Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Teaching Foreign Languages K–12

A Library of Classroom Practices

Assessment Profiles

Integrated Performance Assessment
Nancy Gadbois
French IV, Grades 10-12
High School of Science and Technology
Springfield, Massachusetts

The Springfield School District participated in the ACTFL Performance Assessment Project, which used the ACTFL Performance Descriptors for Language Learners (see Resources) to help measure student performance. The project focused on creating authentic, content-rich assessments that integrate the three communicative modes. Nancy Gadbois began doing Integrated Performance Assessments (IPAs) as part of this pilot project. Currently, teacher use of IPAs in Springfield is voluntary, and district-wide assessments do not include performance tasks.

In this case study, Ms. Gadbois's students complete two portions of an IPA focused on a French music video. For the first task, students interpret the song's meaning by observing visual cues in the video and by reading the lyrics. After receiving feedback on their interpretations, students complete an interpersonal communication task by discussing in pairs topics inspired by the music video. Ms. Gadbois later concludes assessing the students' communication skills by having them share what they learned with a French-speaking audience -- a presentational communication task.

Spanish and French Performance Assessments
Wendie Santiago/Maureen Pizzutello
Spanish IV/French IV, Grades 11-12
Nanuet High School
Nanuet, New York

Authentic assessments are a district-wide initiative in Nanuet, New York, driven in part by the New York State Board of Regents mandated tests (see Resources). The Regents tests encourage authentic assessments and performance tasks in foreign language education. Nanuet has a spiraling language program, which cycles content at increasingly complex levels from grades 7 through 12. Thus, while the culminating activities used by Ms. Santiago and Ms. Pizzutello were designed to meet the needs of their classes, both teachers used standard, departmental rubrics to assess students' performances.

In this case study, students write and illustrate a children's story, then record it on audiotape and perform it for younger students. This culminating activity measures students' achievement in the level IV class as well as their cumulative language learning in the Nanuet program. The students use rubrics for the written, artistic, and oral components of the project to help them draft their text and rehearse their presentations. The rubrics also serve as the teachers' assessment tool. Using the same rubric for both purposes ensures that students meet their teacher's expectations.

Backward Design
Paris Granville
French, Grade 8
Pleasant Hill Middle School
Pleasant Hill, California

Foreign language classes are an elective at the middle-school level in California, so there is no standard assessment required by the state or district. Paris Granville uses the backward design process to create her own multiple assessment methods. For each unit, she begins with the relevant district curriculum objectives, determines her outcome goals, and then designs the students' final performance or product and how it will be assessed. She then works backward to plan the individual lessons and make connections to the local and national standards. This process ensures that the lesson objectives mirror the assessment, and that individual activities lead to the intended outcomes.

In this case study, Ms. Granville assesses students individually on their interpersonal communication skills using a task that mirrors a previous class activity. She first reads to a group of three students a story similar to one they had read in class, then discusses it with one of the students. During the discussion, Ms. Granville negotiates meaning with the student as the student creates a story map with the information. After the exchange, Ms. Granville uses a rubric to provide the student with immediate feedback. (For more information on Ms. Granville's class, see A Cajun Folktale and Zydeco.)

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