Language Sensei

A Language Teacher's Journey

October 19, 2019
by leesensei
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Scaffolding UP: Learning To Support The “Less Confident” Writer

We do a lot to help our students  to raise their proficiency in presentational writing.  And based on what we do many kids do. They add detail, expand with reasons, try to explain and move beyond just writing statements. But for some, writing – and growing their writing – is not easy and I’ve struggled to help them to improve.

I am fortunate to work with a wide range of students and I currently have a 2nd year student who has difficulty organizing her thoughts and getting down to work. In the first unit the assignment was to re-tell a story in the past tense and based upon what I saw after the first day of work I realized that I was failing her. Our great support teachers in our school worked with me to see that my student needed a way to organize  – to start small and then gradually expand what she is writing. So I created a format using an fill in the blank/add a sentence strategy. For the summary it went like this – Step 1 fill in a past tense form:  “A long long time ago there _____an old man (was).” Step 2 – add a related sentence:  “Now add one piece of information about the old man  (in a sentence).”  For each part of the story she filled in the ‘past tense’ verb then added an extra detail sentence. When she completed it she had a basic summary and participated in peer feedback using it. A copy of the assignment: kobutori retell scaffolded write

In our second unit the task was to create an Instagram post of her dream room – and to write a long description of it. I needed a different way to help her as I didn’t know what she would design to be described. I came up with a ‘target structure/add a reason/add a detail’ sheet. In each she identified an item in the room (a total of 6) and wrote down – on separate lines –  the item “desk” its location “beside the bed” then put it together “The desk is beside the bed” and added what she did with it “Because I have homework” and finally  she put all the pieces together “Because I have homework, there is a desk beside the bed.” After creating her 6 main sentences her task was to go back and add 1 more piece of information to each sentence – for example “in the first sentence add a describing word for how the item looks” and “in the 3rd sentence add how often you use it”.  Now she has a description that meets expectations for using unit items. A copy of the assignment: room project scaffolded

It’s not just my students with IEP’s that can find this useful. In fact I’ve realized that this approach can assist any student who may need support in addressing a writing task. Yes – I finally realized this! In my grade 11 class I have students who are currently working on a write-up of an interview with a classmate. So I created a slightly less formulaic sheet – but one that helps them to express themselves in a more grade appropriate way by guiding them to create a basic grade-appropriate response then add some ‘extra’s’ around it including an opinion etc. A copy of the assignment: scaffold written interview paragraph

My 2nd year student loves this approach. “It works for my brain”, she says and beams when I tell her that working with her is helping me to help others to write. I’ll be preparing a scaffolding sheet for each of my tasks…and my students’ written expression will be the better for it.

C

PS – if you want more detail of what’s in the documents – and you don’t read Japanese – let me know and I’ll be happy to ‘translate’ for you!

 

October 14, 2019
by leesensei
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Learning Engagement – Strengthening Students’ Understanding of Their Role In Their Learning

Engagement connects to…

Two years ago I made the switch to ‘modes’ in my gradebook and descriptors instead of numbers. What a valuable change that was – for both me and my students. By using modes I can easily see strengths and where support is needed. Descriptors help kids understand what they can do and how they might improve. More importantly I discovered that everything I do can be classified in terms of mode – including assigned preparation work (you might call it homework) had nothing in it because I am either asking them to do something presentational or interpretive or, sometimes, interpersonal for class. What a relief to be rid of that category in ‘grading’…However…

In addition to changing my focus on assessment to modes – I wanted to change my students’ view on their role in the classroom. If their teacher is no longer ‘marking’ them but rather ‘assessing’ their skills then they also need to recognize that they have a role to play in that outcome. I must admit I got tired of hearing “I got an 80” and I want them to see (and say!) that they ‘earned’ a particular assessment and that they had a key role in doing so. It isn’t about ‘participation’ – too often viewed as a subjective evaluation of their role in class. No it is about more. Long discussions with colleagues ensued and one day my great French colleague mentioned that she had been talking to other teachers about students being ‘engaged in their learning’. Revelation. Why weren’t we looking at engagement in the process. As a teacher I can often see who is ‘engaged’ but now I wanted to ask students to be aware of their role too.

So “Learning Engagement” became the fourth gradebook category. For me it is worth 5% of their overall achievement – small enough to let the modes be the majority of what is assessed, but significant enough to play a role in a ‘grade’ – especially those on the line between two possible marks. And this is not just be my judgement. My students also have to examine, reflect and report on their engagement before reporting periods. They are able to, as it were, to hold themselves accountable for their role in learning. So twice a semester now we engage in this process. Students assess themselves based upon criteria that we have discussed as a class  – they come up with the definition – including using the target language, positive influence in the class community, preparing for classes, choosing to respond to feedback and more (This years’ version of the form: engaged learner 2019 – of course the ultimate ‘evaluation’ is sensitive to every student, their unique needs and how they are ‘engaged’ to the class – ‘fully meeting’ looks different for every student. ). Then we conference about their view of their engagement. their current assessments and how the two may be linked (or not). When they set out a goal for the next term they often include aspects of engagement in these goals. Rarely do they ‘under’ or ‘over’ assess themselves and when they do it’s a healthy discussion to have. We then mutually decide on the final evaluation for the category. Please note that my neurodiverse students may receive an edited form more suitable to them – I want to stress this!.

Learning Engagement…it’s helping me to help them see the link between their participation in the learning process and their results..

Colleen

 

October 9, 2019
by leesensei
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JuMpInG into JeNgA..!

We know that the teachers of #langchat always provide new ideas to try in the classroom. So when Jenga started popping up – okay Meredith White was tweeting all about it – I thought ‘hmmm’. Then more tweets followed and I thought..”I’m in”. More required Twitter reading and I had my plan…today was my first day using it in class and here’s what I learned.

Getting ready..

  • Order a coloured blocks version – you’re going to want to use this several ways and colours allows you to assign tasks by group. I ordered a 48 piece ‘knock off’ of the classic game and 7 sets (enough for teams of 4 or 5 – my max. class size is 30)
  • Take them out of the boxes and put them in labelled ziplocks – they are easier to hand out and collect that way.
  • Label the blocks in the middle of the block with a handy sharpie (“A1”, “A2″…) – this serves two purposes. One is to keep the set together. When you find a block under a chair after a session and it’s labelled “A24” you know it belongs in bag “A”. Also if you label it in the middle kids can’t ‘see’ the number until they remove the block…
  • Prepare some general instructions – believe it or not some kids have never played this – so I found a simple explanation online at ‘wikihow’ and prepped a one-page sheet (here’s mine: jenga rules student)

Decide ‘how’ you want to play – there’s a couple of options.

  • If you are using colours you can have students respond to a prompt based on colour. Over time I plan to also develop games with a ‘question’ per block – okay that’s 48 but if you teach a language that ‘conjugates’ imagine how easy that would be. Here are today’s prompts:

Prepare The Instructions:

  • Put the instructions for the activity and the game in a plastic report cover sheet to hand out – on one side the basic ‘how to play’ and on the other the instructions for the game that day. And I never have to make up that instruction package again!
  • Consider if you want them to ‘record’ their answers. I decided that kids should write down the ‘structure’ part of each answer they gave today (you can use it also for more feedback). Their sheet recorded their name and then the key part of the response…

Hand out the games/instructions to the teams (my kids played in 4’s)

  • Go over the basic way to play the game and how they will be playing this time (their task as it were)
  • And then tell them the “what to do on your turn rules”  – which for my class today were:
    • take out a block
    • say the answer to the question prompt (based on colour) and no repeats!!
    • put the block on top
    • write out the required part of what you said as another group member takes their turn
    • If your groups’ Jenga falls…start again!!!

Stand back and let them at it! Some kids asked if they could pull 2 blocks at a time and give 2 answers and I left the ‘yes or no’ up to the group. They played for about 40 minutes and had a ball. I plan to use it once a unit (at least!). If you are looking for information try searching “jenga #langchat” on Twitter and you’ll get lots of ideas. Oh I will use this again!

Colleen

PS : I’ve spent a lot of time in the past year on improving my practice – amazing professional development but not conducive to blogging. This year I’ve vowed to return to the blog and hope that sharing what I am doing perhaps resonates with others…

 

 

November 2, 2018
by leesensei
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Word Sneak? Phrase Sneak!!!!! Oral Storytelling & Listening

A very detailed story waiting to be told!

Okay I needed an activity. I wanted to provide choice but reinforce key structures. Often if we have students ‘use’ something we are worried that it is being done correctly. How could I encourage creativity but ensure the structures were properly in use? I had seen lots on Twitter about the idea of ‘word sneak’ as a vocabulary game (a post by Catlin Tucker outlines the idea). But I didn’t just want ‘words’ – so ‘Phrase Sneak’ was born…here’s how it worked…

The ‘key’ phrases/words

First – I set out the key phrases/vocabulary  they needed in the story. I picked 8 and asked each pair what these would be in the TL. I gave them a small notecard to write them down. Then we reviewed as a class. I also use a lot of visuals in class and envelopes with some of those visuals and blank cards were in their baskets on their tables. You could do this just with blank cards. (I like the idea of visuals as keys to remember what to say.)

Then the instructions. They were given 30 minutes to construct a story (not written down – to be orally told) using a minimum of 6 of the 8 key structure items. And they had to include 3 that I designated as key (they’re the ones with the dots beside them in the picture). I recommended visuals for the key parts – and most used ones we had already (and supplemented with hand-drawn ones).  They were reminded that both partners had to participate in telling the story – that one partner could not do all of the speaking. That was the extent of the instructions. (Note: my colleague whose kids did quick sketches for every picture took much longer to prepare and will tell their tales in the next class).

Just before we set out to share each team got a post-it note. They were instructed that as they listened to a story, and heard the group use the key phrases in telling it, they were to record (a check mark) that they heard it..(They wrote the initials of the group that they were listening to and just put check marks as they heard). My peer tutor also suggested that, when students heard the required phrases, they could indicate that with a ‘star’ instead of a check – I like that extra level of listening.

A story waiting to be told!

Then they set out to tell. After each pair recounted their story they stood up and looked for another group that was done. Then they told it again. And again. Most groups retold the story at least 3 times. You could always do the retell the next day (and allow followup questions from the listeners if you wish. That would be a great extension).

It was a different way to reinforce structures, be creative and have some fun! I’ll do it again!

C

May 17, 2018
by leesensei
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One Piece of Paper – Sketch, Share, Listen, Speak….Repeat…

I’ve written before about my use of what I call “Sketch and Share” – a way to combine visuals with sentences to practice a particular structure (and avoid the dreaded worksheet). My Year 1’s (Grade 9) have just finished using this in an expanded way…

Day 1: It started with the idea of adding details to a sentence – a day of the week, a person,  a person to go with and a place to go.  One one side of the paper the images that make this up (blue). A coin purse (Friday – character for gold), a person, Mom, and a restaurant.  On the other – the sentence (green). “On Friday, I go, with my Mom, to the restaurant.” 

Day 2: We worked through the structure points and each person checked their work (and their partners) for what needed to be in the sentences.  Then on to the “Share” part – a challenge to a partner to say the sentence. It’s also a practice asking if student’s don’t know what an image is (in TL). Students circulate and challenge 4 people to “say” 4 of your picture sentences.  Then it comes in for me for feedback with only a few needing any tweaking.

Day 3: A chance to work in transportation words. A story and practice ensued. Now students are asked to add a transportation word to their original picture and their original sentence. Circulate and challenge again. Then into me to double-check that you’ve added that element.

Day 4: We began to work on the difference between ‘to a place’ and ‘at a place’  (yes – it is a whole lesson for Japanese!). Again a story and related work in class. Students then were asked to add another sentence to the one they had already written. This time they were adding what they will do AT the place the original sentence went to.  Again this came to me for feedback.

One piece of paper. Four days – 4 chances to write, talk, listen and repeat key structures and obtain feedback…I like it…

C

May 4, 2018
by leesensei
2 Comments

Talking the Talk- Eliminating the Word “Test” from My Learning Environment

I’ve been working to reform my classroom learning environment. This is a long-term project, aided by a wonderful colleague in my department (who I won’t name – she doesn’t like the spotlight). We are working hard for students to see that the classroom is a learning and feedback environment. That we are not going to ‘mark’ your learning. That the only thing that is ‘assessed’ is what you have mastered at the end of a unit. I’ve altered my conversation around marks gradually – shifting from numbers to descriptors and adding proficiency descriptors. I’ve changed how I ‘grade’ work we do in our classroom. I’ve even altered how I evaluated using pop check in’s to help students assess if they have mastered an area or not.

In the past few weeks though I noticed a holdover from my ‘past’ teaching practice. The word “Test”. So many kids cite anxiety about a ‘test’. Teachers use it as a ‘hammer’ and a ‘threat’ in their belief that it will get kids to do work. “There’s a test” then becomes the impetus for kids to study and learn. And it is held up as the measure of how well they are learning a subject.  And yet I continued to use the word. It suddenly felt so wrong and so incongruent with my current teaching practice. For a while I settled on the word ‘evaluation’ as in “you’re learning will only be evaluated at the end of the unit”. It was a step up but still to me smacked of the idea of a ‘test’. So I put my attempt to eliminate the word ‘test’ out on Twitter to the #langchat crew. And the lovely Wendy Farabaugh replied that she uses the word ‘assessment’. Wow…assessment …great word.  A simple snapshot in time of their mastery of certain skills. Not a punishing ‘right/wrong’ list of what students can’t do but an assessment of what they can. We ask kids to self-assess and I constantly assess my teaching – and now I’m making sure that my work with them is viewed via that lens too. Update: After reading the post a great reply from #langchat amie Natalia DeLaat. She uses  “assessment” for more summative activities and “learning check” for smaller items – I’m going with that!!!!

So out with the words ‘quiz and test’ and in with the word ‘assessment’. It’s aligned with what I believe and what I am trying to practice. The only issue, beside my self-monitoring to make sure I no longer say the words, is the need to change the ‘wording’ on the cover of previous ‘tests’. And that’s an edit I’m happy to make!

C

April 29, 2018
by leesensei
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Is This For Marks? Well…Let’s Talk About That…

So welcome to my class – I know you may not have been here before – and I know already you have asked me about how hard I ‘mark’ and if there is a final and more. You’ve even asked “is this for marks?” about something I’ve asked you to prepare for class…You’ve been well-schooled by the ‘if it has a mark attached it is important’ idea from your classes. So let’s just stop a moment and review ‘marks’ in my class…here we go…

Is this for marks? Will this count? Your class is a daily opportunity to learn and receive feedback on that learning. I know you may not get that yet. You’re expecting everything I ask you to do that has any ‘value’ to have a mark. So I’ll give you a mark for it. In fact everything you do, everything I ask you do prior to the summative is worth 0.5 marks. Yes. 0.5. Almost seems not worth it does it? I mean why not skip a class, why not choose not to do something for class? Why bother. It’s not worth much. But the sum of all those experiences, all those chances to learn, all the feedback you receive will ‘count’, will impact your summative assessments. Your summative assessment is worth ‘everything’ in the unit. It’s a look at where you are..at the end of all the learning, feedback, check-ins and more. Each summative also increases in value over the course of the year – so later summatives are worth more – more chance to slowly develop your skills and bring in your past learning as you add on new learning too..

You didn’t do what I asked you to do in preparing for today’s class? You just didn’t bother? You wonder if you can ‘make it up later’? Sure. Of course. You will not get a “0” for that. It will be recorded as ‘incomplete’ in my book until it is done. Oh but it was something I asked you to prepare to use in class and if you don’t have it ready….you won’t be participating in the activity until it is…Yes you could have done it…but you chose not to. So until you are ready you’ll be sitting this one out…and missing out on a chance to get feedback for your learning…

Did you really think you knew something but found out you didn’t. Well chances are you did it via a pop-check in. You were asked to show what is in your head about a concept – without ‘warning’ or ‘studying’. Did you not understand as well as you could have/thought you did? While after the check-in, while you were in class, I took the time to go over it with you, we talked about what you do understand and reviewed what you still aren’t sure about. And then you do your ‘revisions’ and hand it in for that whopping 0.5 point credit. But now you have shown more understanding than you did before…

You did something I actually ‘tested’ and it didn’t go so well? Was it a lack of understanding? Did you just have an off day? Would you like the opportunity to show me that you have learned the material. Yes you can. Life happens and sometimes you need another chance. (Sometimes…if we’re at every time we’re having a chat!). Please email me a request to do so telling me when you’d like to do that. Happy to provide that opportunity.

So sure ‘it’s for marks’….just not how you think it is…

C

April 14, 2018
by leesensei
1 Comment

Love Flipgrid but …My Flipgrid App-Hack for Privacy Law Compliance…

One of my goals this semester has to provide more ‘personal’ feedback on speaking. I am giving non-graded feedback on more conversations done during class as well as recorded quickly on a mobile phone. Another new tool for this (no Google Voice in Canada!) is  Flipgrid. There are teachers out there doing amazing things with it – check out Laura Sexton’s blog if you want ideas for using it.

I loved Flipgrid when I tried it…and I still do – and my original post outlined my steps/tips as a newbie to the app.   I liked the possibilities for an alternate way to give focused feedback on a particular concept like “tell me three things you have to do on the weekend” or “tell me two things you did yesterday and how they were”. Students, once they were assured others would not see their video, responded to the prompt and the majority were spontaneous and not reading from a paper or memorized (and if they did – it’s still ‘presentational’ to me and it’s the feedback on the concept that’s key.)

Flipgrid worked very successfully for me until it became an issue. Under Canadian privacy laws, if I ask a student to use an app or program that requires registering of any kind, and that app’s/program’s data is held outside of Canada, I must seek parent permission to do so (because the data is then subject to that countries’ laws),   Originally I thought Flipgrid met this criteria. But after a comment on the original post from another Canadian teacher, and a discussion with my principal, I took a harder look at their terms of use. They are very well laid out and easy for an educator to understand. But, alas, I learned that email data would be held in the US and that’s a ‘parent permission required’ issue for us. Technically that’s why my district does not allow Google Apps for Education but does allow Microsoft (which agreed to hold data on Canadian servers). If students didn’t provide an email I ‘d be fine but that option was key for me for instant feedback.

So what to do. After some discussion with my colleagues, and my principal I looked to what it was that Flipgrid provided. Video recorded snippets for focused feedback and a quick ’email link’ to send that instant reply. My ‘Flipgrid App-hack’ was then born. We now do something very similar and we call it “Video Selfie”.

  1. I set out the ‘prompt’ based upon a structure/concept we’ve been working on including in class.
  2. Students take a selfie using their phone. They are allowed to apply any fun filters that they want but I must see their lips move!
  3. They email me their video (next year I may be using Microsoft’s Class Notebook and would then do this via that)
  4. I watch and send back the feedback
  5. (No phone?: Students without access to a cell phone come see me at lunch and use mine to record)

It’s not slick, it doesn’t have a cool app but it is doing the job. They love adding filters and don’t worry about others seeing their videos. I don’t have to worry about issues with privacy laws….and that’s something everyone is a little more aware of these days!

Colleen

 

 

February 9, 2018
by leesensei
2 Comments

Kaguyahime: An #AuthRes Story Activity to Support Script Learning in Japanese

Although I rarely write specifically about my subject – this is one of them! A post on using an authentic resource to reinforce script recognition. If you don’t teach my TL maybe something here will resonate with you too!

I teach Japanese in a Gr9-12 semester-system high school (in Vancouver, BC Canada). Several years ago I made the decision to stop using romaji with my beginners. I never liked using it, it was tough to wean kids off it and it didn’t seem natural to me. Instead we start with all ‘oral’ work boosted by key visuals to remember. We repeat, we find new partners, we repeat again. At the same time (and on the first day) I start introducing script – just the first 5 characters on day 1…but enough to start them on their journey. As they learn all their characters we begin to write words we have learned.

It is also my habit to start every new semester with a story for my classes.  I like that it gets kids reading again and seeing characters and hopefully sparks/taps previous learning. Typically I use graded reader stories for my older students (Momotaro, Urashimataro etc.). But for my new first year students I have a board-book copy of the classic “Kaguyahime”. It’s a lovely tale, the script is big, as are the pictures, and the target audience is for children so there isn’t a lot of text on the page. I don’t expect my students to be able to ‘understand’ the story on the page. Here’s how I use it…

  • I don’t introduce the story until we are well on our way with learning characters – that is after we have seen あーも (and ん). I continue to introduce script in class but I feel at this point they have a good ‘chunk’ to work with
  • Each day I pick out5- 7 key words from the story and write them on the board; ‘words such as むかし, おじいさん, たけ etc. Under each I write the English meaning.
  • Students work with their partner (this is key – that they work together) and chart to figure out how to say them. Then we review out loud. I don’t lead them through the words initially because I want to begin the practice of ‘recognizing’. Note: this is a great way to introduce sound combinations like しゃ or the use of the small つ (けっこん). These I do ‘pre-teach’ before I ask them to try to read them…
  • I ask them to choose any 4 words and write them on the back blank page of their hiragana booklet (writing practice!)
  • They look at the text (copied) and work to find the words on the page. It’s also an introduction to reading traditional text (right to left/top to bottom)
  • I read the page and recap in English

I do a page a day for the next few pages in this manner until we come to part where the 5 princes are issued a challenge to find something (in order to marry Kaguyahime). We approach the page the same way – key words that day include vocabulary  for the desired items. At the end of the reading I ask the students to talk with their partner and predict who will be successful in their quest and why (they have to write down their prediction). They are quite engaged in this and all sorts of interesting reasoning.  The next day we go over the items being searched for in English on the board. If you know the story – you know the quests are not successful so our words to read this day are the Japanese for ‘fake’, ‘ship sunk’ and ‘grievous injuries’. They practiced saying them and when I read out an asked-for item in English they guessed – in Japanese – what happened. “Quest for the jewel from the dragon’s throat?” “Ship sinks” they all yelled in Japanese! Then they searched for the words on the page…I read and they learned the  young men’s fate.

For pages after this in the story I ask them to do a different task each day per page including:

  • Select one line and put a check mark beside characters you already recognize
  • Select one line and, using your chart, look for and say out loud all of the characters in the line
  • Select 3 lines and see if you can find a combination sound or a small つ word

The story time is about 15 minutes of my 75 minute class. My book is about 10 pages and it’s a great way to introduce a classic story and also engage students in reading script. Two good outcomes from one authentic resource!

C

 

January 26, 2018
by leesensei
2 Comments

Implementing a “Gradebook à la Mode”…..Lessons Learned In The Change

Note: This post is a cross-posted on the Path2Proficiency site.

I took a look at my gradebook at the end of last year. My tasks were all jumbled together and still classified in the traditional  4 language skills: reading, writing, listening. I had evolved to using descriptors instead of numbers, but nothing else had changed. I couldn’t easily tell you how proficient a student was in any particular skill – in part because the information wasn’t easy to find. It certainly did not reflect my journey down the proficiency path.

So this fall my colleague Connie and I decided that if we were implementing proficiency then we also needed to fully make the jump to modes. And if we were going to use modes of communication in class, our gradebook had to change as well. At the start of the year I put my new gradebook together with 4 separate pages: Interpersonal, Presentational, Interpretive and  “Out Of Class Prep” (our take on what work at home really is). Doing this led to some revelations about my practice, some surprises and, ultimately, necessary changes.

Interpersonal – We set these tasks as anything requiring a possible negotiation of meaning between two (or more) students. Wow – if you had asked me BEFORE this I would have told you that this was the major part of my classes. That interpersonal exchanges were weighted the heaviest in my ‘gradebook’ and that this is what my class is built on. That my class was ‘full’ of evaluated interpersonal activities. And then I saw…not. While my students have a great deal of time to talk and interact, I found that I was completely lacking in feedback for these times. Absolutely none. Apparently the only Interpersonal up to this point that I have had is a summative oral. It was humbling to notice my lack of feedback. What I have learned from this is that I need to find ways for more formative feedback during interpersonal work time in class.  And I also need to see if I can work in interpersonal written work (completely non-existent) as well.

Presentational – For us this meant any ‘one-way’ writing or speaking that required no negotiation of meaning. I learned that I have a lot of this one-way work in my classes – which I should. I learned that this is the main area where I provide feedback – and they get a lot of it. I liked that this ‘mode’ also made me reconsider the value in presentational speaking. Traditionally I have associated it with the ‘before the class’ speech (for example) but I added Flipgrid to allow them the chance to speak with me (and get feedback as well). What I learned from this is that there is more than one way to be in this mode – and I needed to find more variety in the opportunities that I offered.

Interpretive – For me this mode encompasses anything that requires them to show understanding.  (I may not exactly line up with what ACTFL considers this task to be). This means it is, for me, anything from reading a piece and filling in a table/answering questions about it to listening to something at home or in class and completing a task based on that. And yes, gasp, for me this can even includes traditional workbook ‘listening’ exercises too. And of course there are still  ‘summative’ evaluations too… What I learned is that this is my major go-to especially in my novices and that I did more than of this than I thought. It also meant that I needed to add a ‘comprehension’ section to many of my created stories (many of which I just used to figure they would ‘get’) so that they could see that they did understand. I’ve also added more ‘at home’ opportunities to practice listening.

Out of Class –  This used to be a huge component of my gradebook. The traditional ‘homework’ section. But when you switch to modes most of this is not needed. I learned that although they were prepping work outside of class time – even if they were, for example, coming up with 3 truths and a lie about what they did after school (for classmates to guess) it was indeed presentational writing. What I learned is that preparation is preparation in a particular mode. I had very few things in this category…which is a good thing.

And finally this move required me to shift how I ‘weight’ things in my gradebook. For me this is especially important for my novices. It means that, for them, more value is placed on Interpretive (35% now) than Interpersonal (now 30%) and Presentational (30%). Out of class is minimal but still key so it holds at 5%. As they move up in proficiency Interpretive will give way to more emphasis on Interpersonal work (once I add more feedback!)

Moving to modes has been a great way to really take stock of how I help students learn – and where I am supporting, or not, in the process. And ultimately this will make my classes a richer and more meaningful experience for students and myself.

Colleen

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