Archive for July, 2011

Class increase of 12 points over last semester

I give a pre-test and a post test in my Spanish course.  From the pre-test I can measure the students incoming knowledge.  From the post-test I measure their departing knowledge.   More importantly, I analyze the results of each unit test by the various categories on the test. If many students do poorly on a certain section, I reteach it.  The next semester I start out that particular point with  the reteaching material.  I also do many formative assessments so that I can give students new strategies to do better.  This semester my students did an average of 12 points better than last semester’s students.  I have analyzed the final to see the area in which they lost the most points – writing mini-compositions and have begun to figure out ways to help them. We will do more writing in class and on our class wiki. I will focus on the verb forms to tell a story such  as what I did last weekend. I will have them write out their weekend in a chronological order and make sure that they use a different verb in each sentence. We will do mini-writings over several class periods. For the final they do not need complicated sentences; they just need simple sentences that communicate different ideas.  My goal is to increase this coming semester’s average by 10 points over last semester.

By how much will you increase your class average  this coming year?

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students, is available through Eye on Education.

Also, my  book,  Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available through Eye on Education.

Using Modern Language (FL) Apps Even When …

I have written a blog about identifying and categorizing Spanish apps. As I’ve been thinking about the present state of modern language /foreign language apps, I’ve realized that the inadequacies of these language apps present great learning opportunities for our students.

Students can look at and do a vocabulary or phrase modern language app /foreign language app such as Learn Spanish ((Droid) or Hola (Droid)

Then

– Students can analyze what important vocabulary is missing from the topic and make a supplementary list. For example, the housing category may have tableware but not bed or chair.

– If the app only presents individual words, the students can create a meaningful target language sentence or question for each word. For example, for the word “lake”, the students may ask “What is your favorite lake?”

– Students can analyze what important phrases or questions are missing and can create those lists. They may see look at a “time”category but they find that the question “When?” is missing. They make up a question using that question word.

– They can analyze what important topics are missing from the app. Perhaps the app has housing and animals but does not have occupations and city places.

– They can see how many meaningful sentences they can create from the present vocabulary list.

– They can answer any questions given in the app. For example, they can answer “How much does this cost?” with the price of a shirt.

– They can rearrange the questions or statements to create a logical conversation about the topic.

– They can think of a typical language task for a topic such as having a dirty spoon on the restaurant table and use the existing sentences and add others to be able to get a clean spoon.

In this way, students go from consumers to producers. They analyze what they are doing to see what is missing. They think about critical vocabulary, phrases, and topics instead of simply doing a drill program. They do not just repeat but they answer or comment on. They build on. The students become language users!

How do your students deal with modern language apps that do not do everything  well?

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students, is available through Eye on Education.

Also, my  book,  Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available through Eye on Education.


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