Thursday, November 18, 2010

Results of speaking test-Warning...Emotional!

I am sitting here trying not to cry in front of my students. (Yes, I'm blogging during class while the students play on to practice French vocab and donate rice to poor countries!) I just had a student come to take his speaking test. Background: This kid is "trouble." He walked in the first day with an "I dare you to make me learn" look in his eyes. After talking to his teacher/mentor from last year, I learned a lot of information about his heart. He hung out with some bad kids before and was trying to re-create himself...but he didn't have any other friends to support him in that. So, needless to say, I have quite the heart for this student. Today, he wasn't going to try to take his speaking test. Another student said, Just's easy. So he came to me reluctantly and tried to work out some activities that his classmates do. I also want to say that this student missed more than half of my classes due to behavior issues. He gave me 4 of the 5 and then hesitated on "Brenda sings" I could hear him starting the ch sound that starts chante(sings). He stopped and said, "I can't remember." I said, "Yes, you do, just say it." He said, "Brenda chante." Then, I went on with my "above and beyond" questions, asking him where Brenda sings in French. He answered the question as well as another French!!! When I told him that he got 100%, he shyly smiled and walked away. Can you imagine what his life might be like in a class where a teacher dismisses him as a problem child? It breaks my heart.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Results of Std-based assessments

It's been a couple of days since I posted last, so please excuse me if I repeat anything said in the last post....

Last week, I gave my comprehension assessment, as outlined in the last post. Then, I got them back and I was confused again...How in the world do I grade this?? Here is what I did:

I looked at the matching section and I graded that and wrote a number correct. If they got 20 or more, I wrote a star, because I knew that they had met my goal for that section and received at least a 2 on the assessment.

On the back, I realized that some of the students were able to answer quite a few questions from section 3 without doing so well on the 2 (matching) section. I realized that some of my questions were too easy. Questions where they have to know a single vocab word to get it correct do not work...that's what the matching section is for! So, I threw those questions out and focused my attention on the questions that required actual comprehension of the reading. Questions like Why? How? Describe? really seemed to show me how much my students were understanding.

For section 4, I wrote questions that really tested whether or not my students were super-stars. I embedded some new vocabulary and asked them to define the words, using context clues and prior knowledge. I also asked some grammar questions...but I think those might have been too easy. So when I graded this section, I used my gut. If a student really impressed me with their insightfullness, I gave them a 4...and thus a 100%. If they were almost there, they got a 3.5.

So a 4 is 100%, 3.5 is 96%, 3 is 92%, 2.5 is 84%, 2 is 76%, 1.5 is 70%, 1 is 60%, .5 is 50% and a zero is 40%.

What this grading scale does is it allows you to give lots of credit to those students who are trying, but just haven't gotten it...yet. They can re-take the test as many times as they need to once they "get" the information (I'll probably write another story...) Another thing that I loved/hated is that it really showed me where my students really are. Sometimes in class, they can pass my comprehension quizzes (because there is so much English on the board)...but they haven't internalized the words yet. This is a great communication tool because they are telling me what they're not getting and I can then pass that on to parents. It's a bummer because students who were feeling very successful might now have a B or a C. But I bet if I gave them the same assessment in a month, they would do much better. But they are SO freaked out because their grades might be "tanked" for a few weeks.

All-in-all, I LOVED this process. I am going to do a speaking assessment tomorrow where the objective is to talk about 5 friends preferred activities. A two will be if they struggle or miss one or two. A 3 will be that they gave me 5 activities, but didn't really expand much. A 3.5 will be if they can answer English questions in French about where they do the activity or when and a 4 will be if we can talk back and forth in the TL about the activities. We'll see!!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Standards-based Assessments

As a district, we are moving towards std-based assessments, as are a lot of districts... This month, I have been working really hard on trying to create an assessment to prove that my kids are learning. I think that we, as TPRS teachers, really feel a lot of pressure prove that we're not just singing and telling silly stories, but preparing our students to communicate in the TL. I know that I have felt that pressure lately, times one hundred, due to some teachers in the upper levels who haven't been the most supportive of me.

With that in mind, I set out to prove that my students can meet our district French standards. The first problem? We don't really have any district standards for French. When we got together to write them a few years back, we were told to use the National and State standards as our guide. So our standards look really, really vague. So I thought...and I thought...and I thought. What have I been teaching my students these last 3 months? What should they know after sitting in my class all those hours? Well, for my first years, that was pretty easy, I guess. We've been circling with their cards, so they have a TON of vocabulary dealing with activities. So I made a sort of list of the vocab I think they should know at this point. They all fit into the category of discussing activities, so I made that my "theme" under the standard of comprehension.

The next step was to create an assessment that would easily tell me if students are meeting my objective, falling below it, or going way beyond what I've taught or expect them to know. So I took 25 of the vocab words from my list and made a matching section, asking them to match the French to the English. I called this my basic knowledge level. If they can do this, I know they've "got" the information. Next, I asked them to apply this knowledge by reading a short story I wrote, using the words, and answering English questions in English about the story. I had some trouble when grading this part, because I realized that some of the questions were way to easy. Asking if science class was fun or boring really only required them to recognize the word for boring...which they already did if they completed the first section correctly. So I had to throw some questions out and stick with questions like "Why?" "How?" and such. In the last section, the above and beyond section, I had my students translate some new words, using context clues, background knowledge, and what they know about French. I had never taught these words and the students had never seen them before. I also asked them to make inferences about the characters and pick up grammar points, such as why there is an -e at the end of this particular word...etc. Things that I consider nice to know but not essential at this point in the year.

I've run out of time, so I'll have to blog later about giving the test and seeing the results!