Reflections on my first Interpersonal Bootcamp

Two weeks ago in #langchat, I talked about how I wanted to try more speaking assessments.  I have done one speaking assessment (other than the exam), and it took me to grade.  I procrastinated, and I never wanted to give another speaking assessment again.  (I know, that is not a good reason.)

Then Rebecca mentioned her interpersonal bootcamp!  I loved it!  I was sold, and my students completed it that week.  Here was how the process went:

  • By keeping this goal in mind, it allowed me to plan better speaking activities leading up to the activity.  It gives them a purpose for each activity, and it motivates them to speak Spanish in the classroom even more.
  • While students were taking the speaking activity, other students were completing a short, written presentational assessment.  I liked having the two samples (spoken and written) for one assessment.  It also ensured that my students worked quietly.  Finally, one student reflected that having the speaking part helped him vary his vocabulary in his writing.  I will take that!
  • I didn’t have fake jewels (will have to add that to the next Amazon Prime order!), but we used pink and purple paperclips.  It allowed students to have a reminder of who needed to talk.  Each student had to talk throughout the session.
  • I was able to get quick data, and I did not have to listen to students’ speaking for an extended period of time after class.  I also didn’t have the technical glitches with students’ recordings.  Plus, we were able to complete this activity relatively quickly and had time in class for another activity.

I was also pleased with the feedback:

  • I had plenty of notes, and this allowed me to give feedback to each group and students overall.
  • It did seem to take awhile for me to complete the feedback, but I typed up notes for each group and student.  I decided to give overall notes to the group, so I was not being repetitive and then individual notes to each student.  However, I really did not mind taking the time to give this feedback.  It didn’t seem as tedious as listening to each group THEN trying to give useful feedback.  I also feel that it is much more valuable than circling or highlighting something on a rubric.  See one group’s feedback below:


Reflecting on Interpersonal Bootcamp

In the future, I would want to change a few things:

  • I think I will participate a bit more.  While I did not want to interfere with the process, some groups got off topic then they hadn’t addressed the topic, but they had spoken on their turns.  This way, they can still participate, and I can make sure I have enough data to assess them accurately.
  • I also think that it is one thing to be able to talk to fellow students who use a smaller amount of vocabulary.  As a teacher, I am able to impart more vocabulary and harder questions.
  • I also needed to emphasize the fact of making it an actual conversation.  Only a few groups asked follow-up questions, so it became more of a question and everyone answers process.
  • I would also like to change it up with an EdPuzzle or Zaption video activity while students are speaking.  This would change up the process and also keep students quiet.

Finally, if you are going to start this, I would have done some of the initial things differently:

  • As my students were practicing their speaking, I would have practiced scoring.  I became a lot better as the classes went on.  However, it would have been easier on me if I had practiced earlier.  This would have also provided more notes for myself.
  • I would have emphasized staying on topic.  Many of my students would just ask different questions and then they would drag others off topic.
  • I would also watch what I wrote as a prompt.  I wanted them to talk about any family members that they visited over break, but they discussed how many family members they have in general.  In that case, I also am not sure how clear I was with the “can-do” statements.

With all that being said, overall, I loved it!  I felt that my students did better than I expected.  I planned on completing one this week with my middle school students, but we haven’t been back to school since Thursday!  I will continue to use this assessment throughout the year.  Thanks Rebecca for the great suggestion!

9 thoughts on “Reflections on my first Interpersonal Bootcamp

  1. Can you share your rubric for how you tracked/graded them? And maybe the prompt that you used? I like this idea but need a visual to get a better picture. Thanks.

    1. Sure! The prompt was talk about your winter break. I wanted it to be vague on purpose since it was the first one. I gave them ideas like: watching shows on Netflix, restaurants where you ate, people you talked to etc. The rubric I used was the same one from Rebecca’s Interpersonal Bootcamp. She posted it there. I really like the “k” for Talk which is “Kind.”

  2. Maris! I hadn’t seen this until now, when Thomas Sauer featured it on his blog (congrats)! I am super-excited that your tried this and love your ideas about tweaking it next time around. As for emphasizing staying on Topic, I make that part of the “T” and I definitely interrupt the group if they’re going off-topic and I note it on the rubric evaluation. Keep us posted on your progress!

    1. Thanks! I did include that, but it seemed that my questions geared them off topic more so than anything. I am excited to try it again, and I love the idea!

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