Posted in Assessments, Integrated Performance Assessment

How to start using IPAs: an evolution

How to start incorporating IPAs

On a recent #langchat, someone said that they needed more help to use IPAs (Integrated Performance Assessments).  I believe that the best thing to do is to start making slow changes.  While some people may be happy making huge changes, I prefer to change a little bit at a time until I am ready to make bigger jumps.  Below, I will detail how I evolved my assessments to prepare for larger IPAs in the following years.

First, I felt that I could switch a more traditional vocabulary to either interpretive reading or listening.  I could also make this a quiz and put it closer to the beginning of the unit because it was more input based.  Still unsure about where to start?  There were many traditional textbook topics that were easy to find articles or listening: Clothes unit?  How about an article about dressing for work in the winter, a video about summer clothes or an ad from Kohls?  For a novice unit, you could look up the fichas from Superpop magazine including this one for Harry Styles that would be accessible to early novices.  Also, International Day of the Family has some great infographics that would be easy for beginners.  In an upper level class, you could incorporate even more infographics about how to stay healthy.  Teaching a technology unit?  Here is a video with some tips to take a perfect selfie.  (Also- I have sorted many of my authentic resources by subject here.)

Many times, I would apply the grammar topic that was covered that unit in my textbook to an interpersonal speaking activity.  I would have students talk about their winter break when we learned about the preterite tense.  I had students interview each other about their preferences when we were reviewing gustar at the beginning of the year.  Students could also discuss an experience in a restaurant incorporating vocabulary and grammar (preterite).  Ideally, this topic would bridge some of the other topics, but in the beginning, I wasn’t too worried about that.  I just wanted to start incorporating some interpersonal speaking into my assessments.  It is ok to give yourself the liberty to see how it works without it being perfect.

Then at the end, a presentational writing task seemed natural.  It could easily tie up the grammar and vocabulary.  If the class had watched a video on the daily routine of a girl, they could also compare it to their own routine in writing. Or, I showed students an infographic about a trip to Mexico and had them use the future tense to explain to their parents why they should go on this trip and what they will do during the vacation.  I also switched up presentational speaking and presentational writing and had students discuss a former trip to combine both past tenses and city vocabulary.  At the end of the unit, it was easier for me to come up with a more unifying theme.

As I continue to move away from the textbook, I am finding ways to combine these to create an overarching theme for each IPA.  It just seems a lot harder when I am making that transition.  However, I have found success mostly when I move away from the textbook.  For example, I used this as a final IPA as I created a review unit from the beginning of the year.  I hope that this post can serve teachers who want to make the jump but still are unsure.  You can start to implement these small changes into your assessments without having to go full force into IPAs; these helped me to improve my practice to make the jump overall.

Still thinking about how to transition to proficiency?  Here are some of my switching to proficiency posts:


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