Testing Question

Dear Ben,
I have a question that maybe you or some others on the blog might be able to answer. I am required to give 10 daily grades and three test grades per six weeks. We have been in school two weeks, and I’ve given a few end of class quizzes. But, when doing circling with balls for the first six weeks or so, I am wondering how I am going to cobble together a test. Should I just keep track of the structures we have been using and give a vocabulary test, and maybe ask the kids to write a few sentences using that vocab? I am really at a loss as to what to do here. I am hoping, at least the first six weeks, I can just give two tests and count their best one for two test grades. Any suggestions would be very helpful. Also, by the way, even my level 3 kids, who know almost nothing anyway, are all really responding to this comprehensible input teaching. The principal, although he has not been in my class yet, has told me the kids have really been talking up Spanish class during their lunch period. So glad I have found this blog. Thanks for everything!



4 thoughts on “Testing Question”

  1. …should I just keep track of the structures we have been using and give a vocabulary test….
    No. This kind of memorization breaks kids’ confidence. So what to do? We are required in my new school to give a summative “common assessment” every three weeks. I plan to ask a story or just do some PQA for the first one at the three weeks mark and then ask 15 questions instead of 10 at the end of that class. Voilà instant summative assessment. Or so it looks to people. I will put a copy of the assessment I come up with and others from my team here as well when we get them – the above is our team response to the problem we share with you Irene – so they should help. Trust me those tests will look summative but be formative. They will be summative not in terms of content vocabulary, which is unfair, but in terms of the Three Modes,which is fair. There will be no memorization. I know Robert will approve.

  2. Ben, thanks for this comment: “They will be summative not in terms of content vocabulary, which is unfair, but in terms of the Three Modes,which is fair.”
    If we’re not struggling with this summative testing push yet in our districts, we soon will be. And if we share buildings/depts with page-turners, they will want to isolate common assessments to vocabulary they know their kids will have memorized.
    Ben’s comment here turns that conversation on it’s head and I like it when stale ideas get debunked with such ease. We’re testing their ability to listen, read, write and speak in the target language, not discrete vocabulary words.

  3. And Grant it helps that we have the national standards now all lit up in lights in our corner of the ring and they don’t. They don’t have the standards to support anything they do. The enmity that I carry to that last statement is rooted in the belief that all kids can learn a language and that they all can enjoy doing so and feel genuine success in doing so. I am very happy that, every day a little bit more, those teachers who make their living in intimidating kids with word lists are slowly being seen for what they are as mere deliverers-of-instrutional-services (Ted Sizer’s term). Like a building that still looks intact but has been steadily eaten away from the inside over years and years, their worlds will collapse.

  4. Once again, a wonderful answer that has stumped me for the past few days. I feel privileged to be a part of this blog …. and I have all of you to thank for the changes that make me feel like a competent and likeable teacher.

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