Authentic Assessment – Ben – 29

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4 thoughts on “Authentic Assessment – Ben – 29”

  1. So I have been thinking a lot about assessment (duh, we all have) and I wanted to share some thoughts. This discussion, honestly, has thrown me for a loop. So here are some points I have been pondering:

    1. We cannot target language on our assessments, period. NO POINTS should ever be assigned to using a certain structure or tense or word, etc. This is the BASE of my thinking on assessment. ACTFL does NOT specify ANY language targets in their performance descriptors. So that practice is not even in line with our parent organization and needs to just STOP.

    2. We are already assessing constantly. Claire I think may have finally made me understand that gathering data is not necessarily adding too much extra work. I like that because I am all about not working much, in order to save my brain- and heart-power for really being there with the kids. And to be honest the assessment discussion here has had me freaked out a bit because I am afraid of us adding too much paperwork to our lives and I firmly believe that the more paperwork and other duties we have, the less brain and heart we have left for the real work of communicating with the class and responding to their needs (Russ I love the title Responsive Input!)

    I have thought through a typical two-day untargeted lesson sequence of story creation followed by a reading lesson. Here are all the ways I typically gather information. What I am looking for is ideas on how to capture the information I am gathering, in a way that calls out NO KID and puts NO ONE on the spot and creates the absolute MINIMUM paperwork and extra duties.

    a. We start with housekeeping, in English, so I can assess kids’ emotional readiness for the lesson. I might adjust my plans or expectations slightly based on the information I get there.

    b. We start with the story creation process. I pay close attention to their eyes and posture. At the beginning part of the story, I usually have to write some new stuff on the board as we are establishing the main character and location. I will say a new word or structure (“as old as time/tan viejo como el tiempo” came up the other day), pause, wait for them to employ a stop signal, tell them how awesome they are for using it, then write the L2 and English on the board, spend a few seconds just pointing the meaning out. Then I start using it in the story, and I ask the whole class what did I just say. I am looking for a strong response. If the response is weak, I adjust and do a small round of circling with the new language and ask the class a couple of times what it means until I get a stronger response.) I am trying to give up asking one child “What did I just say?” as per the recent discussion of not giving kids the opportunity to be wrong especially in front of the class.

    c. Throughout the story I monitor their eyes and posture, and ask frequently “What did I just say?” Once again looking for strong choral responses and also remediating if needed. (Sometimes they know the meaning but are lazy. I give many, many a pep talk in English along the lines of “I have to be able to trust you to do your 50% in here and let me know truthfully that you either understand or don’t. So if you know it you need to sing it out because otherwise I will adjust the way I am talking based on your silence which to me means, “I don’t understand that.”)

    d. At the end of the story I give them a quick quiz. Again, I have moved to group quizzes not on paper. Each question is asked two times. First time they sit and think silently. Second time they sing out the answer. I watch their mouths. I am toying with the idea of having a class rubric for this, to mark down when I can clearly see a kid answering correctly. In three out of four of of my seventh grade classes the quiz writer is now willing to read to the class which makes me so proud!

    e. Next day, we review the story with the artwork the artists created during the previous lesson. I do a good deal of asking what I said. I tell this story in the past, but use present tense during the story creation. I sometimes ask, “In the present, what would that be?” Not all respond, because not all know that. But about 50-60% do. I guess I could think about making a class rubric for that, because it would give me a chance to bump some kids up to an A, if B is proficient and A is exceeding. This is first year so that is pretty exceptional to me, makes me so proud of the method!!)

    f. We then write the story up together (unless I have written it up previously which I sometimes do but it is time-consuming). I generally do this by hand but I am thinking we should do it in a Word doc or Google doc, as Claire told me that this could be a time to track kids’ contributions in a painless way by annotating the document with the kids’ names: The names of the kids doing the retelling (like put their name right there on the document with their sentence) and the names of the kid who contributed the detail to the story. So if Charlie retells the sentence “Sammy the Salad told Mr. Fork, ‘I am an important character in the story'” and Frenchie suggested the name Mr. Fork, then Charlie gets a mention in the document for retelling and Frenchie gets a mention for creating with the language, and then at the end of the marking period, I can scroll back through 6th period’s document and tally the comments on the kids.

    g. There are many activities to use the reading. I would like to see us develop some quick and easy tools for gathering data on: choral translation, read and discuss/reading from the back of the room, partner reading, retells (input-based if the retell is L1, output-based if the retell is L2), free writes (maybe in L1 if we want to be all purely comprehension-based and not output-based).

    3. In an ideal world, we would, in my opinion, use our relationships and just our teacher radar (looking at the eyes, asking the class what you just said) to assess our classes. I want us to try our best to develop an assessment system based AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE on kids understanding INPUT and not producing output. I guess at some level the kids will start producing output but that may not be in the first two years! Look at this ACTFL graphic, and note that for a 9-10 two-year program they have the kids all in Novice. (I have some questions on that as well, as my kids, many of them, speak and write in sentences, and strings of connected sentences already. They DO speak, if they feel the need, and they all write, I just do not assess the writing EVER for accuracy and only on word counts)

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1kU2Dk–fnDtOoQW6dggRVLklC7xSnVqdlqL59oqxKkk/edit?usp=sharing

    I would like to echo Grant on this, from his 90% retention article:

    http://stacieberdan.com/creating-a-nationofadvocates-from-90-target-language-to-90-retention/

    From Grant’s writing, “In our novice-level classes, SLA research compels us to give heavier weight to listening and reading comprehension, since that is the work of the Novice, and to acknowledge that production and accuracy develop over time. Emphasizing comprehension allows all of our students to experience high degrees of success, without added anxiety associated with production before they are ready. In my classes I find the less I make them speak, the more they want to.”

    1. Just a note about all things ACTFL…

      Their expectations are organized according to traditional teaching. I don’t think this is a bad thing. While other teachers are working hard to meet ACTFL’s expectations, we meet and even exceed them with minimal effort. Bill VanPatten told me over the phone that if more teachers were teaching communicatively, those expectations would be higher, and probably completely different. Why? The entire designation of what it means to be a Novice High, etc. is largely still rooted in things that aren’t necessary for language acquisition, and follow a grammatical syllabus (e.g. the mention of “various time frames” or “primarily in present tense” which our students can do waaaaaay before traditional programs).

      Even though our kids show signs of exceeding those ACTFL levels, we don’t want to set our standards much higher. Why? According to that system right now, there’s not much we can DO te get kids higher, so if they think my kids can’t write in sentences until 11th grade, let them think that and I’m gonna look awesome.

  2. Ben said “opening up our hearts to children. That’s what the assessment discussion is all about…with stories, which release our hearts.”

    In TPRS, assessment is noticing kids dreams via silly stories, and holding what they create close to our hearts.

    Bring me all of your dreams,
    You dreamer,
    Bring me all your
    Heart melodies
    That I may wrap them
    In a blue cloud-cloth
    Away from the too-rough fingers
    Of the world.

    -Langston Hughes

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