04 April 2017

Small Group Speaking Assessment

The level of confidence I saw in the final round of assessments last semester--after the tearful season mid-semester--it completely convinced me that this is how I want to assess going forward:

  • with small groups
  • with prepared cues

  • with student choice


Students have 2 days to A) choose a relevant topic from a list I provide and B) prepare a sort of 10-slide ignite/pecha kucha presentation from a template posted to Classroom. To give you an idea of possible topics, here are this week's from Spanish 2 and Spanish 3 online:

Spanish 2
  • Props 
  • Costumes
  • Stage directions
  • Musical instruments
  • Flags (we studied some as part of their costumes)
  • The judges' criteria
  • Suggestions for actors/singers

Spanish 3 online
  • The worst part about traveling to another country
  • The best part about traveling to another country
  • Why you want to visit your country (and maybe not others)
  • How to prepare for travel abroad
  • How NOT to have fun in another country
  • Why you will never go to [Spanish-speaking country]
  • Tastiest/strangest foods in your country (or others)
  • Most exciting/boring activities to do in your country

They can use NO words on the slides WHATSOEVER except on the title slide and "Obras Citadas" at the end. If they pick an image with words, they have to cover those suckers up! Mostly it's because they distract me while they're presenting, and the whole point of the slides at all is just to jog their memory about what they want to say--not actually tell them what to say.

I do encourage them, however, to write out exactly what they want to say--in Spanish--in the presenters' notes. If they get it in the first day (and I'm not prepping for one conference or another) I might even offer explicit slide-by-slide feedback. If they want to memorize this word for word, bully. I'm mostly focused on what they're saying in their Q&A--and their classmates'--afterward anyway.

On my end, I've set my room up in little presentation pods like so:

I've got the wheely chairs in the center for presenters, and then everyone else--including me, can focus from the outside. Ideally I would be able to have 5 kiddos per group, since that seems to be the happy medium for being able to ask enough questions without having to ask a question every single time. However, my little windowless room does not have that kind of wiggle room. I may experiment later with little 2-table triangles if I can fit them, though.

I have been tinkering with a response tracking sheet for myself that looks like this:

Honestly, though, I just grab a pack of index cards and put names at the top in "voluntario o víctima" order--different colors for different groups if I'm thinking ahead.

On The Big Day, I pull up my easy AAPPL rubrics to show them what it will take to get 100% that day, emphasizing verbs, questions, and responses primarily. (It also comes in handy having it in my sightline if I'm having trouble deciding where a student falls.)


The real beauty of this setup is that I almost NEVER have to talk. I put start my stopwatch, so I can gently stop them around 2 minutes (or 3 if I'm feeling generous and not rushed), both with their presentation and their Q&A immediately following. That's about 5 minutes per person.

Yes, it takes me at least 2 hours/days, this time during listening and writing assessment (which, by the way, was nice, because everyone else having headphones on while they talked helped assuage the old self-consciousness for presenters).

While my stopwatch is going, I'm furiously noting the different verbs I hear (more verbs=more kinds of sentences I figure, so possibly the difference between N3 and N4 or N4 and I1 for example). I also jot down and underline glaring errors just to start to collect ideas on what we need to review when assessment is over (spoilers: DEFINITELY definite articles this time around--mostly because they're all intermediate or darn close).

I jot down the questions they ask on one side (to determine intermediate status) and answers on the other (because these are really the sentences I'm concerned with, as they're the spontaneous ones). Since many are edging into I2/I3 territory, I indent under questions or responses when they have a follow-up remark/question too.

And to score, I typically write down two possible AAPPL scores and then mark one out when I've heard enough and possibly reviewed the notes on my card.

And that's it! That's how I get my kids talking about suggestions for the language festival and how they really feel about the date changes, as well as their preferred backup plans, along with their zodiac compatibility with Alvaro Soler and the odd history of flags or castanets.

And no tears!

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