Upper Level Semester Exams- Performance Based

I have been trying to think of a way for students to really SHOW me what they’ve learned this semester. Rather than a “one size fits all” topic for our semester exam, I am going to give students this choice board. Topic and product, the decision is in their hands… And plus, I think it will be a lot more fun to grade a variety of products! ūüôā I’ll let you know how it goes. Feel free to adapt to your topics from this semester.




5 days, 5 ways- How can I come closer to the 90%? Day 5

Find a topic THEY are interested in. It is so important to avoid the trap of finding a topic that we think they will be interested in! I’m not the first to say it, but I completely believe it! I have done it a million times myself.

So how do you know what interests them? Send out some feelers, look at student interest inventories, go by your intuition… They are willing to share their interests if we are willing to ask!

So what then? Let’s say you find out that a majority of your class is interested in music… Find two or three songs or music videos and bring them to class. Use them to create a discussion about favorite music styles, about popular bands, anything at all!

Our song of the week is Solo Soy by Doctor Kr√°pula. Great for Spanish classes! The video is so positive and they all love the music. We will discuss the video style, compare it to songs we already know, and will describe what we see in the video!

They’re not interested in music? What movie did they see recently? What makes a film “good?” Do they all agree on the criteria?

If you are not up on pop culture, ask a family teen for advice on discussion topics! The kids don’t even know who Julio Iglesias is but boy do they know Enrique!

If you are active on twitter, follow @TMZ for updates on the Hollywood gossip! Sometimes you can find articles in the TL related to a breaking story on TMZ! These are usually a hit!

I hope the 5 days will give you a week of new activities to try as you push to reach the 90% TL goal!

5 days, 5 ways- How can I come closer to the 90%? Day 4

I am not above being silly in my classroom.¬† I have been known to stand on my desk or crawl across the floor when the situation has called for it… but not everyone can/wants to teach that way.¬† When people first hear the term “Kindergarten Reading,” I think they may have the same reaction as you just did when you read about me standing on my desk!¬† Instinctively, we think that our intermediate students will hate it.¬† Why would a senior want to get on the floor and listen to a book??¬† But they do!!!¬†

I have a large Free Voluntary Reading (shout out to Dr. Krashen for opening my eyes to the importance of this) library in my room and even at the novice level, I have books that I can read aloud and discuss with students 100% in the target language.  At the intermediate level, we are reading chapter books.  I love the Brandon Brown series from TPRS Publishing for this! 

Here’s what it looks like in my Spanish I:¬† Students enter and see me in my rolling chair at the front of the room with a book and they know they’re listening to a story!¬† They gather around on the floor after dropping books at their desks.¬† When the bell rings, I read.¬† On each page, I find things that I can discuss with them… take for example our class favorite, The Silly Hotdog (El perrito caliente tonto)… we describe what he is doing on each page, we talk about his emotions, we describe the little boy’s reaction as he finds out that his hotdog can talk… I ask some yes/no questions when I am sure they will understand cognates¬†used in context and open ended questions when the vocabulary is already¬†familiar to them.¬† It can take up to 20 minutes depending on the book and the amount of discussion we have about each page.¬† I have several large beanbags where my students sit as we read… (Ignore my junk pile in the corner… building trades class just made me an 8 ft. storage shelf so now it doesn’t look like a rat’s nest!)

In Spanish 3 and 4, I read chapter books.¬† Brandon Brown wants a dog is available in both Spanish and French (with more languages in the works if I am not mistaken).¬† It is the perfect book to read aloud.¬† The kids literally understand and can discuss the novel 100%.¬† I show them the pictures but their focus is mostly on making predictions, trying to find solutions, etc.¬† I know, they’re grown up kids, why should we read to them???¬† Check out Donalynn Miller’s book “The Book Whisperer” or Jim Trelease’s “The Read Aloud Handbook.”¬† The facts are that the age when we should stop reading to kids is NEVER!¬† They are old enough to read for themselves but being read to is always a treat.¬†

This week, try to find a book… If you don’t have an FVR library yet, grab a book from home that you could translate to the TL easily… A retiring kindergarten teacher once gave me three of those HUGE books they read to their students and I used sentence strips to re-write the story in Spanish inside the books.¬† These are the favorite three books because they are so easy for everyone to see!

Enjoy your Kindergarten day!¬† If you are feeling like giving the full experience, bring some cookies.¬† Even your toughest case can’t help feeling young again when you feed them cookies!¬†