Do you have an independent language program for kids?
Then, you may be interested in these two question, posted by a “mamapreneur” that attended a recent webinar focused on curriculum for enrichment Spanish immersion programs
Q1: “What about assessment? How can we evaluate that our students are learning?”
Here is my response:
This is a very complex question to answer here, but I think that in our particular situation it makes much more sense to talk about providing ongoing, formative “feedback” of the type that will help our students become independent and self-motivated learners.
What do I mean by our “particular situation”?
While a student in a regular school will normally stay there for the entire year (and then several years in a row), independent language programs typically see new students every single session.
So on any given session, there will be a combination of new and returning students. Also, the sessions tend to be short (about 8 -12 weeks) and students attend once a week for ½ hour or 1 hour.
There’s also the fact that some of your students will probably miss one or more classes when there’s a soccer game, a birthday party, etc, etc.
Instead of wasting a lot of time thinking about creating tests (which, rightly or wrongly, is the first thing that comes to mind when teachers hear the word “assessment”) I would suggest that teachers in independent programs become pros at providing excellent feedback to their students.
It doesn’t need to be a formal thing (e.g. elaborated tests) – excellent feedback on an informal basis does the trick too.
The September 2012 issue of Educational Leadership, a journal by ASCD is dedicated in its entirety to the topic of feedback, and I HIGHLY recommend it to you: “Feedback for Learning.” [Volume 70, Number 1]. The articles in this issue will put you on the path to providing great feedback to your students.
Q2: Also, what do I do if I have different level students in one class. In other words, can the unit of the Three Little Pigs be adapted to students of different levels?
You don’t need to adapt the unit, but to match the tasks to the student.
The ultimate goal of my units is to build fluency. Some of your students will be further along the fluency continuum than others, and it is important that each one works at their own level.
For example, while a beginner may be memorizing a few character lines, a heritage speaker can use the lines proposed by you and improvise many others on his or her own.
Therefore, in an activity in which they pretend to be the seller, the task for heritage and advanced students could be to convince prospective buyers (i.e. the three little pigs) to buy a product for their houses, while your beginners could just have to sell a few items using two or three sentences that you give them.
A beginner student will need to go back and forth between the Spanish and the English while using the e-storybook at home (otherwise, he will not understand what the book says).
However, a heritage or more advanced student may be able to stick to the Spanish and read along with the sound, or on her own without the sound.
You can ask the first student to keep track of a few words or expressions he learns each day. The second student can keep track of how many pages she can read on her own. They can both show off their skills in class.
Let me know what is on YOUR mind in terms of assessment and differentiation for enrichment language programs – just write a comment below this post, and thanks for reading!
All the best,
Ana Lomba is changing the way people think about and interact with young children learning languages. Her Parents’ Choice award-winning books, teaching guides, lively songs, games, stories, and mobile applications are quickly becoming favorites with teachers and parents who want to nurture young children’ inborn language abilities. Key to the success of Ana’s break-through method is a focus on the family as the ideal environment for early language learning – even her signature curriculum for language programs is built with parents in mind. Ana has taught toddler, preschool, elementary school, and college-level Spanish courses, and held leadership positions with some of the most influential language organizations in the US, including ACTFL, NNELL and FLENJ. After graduating with a law degree from Spain, her native country, Ana pursued graduate studies at Binghamton University, Princeton University, and NYU. She lives with her husband and three children in Princeton Jct., NJ.
Janet Glass says
This is a clear and thoughtful response to the evaluation question and reflects the very latest thinking from educational circles on the subject.