Another Question

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14 thoughts on “Another Question”

  1. I find it so annoying that admins want assessments. Do they have any one year olds at home? Would they want an hour long assessment on that little baby’s speech? Maybe if we each just sat them our administrator down and told them how people acquire languages, with so much input preceding output, and how much time is involved, they might see the light and back off a little.

    I personally assess using quizzes, with no weekly big tests on discrete items usually linked to memorization, which is so far from helpful and productive of such fake results in terms of actual gains. Yup. I’m a quiz guy. I feel that they tell me a lot. But even they are not really accurate. Can I just look into my students’ eyes and tell you how their doing? No? Too weird? Too Slavic? Sorry.

  2. I give A LOT of quizzes as well and only the occasional ‘test’ to make the Admin happy. However, I never call my quizzes, quizzes…I call them opportunities. Opportunities to show me what they can do, what they can’t, what I need to work on/repeat and of course…opportunities for more points. I had a sped student last year that would ‘freak’ out if the word quiz was ever mentioned and he is why I changed the term in my room. He went from ‘Fs’ to ‘A-s or B+s’ every time after the change in title…I guess it relaxed him.

  3. I give 3 quizzes at the end of each lesson (I call them “units”). First, I give a listening quiz. I read a story twice and they answer questions in English that are typed up. Then I say some terms and they match with the English equivalents on the page. I’ll read those as many times as they want. If they have been doing their 50% in class, they ace this part. Listening is 40% of the grade and includes the weekly JgR and pop quizzes at the end of aural input days so they learn pretty weekly that they can get good grades in my class if they pay attention.

    Then they have a little writing quiz but this is Chinese class so they are showing that they can write the characters we have been working on. This is worth 10% because being able to write the characters isn’t really that important anymore. I use writing as a way for them to become familiar with the characters for reading, which is much more important.

    Then I give them a reading quiz. Usually this is two separate paragraphs, one from our original story and one from a parallel reading. At higher levels, I sometimes give them a new story for the reading quiz, but it will be close to the readings they did in class. This is to see if they can actually read as opposed to just remembering what was in the story we did in class. Reading is 30% of their grade.

    The remaining assessment is listed in the grade book as “comprehensive skills” and includes dictation and anything else that doesn’t fit neatly into the rest of the grading system.
    This is my third year of grading this way and no one has complained about it. So far, it seems to work pretty well.

  4. There was a discussion last year of “CI-Friendly Assessments” and I’ve posted an example final semester test to the forum. We are “meaning-based” so test meaning, not form. Easy to do, actually. Kids write summaries in L1 or L2 and you grade holistically (e.g. really bad, bad, ok, little better than ok, good, awesome). If you want to grade output for accuracy, then count the number of comprehensible utterances or error-free clauses. That said, I’m a Quiz Guy, but even then, barely, haha. I don’t like giving up even those 5-10 minutes. You could also do Fluency/SpeedWrites – I stopped doing these entirely.

  5. Tell adin: we’re meaning based; input and comprehension precede output.

    Beginners: read a 5-sent story aloud; Eric’s holistic grading for how accurate they are. Also have them read and translate short stories.

    Late beginners/intermediate: Blaine’s speedwrites are best– no reflection; pure fast unconscious output. Grade holistically.

  6. I haven’t looked at Eric’s example yet… but I do quizzes (opportunities!… thanks Pat for the nice euphemism!) about two or three times a week at the end of class.

    But I’ve been finding more assessment value in terms of what the kids actually understand by doing simple translations, and even better by doing timed translations. I think it was Eric who was suggested this as the idea comprehension assessment last year. I agree. And we can do them written or orally. But I don’t think it’s something we should do too often… might train the kids to translate into English before comprehending, which is not necessarily what we want them to ultimately be doing during a normal convo in L2.

    1. Yeah, Jim. Same thought here. I left out the idea of a “Speedtranslate” for that reason. I think it’s a good end of the cycle assessment – best way to see what exactly they comprehend. But we don’t want them translating when they read. Translating is not reading.

      New to me as of this summer is the idea of Speedreading. I wrote some of these for teaching English and plan to do the same for LICT 1. Blaine was interested. The idea is to time kids. They read a story of “x” number of words. They read once. Then, they do a 10 question multiple choice quiz about the main ideas. They are not allowed to look back at the reading. They self-grade if you include an answer sheet on the last page. I followed Paul Nation’s guidelines.
      So, kids get 2 scores: time to read and comprehension score. Speedreading really is a more CI-friendly assessment than a Speedwrite. Plus, it’s more CI as they’re being assessed!

      You could tweak the class story, e.g. parallel story. Come up with 10 easy questions. And make copies of reading and quiz for every student. The teacher writes the times (1, 1:10, 1:20, etc.) on the board and erases the time as it passes. When student finishes reading, they just look up at the next 10 second interval. This encourages fluent reading (fast and reading for general ideas).
      A goal could be to read at a rate of 150 words per minute AND get a 70% on the quiz.

      1. “When student finishes reading, they just look up at the next 10 second interval.”

        You lost me here.

        I like this idea for FL… reading specialists in our schools use these kids of reading tests all the time. I toyed with it my first year using TCI, but abandoned it due to lack of time to figure it all out, as you are now doing Eric!

  7. Any assessments I do are very much another chance to get the students some CI. It happens that this is the CI that they take most seriously because they think of quizzes as a big part of their grade (which actually, they aren’t).

    So for level 1, only listening and reading comprehension. A few written answers in phrases (they can write a complete sentence if they want).

    For level 2, almost only listening & reading. 2 or 3 questions which expect an answer in a full sentence (only the kinds of sentences and content that they have heard, discussed, and read in class). They have help from cards to recall characters they want to use in handwriting. (Chinese teachers: I mean Terry Waltz’s Tibi cards. Like them a lot.)

    For level 3, most of the quiz is listening and reading comp with one section with a fluency writing including their choice from among a list of recently-worked phrases/words.

    For level 4, like level 3, but the writing section is more of an assigned topic than choosing from among vocab shown. Ex: we’re doing MovieTalk on a full-length movie in level 4 now, and their quiz will include timed writing of a summary of the film.

    All writing is graded with a rubric based around communicative ability.

  8. This response is part of an answer from another topic that Ben and Eric were a part of. I had a recent meeting with admin and a traditional teacher over assessments. The admin supported the ‘way’ I teach even though they have no idea how second language acquisition works. I honestly didn’t have the energy nor patience to set them straight. The admin wants every level to take the same test. I have to meet with the other teacher and come up with tests. These meetings will be interesting because I will question every memorization style section she tries to put on the test. I have changed up my assessments. I have decided to make the 5 question quizzes at the end of class count as a part of participation. I give an assessment at the end of a story made of true/false and vocab questions. I will count these as quizzes. I will find some time to explain SLA to admin. They will not care. This will be great because if the occasion arises when we are in a parent conference, I will remind them of the meeting and they will have to respond to the parent why they did not listen to research that would benefit their child. Then maybe some real conversations can take place.

  9. …I will question every memorization style section she tries to put on the test….

    This is the key. Some teachers new to CI may back down to a teacher whose feet are firmly planted in 1950’s style instruction and assessment. You don’t sound like you are stressing over this, and that is at it should be.

    Use any of the articles in the Administrator/Teacher/Parent Re-education category, or something like Robert Harrell’s article at the top of the Primers hard link above. That is your ammunition with any colleague who tries to force you to assess as she does. Once a dialogue is up and running, and parents and admin know that you are aligning with the position statement of our national parent organization, ACTFL, that colleague, you will be the one in the stronger position. Since we align with ACTFL’s Three Modes of Communication and their 90% Use of the TL Position Statement, we can sit at a table with a colleague and shred any argument in favor of memorization they try to offer. It’s nice being on the other side of the tipping point.

  10. I will bring ACTFL material to our sessions. This will put them in a state of confusion because the department head flies her ACTFL flag constantly. I was thinking last night about a simple question to ask the others( sorry, LOST fan). I’m going to ask them, ” how are languages learned?” I would be curious if they could even answer the question. This question should be answered before any creation of maps, pacing guides, syllabus or other crap. Another issue that has come up is preparing students for college placement tests and language classes. What’s your take on this? Is their some sample tests out there that I could give my kids at the end of the year to see how they would do? I want all the exits covered. I’m a little aggressive in that I want to bury the others. Thanks for all the help and support of the community.

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