Can Do Statements – 1

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9 thoughts on “Can Do Statements – 1”

  1. Robert Harrell

    In addition, most teachers (and others) do not understand the purpose of the can-do statements or the earlier proficiency guidelines.
    ACTFL has had to clarify the use and misuse of the can-do statements. Currently, they have a list of “how to use the can-do statements” and “how NOT to use the can-do statements”. What nearly every school district that I know of gets wrong is that they transgress the following parameters:
    “Can-Do statements are NOT a checklist of tasks to be demonstrated once and checked off.”
    “The Can-Do statements are NOT used as an instrument for determining a letter or a number grade.”
    I believe that the Can-Do statements are still too academic in the sense that they are intended to make a course of language instruction fit into the broader school framework of left-brain activity.
    Do they have some value? Sure, but only for certain students. I have had students who could set their goals and plan what they wanted to get exposure to – but only a couple in over 20 years of teaching.
    I could try to use the Can-Do statements to guide my curriculum, but then I would be back on the road of skill building – as Ben notes.
    Where I think the Can-Do statements have potential value is letting learners get an idea of what they can do and where that puts them on the continuum – if they are interested in that. But let’s face it, most students are really in language classes in school because they have to be. They are not motivated to acquire a language. Fortunately, as Dr Krashen has recently pointed out, motivation as a requirement for acquisition is dead. If we can make the course fun and understandable, students will acquire language just because they are understanding what is being communicated.
    Now there’s a revolutionary idea: If the language class is fun and understandable, acquisition will follow.
    Why it’s revolutionary is beyond me because it is both obvious and in line with what we know from brain research, language acquisition research, and psychology.
    Maybe language instruction really doesn’t belong in schools, but not for the reasons most people give. On the other hand, if taught correctly, maybe it does – but again not for the reasons most people give.
    Okay, enough rambling. Have a great day.

  2. BVP talks about how language teaching goes through certain phases where teachers just use the newest fad to dress up the old grammar syllabus. You can see this with the IPA movement.
    Creating an IPA about “daily routine” is just the new way to teach reflexive verbs & creating a “personal relationship” unit is just the new way to teach the subjunctive. It’s nothing new really, isn’t presentational mode via rehearsed dialouges and role-playing just the audio-lingual method repackaged?
    Look at some district websites that have their curriculum documents public. Teachers are even writing Can-Do statements like “I can successfuly use stem-changing verbs in the present tense.”
    Textbooks are finally coming up with ready-made Can-Do statements and UBD documents. Almost nobody actually does “backward planning”- it would take too many man-hours to actually do that. Some rich districts hire ACTFL to come in and write the curriculum for them. Then the tenured teachers continue with the textbook grammar and the newer teachers do output via IPAs.
    Most teachers teach how they want and then plug in the curriculum documents later. I’ve never seen a curriculum document actually change what is done in the classroom- which is why I have never been interested in it. Due to the way languages are acquired, in our discipline it’s all about instruction, not curriculum or assessment.
    BVP is possibly the only person who uses tasks and Can-Do statements in a way that is consistent with SLA.
    Even that seems like too much work to me.
    That’s why I am really happy with Cameron’s book. We finally have what the textbook teachers have- the ready-made curriculum and can-do statements.

    1. Sean M Lawler

      If I ever get into a pinch again with admin, I will be sure to get my hands on Cameron’s book and look at those Can Do statements and things.
      Carly, I beg of you to spend as little time as possible creating backwards plans and Can Do statements and all that other paper work trying to piece together puzzle pieces from ACTFL and state standards and department requirements and Common Core and blah blah blah. The pieces just don’t fit! I beg of you to think of the longevity of your teaching career and go enjoy your life, today, outside of school.
      I’m at the point where I’d rather spend an afternoon putting together an IKEA dresser than write a unit plan. (Maybe I’m not clear. I can’t stand putting together IKEA stuff.)

    2. Greg,
      Here is a quote from Walter Hopkins (Asst. Director of Spanish Language Instruction at Michigan State U. ) from MaFLA newsletter, Winter 2018, p. 15:
      We’re constantly revisiting and revising, and we’ve discovered that we’re not achieving our proficiency outcome goal, 50% of students getting to intermediate-mid. Now we’re revisiting and saying, what can we do to adjust our curriculum in order to help us to achieve that goal.
      I appreciate Walter’s openness about their results.

  3. Backwards planning on novels was one of the reasons I broke from the Denver Public Schools. It just doesn’t work! They get 35 kids, all of whom are in vastly different places w their reading abilities, and they give them chapter books that are too hard for half of them and too easy for the other half, and then they make up stories to address the targeted vocabulary in each chapter (that is what is so time consuming), and after a few weeks of laboriously created stories half the class can read the chapter and the other half pulls down on the faster half and chaos ensues. Why read books that way? I say to read those books in level 2/spring or level 3. Tina agrees w this so I know I’m not crazy.

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