IPA Discussion Thoughts and Questions

Today, we had a teacher professional development day.  The foreign language department discussed rubrics for our Integrated Performance Assessment.  While we were discussing it, we came across a few discrepancies.  We had a few discussions, and I reached out to others via Twitter about their thoughts.  It was interesting because there were a lot of different viewpoints.  Our discussion revolved around the presentational part.

First, let me tell you my interpretation.  For a presentational written piece, the students would enter into the classroom and write a piece on a given prompt.  Students would have an idea of what the topic is (because if not, what have you been doing the rest of the time to prepare them?!) but they would not know specifics.  They would write down everything that they were capable of, so I would have an accurate assessment of their proficiency level.  However, some of my colleagues had different thoughts.

  • The students would be able to use a dictionary on the presentational writing.

In some ways, I understand this.  Word Reference is my best friend when I am writing something.  So realistically, they would be able to use that if they were truly writing something in the real world.  However, my colleagues wanted students to be able to use only a book dictionary.  Is it just me, or is anyone else over a hard copy dictionary?! Don’t get me wrong- I lived in 5 different places every year in college, and I proudly toted the largest Spanish dictionary I could find to each place.  Now, it seems silly as everything is online. And really, is there anything better than the Word Reference Forums?  However, how can I adequately assess what students actually know if they are using a dictionary?

  • For the presentational writing part, students should write a draft, receive guidance from a teacher and rewrite it for a final draft.

Again, while I always give feedback before other IPAs, for a final assessment, this seems invalid.  I do not mind having students write a piece, put it aside and revisit it later.  However, I had not thought about doing so for an assessment.  I believe if you are giving enough feedback throughout the course, what new would you add at the end?  (Keep in mind, this would be an IPA to replace a final exam.)  At some point, students just have to rely upon themselves and perhaps other resources (see above).

But I would honestly love to hear other opinions!  I had no clue that these divisions existed in IPAs.  I really appreciate everyone who has chimed in via Twitter as well.

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7 thoughts on “IPA Discussion Thoughts and Questions

  1. I think part of why I eschew dictionaries in IPAs, too, is I mostly have baby parrots–novices. If they can’t dredge it up from what’s been repeated repeatedly in class, then it’s not THEIR language. You and I may write with dictionaries in our second language, but we are way past intermediate even. I used to think dictionary manipulation was an essential skill to build in from the start, but now I think dictionaries–like meticulous grammar–are best saved until later.

    • True! I think that this defines a lot of what I think. I still come from a more traditional department trying to implement an IPA. I was surprised at everyone’s thoughts on how to do a presentational writing; however, I think we have to come to the same conclusion about what we are looking for and our purpose.

  2. I would not let them use dictionaries nor would I allow them to revise with teacher guidance. I want to know what they have acquired and is in their functional language ability. I side with Maris 🙂

  3. This is a symptom of asking students to produce language before they have acquired it. It’s putting the cart before the horse. If them not having a dictionary means that they’re going to have major trouble writing something, then they haven’t really acquired what it is that you want them to acquire. Just my 2 cents.

    • I definitely understand what you are saying! Others have also contributed the difference when I use a dictionary versus my students. Since we are not novice/intermediate speakers, we look at it with a different eye. Thanks!

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