I am working on a series of blog posts for the summer called Five for Friday. Sorry this one is a little late.
In addition to the digital ways that I assess oral work, I have several informal ways of checking my students’ speaking skills. I don’t want to stifle emerging communicative skills by taking off points for mistakes, so most of these checks are based on effort rather than accuracy. My grades are weighted, and these informal assessments will be listed under the “participation” category along with the formal assessments I talked about in the previous post.
Participation seating chart: My mentor shared this with me my first year of teaching, and I have been using it ever since (thanks Kim!). My seating chart has boxes for each student. Whenever I call on a student who has his/her hand up, I will give them a tally mark. I color code each day with different ink color. If I use green ink on Monday, I can tell with a quick glance if I called on Suzy already or if the tally marks in her box are from a previous day. I keep this out for my students to see on their way to their seats or as they leave my class so they know how many times their participation has been noted. At the end of 3 weeks I tally the marks in each box, and then I come up with a scale for each class based on the tally marks. If I have a small class, those students will have more marks than a larger class will, so I don’t feel that “one scale fits all”, if that makes sense. Students do not need to be “right” in order to earn a tally mark. If all students have the same number of tally marks, I have no problem giving them all 10/10 points for that 3 week rotation. If I have a student who hasn’t participated, I will encourage her to raise her hand, but if she still doesn’t, then her grade will be 6/10 for that rotation.
Random notecards: I have my students write their names on 3x5 notecards the first day of class, and throughout the year I will pull out the class set, shuffle the cards, then randomly call on my students to participate. Like the seating chart, this is a effort grade. Sometimes the same student card will keep coming up all week, and I am ok with that because it keeps my students engaged, knowing that their name could be pulled even if they were just called on earlier in the week or day. Every so often I will pull the cards that haven’t come up frequently, shuffle those, and put those at the top of my stack. These cards are also where I keep track of workbooks/notes that didn’t make it to class or off task behavior. I now have a record for parent communication, and my students know that they are accountable for bringing their materials to class and staying on task. This grade is a quarter grade.
Skill checklist: I will use a class roster, and as my students are working with their partners, I will walk around and listen in to their conversations. I focus on a specific communicative skill subset (ie: direct object pronouns) when I do this type of assessment, and label the skill & the date at the top. As soon as I hear the student produce or use the specific skill, I will put a check mark on his name in the roster. I will keep checking for that skill for the rest of the week/lesson. If I get to the end of my week/lesson, and a specific student hasn’t produced that skill, I will engage that student in conversation with a question or prompt that will hopefully get the student to use the item I am trying to assess. Depending on what I am listening for the student will earn 2-3 points/skill, and when I have 10-12 points on my roster (for a variety of skill checks), I will post the grade on my digital grade book (students & parents have access to this).
Conversation check: I use my seating chart as I walk around the classroom listening in to conversations in the target language. I will give my students a check mark on the side of their box if I hear them talking in the target language. If I only heard their partner talking, I will come back to visit them later on in the class or the next day. Once I have heard all my students talk about whatever that conversation prompt was, I will record it on my digital grade book. This grade is also out of 2-3 points/session. The only way a student will not earn the full point value, is if he is off task and/or is not using the target language. I will verbally remind him to speak only in Spanish with a quick “Eric-- español”, and if I hear English again, he will start losing points at that time.
At the door conversation: As my students are coming into my class, I do my best to greet them in Spanish, and either ask them a quick question or remark something to them. I don’t really have any way to record this type of oral communication, but I think it is one of the best to engage my students as soon as they walk in the door, and to get to know them quickly.