Eleventh Departmental Meeting
Eleventh Departmental Meeting
Integrated Performance Assessments for Lesson Design
“I can” Statements for Student Self-Assessment
Joan: Welcome everyone to our final meeting for this school year. I think all of you will agree that we should be very proud of our accomplishments thus far. I have already begun to draft our ideas so that by the end of this school year we can share our proposed program with our administrators and School Board members. However, I need to tell you that, starting with our first meetings, I have been giving our principal and assistant superintendent brief updates on our conversations. So far, they have been very encouraging. If we are able to implement the credit-for-performance component of our program, we must get approval from the School Board because the credit for performance would be a policy change which only our Board members can make.
Ramon: What chance do you think we have to get the credit for performance as a component in our program?
Joan: Knowing our Board members, I think we have a majority of the Board who will vote for our change. There has already been a lot of discussion among the Board about raising student achievement. They want to make sure all students who graduate from our high school are ready for the rigors of college and career. I think they might consider using our World Languages program as a pilot to see what happens when all students are held accountable to high standards.
Giselle: I think our strongest talking-point is our belief that all students can succeed.
Roger: I agree. Student success underlies our entire program. Everything we do in the classroom focuses on preparing our students to be proficient in the target language. The Standards, the Proficiency Guidelines, the rubrics, the performance assessments, and now our lessons are all designed for student success.
Marta: Thanks, Roger, for showing support for the sample lesson I am going to share with all of you this afternoon. I mentioned during our last meeting that in the fall I had attended a workshop on the Integrated Performance Assessments or IPA’s. For our meeting this afternoon I have drafted a lesson which uses the IPA format. I have also added a few details to the workshop design based on all our discussions over the past several months. My lesson begins with a specific theme followed by the name and descriptors of the proficiency level. I am proposing that all our lessons begin with the intended level of proficiency for which the lesson is designed. For example, this lesson I created is designed for students at Novice-High. It may be somewhat repetitive to include the descriptors for the proficiency level for each lesson but it lets students know, in a more global way, the expectations for their performances.
Ramon: I can imagine over time that my students will be able to give the performance expectations without having to read them at the beginning of each lesson. Won’t it be amazing to hear our students tell us what they are expected to do in the language? I am imagining Novice-High students who, when asked by their parents, “What are you learning in Spanish this year?” will answer; “Well, I can speak and write using short sentences and phrases. I can comprehend brief texts and spoken conversations, but I still need a lot of visuals and gestures to help me along the way. I can talk about myself, my family, and my friends. I can also name and give my opinions about sports, classes in school, and things like that.”
Carol: I nominate that student to give a testimony at our School Board meeting when we present our program!
Marta: I’m sure student testimony of our program would definitely validate all our hard work. One of the central components of the IPA lesson design is the thematic focus. Each lesson focuses on one overarching theme. Also during the workshop we were challenged to come up with a theme which would motivate our students to want to communicate. I know several of you are really creative and can think of interesting and motivating themes, so I am relying on you to help us brainstorm some exciting themes for our students. The theme for this lesson is: “Who am I? Who are you?” I think this lesson would work for the first several weeks of school because most of us begin our Novice-High classes with a similar theme. I also think that with some minor adjustments the middle school teachers could use this same theme with their Novice-Mid students.
Roger: Looking ahead I see that you also have included the Standards for the lesson.
Marta: Yes. Including the Standard for each of the three performance assessments is something that I have added to the original IPA lesson design. I think it is important to include the Standards because we have discussed the need to have a Standards-based program. By including the Standards, we emphasize that our program is rigorous and professional.
Roger: Explain again why the lesson begins with the performance assessments.
Marta: It’s a “backward lesson design.” In other words, begin with the end or goal in mind. Let students know what the assessment performances are before they begin the lesson. Like in football, everyone knows, even before the game begins, that the goal of the game is to score a touchdown.
Giselle: Isn’t that letting the students know ahead of time what is going to be on the test? Wouldn’t letting the students know the assessments up front be a kind of cheating?
Marta: Well, it is definitely a different way of looking at assessments. With the IPA format there are no surprises. How can students tell you that they didn’t know something was going to be on the test when they have the assessments spelled out for them at the beginning of the lesson?
Roger: Letting the kids know up front what is expected will help me explain to my students the rationale for having them complete the daily learning activities. Now I can just refer them to the assessments to answer their questions, especially when they ask me to explain to them the reason they need to do the activities. I just need to make sure my activities prepare them for the assessments. I can see how this lesson design will keep me on track when deciding which activities I will use with my students.
Marta: I also learned at the workshop that the assessments need to be integrated which means that the assessment for the interpretive mode needs to connect with the assessments for the interpersonal and presentational modes of communication. By linking the content of the assessments to the theme of the lesson, we are showing our students that the purpose of language is to engage in meaningful communication. We are moving away from having our students 1) memorize lists of vocabulary with little real context, and 2) learn grammar rules devoid of meaning to learning language so that they can communicate their thoughts and ideas to each other and to an audience of listeners.
Joan: Marta, please walk us through the performance assessments. Reading ahead I notice you have students using the Internet to complete several of the tasks. We have already talked about trying to use more technology with our students. Help us visualize how our students can use the Internet to perform their assessments.
Marta: First, let’s look at the assessment for the interpretive mode of communication. The standard for the interpretive mode states, “Learners understand, interpret, and analyze what is heard, read, or viewed on a variety of topics.” In my lesson, the performance assessment for the interpretive mode asks students to either listen to or read a description of their new key-pal. To assess listening comprehension, students choose pictures that best describe their new friends. To assess their reading comprehension students complete an information grid based on what they read about their key-pal.
Roger: I think our students are pretty familiar with this type of assessment. However, do you see us using a rubric to evaluate the performance?
Ramon: Probably not, because the responses are either right or wrong. We could simply count the number of correct responses and give a numerical score. Students need at least an 80% to be proficient on the assessment.
Marta: Let’s continue with the assessment for the interpersonal mode of communication. I begin with the standard: “Learners interact with others using authentically appropriate language and gestures on a range of familiar topics.” To assess the interpersonal mode of communication students engage in face-to-face conversations with each other in which they talk about their key-pals. The purpose of the communication is for each student to find out information about their partner’s key-pal so that they can use the information to complete the task for the presentational mode.
Roger: Doesn’t the interpersonal assessment assume that each pair of students needs to have a different key-pal?
Marta: Yes. But instead of needing a different key-pal for each student, I would create or find four key-pals and then distribute them among my students so that when they pair up with another student for the conversation each student has a different key-pal.
Ramon: I would use a rubric to assess my students on this assessment task.
Marta: Yes, I agree. The performance descriptors in the rubric for interpersonal speaking tell students what they need to do to demonstrate their proficiency on this task. I also recommend that our students use the rubric during the practice phase so that they are very familiar with the scoring.
Roger: In addition to the rubrics, I suggest we show our students some examples of performances that both meet and exceed expectations. I think it is important to have our students see models of the performances before they begin the lesson so they know the expectations. I have a few videos of student interviews which I have collected over the years that I can show my students. The videos are a way to talk with my students about the qualities of a proficient performance. Students could use the rubric to evaluate the performances.
Joan: We could even use the videos to hone our own assessment skills. I can imagine several interesting discussions among ourselves as we try and decide the scores we would give to the students on the videos.
Giselle: I am not sure I’m seeing the integration of your performance assessments. Please explain the connection between the interpretive and the interpersonal mode of communication?
Marta: Ideally, the information that a student receives during the interpretive phase of the evaluation is used during the assessment of the interpersonal mode of communication, as well as in the presentational mode. In my example, I expect my students to use the information they learned about their key-pal in the interpretive assessment to complete the assessment for the interpersonal mode. Remember that, during the interpersonal conversation, the point is to learn about the key-pals of their partners. Now, let’s look at the assessment for the presentational model. The standard for the presentational mode states, “Learners present information, concepts, and ideas to inform, explain, persuade, and narrate on a variety of topics using appropriate media and adapting to various audiences of listeners, readers, or viewers.” The assessment asks students to introduce their partner’s key-pals to the class by using the information obtained during the interpersonal conversation phase of the performance assessment. Students present their partner’s key-pal to the rest of the class by posting their descriptions on a blog or a Web page.
Giselle: I can definitely see the integration of the assessments. If we decide as a department to use the Integrated Performance Assessment (IPA) as a template for our lesson design, we can all work together to create a bank of integrated assessments. From what I have read about IPA’s, the idea is to create assessments where students use the three modes of communication to express their thoughts and ideas on a specific topic or theme. Above all, the communication needs to be authentic. In other words, we constantly need to ask ourselves, would people talk about these topics in the real world? If the answer is “yes,” then it passes the “real world” test.
Carol: How can I prepare my students for these performance assessments? I can already see that a lot of activities I do with my students would not really prepare them for these kinds of authentic assessments.
Marta: If you look at the next section of the lesson design, I list several activities which will prepare students for the performance assessments. Remember that the performance assessment for the interpretive mode requires students to listen to a recording of their key-pals or to read an email in which their key-pals describe themselves. To prepare my students for the assessment I have them listen to people who describe themselves. To assess their comprehension, students select pictures which match the descriptions they hear. I also have students read emails from key-pals in which they describe themselves. Students then complete an informational chart using the information from the emails.
Ramon: I see how the activities prepare students for the assessments, but how do students learn the vocabulary and the structures they need to do the activities?
Marta: On the next page of the lesson you see the language functions, vocabulary, and language structures students will need to know. I list the phrases students need to know to ask and answer questions, to give greetings and leave-takings, and the vocabulary words they can use to describe themselves and their likes and dislikes. Spanish students will need to know how to make adjective agreement, the correct way to express likes and dislikes, and how to say, “I am, you are, and he/she is.”
Joan: As I read through the interpersonal and presentational activities I can see that each activity is designed to prepare students for the performance assessments. However, how do we make sure our students are learning the vocabulary and structures in meaningful contexts from the very beginning of the lesson?
Ramon: I am thinking that I would have my students learn to say five things they like to do. Once they have the vocabulary, I would have each student work with a partner and share what they like to do. Then I would have my students watch several short videos in which they hear people talking about what they like to do. The partner-practice and the videos continually reinforce what my students need to learn.
Giselle: I think all of us are pretty much expert in teaching vocabulary and grammar. By adding the Integrated Performance Assessments and the theme approach to lesson design, we make the connection between the learning activities and the assessments much more explicit. It’s the total package!
Marta: And, because we are going to phase-in our program beginning with Novice-Mid with our seventh graders, we can work with our colleagues at the middle school to create a year’s worth of Novice-Mid and Novice-High IPA’s which we use again with our Novice-High students at the high school the following year.
Ramon: One thing I think the lesson needs is a cultural component. I try to embed the target language culture in each of my lessons. If our students could actually link with a key-pal from the target language country, I can see how we could embed culture within the conversations.
Marta: I think the lessons definitely need to incorporate the Culture Standards. We need to keep in the mind the practices, products, and perspectives of the target cultures when we select our themes for the lessons.
Roger: Mentioning the culture standards brings us back to our previous discussions about using more authentic materials with our students. The Internet gives us a ton of authentic resources at our fingertips. We need to have our Novice students be familiar with using authentic resources from the very beginning so that they don’t panic when they have to read an article written for native speakers.
Carol: I propose that another way to bring more authenticity to our classrooms is to implement the 90% use of the target language. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language (ACTFL) has issued a challenge to all World Languages teachers and their students at all levels to communicate in the target language 90% of the time. Because our emphasis is for our students to be proficient in the target language, we need to provide them with meaningful communication during the time we have with them in our classrooms. Even at the Novice level we can still use the target language 90% of the time. It just means that we need to make our messages clear. We need to use more gestures, visuals, and body language. We also need to convince our students that they don’t need to understand every word we say. Now it becomes even more important to teach them how to ask for clarification when they don’t understand us.
Giselle: I think the theme approach to lesson design can help us keep in the target language. I see how the theme can spark communication. Students will quickly understand they are learning the vocabulary and structures so that they can participate in meaningful communication.
Joan: This seems like the perfect time to mention the “I can” statements from the LinguaFolio Project. The purpose of the LinguaFolio is to have students assess their own ability to communicate in the target language. The LinguaFolio is a checklist for students to record what they can say in the language.
Carol: For the lesson Marta created, we could create a student performance checklist for the three performance assessments. For example, to make sure a student is prepared for the interpersonal assessment, the student would check off the following statements before the assessment:
- I can introduce my key-pal by giving his/her name and where he/she lives.
- I can describe my key-pal to another classmate.
- I can tell the likes and dislikes of my key pal to my classmates.
Roger: I can see how the checklist really puts our students in the driver’s seat. I think the checklist will empower our students to take responsibility for their own learning.
Joan: As this is our final meeting of the school year, I want to thank each of you for all your contributions to our curriculum revision. Thanks to all of you, we have created an innovative program which, I am confident, will be accepted by our School Board. We have agreed to implement a World Languages program which will prepare our students to use the language they are learning for communication. We are using the best thinking of our profession to ground our program in the principles of proficiency and performance. I think I speak for all of us when I say that I couldn’t be more proud of what we have accomplished.
Ramon: Thank you, Joan, and to you, my colleagues, for the most rewarding year of my teaching career. To be honest, I was dreading the idea of spending so much time revising our curriculum. I had been through curriculum revision before, but this time, thanks to all of you, I can honestly say it was a lot of fun. I loved getting to know all of you through our discussions and now I can hardly wait to begin the program with our students.
Everyone: Three cheers for us!