As we move through the fun part of winter, it’s never too early to think about spring and the end of the year, which will arrive with its flowers, as it always does, in spite of how many layers of snow there are outside our windows now in early March.
I’m looking out into my backyard right now here in Denver at 4″ of snow and 11 degrees. Fun! We break out of freezing on Tuesday. But it’s March and the end of the year beckoneth! (Nice word, huh?)
When a semester or final exam period arrives, I just do a story following the phases of the star. An exam period of two or three hours is perfect for that. Again, I am assessing in a way that perfectly reflects my instruction. Let’s think about summative assessment in NTCI or TPRS.
A typical summative exam might look like this:
Section 1: PREPARATION – the students build a story with you in the Create phase through to however far you can get around the star, which depends on the length of the extended testing period. In a two hour testing period this set up work would last 40 minutes. In a three hour testing period this would be a 100 minute set up. Just go around the star without worrying how far you get – the time will get gobbled up.
Then leave yourself the 80 minutes for the testing part, as follows:
Section 2: WRITE – They write what they heard in English (20 min.) Note here that there are no correct answers, nothing to prepare for, no memorization. All the kids have to do is show up for the exam, ready for success because you have trained them so well during the months leading up to the exam. You thus uphold your promise made at the start of the year that all they have to do is listen and focus and you will do the work and there are no right answers, just their own experience with the language, and you will grade them that way.
While they are doing that Section 2, you have 20 minutes to write up the story given to you by the storywriter into the target language.
Section 3: TRANSLATION – Put the story, now in the TL, up on the document camera and they translate it. (20 min.)
You may have noticed that they could at this point, with the translated text in front of them, improve what they wrote in Section 2. That’s good. It encourages them to go deeper with their reading of the text on the document camera. Exams should teach kids things, not shame them for not being able to memorize things.
Section 4: QUIZ – They take a 20 point quiz given to you by the quiz writer. (20 min.)
Section 5: DICTEE – Give them a dictée that you read from the story handed to you by the story writer. In other words just do what you do in a regular class and put it into a written testing format, with big spaces on the testing paper, front and back on one sheet of paper.
This kind of exam doesn’t waste time! It is used for learning! And the kids really enjoy a successful testing experience because they are doing the same thing that they did all term long in the classroom.
Let’s review this suggested summative testing format for a NTCI class:
- Spend 40 minutes setting up a tableau or story if the exam period is two hours long.
- Spend 100 minutes setting up a tableau or story if the exam period is three hours long.
- Give them an 80 minute exam.
- For the first 20 minutes they write what they heard during the set up time.
- For the second 20 minutes they translate what you put up on the doc camera.
- For the third 20 minutes they take a quiz.
- For the third 20 minutes they take a dictée.