Sunday, January 11, 2015

Revealing student feedback

As promised, I began all my classes with a discussion about last semester and how to improve this semester. Sadly many of my students just stared at me when I asked them for feedback, but some of my level 3s had some good thoughts as to what they need to work on. Many of them carefully avoided eye contact as we talked about how copying the beginning practice work of a unit didn't help the, when it came time to apply their knowledge. Many now understand that by doing that, they end up struggling on the benchmark assessments, summative assessments and the final.

However, as testament to our poor start, many said direct object pronouns are confusing, or I still struggle with the past tense, rather than the application of that knowledge. I was hoping to hear....I still really need to work on improving listening skills, or I still struggle expressing myself while speaking. This mindset is something I have to change. There is still too much focus on grammar. I feel like we spend more than 2/3 of each unit working on application of knowledge but with this feedback, there is still too much emphasis on it.

With that in mind, I have created a weekly calendar of our focus for each day. I have tried this before, but it I such a struggle with the alternating block. It is even more of a struggle in the Spring semester with days off, testing, etc. but I am determined to make it work and have enlisted the help of the students. (I know they love to tell me when we get off task.) I have written the weekly schedule on the board - Monday-writing, Tuesday-conversation, Wednesday-Conversation, Thursday-reading, Friday-listening. So the plan is to begin each class with activities with the appropriate focus. Then students will move on to their assigned work, which also includes these activities.

I also am going to do more one-on-one feedback with the students with their homework phone calls and journals. When I grade them, I almost always give comments to the students, but I know the majority of them don't really look at it. So, every week, I am going to have a mini conference with the students about these activities. My plan is to divide the class into groups of 5 or 6 so I can get to everyone once a month. With the 3s phone calls, I am thinking that after our initial feedback session, I am going to email them their audio and have them evaluate their own speaking first, and then we can go over it together.

Hopefully these things will help the students focus more on the communication, and less on the grammatical portion of speaking Spanish.