Feb 21 | #EarlyLang

“Assessment Design in the Early Language Classroom.”
from February 21, 2018

On February 21, language teachers from grades K-8, and beyond, met for the bi-weekly #EarlyLang chat. Participants discussed how to determine what to assess, what tasks to use and how to adjust them, as well as the difficulty in maintaining continuity with irregular schedules.

Q1:  How do you decide what to assess?

Several participants mentioned that they focus on objectives and can-dos, ensuring that students meet the objective and are able to demonstrate their learning.  Another popular suggestion is the use of backward design to determine the end goal and build a summative assessment to catch the goal, ideally through project-based learning.  Some participants use formal assessments, but only with older students; informal assessments and observations provide enough information for teachers to be able to target their instruction, note what students are learning in real time,  and tweak any formal assessments.

Q2:  What kinds of tasks do you give early language learners?

A lot of participants use visuals to:

  • Tell a story by using a sequence of three or more pictures (@PreKlanguages)
  • find images in a picture book that fit a certain phrase (@SECottrell)
  • @Seesaw tasks like take a photo and describe it orally w a recording (family portrait), and now you can upload a template and have them draw, type, record (@srtacoulehan)
  • Listen and circle a corresponding picture (@NathanLutz)

Other strategies included role plays, choosing phrases to match a recording, information gap activities, and any real-world activity such as creating a healthy menu from a list of foods.

Q3: When spiraling through the grade levels, how do you adjust assessment tasks as you revisit previous themes/content?

Students’ age serves as a guide for assessment tasks.  Younger learners are assessed through interpretive tasks while older students demonstrate learning through production–greater variety in description, comparison, etc.  Also, with older students a gradual release of responsibility and reduction/elimination of scaffolds as they gain confidence and proficiency.  Finally, use of vocabulary recycling through thematic units was suggested as a way to reinforce language learned.

Q4: How does contact time/frequency affect assessment?

The short answer is that it affects everything.  For example:

  • @windycitysenora, “the whole process is slowed down in elementary–a thematic unit can take half the year.”
  • @NathanLutz, “My Ss are fortunate to have regular class meetings; in previous settings, w/ fewer meetings, I tried to use assessments that were learning experiences – like mini IPAs.”
  • @doriecp, “I realize it really affects my writing assessments the most. #earlylang Ss need so much time to produce writing (even in L1) so I have to be realistic about my expectations of what they can produce in 25 min.”
  • @MaCristinaRV, “It’s difficult when there’s no continuity and classes meet Mondays and Fridays. The teacher even forgets what’s been covered… “

Q5: In terms of proficiency, where are you aiming in your #earlylang program? How did you choose your goal?

Most participants mentioned Can-dos as a guide, along with state language standards. Several also mentioned aiming for NH (novice high) to IL (intermediate low) to gauge learning and how students met learning goals; teachers met and determined what level was appropriate or districts set the standard based on grade level. Other suggestions included self-assessments and ensuring students are able to read, carry out a simple conversation, and write a short story.

Thank you to all who participated in this #EarlyLang chat! Thank you to our lead moderator, Valerie Shull, (@windycitysenora)‏ for leading the chat and to our co-moderator, M Cristina Rdz-Villa, (@MaCristinaRV) for helping guide the conversation. Thanks also to EMC School (@EMCSCHOOL) for sponsoring tonight’s chat. The next chat is March 7, 2018 at 8 pm EST.  Hope to see you there.

Want to vote for our upcoming #Earlylang topics? https://t.co/l1VbHqzLU1

This week’s chat is

sponsored by:

EMC School

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#EarlyLang chat, please go to the

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