Saturday, August 11, 2012

Demonstrating Proficiency using PBL and the ACTFL scale

This year, my focus is going to be having the students demonstrate proficiency. I am moving away from the old written tests. I want my students to demonstrate their proficiency with new and old skills and concepts. I know, many of you may be saying "Duh", and although I have known this is the way to go, only recently have I found a way that I think will really be effective. I working to utilize Project Based Learning. If you are unfamiliar with this, check out this recorded webinar. It is a fantastic explanation of PBL.

In order to demonstrate not only proficiency, but movement on the ACTFL scale, I am also beginning the year with a baseline speaking assessment. I am going to do a baseline written assessment at the end of the review/beginning of Unit 1. I am hoping that these assessments will not only help determine students progress as we move through the year, but help me to identify common gaps in learning so that I can address them quickly.

My assessment plan for the beginning of the year
Students will be given videos to review previously learned grammar points. They will then do quick written practice and then demonstrate their proficiency with basic grammar and vocabulary through projects of their choice. I am giving them a question to answer, and they can demonstrate their proficiency in any way they choose. The first one is shown below. I asking for a 1-2 minute presentation from my regular Spanish 3 class, 2-3 in PreAp and 3-4 in level 4. My thought is to begin these PBL projects small so the students don't get overwhelmed. The project for Unit 1 is more involved and complex. I am also giving students three of these projects in the first 2 weeks - Present, Past, and Future.








As students are working on these assignments, I will be administering individual benchmark speaking assessments. I will be using a rubric that I was discussed in the Creative Language Class blog. They did a great series on assessing on the ACTFL scale and if you haven't read it, you should check it out. The challenge in this benchmark assessment is to find a way to do determine student abilities without demoralizing them. I am using a prompt that I found on the Creative Language Class blog which is as follows:

Your class has been working with students in Barcelona, Spain and you have shared lots of information about your daily lives with them. It’s time to find out more about what students’ lives are like in Spain so you have to interview a student there to find out what his/her daily life is like. Since your partner may not remember what you said about your daily life, be prepared to answer any questions he/she might have about your daily life. You may want to find out:

What your partner does daily at home, school, and/or work;
What your partner does most every week at home, school, and/or work;
Anything else you would like to learn about daily life in Spain.

Remember to greet your partner and thank your partner for his/her time. And don’t forget, your partner will probably ask you questions about your life as well.


After much consideration and searching the net, I decided this was a good benchmark for level 3 because the students should have enough knowledge to answer the questions coming into the class, and there is room for the students to show growth as we progress through the review and Unit 1. For me, I need to give the same assessment to be able to determine growth accurately. I will be assessing the students with this prompt after Unit 1, Challenges in Teen Life. With the new vocabulary students learn in that unit, as well as the continuous language use in class, I am expecting to see a big increase in abilities. My best guess is that students will score Novice Low - Novice Mid on the benchmark assessment. I hope they will be at Novice High when I reassess in October.

My goal for the students in level 3 is to be able to be consistently at Intermediate Low, and level 4 to be at Intermediate High in all activities by the end of the year. I am hopeful that with the tools from ACTFL* I will be able to accurately assess not only where students are, but be able to show them the areas where they need to improve.

I realize that approaching assessment in this way will be a big change for the students, but I am hoping that they will quickly embrace it. I think it is so much better for students to demonstrate their knowledge using these tools and projects then be stuck staring at huge tests. Since school starts on August 20th, I don't have long to wait to see how these new changes are received.

*I am adding the Performance Assessment Rubric from the Creative Language Class blog to the Helpful Class Documents tab.

**Many of my students have not done conversation and listening in a meaningful way in level 2, which is why I believe that they are going to begin low on the ACTFL scale. (I hope they prove me wrong!)