Reflections from 2016-2017 school year

Reflections 2016-2017

This year, I ditched traditional tests and quizzes for IPAs (Integrated Performance Assessments).  Last year, I played around with some limited IPAs while sticking to the textbook.  I felt freer this year to continue to push the boundaries and expand.  Meredith noted this in her most recent post on Path2Proficiency, but I was more positive.  I could focus on what students COULD do instead of looking for places to take a half point off here or there.  One of my main focuses was if I could understand what my students said and if they could understand what they were hearing or listening.

One big plus was that I felt that students felt freer to express themselves in Spanish whether it was written or spoken.  I had so many students try to speak Spanish outside of class.  I actually had more parents come in and tell me that their students were speaking Spanish outside of class for the first time.  In previous years, it would be the opposite conversation.  I had to explain what I was doing, so their students would speak Spanish because they never wanted to talk outside of class.  I believe that this alone would be a big enough sign that I am on the right path for my students and my teaching.

In addition, as I have continue to work with proficiency, I have noticed that students are increasing the vocabulary that they are using.  They are also starting to organize their writing more and writing more complex sentences.  Before, I only focused on if their writing was grammatically correct and they wrote the given number of sentences.  It didn’t matter if they used the same verb or not.  Although I would use different pictures for students to describe, many times they would fall back on the same vocabulary.  This year, they were able to push themselves to use more vocabulary.

As Wendy posted, I want to start by focusing on things I DID accomplish and check off because it can be easy to focus on what you want to still want to change:

  • I replaced my traditional tests and quizzes with Integrated Performance Assessments.  Last year, we did an IPA as a final for level 3.  This year, we extended it down to level 2.  As I wrote above, my students finally spoke so much more and wrote so much more, too!
  • I felt that due to this change, I was able to give more specific feedback.  Before, I could give feedback on grammar and vocabulary, but now I can give feedback on comprehensibility or level of discourse.
  • I incorporated more speaking assessments into my year than I ever have, and I even had students do a presentation that went well for students and me!
  • I incorporated Billy y las botas graphic novel into my classes.  I felt much more successful this year with Billy than I have been with some novels in past years.
  • Due to my changes with curriculum, I had to evolve my blended class.  Although it can be tricky to do so, I felt it made my class stronger.
  • I found and successfully incorporated both ActivelyLearn and Flipgrid into my classes.  I felt that both technologies enhanced my curriculum.
  • I finally applied to and presented at two conferences!  This has been a big goal of mine, and I am so happy to have accomplished it!  Also, I was super lucky to attend ACTFL, NECTFL and GWATFL this year.  I think this helped me make such big changes this year.
  • I focused a lot on how to teach reading and evolving how I work with authentic reading texts.  I started to utilize each authentic text more at the end of the year instead of just asking a few questions and moving on.
  • I became confident enough with my ability to develop units and curriculum that I have ditched the textbook next year in place of novels and proficiency units!

Changes for next year:

  • At the end of the year, I noticed that my students were still struggling with some listening skills.  I used some of the Language Gym’s microlistening activities.  These seemed to help my students improve their listening.  I plan on using more of these next year.
  • I want to create more overarching units to incorporate even more culture.  I believe that moving away from the textbook will help me to do so.  I also want to make sure that students use information from all of the sections of the IPA and unit.  They didn’t seem to make the connection that it was all connected.  I want to be more deliberate.
  • I still want to work on how students process feedback.  At the end of the year, I gave a Google Form for students to process feedback.  I want to continue to do that as well as work on my effectiveness when I give feedback.
  • I am thinking about how to organize my students now that they will be textbookless.  Perhaps interactive notebooks?  This will be a lot of food for thought over the summer!

Thanks to Wendy for giving me the idea!  It feels amazing to reflect on what I checked off this year!  What did YOU check off this year?

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