I met with my principal this morning as we discussed my two evaluations from last semester. He commented how impressed he has been with me as a Spanish teacher: both in the rapport with the students I have acquired in a short time as well as the Spanish abilities he has noticed with students. I would assume that students didn’t speak it as much before (except the Native / Heritage speakers which make up about 40% of the school). Thanks to the sneaky teaching of TPRS, they are acquiring the language without realizing it. J
While we were talking, I mentioned something that has been a breath of fresh air as well as a great addition to my teaching this semester. Over Christmas I bought BenSlavic’s TPRS DVD set for only $35, which I thought was a really nice deal after reading both of his books last year. It really helped flesh out some of the concepts he talked about in his books.
I noticed that Ben has his students write 8 question quizzes in one of his classes to have an assessment at the end of class. So students are not required/expected to write anything during class. They are expected to watch, listen, and answer (as well as act when necessary).
The idea of students making the end of class quizzes for me though is… GENIUS. So I tried it out during these weeks and students actually do a great job. They get to listen to the story all of class and then write out 8 questions (either that I have said or of their own creation). Then at the end of class, someone passes out little pieces of scrap paper I have (thanks to extra worksheet copies and such) and they take the sí/no quiz. Some of the questions have been awesome!
The best part, all I have to do is grade AND I have a record of what we have been talking about for future games in which I want the students’ stories as the driving force for the game. (For example, see my caramba game for my eighth graders last year.)
I think this is a winning idea for the following reasons:
- I am often tired at the end of class and in the last five minutes, I can’t think of five questions, much less eight.
- Using eight questions is good since quizzes/tests are 50% of their grade. This offers a good buffer for their grade in case they miss one or two every once in awhile.
- Students who make the quizzes must pay more attention to how I am asking questions (since Spanish is different with no usage of Do(es) / Did at the beginning of questions, it’s good to make them conscious of how to write questions in Spanish by listening to me.
- Students get ownership of something in class that affects the rest of the class
- It seems to build their confidence
- the quiz writer has to pay more attention than otherwise
- it establishes a routine for Spanish class unlike any other; in the last 8 minutes, someone passes out the sheets of paper and we take the quiz, go over the answers and have 2-3 minutes at the end
- I am able to praise students for awesome questions
- it’s funny how students almost always have a question (in Jr high) about if the teacher is a loser: ¿El profesor es un loser? to which the answer in class is “Sí.” (I model that I would rather that they make fun of me than each other in class.)
- students almost always volunteer for this surprisingly
- they still have to take their quiz after writing it, but shouldn’t they get an easy A?
- If no one volunteers, I have each name on a popsicle stick for each class and I just draw that name. Once they go, their popsicle stick cannot be drawn until everyone’s name has been drawn.
- if a question is poorly worded (and 20%-30% or more miss it, I throw the question out / offer it as extra credit)