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- Foreign Language Assessment Rubrics (Interpersonal, Interpretive, Presentaional)
- Foreign Language Lesson Planning with Backwards Design
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Tag Archives: teacher
One of the ACTFL Core Practices is to teach with the Backwards Design Model. Backward Design is a teaching method that involves designing educational curriculum by setting goals before choosing instructional methods and forms of assessment. This teaching model lends itself very well to proficiency-based language teaching as it requires the teacher to focus on what students will ultimately be able to do with the language, rather than simply knowing about the language.
Traditional language teaching has often focused on learning and producing language structures and vocabulary through practice-type activities. When it comes time to assessment (or testing) it has typically been a matter of verifying what students can tell the teacher about the language, such as vocabulary lists or verb forms, rather than demonstrating what he or she is able to do with the language.
Backwards design planning and execution happens in three phases or stages.
1. Identify Desired Results
Consider these questions when identifying these goals and desired results for a foreign language unit or lesson.
- What will students do with the language?
- Does this goal only focus on what the students know about the language?
- What is the current proficiency level of the students? (novice mid, intermediate low, etc.)
- What is the text type that students can produce? (lists, chunked phrases, discrete sentences, connected sentences, etc.)
- Is this goal specific?
- Can I create 2-3 can do statements to focus on this goal?
2. Determine Acceptable Evidence
Consider these questions when determining acceptable of language learning and progressing in proficiency.
- Are there opportunities to demonstrate proficiency in the three communication modes? (interpretative, presentational, interpersonal)
- Are the prompts at the appropriate proficiency level? (novice mid, intermediate low, etc.)
- Do the prompts focus on the text type of students at this proficiency level? (lists, chunked phrases, discrete sentences, connected sentences, etc.)
- Is there opportunity for student choice?
- Do the assessments provide insight in to students’ ability to perform the can do statements articulated in the goals and desired outcomes?
- Are there opportunities for spontaneous language production?
3. Plan the Learning Experience and Instruction
Consider these questions when planning instruction to move students toward the desired outcome of the unit or lesson.
- What are the vocabulary themes necessary to reach the goals and desired outcomes?
- What are the language structures necessary to reach the goals and desired outcomes?
- What activities will provide opportunities to meet the goals and desired outcomes using the three communication modes? (interpretative, presentational, interpersonal)
- What tasks will provide students with opportunities to use the language to accomplish a goal that is independent of practicing the language structures and thematic vocabulary?
The PACE MODEL is a very effective way to use one of the ACTFL Core Practices, which is to teach grammar as a concept and to use the structures in context. Essentially this means that students should focus on the forms of the grammar structure after they focus on the meaning. The PACE Model (Donato and Adair-Hauck, 1992) encourages the language learner to reflect on the use of target language forms. The teacher and learners collaborate and co-construct a grammar explanation after focusing on the meaning in context. The PACE model provides a concrete way for teaching grammar as a concept.
Much like authentic language learning that happens outside of the classroom, this approach stresses that learning happens between people through social interaction (reminiscent of Vygotsky). The PACE model requires the learner to be an active participant in the language learning process.
The PACE model is a “four-step” process that includes elements that encourage student comprehension and participation. The four stages are:
1. PRESENTATION :
The teacher foreshadows the grammar structure with an appropriate text, with emphasis on meaning. Typically, the teacher recycles the storyline through pictures, TPR activities, etc., to increase comprehension and student
participation. The focus is not on the grammar structure at this point, but it is used by the teacher and in the text.
2. ATTENTION :
The teacher now has students focus on the language form or structure through the use of images, powerpoint slides or highlighting a particular linguistic form.
3. CO-CONSTRUCTION :
After the teacher has focused student attention on a particular target-language form, together they co-construct the grammatical explanation. The teacher provides scaffolding and assists the learners with questions that encourage them to reflect, predict and form generalizations regarding the consistencies of the language. Students construct their own grammar rules, guided by the teacher who will make sure that they end up with an appropriate explanation.
4. EXTENSION :
The learners use the grammatical structures to complete a task relating to the
theme of the lesson, which helps the language remain communicative while also highlighting a particular structure.
Reference: Donato, R. & B. Adair-Hauk. “A Whole Language Approach to Focus on Form.” Paper presented at the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages. San Antonio,Texas (1992).
As students grow in proficiency beyond the novice level, where they are parroting language structures and chunks, they aspire to create with language and speak and write on their own. As teachers we need to provide opportunities for students to create with language. This can be an intimidating prospect for the novice high/intermediate low language learner. It is best, in my experience, to scaffold this language creation in a way that makes students feel confident that they are creating messages on their own, but at the same time not feeling too overwhelmed by the process.
To assist students in this process of moving toward creating their own sentences that move beyond memorized chunks of language I made these tactile sentence writing activities. They are set up to provide some scaffolding in terms of the types of sentences that writers create, while also ultimately leaving the content of the sentence up to the student.
There are two versions of these writing activities. The first version looks like this:
This is how it works. A pencil, a paperclip and a copy of the worksheet are needed to complete this activity. Students place the point of their pencil and a paperclip in the middle of each hexagon. They spin the paperclip by flicking it with a finger. Students write complete, detailed sentences based on the three responses to the spins. Each verb is followed by a question word. Students write an answer to the question word in their sentence.
The second version looks like this:
One die or three dice and a copy of the worksheet are needed to complete this activity. Students roll the die three times or roll three dice once. Students write complete, detailed sentences based on the three responses to the rolls. Each verb is followed by a question word. Students write an answer to the question word in their sentence.
You can download over 20 versions of these writing activities for French and Spanish by clicking on the links below:
Do you ever find yourself in a conversation where you tell someone that you are a foreign language teacher and the response is something like this, “I had 4 years of Spanish in high school, but I can’t speak a word now.” Clearly this traditional methodology has not been very effective. What can we do about this to make sure that 20 years from now our students are not saying the same thing?
ACTFL provides us with Core Practices that guide teachers toward teaching language proficiency rather than simply teaching about the target language. It comes down to providing students with opportunities to do something with the language and not just demonstrate what they know about the language. Take a look at the 6 ACTFL Core Practices below.