Sunday, September 29, 2013

Flipped Out September - Assessment time for Spanish II

This month rivals April for how fast it goes. I really want to be posting more often, especially about my Spanish II class, but finding the time has been a real challenge! We completed the review unit in Spanish II, and are almost to the halfway point in our first unit - Where I live. The kids are starting to really understand the system, but so many are struggling with basics that they should have learned in Spanish I. We spent four weeks reviewing conjugation and vocabulary while working on listening, speaking and reading skills. I had decided not to give them a formal assessment for this review, and now I think that might have been a mistake. There seems to be so much that I feel like they should know that they do not, and now I am left trying to figure out how to solve this.

To preface, I just gave my first Benchmark Assessment, which is a short assessment which tests vocab and grammar. It is designed to see how the students are progressing on their way to the Summative Unit Assessment. First, I was surprised how many are such poor test takers. The vocabulary section was fill in the blank sentences, and they had a word bank. Now, this is very different from the Spanish I ¨kill and drill¨ daily quizzes that they are accustomed to. So, I anticipated some issues. However, what is wrong with students that leave half of the section blank when they have words to choose from? It is very frustrating.

Now, in these sentences, they are expected to conjugate the verbs correctly, make adjectives agree, etc. Is this too much to expect from a Spanish II student? I expect this from my Spanish III students, but I think that if they students are ever going to learn how to choose the right vocabulary and use it appropriately, they have to be held accountable somehow. Unfortunately, this accountability comes in the form of grades. I wish I knew some other way to make students see why it is important. Now, they don´t lose much credit, just 1/2 a point on a 2 point question.

Their lack of studying well always leads to other conversations with students, like how to study. It is amazing how many students feel that just staring at a vocabulary list for ten or fifteen minutes is studying. And for me, what else do I need to do to help them ¨get¨ the vocabulary? They do some written practice, listening practice with the words, reading with some of the words, Google Voice prompts for speaking with the works, and online journals where they need to use some of the vocabulary. At what point does it become their responsibility? Should we be doing more bell-ringers with the words? I want them to be successful, but I also think that it is their responsibility to learn vocabulary. Still searching for new and better ideas to help my students succeed. Ideas welcome.....