Day 1: Language Learning for the Modern World and the Modern Mind

I am just finishing up day 1 of this conference.  I am so excited to learn more about not only how to create an IPA (Integrated Performance Assessment– you can read more here if you are not familiar with an IPA) but also how to adjust my teaching to make sure that I am teaching correctly (day 2).  I believe that this is the key.  I definitely understand what IPAs are, but I want to make sure that I am supporting my students before I have them complete an IPA.  It is not fair to ASSESS them that way if I am not teaching them this way.

Today, I had some really interesting take away messages though:

  • At St. Andrews, they assess by communicative competence and cultural competence.  Students should know that as the facilitator put it- you cannot order a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in Mexico.  I believe that this puts culture naturally into the curriculum.  You are not just teaching students information to answer a multiple choice question, but you are really giving them great information.
  • Some of the information that I learned revolved around how a student interacts with the text or speaker:
  • When a teacher assesses interpretive assignments, he is only looking at comprehension.  The student does not negotiate meaning with the speaker or writer.
  • In interpersonal assessments, there is negotiation of meaning.  Students work together and asking clarifying questions is encouraged.  When completing an interpersonal assessment, the MS teacher also has students complete this in three times.  They will do a sort of speed dating- with their best friend first then the next two people.  They are able to practice it further and their grade does not solely depend on having a good partner.
  • Finally, presentational does not have a negotiation of meaning either as students are showing what they know individually.
  • When the teachers give feedback during the final exam, they also tell students how they can prepare over the summer for the next level.  The teachers said that students can better articulate what they know and their struggles.

At the end, we created our own IPA.  Mine is a combination of what I have learned online and through other examples.  I created an IPA for a traditional food/restaurant unit:

  • Interpretive: Students read a Yelp review and answer questions about it.  For example: what are the foods that the review mentions?  Would the author recommend eating there?  Why or why not?
  • Interpersonal: Students must be either a waiter or client and mention a problem they have with the service or their food.  The two must interact to solve the problem.  They will then switch roles.
  • Presentational: A student dined at a restaurant last night.  He must write a Yelp review of the place including his recommendation.

So there you have it!  It is a bit of a brain dump from the first day.  As I am working on developing IPAs, I would welcome feedback.  Have you had any AHA moments this summer?

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