Student Results Posted

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36 thoughts on “Student Results Posted”

  1. Thanks Chris. I’m thinking that if I celebrate students on their QuickWrites more throughout the year… if I make it a big deal, like how getting on the dean’s list or the honor roll is a big deal, throughout the year, it may help my students buy into this very different way of learning for them. I should plaster their QuickWrites inside the classroom, in the hallways, on the website, all over!

    1. Splash! Here comes my bucket of cold water. Non-CI teachers won’t understand these results! And I have reservations about using speed or relaxed writes as evidence of acquisition.
      Non-CI teachers will see it as a practiced activity on a practiced/familiar format and as memorized material – and to a certain degree, they are right. Especially on a relaxed write – you give them 40 minutes?! Looks like the “presentational mode” and our non-CI colleagues get kids who can perform semi-decent monitored communication. I’d want to see samples from the entire class, since every class has an upper-performing third. They may still be impressive results and a non-CI teacher may not get kids who can do this (mainly, because they probably don’t have this activity in their classrooms).
      I tried to explain elsewhere why this is “performance” and not “proficiency” and why it doesn’t mean that what is written is “acquired.” To really show it’s been acquired, it needs to be an unfamiliar topic, unfamiliar genre (expository vs. narrative), spontaneous, time-pressured, focused on meaning, delayed (delayed weeks after a TPRS cycle on certain targets needed for the writing) and should also include a comprehension measure.
      E.g. Timed reading of a never-before-seen text and have 5 minutes to write a summary in TL.
      As seen in VP’s PI studies, the Traditional Instruction groups can equal output gains, but not input gains. VP takes the lack of input gains to mean that the output was being monitored and based on explicit knowledge. Therefore, one way to show these writing gains represent an internalized language system, they should be based on something they comprehended. Furthermore, having to comprehend first and under timed reading conditions puts more focus on meaning. The more you put the focus on meaning, the more it reflects real-life conditions and the more our students will outperform any non-CI class that spends more time focusing on form.

  2. — The 5-min write is on something unfamiliar. They get a pic of something they have not seen (but which they have the vocab for) and they have limited time to describe it. There is also no “formula” or “rehearsal” for it, as all of the 5-min stuff comes from PQA (though some of the yo forms are alsonin stories) which is in present tense and is fairly unstructured.
    — I am gonna ask ppl to post 5-min writes more than story writes because I think you have a point: stories are to a certain extent formulaic. Limited time, specific focus: best example of acquisition
    — the “cross genre” writing demands as proof of acquisition are legit…but not for level 1 and 2 kids. The demands are WAY too high. In my English classes, I have to constantly remind kids of genre convention differences (e.g. journal informality vs essay atructures).
    — we may not be generating 100% acquired output. BUT whatever our kids do, there is no question it is miles ahead of what grammar/output kids can do. Blaine Ray remarks somewhere that the only real way to compare c.i. and other kids is through speed (timed) writes.
    — I am going to also post my weakest kid’s work. Eric (my student) has an IEP, output issues, anxiety, bla bla, I want ppl to see what c.i. does for kids who were failed out of French. I think we definitely should post a range of kids’ work.

    1. I’ve been doing QuickWrites only after extensive reading and discussion of a class story. I guess you’d call them StoryWrites, as you say, since I’m asking them to retell the story. I haven’t given much thought, until now, of doing a 5 minute QuickWrite based on an image that relates to the topic of extensive PQA discussion.
      Perhaps the StoryWrite is more like a performance task and a 5 min QuickWrite, given an unfamiliar (though it would have to be similar in nature) prompt, would be more like a proficiency task. With either one, though, when students are writing on their own without a list of vocab or dictionary or whatever, but writing by channeling those mental representations they have of the vocabulary structures, that’s pretty cool to see. And you simply don’t see this kind of writing happening in non CI classes. I mean, you might with those superstar kids in those AP classes. But otherwise you don’t.
      8 weeks in, Chris, and you have them writing like that! Revolutionary!
      I’m reminded of seeing a video clip from one of Alisa’s colleagues in Winnetka, a French teacher, Carla, of a 6th grader retelling a Movietalk. This was after, like, 30 hours of French and this kid was so cool! Letting it flow, calmly, cooly, and with some spunk. Playing with the words as they came out his mouth. He was enjoying himself, like I imagine a jazz singer might when improvising. Whether this QuickSpeak is an accurate measure of acquisition or not… it’s got to be pretty damn close!
      Eric, I just can’t imagine a kid performing a monitored communication task (which I’m assuming is a memorization task) to show such playfulness. Not in a spoken task. And in a monitored writing task… well, what the heck is a monitored writing task? One where they have a dictionary and other resources to refer to while writing?
      our non-CI colleagues get kids who can perform semi-decent monitored communication
      Eric, could you share an example of what these monitored communication tasks look like from non-CI teachers? This would be good to know as I get more mixed in with groups of foreign language teachers making common assessments. It’s good to be prepared.

      1. Ya, 8 weeks, that’s what they can do. Adriana does even better. I have to reiterate– ALL we do is deliver input. There is no practice writing etc. they listen, watch and read (and do level-appropriate PQA to whatever extent they can).
        A monitored writing task. I dug out some old ¡Díme! and Avancemos books. I say these are “monitor” tasks because they specify and limit what can be said. After the horrifying flashbacks ended, here are some (there are level 1 and 2):
        –“Describe your schools schedule for Tuesday”
        — Describe your family
        — describe a day on vacation

        1. Ok, to get this straight, these writing prompts are “monitor” tasks because they specify and limit what can be said:
          – Describe your school’s schedule for Tuesday.
          – Describe your family.
          – Describe a day on vacation.
          Whereas a monitor-free task would be prompted by, for example, showing a picture of a family and having students write, telling them, “You may write about whatever comes to mind. Let the picture of the family give you ideas.” This would be a kind-of free association narrative.
          Ok. I get it. And then there’s Eric relaying the message from Beniko Mason that if we want students to produce as many words as possible in a QuickWrite, then it’s better to have them summarize a reading in the TL. This is better than writing from a storyboard because it cuts down on students’ wanting to express things they see in the images but can’t because they don’t have all that L2.
          A summary like this adds the reading comprehension piece and so can be used as a better acquisition assessment than a QuickWrite. Well then. Bam. Perhaps that’s what my “final exam” should consist of.
          Do you guys think that Eric’s idea as an acquisition assessment — a timed reading of a never-before-seen text and have 5 minutes to write a summary in TL — would be good to push in department meetings as a common assessment?

          1. I am using the term “monitored” as used within Krashen’s framework for SLA.
            Monitor = application of explicit knowledge
            3 conditions allow for monitor use:
            1) know the rule
            2) thinking about the rule
            2) have time to apply the rule
            When a test allows for these conditions, then you can’t be sure to which degree learners are relying on learned competence (ability based on explicit knowledge) or acquired competence (ability based on implicit knowledge). When you take away these 3 conditions it is said to be “monitor-free.”
            Even in an acquisition-oriented class in which the instruction is implicit, you can’t be sure what is going on in the heads of the students, i.e. are they focusing on meaning or form (implicit or explicit learning). It is likely, especially when we include grammar pop-ups, that students will also “learn” some of the rules. Even if they are rules without metalinguistic language, they are still rules.
            In addition, I would add that in order for it to tap a greater proportion of acquired competence, the task has to be unfamiliar, unrehearsed, and spontaneous.
            There is also the continuum between a controlled and a free assessment. Controlled means that there are more restrictions put on language use. You can design controlled tests of acquisition, but in general, freer assessments are better tests of acquired competence. The problem with a free assessment is “avoidance” – is the learner not using a certain grammatical structure because they haven’t acquired it or for some other reason? This is only a concern if we are interested in looking at the acquisition of specific grammatical structures, rather than looking at holistic/global competence.
            I bet it would be a good idea to include the storyboard pics AND the L2 reading! Perhaps the reading first and letting learners see the pics while they write.

          2. a timed reading of a never-before-seen text and have 5 minutes to write a summary in TL
            I see this task as simple and straightforward. It would force a FL department to agree upon the targeted vocabulary structures to be covered throughout the year and the CI teachers would certainly have their students out perform the non-CI teachers’ students.
            And yes, I guess I see how the problem lies more in making sure that all teachers involved in grading these summaries place value on meaning and not form, or simply on word count.

          3. I’m curious about the timed reading. Mostly because I have no idea what one is. My concern is about it being timed. I have numerous students who are simply slow readers. Their comprehension is high, they just take more time. Is there something about timed reading that I don’t understand that wouldn’t punish these kids?
            As for the writing, I believe that it should not be connected to the reading. It is impossible to simply evaluate a writing piece if it is based on reading comprehension. Would it not be clearer to have them write based on a picture? The picture (or picture frames) could be based on familiar vocab but not be a familar story.
            with love,

          4. To make things clear: I am not suggesting any of these tests affect a students’ grade in the course. I give these tests purely to measure progress and provide feedback. I never enter a grade in the grade book. That way, everyone can see progress. The slower student can still make as much or more progress than initially more advanced students. And to further clarify: I am proposing a test format that measures a greater proportion of what has been acquired as opposed to what has been learned. If you don’t care to distinguish the 2 types of knowledge, then this may not be the test format for your students.
            Laurie is right: when we give a reading proficiency test we are measuring 2 main elements: reading skill & language proficiency.
            On timing: The point of timing is to diminish monitor-use (use of conscious knowledge) and therefore better measure acquired reading competence. Without time pressure, yes, you measure their ability to read, but then you confound acquired and learned competencies. A student who has been taught all the grammar rules can analyze a text and think back to his flashcard word study to get meaning. Timed reading also has a positive backwash effect, because it encourages the teacher to incorporate reading fluency activities. This focus-on-form student will also have a much less developed reading fluency.
            I can imagine a couple of ways this could be done without punishing students with slower reading rates:
            1) tell them to read the story once as fast as they can while still getting a general understanding – when each student finishes his/her reading, they look up at the time, record the time it took them, and then they turn in the reading and start writing.
            2) Or find out the words-per-minute (wpm) rate of the slowest students (for beginners this will be less than 100 wpm) and give all students the time to read that the slowest students need (this is less ideal for measuring acquired knowledge, but maybe more practical than #1).
            *This may be a non-issue, since slower readers are likely to be the slower writers. Therefore, even if they finished reading the entire text, they won’t have the time to write it all.
            On connecting writing to a reading: I’m after measuring acquired competence, not writing skill, which means the assessment should require comprehension. If you isolate output from input, and only measure output, then it is possible for a student to output what is beyond their mental representation, i.e. output more than they’ve acquired. Not to mention, the positive backwash effect of a comprehension-based assessment: teachers have to focus on comprehension in order for students to do well! While students are told to summarize the story they read, they are told to write as much as they can in the short time allotted (e.g. 10 min). The teacher is grading writing fluency (and maybe language accuracy), NOT story accuracy. If you are afraid that some students won’t be able to write, because they cannot comprehend the reading, then the reading is probably too hard and/or tell those with poorer comprehension to make up the details in the story they write when they can’t comprehend/remember.
            On using pictures: I mentioned in my first anecdote with B. Mason the concerns: less output & students trying to write “out-of-bounds” language. Writing from pictures is still used in SLA research, but it was suggested to me that it may be a more intermediate-level task. Either way, the best way may be to include both: reading in L2 & picture.

          5. …do you guys think that Eric’s idea as an acquisition assessment — a timed reading of a never-before-seen text and have 5 minutes to write a summary in TL — would be good to push in department meetings as a common assessment?…
            Personally I think it is an excellent choice for a common assessment, as long it was grades by people get what early writing output is supposed to look like. Excellent! If the graders sat at the same table and shared guidelines while grading it would be even better.

          6. Ben asks…
            “…do you guys think that Eric’s idea as an acquisition assessment — a timed reading of a never-before-seen text and have 5 minutes to write a summary in TL….”
            I fully support Eric…I think he is great. I do not have all the details of his assessment strategy but it sounds like to me that this type of activity puts a lot of stress on short-term memory. It also sounds like it would reward students that have that type of ability. As a result, it might leave others to think they can’t learn a language.
            My memory in general is at best questionable in my daily life…
            I would would like to do 3 versions of this test to test it out first.
            1) Take the timed reading assessment in English (native language).
            2) Take the timed reading assessment in Spanish (second language).
            3) Take the timed reading assessment in French (language in progress).
            I think comparing the outcomes of these 3 assessments can be helpful. Does anyone ever ask their students to do a speed write in English just to see what word count averages are?
            I see the time and pressure thing causing a problem for my students…especially because some come to me at various reading levels. All that being said, I would pilot it if he asked me 🙂

          7. Not my assessment idea. An oral version, called the “Oral Narrative Task” has already received use in SLA research and been piloted by R. Ellis and others to show that it correlates well with acquired competence.
            I get your worry, Mike. But it can be a 300 word story (mine were 500 words). That’s short. It should be written so that you would expect every word to be known. In other words, it should not be hard to remember. And we’re not grading accuracy of the passage content. Kids doing a timed summary don’t have time to finish writing all they can remember. I know, because that was the case with the 7th and 8th graders who have now done this summative assessment twice this year. And if you’re worried about memory, then give them the picture storyboard to reference while they’re writing.

          8. The fact that you put a word count on the stories makes a lot of worry go down. 300-500 words lets teachers know that the scope of CI exposure is super reasonable no matter the level, student demographics, and time of year.
            I love this idea!

  3. I really appreciate the way we respect each other’s ideas here and yet push each other to consider other new ideas, and how receptive we are to changing when we suggest things to each other. How many groups do that, really? That is also the feeling in the summer war rooms. I mean, let’s admit it, teachers have big egos. And yet the dialogue here is consistently about “How can we get better?” and not about “Who is the best at this?” like it is in most of our buildings unless we are really lucky to be in an all CI department.
    Has anyone noticed that? There is competition, much more of it, between grammar teachers, and yet there seems to be very little between CI teachers. Of course, Laurie is the model for that and Sabrina is also all about just being who we are in workshops. Of course, Blaine is all about that as well. We all are in a way! How refreshing to not have to be the best with each other! OMG how long I have waited to be associated with a group of people who will just let me be as good or bad as I am in any situation, as we all work together towards a common goal of getting better at CI for our kids!
    One thing I just realized is why Eric does not teach methods classes in college. He literally would have no students. The students are just learning that there is a new wing on the foreign language teaching house, a wing that is fast becoming the place to be in the otherwise old and decaying house, and Eric knows ever inch of that new wing. So whom would he teach?
    Eric is going to have to wait for the climate in WL education to change before starting to teach the new teachers of the future. We know whom they will be, don’t we? Our students. Those students we saw in the video of Eric doing TPR today. Those kids. The current crop of graduate WL teaching students? Uh, no. Their shoes were made in the wrong century.

    1. Matthew DuBroy

      This is why this community is so awesome and so helpful. Really just after the best way to do things.
      I’ve always thought why there was so much ego – at least with Latin teachers (grammarians par excellence?) – is because knowing the grammar is such a speculative skill. The more formal grammar that you know the smarter you look (because only the elite know ALL the grammar THAT WELL – in a language they can’t use) which means the less grammar you know the dumber you look! So everybody is busy trying to show they know just as much as the next guy!
      With fluency it doesn’t matter how smart you are or how motivated,etc. if just matters how many comprehensible messages you have received. With teaching then, there isn’t a battle to show how much more grammar I know than you. There is really nothing left to compare.
      And besides because we are still in a HUGE minority and we all after the same goal it is very easy to want to work together. It is also very easy to judge the best ways to do things because either the students are developing fluency or they aren’t. We don’t have to claim that my way works better *if only* (the student’s worked harder, I had better students, whatever). It just works.
      While I’m no where close to getting into all these nuances and activities (still just working on implementing the BIG IDEAS) I’ve learned so much this year reading on here and have appreciated the common bond and all working to develop the ONE big idea – how best to give CI to a range of students/situations.

        1. Matthew DuBroy

          Do you mean for other subjects? Like one for teaching math or another for science? Or even for just thinking about math or philosophy or history?

          1. Matthew DuBroy

            Yea I don’t think there is really anything like this at any level (grade school, high school or college). I’m also in graduate school for theology and know many philosophy and theology professors and there is nothing like that in those fields. My wife and my mother teach high school math and they also have never heard of anything like this.
            It seems to be unique and is certainly a very fruitful and edifying community we have here.

          2. Matthew DuBroy

            Come to think of it the place where similar discussions are going on is in the fitness community – somewhat based in crossfit. The discussions are about how best to do things and people try things and see how it works and it is based on research, etc. Similar to what we do. One of the leaders of such a discussion is Kelly Starrett (who actually just founded a website to help kids become more active and be better in school. Here is just one interesting page:

        2. The idea is out there, Eric. They tried to get a Teacher’s Club (or something like that) going at my school. It was sort of a PLC, and they would get together once a month and take turns presenting ideas and activities. But there is too much paperwork in our lives, so the PLC was seen as just one more weight to bear and it eventually petered out.
          Mostly, it seems, is the admin takes something we have always done (faculty and dept meetings) and labels them PLCs. But there is no time to PLC. It is still the same old review the upcoming events and deadlines, and try to give a hint of an idea what the next teacher expectation will look like. The basic attitude sways back and forth between let’s hurry up and get this done and get out of here, and trying to figure out the what/how/why of the aforementioned events, deadlines, and neo-expectations. It is not all negative. We joke and enjoy each other’s company. But it is typical ed reform in action: same ol’ same ol’ with a fancy name or acronym.
          This is what a PLC is supposed to be.
          Also, I started a Best Practices in TCI PLC. There has been one taker, Scott. But we have an official monthly meeting. A few new teachers have expressed interest, but time (family and professional) is a real problem. But we keep plugging away. Laurie’s visit was a result of my PLC proposal to our curriculum coordinator.

  4. I love this group. No egos. Ideas shared. Just that: ideas. Not statements of right or wrong.
    Chris makes a good point about writing in different genres being too hard for a beginner. Though, maybe not if we had HS students and if they were reading in multiple genres. I also bet there would be L1 writing style transfer.
    For the same reason, writing from pictures is sometimes not level-appropriate. I had this discussion with Beniko Mason and witnessed it firsthand, because I did NOT take her advice at first. I used a storyboard to elicit writing rather then giving kids a TL reading to summarize. As she warned, this may work for intermediates, kids may spend more time thinking than we want and not writing, and kids will have more they want to say (thinking in L1) than they know how to say in L2. When we give them a story in L2, not only does that require they demonstrate comprehension, but it also gives them the language to then complete the writing, so we get more output. Of course, if the reading is long enough and done under timed conditions, then there will be less of a “memory effect.” We don’t actually care how accurately they retell the story. We care about their language use.
    We’ll never get a perfect picture of “acquisition” in any “test situation” since the very nature of a test makes learners clam up and any sense of evaluation heightens the monitor.

    1. I see the point: using a TL reading to summarize as a writing task (both showing production and comprehension) instead of writing from a storyboard, because when looking at a storyboard, kids will have more they want to say then they know how to say it in the L2.
      Yet, I think the storyboards can be novel for students and thereby motivating. And then, for our students that refrain from reading independently at all costs. I know I’m not the only one that has these students!
      But thanks for splashing buckets of thought on us, Eric. I have to implement more of these writing tasks before I can share any insight.

  5. I think we don’t compete partly because most of us are mostly on the same page. But also cos we are exploring.
    Eric raises an interesting point. How *do* you set up a situation where you minimise the “test-y feeling” so monitor is off? My guess is that anxiety goes up partly because in a regular class tests are way “different” feeling from what is normally done. It just feels weird. Steve Bruno told me that one of the things that happened when he went to TPRS was that test anxiety and absences vanished, even among the IEP and low-processing kids. I mean, you spend 4-7 days doing a story, PQA,nreading, movietalk and whatnot…it’s not much of a stretch to write down what you’ve been doing.

  6. I was that one that originally sent a message to Chris Stolz and Cynthia Hitz (via Twitter) because I know they both share ideas on their blogs. I love that Chris has challenged other people on Twitter to do the same. I love that he fiercely can do that (sometimes I am too chicken to ruffle any feathers).
    The point of sharing these writings is to get teachers to think about how they develop fluency. As we know… they AIN’T. I am so tired of hearing about test DATA. It means nothing really. The actual student handwriting and language output in timed writings advances our talks. All my students that go on to other levels always say that they were better writers in my level 1 and 2 classes and can’t produce the same in a level 4 class.
    The key thing to articulate about these writings is that they do not represent output in the TRADITIONAL SENSE. If we can make that distinction, now we are getting some where…
    We all know that true fluency will never happen in the confines of an individual school year (mircoFluency perhaps).
    These writing examples are evidence of FLUENCY DEVELOPMENT and should be prsented as such.
    Directly or indirectly discussion of the results will benefit the quality of input by all teachers that use them. It also shifts the talks off of pedagogy for those that are not equipped to discuss.

  7. and here is the other difference:
    Write 100 words about your weekend. Be sure to include 10 verbs in the preterite tense and 10 in the imperfect. I will also be looking for two-three examples of direct and indirect pronoun combinations. Writings that do not include this unit’s vocabulary will not receive a high score on the rubric.
    Yup..that’s pretty typical for most writing evaluations at the HS level.
    Talk about “monitored” writing!!
    with love,

  8. Earlier this year, Blaine and I were exchanging a bit about students writing on new topics (speed writes). I told him when my students wrote on new topics the writing was not as good as a story retells…it did not really reflect their acquisition level. I mentioned the writing quality was better when they did not have to search too much for “new” thoughts and language. Here is a bit of what he wrote back…
    “Writing stories is like having the wind at your back because all you have to do is reproduce what you have heard. It is totally different when you have to formulate and put it in another language.”
    I really like the idea of the “wind at your back” when writing in L2.

  9. On the heels of the SOPA that I wrote about earlier this week, I noticed how hard it was for my 4th graders to both hold the mental picture of their pets and then describe them. I’ll bet the output woulda been ‘better’ if they were describing from a photo. Everything in language is easier with a concrete reference, or so it seems.
    Have you ever noticed how the kids look at the calendar (I teach elem, so I have a big teachery calendar in my classroom) whenever they want to express a number? It grounds them! Just looking at the #s!! It’s like counting on your fingers!!
    I was thinking of ways I could better an inventory of where my kids are right now (I so despise the SOPA) and I do think a novel/unfamiliar reading using previously targeted language, followed by either oral comprehension Q’s, and/or inference Q’s would be an interesting way to see what they could do. Undoubtedly language begets language -that’s why Mother-ese/Care-taker language is slow, tonal and repetitive – so giving the written text first and then asking about the reading seems like a fair and compassionate (possibly filter-lowering) way to assess perhaps as early as 3rd or 4th grade…

    1. I wonder if having some pictures in view while taking an OPI test would be within the rules. On some of the open-ended questions that expect the interviewee to direct the topic, that sure would be a help.

    2. I don’t know if it is developmentally appropriate at that age to do that. Are the OPI tests (or were they) developed for adults? If so, it seems an appropriate adaptation to allow that for children. On that note…we cannot forget how important practicing visualization is with older students!!! Today’s society and education rarely require it and it is vastly important!!
      with love,

      1. Oh, I’m talking about teacher certification testing. As far as I know, the OPI is intended only for adults with considerable language experience. I’ve taken it twice and state certification in Wisconsin requires it. I passed well above the required level, but I think I got nicked on the part of the interview that I was expected to guide more directly in topic. Having a photo or two would’ve helped me add the level of detail the interviewer seemed to expect.
        Alisa’s comments made me think of applications beyond students.

  10. I am trying to think of a situation in L1 where we write without context. We are ALWAYS
    — responding to something in front of us (book, email, photo etc)
    — given a fair amount of time to reflect edit etc
    — using a language we are totally famiar with
    I think it’s 100% legit to give kids visual or other anchors to respond to in their L2+!

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