and agree on certain standards so our students can worry about content and the important things.

During our discussions we had the chance to share our philosophies about late work. Another teacher at my site, who I respect, explained his philosophy of giving full credit for late work under certain parameters. I didn’t think it was fair to the student who was able to get the work done on time, but I have come to change my mind. He has a system in his class where the students can make-up their missing work from the previous day. He believes that if they are making the effort to do the work and get it done, even if it is late, they deserve full credit.

At the same time that these discussions were going on at my school site, I was taking a class through the Southern Area International Languages Network (SALIN) which is a part of California Foreign Language Project out of Stanford Univ.  It is a three tier professional development. Tier 1 focuses on therory of communication based learning and the three froms of communicaiton: interpersonal, interpretive and presentational.  In this class, we read an article that realated to the grade discussion. “How Classroom Assessments Can Improve Learning” from Educational Leadership Vol. 60, No. 5, February 2003 by Thomas R. Guskey.

This article is about assessment, but for me it had a lot of parallels to our discussion about grades and late work. He that the goal is student learning. And if they are able to show you that they learned, even if it was not at the same speed as others in the class, haven’t they met the goal?

I still have a lot to think about and I need to work on changing my policies to give students an increased ability to be successful and allow for them to make mistakes.