29 January 2018

AAPPL Writing Topics

I WANT that Seal of Biliteracy on my students' diplomas! But since our school schedules are set up in such a way that kids basically have to beg for even Spanish III to be squeezed in between college classes, a test is the only way to make that happen.

And I kind of like the AAPPL test anyway (in case that wasn't patently obvious).

The truth is that I haven't had to modify my approach to writing assessment a great deal from how I did IPA's in the past. Really, the main difference is including multiple topics, and perhaps a little extra attention to the level and context.

See, on the AAPPL test, teachers and students of Hindi, Italian, Japanese, and Thai get some pretty specific topics to prepare for on the upcoming test:
NOVICE: Write about your day, what makes you happy, and send an email organizing a car wash for your club. 
INTERMEDIATE: Compose an invitation to a surprise party, give advice, and write some questions to a friend traveling abroad. 
ADVANCED: Write about a song you like, your favorite day of the year, and write a letter of recommendation for one of your teachers.
I'm not saying I want to practice organizing a car wash, but, you know, I know exactly what I could do to get kiddos ready for that sort of thing...even if I probably wouldn't do it anyway.

Here are the 2018 writing topics for us Arabic, Chinese-Mandarin, English, French, German, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish teachers (Grades 7 and up):
NOVICE:  • About you • Describing people • Your community and you 
INTERMEDIATE: • School • Seeking information • Favorite subjects 
ADVANCED: Vacations • An application process • Social media and you
Those topics could go a whole lot of different ways with a whole lot of different audiences and contexts--and they have!

The AAPPL demo includes prompts like...

  • Emailing an exchange student: 
    • "Please write down four things to do here or places where someone might like to go."
    • "Please write about four friends here at school. Write their names and say why you are friends with each one of them. Write at least two sentences about each one."
    • "Please write about four activities that keep you and your friends physically fit. Write about what the activity is and why you like it (or if you don't like it)."
    • "Write down at least four good questions that will help us get to know someone. Try to ask for more than basic facts."
  • Building a wiki for English Language Learners:
    • "Follow the outline" - Explain a shopping mall including layout and a personal experience
    • "Follow the outline" - Describe your favorite club, how its schedule of activities is organized, and a specific experience as a member.
(Side note: the "follow the outline" thing is new to me. I will have to add that in future topics!)

Because I know they're not going to just smack one of those noun phrases on the top of the test section and set kids loose, I try to set up a variety of relevant situations that connect not only to AAPPL's designated topics, but also our current projects  In my practice AAPPL assessments. So here are the prompts that I have used so far this school year.

I like to think they are all pretty open, and both novices and intermediates could find something to say on these topics. I tried to connect at least one of the recommended novice or intermediate topics with each, but some are a little loose in their application, but there's a lot of overlap too.

Maybe you can adopt or adapt some of these prompts for your current students or units, maybe even an IPA!


  1. Write a letter to a potential host family in Peru about what foods you do and do not want to eat if/when you go to their house with Sister Cities. (About you)
  2. Write out a plan of what you want to do with visitors from Sister Cities for a whole day in Gaston County.  (Your community)
  3. Write an email to your Peru project group member(s) about what you want to investigate and what other information your group needs. (Seeking information)
  4. Write an email to a friend in Peru about simple everyday problems that you have at school and at home. Find out if they have the same problems where they are. (School)
  5. Create an announcement for Global Giving, an organization seeking donations to help with recent natural disasters in Mexico or Puerto Rico. Describe the problems that citizens are experiencing. (Subjects)
  6. Create an advertisement for your favorite invention--real or imagined. What does it do? What do you like about it? (Subjects)
  7. Write a cover letter for a job that you want to apply for: describe your abilities and how they are important for the responsibilities of the job. (Describing people)
  8. Write the instructions for a familiar product, including what you should and should not do in order to care for the product and best use it. (Subjects)
  9. Write a step-by-step plan for how your group can attract more clients--especially Latino clients--to invest in your company and to buy your product. (Subjects)
  10. Write a letter to  a student in next year’s Spanish I class about what they are going to learn and do as well as what they should (and should not) do to have the best possible experience. (School/Subjects)
  11. Create a contract for people who want to work in a project group with you. Explain what you can do for the group and ask about responsibilities and abilities they need to demonstrate if they want to be in a group with you. (Describing people)
  12. Write the script for a commercial for a restaurant that makes and sells strange foods. Explain the ingredients they use and what makes the food special.
  13. A friend is looking for some help keeping her resolutions this year. Write to her to find out more about her goals and also to give her some advice on how to achieve them based on your personal experience and/or research. (Seeking information)
  14. A new reality show about pets, Mascota Especial, is looking for unique pets to feature in their program. Write to the show to explain why your pet (or someone else’s) should be on the show. What can this pet do? What makes this pet special? (Describing people)
  15. The local animal shelter is looking for volunteers to help with a fundraiser to benefit local cats and dogs in need of adoption. Write an announcement that could be used in flyers to attract more participants to help. (Your community)
  16. Your friend in Peru is considering getting a pet. Write down your advice and personal experiences with animals to help her decide whether or not she should get a pet and what kind. (Describing people)
  17. Describe four of your teachers for the incoming freshmen who understand Spanish. Write their names and explain what you do in their classes. Write at least two sentences about each of them.(Describing people)
  18. Write a review of a local restaurant an online guide for Spanish-speaking visitors to our community, including what you liked/didn’t like about the food and experience. If you can, add a story about a time you remember when you were there with friends and/or family. (Your community)
  19. Write about four clubs that are available at our school and the activities students do in each. Write about each activity and why you like it (or if you don’t like it). Include four good questions to help the incoming freshmen decide which club they should join. (School)
  20. Write a college application essay to your dream program at your dream school. Explain why you are a good candidate for their school and their program. (Subjects)
UPDATE 5/25/18 - Outline prompts

You have been asked by the local Hispanic newspaper to write a piece for Teacher Appreciation Week about your best class ever. Follow the outline:
I. Explain activities and events that made the class special for you.
II. Describe the teacher’s personality and habits.
III. Write about your favorite memory from that class.

Several of the incoming freshmen for GECHS have parents who understand Spanish better than English. Write a welcome letter to the parents of these new students to help them understand what to expect. Follow the outline:
I. Explain the classes their students take the first year.
II. Describe in detail your favorite class from your first year and explain the projects and activities from that class.
III. Write about one specific experience from your first year. Be sure to tell the whole story and why you remember that experience so well.

You have been asked to help promote an upcoming adoption drive from the Parks & Rec pet shelter through social media. Write an Instagram post that you would include with a picture of a dog or cat that is up for adoption there in order to inspire people to adopt. Follow the outline:
I. Describe what makes the dog or cat a good pet.
II. Explain how easy it is to adopt a pet..
III. Write about one specific experience you or someone you know has had with an adopted animal.

No comments:

Post a Comment