Tag Archives: proficiency

Using a Rubric to Assess Presentational Writing Tasks

As my long-time followers will have noticed, my understandings related to assessment have continued to evolve over the past several years.  Between this blog and my TPT store, I have shared dozens of different rubrics, each of which reflected my knowledge and beliefs at that time.  In my latest presentational writing rubric, I’ve tried to address certain challenges inherent in using rubrics in the world language classroom. Here are a few that come to mind:

  1. Rubrics must be written in student-friendly language so that they can be used to provide feedback to students.
  2. Rubrics must be concise so that teachers can assess student work efficiently.
  3. Rubrics must ensure that we are addressing our national standards by incorporating the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines and ACTFL Performance Descriptors.
  4. For most teachers, rubrics must lend themselves to producing a numerical or letter grade.

An additional obstacle in developing rubrics for world language students is that in measuring progress toward proficiency, it is not enough to use a well-worded rubric.  We must also assign performance tasks that are appropriate to the targeted proficiency level of our students. (Click here for information about proficiency level expectations.) I find that the simplest way to do so is by customizing relevant NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements when creating assessments. 

Example: I can present personal information about my life and activities in a message to a keypal , using simple sentences most of the time. 

In this example, the italicized text is taken directly from one of the Novice High Presentational Can-Do Statements and the bold print text describes the performance task.  The teacher might, of course, specify additional details or length requirements.

Having created an appropriate task, we can use the rubric to select the proficiency level that most closely aligns with each student’s performance.  In this new rubric, I have clarified the two major considerations that must be taken into account when placing students’ writing along the proficiency continuum. The first is to define the extent to which the student’s writing is comprehensible.  Therefore, first  bold print sentence in each column specifies who can understand the student’s text and how well. 

It is important to note that while comprehensibility is important, it is not enough to determine a student’s level of performance. In fact, our Novice Low-Mid students might be the most comprehensible of all! Because they rely exclusively on memoried words and phrases, these students can often produce error-free lists or other appropriate novice tasks.  Therein lies the importance of the second bold print sentence, which specifies the text type, amount of detail and organizational  features of the student’s performance.  When using this rubric, the student’s level is determined by the highest level for which the student meets all of the criteria.

Most of us will have one more challenge, which is to assign a letter or percentage grade to the performance. Doing so may depend on your school culture, personal philosophy and other factors.  Personally, I feel most comfortable assigning a 9/10 (or 90%) to students who meet the targeted proficiency level.  For standards-based grading, I would use this level as the Level 3 or “Meets the standard.”  The next highest level would be assigned a 10/10 or Level 4 “Exceeds the standard.”  I would assign a score of 8/10 for the proficiency level that is one below the target, a 7/10 to the level that is two below the target, and so on. Here’s a table that reflects this scoring method.

I’d love to hear how you’ve addressed the challenges in using rubrics to assess written tasks. Please share by clicking on “Leave a reply” at the top of this post!

Vacation all I ever wanted: a unit for Intermediate Mid students.

Since my French 3 students are coming to the end of their unit on Education in France, I’ve been working on their next unit—The French and Vacations. Although I was generally pleased with Unit 1, I’m making a few changes in the way that I structure the lessons based on what I learned from my first units.
Unit Design
This vacation unit is designed to address the following Intermediate Mid Can-Do Statements:
Interpretive Reading: I can understand basic information in ads, announcements, and other simple tasks.
• Students will read two infographics, an article about the history of vacations in France, and a web page about vacations in the world.
Interpersonal Communication: 1) I can start, maintain and end a conversation on a variety of familiar topics. Subtopic: I can ask for information, details and explanations during a conversation. 2) I can talk about my daily activities and personal preferences. Subtopic: I can give some information about activities that I did.
• Students will discuss pros/cons of vacation destinations/lodging, a vacation they have taken, their opinions about vacations and a vacation they would like to take.
Presentational Writing: 1) I can write messages and announcements.2) I can write short reports about something I have learned or researched.
• Students will write messages about real, imaginary, and ideal vacations and a report about the history of vacation in France.
Presentational Speaking: 1) I can make a presentation about my personal and social experiences. Subtopic: I can describe a childhood or past experience. 2) I can make a presentation on something I have learned or researched.
• Students will present photos of their actual (or imaginary) vacations, leave a message about an imaginary awful vacation, prepare a presentation about the history of vacation in France, and prepare a presentation about their ideal vacation.
Interpretive Listening: I can understand the main idea of what I listen to for personal enjoyment. Subtopic: I can understand a short YouTube clip.
• Students will watch several cartoon videos in which the characters go on various types of vacations. (These activities are found in a separate document. One will be chosen for each of the lessons and will be included in the lesson handout.)
Unit Plan
I anticipate that each of the four lessons in this unit will take 2-3 days. On the first day the students will complete the interpretive reading task. As they are reading, they will be taking turns using the 8 computers in my room to complete the listening activities. In Unit 1 I played the videos to the class as a whole, but found that this made my lessons too teacher-directed. Students were intimidated by answering my questions in front of their peers and/or struggled to understand what I was asking. I am hoping that by having the students work individually on these tasks they will have the opportunity to listen to the videos repeatedly, and improve their comprehension. In addition, I will be able to use these tasks as formative assessments and will be able to give individualized feedback on their performance. Students will spend any remaining class time working on the written presentational task, which will be finished for homework.
Students will begin the second day of each lesson by completing the interpersonal task. I will circulate among the students as they engage in the discussion, choosing some pairs to assess formatively. I will also call upon students to present the results of their discussions to the class. These students will also be assessed formatively, so that I will have provided specific feedback/a formative assessment for each student by the end of the unit. Students will spend the remaining part of the period preparing for the presentational speaking, and will continue this preparation for homework. On the third day I will randomly choose a few students to present what they have prepared to the class for a formative assessment. The rest of the students will present to a partner who will evaluate them using a peer assessment rubric.
After all of the lessons are completed, the students will complete their summative assessment, an Integrated Performance Assessment. This assessment will similar to each of the lessons, in that it will assess Interpretive Reading (an article about vacations) Interpretive Listening (another cartoon video), Interpersonal Communication (a vacation discussion), Presentational Speaking and a Presentational Writing. I am considering giving the students the opportunity to choose one of the Presentational Writing and Speaking Tasks from the unit and having them revise their original draft/practice their speaking and then using the same prompt for the Summative Assessment/IPA. In this way there would be an element of student choice in the assessment process.
Here is a copy of the documents that I prepared for this unit: vacation unit
Vacation Listening Activities
If you have any feedback for me on this unit, please post a comment above!