Inspired by a recent #IWLA18 encounter with the fabulous Laura Sexton, I’ve tried to focus on more AAPPL aligned assessments. Or more generally…creating better tasks that ask my students to use their skills to communicate and complete a task.
I decided to try something. It’s always important just to try and fail than to always wonder how things could be better. I define the performance task: communicate with someone to make plans to visit the Dominican Republic. I wanted to be that someone so my creative question became: how can I simulate ongoing, informal communication in an organized way somewhat authentically?
I thought about modern communication and thought about replicating email or text. Neither sounds super easy but I wondered about Google Classroom….
In Google Classroom you can create a Question. Each student can answer that question BUT they can also just do Private Comments. These are just comments that go back and forth between me and the students. I posed the task to them in Google Classroom.
Because I was the ongoing monitor and responder to this task, I could gauge proficiency throughout the entire task. To help guide them to when they demonstrated our defined levels of proficiency, I gave code words that would signify when they hit their benchmark.
The students had one week to complete this task. They began sending me messages and what I loved is that I would get an email notification everytime someone added a private comment. So at 8:30 at night I knew that someone was trying to communicate with me and it kept me alerted to who I needed to respond to.
I would respond and we continued carrying out our conversation. Just as if it was an authentic communication—sometimes they had to wait a little while for a response. Honestly though I kept up with the flow pretty well. Only one day (when I forced them all to go in and check their progress) did I get flooded with info and get a little bit behind.
I stressed this was a communication exercise and I was pleased with the grammar errors I saw 🙂 There is a lot of thought behind how they tried to communicate and even if it is not perfect–it was (for the most part) comprehensible. #goals
It was fun for me too! Within my 23 students I planned romantic getaways for 2, a bro-cation, family vacation and helped one individual escape a dangerous situation in Detroit. There was a lot of creative and personal expression and I loved making them do that themselves. Some students stuck to a budget and others said money was no object because they had a high paying job.
And I didn’t mention this but it was culturally based. They had to do their own research on the Dominican Republic (and/or use my guides) to find out what they want to do.
I had only 23 students so it was relatively manageable. I will never attempt this with my 40+ Spanish 3 students.
More structure is needed next time for those kids that don’t really take the initiative to do something unless specifically told. They would only respond if I said “Would you go in and respond to me now?” so this whole project was kind of a disaster for them.
I spent too much time arranging flight plans in the US so I think next time I will have them start by telling me when they are arriving in the DR and take it from there. About 50% of our convo was just about getting them there and I think it would have been more culturally relevant to talk more about what we’re doing when they arrive.
I think doing this orally FlipGrid style would be fun and that’s where I’m headed next.