IB Language B Internal Assessment Practice

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I am new to the IB world this year and jumped in with SL Spanish.  (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look here).   One of the areas where students need much practice is with picture descriptions for the internal assessment. In the real thing, the students describe a picture and then have a conversation with the teacher about it. The process involves a 10 minute recording. With 80+ students, it is notpossible to practice this regularly with each individual. So I decided to use something old school in a more effective way. Here’s how my students practice using role play.

  1. I partner students on our language lab (this could also be done face-to-face).
  2. I have the students decide who will be the “student”  or the “teacher” first.
  3. I put a picture on my screen (could be physical copies if need be) and give them 5 minutes to take notes.  The “student” takes notes to be able to present for 3.5-4 minutes over the picture/topic.  The “teacher” writes questions to engage with the student for 5-6 minutes.
  4. After the time is up, the student begins the presentation (I record this on my lab, students could record on the voice memo app on their phones).  I keep a stop watch up and when 3.5-4 minutes arrives, the teacher interrupts and begins a conversation with the student.
  5. After the conversation time is over, I have the students use the appropriate IB rubric to peer assess.  I play the recording back and the student self-assesses while the teacher peer-assesses.  Once the recording is over, they discuss where they would put the student on the rubric.
  6. Then they switch roles and we begin again with a new picture.

This activity takes an entire class period, but is worth doing every other week or so.  I am conducting my orals the week after spring break and am confident my students are prepared!

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A World Cafe Jigsaw

I know, you are probably thinking, “What?!?!” but trust me, this combination of two activities really played out nicely and happened to work in both Spanish 2H and Spanish 3 on the same day.  In Spanish 2H, we were reading one of the Blaine Ray novels (El viaje de su vida) and in Spanish 3, we were reading an article about the Moors in Spain.

1st, we went into one of my school’s furnished collaboration spaces. Students were allowed to create groups of their own choosing; however, in each class (based on size) I limited group sizes.  For example, in my classes of 32-34, I said groups could have no more than 5 students but also no less than 4.

2nd, the groups read a specific section of the text and took notes over pertinent information, including listing out new words they figured out from said text.

3rd, one representative stayed at the table and everyone else shifted over a table.  The representatives shared the information they learned while the new people took notes.  Then the visiting group shared what they learned.  Throughout this part of the activity, students shifted tables 5 more times and learned about all sections of the text.  Representative stayed put and learned as the groups cycled through their table.

This is a useful alternative if the traditional jigsaw is too complicated.  I like to mix things up, so I plan to still use both methods.  Soon I am going to do a true World Cafe activity.  More on that later :).

TFLA Conference in Frisco, TX

Friday and Saturday I attended the Texas Foreign Language Association conference in Frisco, TX and had the opportunity to rub shoulders with some absolutely fabulous educators including Clarissa Adams, Amy Lenord and Noah Geisel.  I also got to meet a #Langchat friend, Amber Hawk.

I often take opportunities for optional professional development because I love to learn, but recently, I have felt that other than those offered by my coordinator, there hasn’t been a whole lot that has helped me grow as an educator recently.  I began to wonder if I was becoming someone who thinks I know everything and thinks I have nothing more to learn.  I had been doing a lot of self-reflection when TFLA rolled around.

I was so excited to attend and learn some new ideas to incorporate in my classroom.  I’m a life learner and a perpetual optimist so I had no doubt I would get at least something out of each session I attended–this was a weekend dedicated to world language teachers after all so it had to be a winner.  I went to 4 sessions on Friday and left feeling more or less disappointed.  Don’t get me wrong, I heard about some cool ideas and some interesting brain research information, but overall, I did not get as much out of the day as I had hoped.  Maybe I was becoming someone who thought I knew it all already…  I spoke with some other Plano ISD colleagues, and it seemed to be a general consensus that there was not a whole lot offered that helped us grow.  And then the light bulb went off.  It’s not that we aren’t just as eager to learn, it’s not that I think I know everything.  The reality is, we have come so far with our curriculum development and professional development in the last 9 years that we are ahead of the majority of other world language programs.

So now what?  We need to pay if forward.  Others are going to catch up with us and will be hungry for more like I am now.  It’s now our responsibility to share the wealth of knowledge and experience we have to help others continue to grow and catch up.  I met so many people who want what we have in Plano ISD.  We have a performance-based curriculum that is based on the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines.  We focus on communication, not grammar.  We grade on rubrics and assess with real-world tasks.  We teach in the target language from day 1 and witness our students in level 1 able to converse for 5+ minutes and write 100 words using transition, sequencing and flavoring words after 1 semester.  We are constantly reflecting, rewriting, and evolving.  Every teacher has a drop down Steven’s Learning language lab system in our classrooms.  We have a coordinator who works everyday to make sure everyone knows that world languages are relevant.  We have had amazing opportunities for professional development.  And now, we need to share.

So I am submitting a proposal to SWCOLT about getting on-level students to willingly participate in communicative activities through the use of various techniques including AVID strategies.  Or something to that effect.  I also plan to present with Shelli Brown on activities that support brain research.

On day 2 of TFLA, I went to 3 wonderful sessions that did not disappoint and reenergized me for the rest of the semester.  I enjoyed what I was able to learn at this conference and was quite participatory in the twitter conversation.  So much that I won a free conference t-shirt on Friday.  Check out the great collegial conversation #TFLA13.

Peer Editing for Success!

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Please ignore the horrible grammar, but enjoy the joke 🙂

Peer editing can easily become a waste of time, but I’ve tried several different ways and have hit on something engaging and beneficial to the students.  The idea I’m going to discuss tonight is a modification to Expert Groups which I learned about this summer at the AVID Summer Institute (are you tired of hearing that yet?).  Basically, I have 6 different tasks for the students to complete as they read.  Rather than have them read 1 paper and complete all 6 , I have them each read 6 different papers, doing something different with each paper.

For example, while reading the first paper, they must circle the first word in each sentence.  Why?  If every sentence begins with, “I,” perhaps they have forgotten to incorporate transition, sequencing and flavoring words.

With paper 2, they underline every verb.  It’s harder to write in L2 than L1.  Students tend to have a few favorite verbs, and this encourages them to consider more variety.

On paper 3, students draw a box (not rounded) around every transition, sequencing, flavoring word they find.  ACTFL doesn’t list that as something novice writers and speakers can do.  Come to Plano ISD, we’ve proven they can!

After reading paper 4, students write a specific positive comment about it.  I give good and bad examples.  I don’t want, “That was good.”  I do want, “I like how you transitioned from one idea to the next by using the transition, on the other hand.”

After reading paper 5, students write a specific suggestion for how the paper can be improved.  Again, I give good and bad examples.

Finally, I repost the original prompt/task, performance expectation, and requirements.  Peers note what the author included and what is missing, along with counting the words.

By breaking it down this way, the students do not get overwhelmed or feel inadequate to complete the peer edit.  Notice, I do not have them check for grammatical errors–though I always tell them that if they see something questionable to mark it with a “?.”  Editing in the LOTE/World Language classroom can easily and effectively be done with a little guidance from us.

The Four Corners of Collaboration

Today we began content, and I was worried.  Why?  Well, we spent an entire week on team building and setting the tone, and it was a lot of fun.  Last week is a tough act to follow.  All weekend, I thought about my plan for level 3.  Part of the day would involve a a vocabulary brainstorm that I’ve done various ways in the past.  I wanted a way in which I could make it engaging for every single person in the room.  So we did Four Corners*!

There are different ways to do this activity, but here’s how I did it.  I told my students to choose (and move to) a corner of the room.  Naturally, the groupings were uneven so I did “nose-goes**” and sent people to different groups to balance things out.  Next, I gave each group a different category on a medium-sized piece of butcher paper and set a timer for 5 minutes.  In their groups, students brainstormed as many words as they could that fit the category.  Students could use phones to look up unknown words.  After 5 minutes, students rotated to a new corner where they had 3 minutes to read the the list and add words not already brainstormed.  After each group visited each corner, everyone returned to their seats and we processed the activity by discussing which categories were easier and which were harder.  We then segued into what they thought the new unit was going to be about.  They seemed intrigued, and they did not hide the fact that they were having fun.

At the end of every class period I heard students saying, “Spanish goes by so quickly.”  I agree.  My days are flying by because we are having so much fun every period of everyday.  I hope that is everyone’s experience right now!

*I learned of the activity Four Corners at the AVID Summer Institute last summer.

**Nose-goes: when someone says, “Nose goes,” the last person to touch his/her nose must do whatever it is that no one is willing to do voluntarily.

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