This year, like all New Years, brings with it a sense of excitement and renewal. We just returned from a 2 week break (we came back to school on Thursday of last week) and everyone is happy to be back and ready to learn…or at least I am!
2018 brought with it a lot of interesting changes and a huge opportunity-speaking at ACTFL. 2019 is on track to be an even more eventful year, with more presentations (online and hopefully face to face), hosting webinars (thanks NNELL!) and opportunities to connect with other teachers. I’m looking forward to so many things.
More on those outside-of-school things as they come.
In my classroom, I am making some interesting changes and implementing some new things for the first time.
At ACTFL, I spoke with several teachers about using novels in the classroom. This has been something I’ve always wanted to try and this semester is the time! I have a class set of Brando Brown Quiere Un Perro ready to go. As I work through the novel with my 6th graders, I will be updating with the highs and lows, the successes and challenges of teaching a target language novel for the first time.
Consistency in Evaluation, Assessing Only What’s Necessary
I find individual proficiency evaluations to be really challenging, not because I have a hard time with rubrics or with content to evaluate-my challenge is finding the time. With only 2 days a week for 45 minutes, any time we’re not actively learning seems like a lost opportunity. But not anymore. I have a plan for one on one evaluation (spoiler alert: it involves using centers).
On the topic of only seeing kids a few times a week, I also find it very challenging to grade written work and return it in a timely fashion. It seems like as soon as I finish grading, I am away from that group for 5 days and their grades work gets lost in the shuffle.
The solution? Assess work as it is being done. Rather than collecting work and grading it/writings comments or corrections after the fact, I have been working on reading the students’ work as they are writing. It seems like a common sense idea that could be pretty helpful in making feedback more immediate and meaningful–It is already how I provide feedback and assess interpersonal conversation activities (providing feedback as I walk around the room and listen to conversations) and presentation (grading with the rubric as I hear the students’ presentations).
I’ve talked about the Choose-Your-Own homework assignments I have given in the past and I plan to continue to give those assignments. In addition to that, I plan to give a different kind of low-stakes assignment: tell someone outside of our class what you learned today. This started as a k-1-2 “homework” assignment but can work for older kids. It helps students to solidify the information we’ve talked about in class and it is good for advocacy-it let’s the parents see their kids’ progress and see their proficiency/performance growth.
So that’s what I’m working on doing this year. More updates on everything I’m working on, as well as updates on the presentations and webinars I will be presenting in the coming months.
Cheers and happy new year!
I’m taking a semester off from teaching a novel for the first time in a while, but it’s made my and my learners’ world more streamlined, culture-filled, and engaging! My middle grades did El Ekeko last semester and we loved that one! Looking forward to hearing how it goes.
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