One thing I truly hope my students are learning from me this year is that learning a language is never a finite process. I want them to know that we cannot study things in isolation or study words discretely. There is no such thing as studying the family, closing that chapter and then studying school. I want them to think of language as being a really cool set of Legos. Everything in a language is connected if we want it to be when we communicate, but also can be re-connected in new and different ways because language is what we create when we want to say something. I want them to know that knowing how to greet people and understanding formal and informal registers is important in every conversation we have. I want them to know that we talk about our families in conjunction with any topic so we can't forget those relationship words once the assessment has passed us by. So, how do we keep students accountable for older vocabulary, etc. and motivated to get better all the time? I think I have found a tool to help with that.
I developed this model while trying to find a way to assess my level 1 students very early in the year when they have acquired very limited language. I wanted to impress upon them the need to study and practice on their own even though there was not much to work with. Here's an example of my progressive quiz:
A couple of weeks later I gave a new quiz, but to this one I added new questions and phrases they had recently learned as well as some of the old. I told them that since much of the information was the same and the new information was an extension of the old, if they made a higher score on the new quiz I would also go back and replace the old score because they showed me that they had grown and learned what I needed them to. Before I did this I was a little apprehensive about giving them the new score, but as I graded them I really did see improvement and evidence of a desire to be more accurate. They really deserved the reward of the new score. I could also see evidence that they were paying more attention to detail than they were in the first few weeks of Spanish, so I could tell they were letting me mold their habits as well. I fell in love with the process.
Important Note: Not all quizzes are connected to each other in my classroom. The next time I give one of these it will stand on its own, but I will follow it with another quiz that will allow them to show improvement. Also, I did this as a writing activity because with this little information I really didn't think it was worth the time it would take to grade speaking assessments. I was really just trying to train them to study on their own in order to improve.
About the Rubric:
As you can probably see, this quiz does not grade accuracy in a traditional way. I am a firm believer that a novice is going to make lots of mistakes, so it is ludicrous to expect perfection. Besides, in a proficiency based classroom, communication and comprehensibility have to come first. However, I did inform them I would be tougher on accuracy the second time they quizzed on the same information, so I needed to see they were paying attention to it. Interestingly, even though I told my students that the rubric was there for me, many of them evaluated their own work and circled the box they felt assessed their skills at that moment. I have decided it is a great thing for them to have the rubric there because they need to think about their own learning. Most of them were pretty honest when they "graded" themselves. In fact, I may have them grade themselves or each other in the future.
Finally, if you would like to give progressive quizzing a try, you can find an editable copy of this quiz on my Publications page. As always, I love to talk to other teachers about these things, so let me know how it goes if you give it a try.
Happy Sunday and Happy Coaching!