Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mistakes ....new and old - Reflections on Week 6

This week has been an interesting one. Students have been finishing up required work in class and their culminating projects are due next Thursday and Friday, so they have been finishing those up as well. We should have ended this week with the second benchmark assessment quiz in my level 3 classes.....but we didn't.

Why you ask? Well, I am still not doing a good enough job getting students watching videos and getting work done. I remember that the first unit is a hard one because it is the first time they are expected to learn new material in the flipped classroom. Where did I go wrong? I am not completely sure. At the beginning of the unit, the students watched the videos, did they work (well, most of them). For the second grammatical concept, they all pretty much decided they didn't need to watch the video. The concept is reflexive verbs, and yes, the students have seen some of this before. However, I told them all that there was new information in the videos that they needed to know. Why aren't they listening?

I am concerned that if I can't find a solution to this problem quickly there is going to be more trouble in the future. The teacher that did all of the level 2 last year decided that in addition to teaching his required curriculum, he would teach most of mine as well. I am not sure why. (For you Spanish teachers, this is what he covered in level 2: additional stem changers in the present, preterite, imperfect, the present and past perfect, future, conditional, present subjunctive, in addition to all the vocabulary and smaller grammatical concepts normally covered in level 2.) The result is, I have classes full of students that know a little bit of all of these tenses, are unsure when to use what, and are unsure of conjugations. So, I am going to have to cover these all again in some manner. So, I have to convince students that even if they have seen a concept before, if I am giving it to them again, there is a reason. For example, with the reflexives, I gave them some new verbs that change meaning depending on whether or not they were reflexive.

Now, if you have read previous posts, you know, I believe that if kids haven't done the work and you give them the break and push quizzes back, you are setting  bad precedent. However, when I realized that 80% of my students did not watch the video in all of the classes, I was shocked. I had many who were confused that we were supposed to have an assessment. Well, what was a teacher to do? I could have given the assessment and then spent the weekend grading failing quizzes, only to have to grade many of them again when we did the retake. This sounded like a bad idea (especially since I am behind in grading this week already.) So, I took a look at the schedule and decided I could push the assessment back a day without wrecking other deadlines.

What mistakes do I know I have made?
1.  The grammar practice assignments should be due earlier. In planning I was thinking that giving them more time gave them more flexibility and as long as they had it done prior to the assessment, that was fine. Clearly, that idea isn't working.
2. Even though I found in my notes from last year that we needed to do more fun vocabulary and grammar practice prior to quizzing, somehow, it didn't happen. The students need that to reinforce and continue working with the vocabulary to be more successful on the assessments.
3. A mini-speaking assessment was scheduled during the class period that many of the students were working on the grammar practice. This meant that I was working one-on-one with kids and not able to roam the room and notice that they weren't getting it done correctly the first time - before they finished everything.
4. By not correcting everything as they were going, many students had the entire practice sheet done incorrectly, which resulted in a)I spent forever checking them giving students less time to fix their mistakes in class and b) there were one or two in each class I didn't get to check at all.

Instead of the assessment, I had students write a quick skit with reflexives and vocabulary in groups of three. Then the groups rotated and performed the skits for another small group. It was an informal practice, but it got them to practice the verbs they needed to and reinforce the grammar rules and vocabulary that they needed for the assessment.

As I am finalizing the plan for the Fairy Tale unit, next week, I am going to go back and double check to make sure I am avoiding these mistakes in the next unit.