A Watershed Moment

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11 thoughts on “A Watershed Moment”

  1. Thank you Cherie for this wonderful news. And yes when Ben says thank that person please do so on behalf of everyone here at this PLC. There have been so many battles… it’s not even worth going into now.

    1. In reference to my students “not knowing anything” and “not able to do anything with the language”, I told her that my kids can not fill in blanks on a sheet of paper. They can not spout off verb endings while reading aloud charts, and they are terrible test takers, as tests and blanks isolate words, and my kids are things and context. It’s about making meaning. She just smiled and said, “Because it’s about the bigger picture. We don’t want them to learn things for an assessment, but for the long term. That’s what it’s about.” At that point she’s lucky I didn’t jump and give her a big ‘ol kiss! Forget the hugs! I knew then that she got it. I didn’t need to defend myself for educating myself on my work, seeking new training, and for stepping out on a ledge to try something new and different for which other colleagues may, and do, chastise me.

      It’s been a good week! I went from feeling inferior, ridiculed, and self-conscious, to feeling energized and emboldened. Good things are coming!

  2. “She is going to start sending out SLA articles to all teachers to discuss in PLC’s and make proficiency discussions part of the curriculum meetings and not common assessments.”

    This resonates well with me. For the last three years I have been been hoping to generate proficiency discussions. And we are getting common assessments instead. But how much enthusiasm can be created from common assessments. (But this could change. Amy Marshall is doing a 3-hour workshop at our district. The first part will be a demo with her newbie 7th-graders. The second part will be a debriefing of what we saw in the first part. There will be at least 3 from our district and 9 (yes that is nine, not nein) from a nearby district–the whole department.)

    3 cheers for Cherie.

    “I am so jealous…” Some of us are jealous of you, too, Cherie–in a happy sort of way. Consider coming up to TCI Maine next October. Sabrina was there, too.

    1. Our district is pushing common assessments too. However, I got myself ready with Bob Patrick’s free write template that notes five words per line. I gave it to level two Spanish then I talked about it with my principal. He loved the fact that we are measuring fluency with the amount of words. I told dep’t. chair who teaches level one. He wants it too for level one, now. I’m the only CI teacher so guess whose classes are going to score the highest. I may even send it out to others in the district and then have my dep’t. chair show off my results in a district regional meeting.

  3. Speaking of the hideous common assessments, whatever came out of the big discussion about assessment from a few months ago? Word counts in free writes, of course, and translation tests as per Beniko Mason. Overall, I don’t think I ever came out and said I prefer zero assessments for a myriad reasons having to do with kids’ self-esteem and confidence and desire to advance to the next level even if they are not “French 3 material” (now there is a dastardly term that has been used like a knife on some kids). I love that with CI any kid at any level of proficiency can advance to the next level and be honored for where they are and not where they are in comparison to other kids who may just happen to be faster processors. But what are people doing for writing output assessment these days besides free writes? Are most people keeping it simple with measuring (just to feed the grade book) observable non-verbal behaviors via mGR or dGR? I’d like to see a snapshot of how people in the PLC are grading. I would expect we typically are doing:

    0% speaking
    20% free writes
    80% observable non-verbal behaviors

    I remember when for me it was

    65% jGR
    35% quick quizzes

    I guess the quizzes are still being used. We work in schools and almost have to. But how useful are they? By the end of a story the kids know all the details so well that it ends up being just a waste of time to give the quiz. I think that the entire idea of quick quizzes is fading. mGR is the big boy these days in my own mind, as a result of my own assessment path over the past fifteen years. mGR is the big boy and the bad boy. I’m so glad I went out to Lake Elsinore and learned about it from Mike and Dave.

    1. I too think that quiz quizzes are fading fast, Ben. This year, still probationary by the way, I am using almost the same percentages as my colleagues in my department.

      40% Freewrites (tests)
      40% mGR (labeled as participation but I know it’s more than that)
      10% classwork (which is none)
      10% homework (optional reading on Google classroom, if students wish)

      Right now in my gradebook, I have only have 2 freewrites in the semester and mGR per week.
      I have these percentages in my syllabus this year and it will change drastically for next year when I’m TENURED!

      In my stinker class, I had students share out in writing (without name) what they thought about the class. I opened a can of worms there. One of my speaking star students, i suspect by the hand writing, wrote that “free writes makes her feel dumb because everyone else gets a higher word count”. Man, that hit me hard when I read it.

      Last year, we did about 8-9 for the year. This year I may do about 4 per semester. I wonder what would be an alternative? Maybe the sheet I use focuses too much on the quantity of the words.

      One way to circumvent the percentages is to double my points of mGR to 20 instead of 10. I still have students self-evaluate and I am reminding them of the expectations EVERYDAY now. I have a notepad file on my computer that keeps track of major events — someone speaking, volunteering or blurting and taking out the cellphone.

      1. Beniko has students give a summary of the story in L1. This could definitely be used as an exit ticket for admin to see…. this is in fact a common formative assessment that, to me, is low stress.

      2. “free writes makes her feel dumb because everyone else gets a higher word count,”

        No doubt many more students feel that way but don’t say it. Thanks for posting this. It’s a good thing to meditate on. Tells me not to emphasize free writes so much but to present it as just another little activity.

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