Monthly Archives: August 2016

Providing Direction: A Path to Proficiency Action Plan

path2As I shared in a recent post, one of my goals for this year is to use proficiency-based rubrics to assess my students’ performance.  I feel that this type of rubric will provide my students with more targeted feedback on where they are on their path to proficiency and what they need to do to make progress on this path.  As I assessed by first stack of papers using these rubrics, I realized that I needed to be able to provide my students with very specific instructions on exactly how they could demonstrate increasing levels of proficiency on their writing. However, first I needed to deepen my own understanding of the terms used in the proficiency descriptors. Although I am embarrassed to admit it, I didn’t know the exact definition of a “connected sentence,” “complex sentence,” and “cohesive device.” Fortunately, ACTFL’s glossary provided most of the information I needed and Google did the rest.  As I continued to study the descriptors used for each proficiency level, I realized that I also needed to reflect on grammatical structures in a more intentional way for the following reasons:

  1. The proficiency descriptors, as well as the rubrics I’ve chosen, repeatedly use the term “practiced structures.”  As a result, I needed to decide exactly which structures I would “practice” (by providing lots of input, pop-up grammar lessons, and communicative contexts) at each level.
  2. Although the descriptors do not mention specific grammatical structures, certain structures are inherent in the process of progressing through the levels.  The difference between “making a reference” to the past and “narrating” in the past seems to require the ability to use the imparfait, passé composé and plus-que-parfait as well as past infinitives for additional cohesiveness. Therefore, I need to expose my students to these structures in a meaningful way.
  3. I needed to provide my students with language they needed to work on these structures independently.  As much as I have eschewed grammatical terminology for the past couple of years, my students need to have a basic vocabulary of grammatical terms if they are to individualize their learning as it relates to proficiency.  

As a result of this research and reflection, I designed this Path to Proficiency Action Plan document for my students.  As the directions indicate, I will give this document to my students throughout the year to help them set goals for their own progress toward proficiency.  Based on the feedback I give the students when assessing their writing, they will create an action plan for progressing to the next level.  Depending on their own individual performance, they may focus on increasing the detail of their responses, creating more sophisticated sentence types, increasing their organization or become more accurate on the use of various structures.  In addition, I have provided links to exercises on lepointdufle for each grammatical structure.  While I do not typically use this type of discrete grammar practice in my teaching, I think that it is possible that these exercises might benefit some students.  As time permits, I would like to provide my students with a more specific list of activities, as I think some of these exercises are more helpful than others.   It is my hope that the goal-setting my students will do via this document will help them increase their proficiency in writing, as well as take more ownership of their own learning.  In future posts, I hope to share similar action plans for other language skills.

As always, your feedback is appreciated!

Starting off on the right foot: Using the language and getting to know each other

footAs many of you know, I relocated over the summer and will be teaching in a new school this year. After spending the last 15 years in a building where August meant mostly reconnecting with my former students (only the Freshmen were new to me each year), in a couple of weeks I will welcome about 150 brand-new faces to my classroom. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared to death! As a relatively introverted, somewhat anxious person, the challenge of learning a whole new school culture, finding my way around a humongous new school, and connecting with all of those new students is nearly overwhelming.  

While I have pledged to be patient with myself when it comes to finding my way around my school and its policies, getting to know my students simply can’t wait.  Therefore, I’ll spend the first few days of school on learning activities that will help me learn more about my students, as well as introduce them to the types of communicative activities I’ll be assigning to help them increase their proficiency.  Here’s what I have in mind for each of the classes I’ll be teaching:

French 2 In this class the students will be introducing themselves to the class by presenting a self-portrait.

Day 1 I’ll show the students these self-portraits from TV5Monde. As I project each one, I’ll facilitate class discussion by asking the students questions about what they see, as well as personalized questions using the same vocabulary.  I’ve prepared this handout as a reference as I’m not sure whether they will have been introduced to the vocabulary required for these tasks. Next, the students will listen to these descriptions (Darius, Cheryl, Deivan Anastasia and complete this comprehension guide. (I’ve chosen to provide the students with direct links to the mp3 files rather than the TV5Monde website so that they do not have access to the transcripts.) For homework the students will prepare (and submit electronically) a self-portrait (drawing, painting, phone selfie).

Day 2 First the students to write out a script for presenting their self-portraits. As they are writing I will circulate and provide feedback.  Next, the students will present their self-portrait to classmates using inside/outside circles. Finally the students will compare self-portraits with a partner and complete a Venn diagram with details they discuss.  

French 3 In this class the students will be introducing themselves to the class by presenting 10 things about themselves.  

Day 1 The students will work in small groups to read this blog and complete this comprehension guide.  Then they will answer the same questions in the space provided.  Finally, they will circulate among their classmates, asking questions in order to find a classmate who has the same answer for each question.  

Day 2 The students will listen to this video and fill in this comprehension guide. I’ll then play the video and facilitate a class discussion by discussing what Benji says and asking personalized questions based on his information. Lastly, the students will write a script for their own “10 Things” presentation which will be submitted for feedback before being recorded.  

French 4/5 In this class the students will be introducing themselves by preparing a presentation on 12 things they have done.  

Day 1 The students will listen to this video (Note: 7/10/17. This video is no longer available.) and fill in this comprehension guide. I’ll then play the video and discuss it so that students have feedback on their comprehension.

Day 2 The students will read this blog and fill in this comprehension guide, which they will then discuss in small groups.

Day 3 The students will write a script for their own presentation of 12 things they have done.  They will then trade papers with a classmate who will fill out this feedback form. The students will then revise their scripts, which will be graded according to this rubric. For homework the students will record a video of their own presentation and submit it via Schoology. For the next day’s homework, the students will listen to three of their classmates’ videos and respond to each one with a comment and follow up question.

It is my hope that these activities will help me get to know my new students as create a focus for using the language from Day 1.  If you have other suggestions about how you achieve these goals with your students, please share!