This week I decided to try something different as an oral assessment for my level 3’s. Students had just finished a unit where they learned how to discuss their extra-curricular activities, learn about schools across cultures, and also how to use the expression “hace cuanto tiempo que…” in different situations. The idea itself came up last year while thinking of ways to use design thinking strategies as project based assessments, in hopes of tossing the standard type of assessments I see published among various curricula. After all, we want our students to produce the language above all, meaning, to use it, speak it within a natural context, rather than just have an interviewee type of oral test I had been doing in the past. For this assignment, I made a list of all the different areas of the school that the students have contact with- everything from the different floors, offices, theatre, gym, labs, and even the different fields, weight room, etc. See here the different lists- 1 for the Middle school class, and the other for the Academy class. I next had students pick numbers, that would match them to the rooms/places they would then have to prepare. Each student had 2 different places.
For each place, they had to research- who was in charge, how long the room/place has been in use, when it is open/closed to the public, how students can use it, and anything else that might seem interesting and worth telling, in effort to “sell” the school to the “prospective student”. The task- As a class, we take a student led tour, each student presenting his/her place- and the rest of the students are busy asking questions about anything that was left out-Just as a regular student led tour would happen on a college/school visit. As I was the evaluator, I was busy jotting down what I heard from each student as I was filling out their individual oral rubrics. I barely said a word- the students led the whole thing. We spent almost an hour (and actually ran out of time to cover the whole campus) completely immersed in Spanish. Initially I led, with questions like “quien tiene…”, or ” quien enseña …”, “cuanto tiempo hace que…”, but as soon as I modeled what I wanted the kids to do/ask- they ran with it, and were excited to ask the presenter their never-ending questions. I can’t even begin to express how tickled I felt when the kids were completely improvising and using the language as we had learned, but in a real context. They not only had to present and ask questions, but they also had to be active listeners, (and not ask a question that had already been asked to the same presenter). Faculty we met along the way jumped right in as well and enjoyed seeing the kids speaking Spanish. Most of all, they were speaking spanish to each other! As with questions, come answers, and discussion. My heart was singing:)
The bell interrupted the tour while we were buried in the library, but no worries- we will continue next time. I asked the students on the way down the stairs how they compare this oral assessment to others they have taken in the past- they were unanimous that they preferred this, felt more engaged and communicative, and their enthusiasm only expressed it more.
Does this idea work with your classroom? What would you add/subtract?