That’s Just Stupid

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4 thoughts on “That’s Just Stupid”

  1. Ben, I get it, but what do we do about required assessments? My students take French 1 for one semester; they may not take French 2 until a year or two later! I have to show that they are meeting the standards, and the standards say they must be able to communicate by speaking (in addition to writing, listening, presenting, reading). With walk-throughs, observations, and parents checking Infinite Campus daily….. some output is necessary, isn’t it? Aren’t we forcing output when we require students to answer in TPRS, even if they are answering in a whole group? Except for the very few kids who WANT to learn another language, all input and output are forced (they are only trying to fulfill graduation or entrance requirements). I’m confused about output, how much, what kind, when……

  2. I’m sure that others will have ideas for you here….assessment plagues all of us. We all want authentic and accurate data that we can share (because as you said, we are required to) and feedback that we can give the students/parents/etc. Some thoughts:

    a. You are right. There is a TON of verbal output in a CI classroom. Every single time we use questioning, or ask a story, or do a class-wide reading activity, students are REQUIRED to respond. If the input is comprehensible, and students are responding, then the lesson, which by nature is interactive, will bounce smoothly between the teacher and the class.
    This output should be considered “informal assessment”, in other words, UNGRADED. However, you can make a note to yourself in your planbook about which classes are growing in this area and which are not. Classes which are not will need more trust-building and success-creating activities…which you can include in your planning. Having this kind of data to share with a mentor or administrator demonstrates your willingness to utilize data AND align with your educational philosophy.

    b. Assess the receptive skills frequently in the early days of language acquisition. There are actually three steps to “understanding” language: 1. Hearing it. 2. Recognizing it. 3. Comprehending it. (which can actually be several steps in itself) When we give listening quizzes in our dept. We will say a word/phrase aloud and ask students to write it in the L2 and then in English. Each item is worth 3 points: 1 for writing a word that resembles the word in L2, 1 for accuracy of spelling (YOU determine what is accurate based on where the student is in the acquisition world…and this point can be awarded differently if a child is given special modifications etc.) and then 1 point for knowing what it means. (and yes, I give credit/partial credit for goes to bed instead of go to bed in the lower levels…REWARDing success encourages growth)

    There is no reason why all quizzes in the first few months can’t be only listening/reading based. None. That is what aligns with your philosophy and the research. EVEN IF YOU ARE REQUIRED TO GIVE PRODUCTION-BASED MIDTERMS. If you give students the opportunity to produce in class and encourage their growth they will do fine!

    Some of this will be a leap of faith as you begin. I can only tell you that after over a dozen years of using TPRS, and watching others adopt it, that the acquisition will be pure, astonishing, powerful and long-lasting. The first semester will be an adjustment for all of you. BUT, if you frequently point out to students HOW MUCH language they are acquiring and how their skills are way beyond what your students used to achieve, you can convince them that this is really working.

    The biggest challenge? :o) Because it is a natural process, they are often not aware of it happening. Because it isn’t boring and tedious, they mistakenly believe that it isn’t working. Another reason to use short quizzes and share with them how much they really can do.

    with love,

  3. Thanks, Laurie. That helps TREMENDOUSLY! We’ve only been in school 4 days, and I’m surprised at what the students can do already! (And, I’m not even good at it yet!) My students are so proud of themselves. This blog is really wonderful (THANKS, BEN), even if it’s a bit overwhelming at first. Which is good, because it reminds me what it might be like for my students learning a new language.
    What you said about “recognizing words” is so true, because not all of the students can do this yet. I won’t require a dictée until I’m certain that all of the students can pass it.

  4. Shari-
    I am just in my 2nd year of CI. I did my first embedded reading and dictee yesterday. the kids LOVED it. They said they liked it bc they could understand, bc it was completely in Spanish, bc they were able to READ with SUCCESS, then with the dictee: they liked it bc it “forced them to think about the written word and they learned better how to spell.” Wow – I love these kids! BUT….I also love CI and these types of exercises (and the bottom line of being patient with the kids – and letting them know you love them — they truly appreciate that!)
    But, I too, am struggling with how to handle common assessments that require production.

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