How to help students prepare for a final IPA

How to help students prepare for a final IPA exam

This year, my Spanish 2 students are taking an IPA instead of the final exam.  Our final exam had to be all on paper or in ExamSoft which can be limiting for foreign languages.  If we only use paper, the exam cannot consist of any listening tasks or any speaking tasks.  It all has to be reading or writing… for two hours.  Luckily, our principal has been supportive of our transition to have students take an IPA before the final exam.  Then, students do not have to take a final exam on the scheduled day.

For the final exam, we decided to include both interpretive reading and listening, in addition to interpersonal speaking and presentational writing.  This allows us to include all four modes even though the IPA typically has three sections.  We separate reading and listening on two separate days as well as speaking and writing, so students do not feel rushed with any topic.  The speaking section is the fastest, but again, we want to give them time to complete the writing for the full block.  Our classes are all 50 minutes long.

We had to also decide on different themes that could cover many different topics that we discussed during the year.  In Spanish 3 last year, we used the theme of natural disasters.  In Spanish 2 this year, we are focusing on vacations and trips.  Using a broad topic can help encompass many of the themes that we have been studying all year.  It also helps when you can find a variety of resources to select.  I wouldn’t suggest tying yourself to a specific theme where it is hard to find resources.

For other tips, I suggest PrintFriendly to print any reading authentic resources from the Internet.  Even if you do not need to edit the text itself, it will convert any webpage into a PDF in case the website will change or go away as we found out today!  Luckily, we had saved it already or we would have had to rewrite a WHOLE section!

During interpretive listening, students are using EdPuzzle.  I use EdPuzzle a lot especially for novice and beginning intermediate students.  It allows students to replay videos and pinpoints the part where the answer is located.  For many students, this helps make authentic resources even more comprehensible.  If you are worried that students can access it, you could even have students write their answers down on a piece of paper.

However, how do you help students prepare for the final exam that is cumulative but more about skills than about actual conjugations or vocabulary or a traditional test?  First, I asked my students what sections they wanted to practice the most.  This helps me to narrow down what they feel confident about versus what areas they feel the weakest.  My students said they wanted to practice both listening and speaking.  This helped me narrow down what I wanted to cover with my students.  Here are a few ideas that worked for us:

  • I used some of Gianfranco’s micro-listening practices to help with listening skills.  This helped my students identify sounds much better.  I used a variety of different videos from University of Texas-Austin.  They are short, and I can download them, so students do not see the transcript.  I will continue to use these micro-listening practices even more next year!  Students felt like it was difficult, but they really helped them.
  • Although I love EdPuzzle, there is something to be said about watching a video as a class and highlighting what others’ hear.  I found a similarly themed video to discuss in class.  Students worked individually or with a partner to brainstorm answers on a whiteboard.
  • I passed around sheets of paper with different themes from this year.  Students brainstormed different vocabulary from the year on each sheet.  They would add as many words as they could then trade papers with another group.  They would read that list and add more words to it.  Then at the end, they received a new list and had to incorporate 6-8 words from their list into a new writing on Seesaw.
  • Also the BEST thing that I did was sit down one on one with each student, talk to them about how they are feeling and answer any personalized questions that they have about the upcoming IPA.  EVERY time I do this (which isn’t much!) I think I SHOULD DO THIS ALL THE TIME!  Maybe if I put it down as my goal for next year?!
  • I may do this if I have a chance to on Friday- but I love these vocabulary puzzles!  Our Latin teachers used this to help with their review this year.
  • To practice speaking, I gave them various topics to practice.  With our first day, I had students brainstorm what they wanted to talk about first before they talked.  The second day, we did a mock simulation without any writing or brainstorming.
  • Finally, before our last writing assessment, we looked at the rubric again and students evaluated their own work.  They decided how to improve based on each different section of the rubric.  Once this was done, they looked at students’ work from other classes and evaluated those based on the rubric.
  • In addition, each night I have a different sample that students can choose to complete.  I believe that this reassures some students as they are completing an IPA and gives them more of a guide to work on.

How do you provide extra help and support when reviewing for an IPA exam?



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