The Ups and Downs

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12 thoughts on “The Ups and Downs”

  1. First question: Is he ready to hear the truth? I would look at what you mean by “assessment” and what he means by “Assessment”. We fatten up our students with globs of input. We make sure they get the general message — some teacher go as far as words and even pop up grammar like verb endings. Anyway, we assess all the time. I have students assess themselves based on if they paid attention and contributed to the class. There needs to be some demystification on assessment — but first read below.

    There’s so much here in the primers as well as other comments posted; probably here too. We must tame admin — to use St. Exupery’s words from the Little Prince. The relationship developed with admin is so important to even begin having a conversation.

    I went “convert ops” for year one. I read, tinkered and even had to escape some trash talk from a dept chair. I have always tried to be a team player but not buckling down on traditional teaching. Now my principal is just starting to see the light because I started to send him articles about TPRS/CI _after he liked what he saw in my class_.

    To me the relationship needs to be maintained and even egos may need to be appeased. Admin needs to be tamed. Then BAM! let them observe the good RESULTS. Have them see freewrites from Low,Med, and High students in Level 1.

    Right now I am plotting a “Common formative assessment” that involves freewrites for level 2 of language students — French (myself) and Spanish (activities based teacher). Here, I am seeing an opportunity to show case the work that students have been doing in Reading and Listening. We will look strictly at the number of words.

    Much of our work is problem solving… to me CI is play dough that dares to fit anywhere. However, mandates,testing, absolutes, and data cripple it.

  2. Here is my plan:
    I will do word counts for writing and then they will pick their best one and I will assess it on ACTFL’s scale. They will blow it out of the water.
    I will do listening assessments where they hear a story and write or sketch their comprehension of the main ideas. I will staple their work to the text I read them and rate it on ACTFL’s scale which should blow them out of the water too.
    I will do reading assessments where they read and summarize in L1. This is what Beniko said to do.
    I am still pondering speaking assessments. They just seem so nerve-wracking! And speech is the last to develop! Maybe by April? Hey, a week of watching videos and interviewing kids might be the perfect early birthday present for old Hargaden. Heh heh…

    1. I am happy to read this Tina! These are the exact assessments I do. Except I have not been regularly doing freewrites. But I will add that when I can find a way to make it fun. It is not fun so far. The kids freak out. So I will wait.

      Speaking? Not sure about that. I still have a problem with “going on record” with a kids ability to speak and write bc of individual differences, as you know. I’m ok with assessing as in noticing, and having a dialogue with the student in order to encourage them, but I am not going to put that in the grade. No. Maybe I am misinterpreting ACTFL guidelines, but I’m trying to do right by the human function of language, not to mention the brain process.

      I just read a bit on Scott Benedict’s website since a lot of ppl use his stuff for standards based grading. My school does this so I thought it would help me understand. But it overwhelmed me. I do need to come up with other percentages so I will need to grind through some of this with my principal. I will also study Roberts system. I just get so anxious with the numbers because the reality is that “there is no such thing as an 88 in language acquisition.” Even BVP confirmed this.

      I found this process from Scott helpful: choosing a few kids per day to notice intentionally and recording that info. It’s all on the spot and not pre planned. Not really different than what I normally do, except this may help me be more specific. I will try it out this week for interpersonal & see if it helps. Maybe everyone already does this? I’m a slow processor.

      1. Oh jen nothing I mentioned above goes int heir grade! Their grade is ONLY jGR! I tell them it is like going to the doctor. It helps you know where you are. It is information only. Somehow they still try their best. Maybe cause they are PROUD and they have internal motivation cause the work is all INTERNAL anyways. I love seeing them shine. I have been getting real emotional this week about their success, which is so beautiful to see in their first year. I just wish that their success and joy would continue through the next five years…maybe it will one day.

  3. Speech assessments by April of their fifth or sixth year, with no apologies to the high and mighty College Board. No joking here. How wrong we are to test speaking and writing while the kids are still under 500 hours of solid input. The brain has had no time to organize all that unconscious muck into any coherent output, and that is according to the research. When are we going to all make this tired old discussion clear, since we are the professionals who are aware of the research (vs. the textbook monied interests who are not aware of the research or if they are it is not enough to interest them in making any changes to their golden geese, and that is not to mention ACTFL’s compliance in this matter)? So that one day kids in a middle or high school program can say, “Boy, I can’t wait until I am finished with my fifth year so I can see how I write and speak! That will be fun! I’m sure glad we don’t have to write NOW! (unless in a free write setting which is fun to me). I can’t do that fancy writing and speaking now, but someday I will be able to!”

    1. Yeah free writes are fun to me too! You have to set them up with a light touch, a sense of merriment, of wonder, of “Let’s see what we can do, just for kicks, kids.”
      I tell my kids that it is like getting to see inside their brains.
      And if you only focus on word growth, they LOVE IT. It taps into kids’ natural inclination to make lists and set goals and try to outgrow themselves. I would have ATE THIS UP as a kid.
      I would have eaten it up and then gone home to do more writing in L2. It would have cracked open my whole mind. It would have changed my life, and this is no exaggeration. Seeing art and writing and language welded together like this would have been very validating to me on many levels as a child. It would have been like attending a Montessori school or Jo March’s Plumfield Estate School for boys.

      1. I also love free writes and I always set them up in fun and lightheartedness, but for most kids the mere act of having a pen and paper triggers their worst fears. Most of my students are non readers in L1, and so I think I will need to start feeding them a lot more joyful fun reading experiences in L2 in order for the fun of writing to kick in.

  4. The plc member mentioned “a lack of assessment pieces”. Formative we do it all the time. Summative is just a “looking back ” after a “unit” is done. No looking back.

    What pieces are missing?

    1. Yeah Kristen, Claire Ensor once said to me that CI teachers assess constantly. She suggested observational rubrics that you fill out daily for a coupe of kids, noting what they are doing in class day by day that demonstrates acquisition. Might convince this idiot. Cause an idiot he is. You let me know what I can do to support you. You are my twin remember?

      1. By the way, DeSwamperflosxs went on to have a good date in the end, they went to In and Out and all was well. Love has returned to the tiny little Pumpkin Spice Latte and his love, the huge Strawberry Frappuchino. WHY do kids love Starbucks so much?!?!? Dutch Bros for the gold, in my book, but whatever.

  5. Hey Kristen. Sorry to hear you have to go through this too with your admin. We need to create a CI friendly admin group list. We can send them birthday cards.

    Ben mentioned when discussing Tina’s situation with her admin last week that TIMING is big when we decide to take on this fight.

    I worked, briefly, for a school that was all about game-design lesson planning. During our August PD we would collaborate on creating board games related to our curriculum. While admin was impressed by the level of cognitive engagement and language acquisition happening, they would still throw out the question, “How can you get your students to lead their own learning?” If I had stayed at that school I’m sure they would have let me continue my CI practice. It would probably have taken more than a year or two to convince them of the validity of the approach though since their whole schtick was this game-design stuff (or for me to use their language to explain how game-like my practice is).

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