Homerun from Paul Sandrock @actfl

I attended a workshop on Thursday with Paul Sandrock.  He shared ideas for incorporating the ACTFL modes and the 5C’s.  One of his suggestions was for helping students extend their skills in interpersonal conversation.  Here’s my adaptation of the activity….

We are studying bullfighting in Spanish 4.  In order to prepare them to present and defend opinions on bullfighting, I am going to do a series of in class debates on other controversial topics.  Yesterday we began with school uniforms.  We spent about 20 minutes of class time creating a list of pros and cons of having uniforms in our public school.  Students learned to say if they were for or against which will carry over to all of our debates. 

When we finished making our list on the board, I erased all but the new words that they thought were key to discussing uniforms in pairs.  I set a timer for 1 minute and asked pairs of two to spend the entire time discussing uniforms in Spanish.  When the bell rang, I gave each group a piece of paper with four squares.  They were four discussion starters “libertad, individualidad, opciones, uniformes”.  Students had 2 minutes to make notes in the squares that summarized what they talked about during the first minute.

After making the notes, I set the timer for 2 minutes and had students turn the paper face down and continue their discussion.  They got ideas from the discussion starters and did a great job pushing the discussion deeper in round two.  When the bell rang, I gave them 2 minutes to make their notes together and then we did a 1 minute wrap up round and a final 2 minute note session. 

As they spoke, I walked around with my simple (Paul Sandrock style) grading sheet.  I had three categories “Uses synonyms to avoid English”, “Contributes creative ideas”, and “Spends time on task and engaged”.  They could earn one of three marks in each of the categories.  A plus sign indicates that they exceeded expectations in this category.  A check mark indicates that their performance was average in the category.  A minus indicates that they did not do what they were supposed to do.  Because this was a formative assessment, this was the perfect grading sheet.  It made my job easy!  I had their note sheets so I also had a great record of what the groups discussed! 

The kids loved it because it pushed them to sustain the conversation for 4 minutes but didn’t feel stressful because they could stop and collect their thoughts on the note sheet.

Thanks, Paul for sharing your ideas!


  1. Awesome! Paul’s ideas are so great, and usually so very simple and do-able in real classes. We were lucky to have him in WI and are happy now the whole country can reap the benefits of his wisdom and expertise. Have you read his book on assessment?

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