L'enseignement branché et la pensée critique

La culture, la communication et la compréhension en immersion

Cleaning out my lesson plan book: erasing final exams for authentic learning

juillet 27, 2012 by MmeNero · No Comments · Introduction

This semester, I got rid of all final written exams and had students show what they learned from a choice of projects on the iPad.  I taught French as a Second Language (Core French) 8, Spanish 9 and Français Langue 10.  It was a simple thing to do once I adjusted the criteria rubrics for each of the respective courses based on the prescribed learning outcomes.

The advantages:

  • Students were able to show off their creative talents
  • Students were able to authentically show what they learned rather than filling in the blanks with a correctly conjugated verb
  • Students took the assignment seriously, and since it was on the iPad they could use tools to help them hand in their best work
  • Overall final project marks were much higher than my previous final exam test marks

The disadvantages (but nothing I can’t adapt to improve):

  • We share a class set of iPads amongst 5 teachers and in some cases the timing was not ideal (but in order to use technological tools, this is a reality that I have to adapt to)
  • Marking 70+ projects once students were done was difficult (but that is due to my own learning curve on teaching with the iPads) (I am going to have a Dropbox account for each of my classes, students will have to send me their completed projects AND sign a book with the title of their project as well as the date that it was sent to Dropbox)
  • Some students did not use time wisely in class and so I had to create after-school tutorial times (I am planning on starting a weekly iPad homework club in the new school year)

While it may look like there are too many disadvantages compared to the amount of advantages, it is really only a matter of learning from them and adapting my teaching style to address the above issues.  They aren’t anything that can’t be fixed and the learning advantages are much more significant and worth it.

However, no matter what, the best part of using the iPads as a medium for the final projects was that I could integrate oral production into the criteria.  This gave me the chance to assess two language abilities at the same time while reducing the amount of end of semester assessments.  I believe that students were more engaged in their learning and took the opportunity to show off what they had learned.  They took the final project seriously and included the criteria so that the average marks in each class were:

FSL: 72%

Spanish: 91% (I had a very strong class)

Français Langue: 83%

I found it to be much more authentic than filling in the blanks of a test with the correctly conjugated word.  Students were expected to write in complete sentences; it is easy to tell if the student wrote the sentence or if it was copied.  It should only be written in a language that they have been taught.  I don’t allow English-French-Spanish dictionaries in my classroom.  Students are expected to use what they know and build upon the vocabulary that they have learned so that they retain what they have learned rather than copy down an expression that may not be used correctly.

In conclusion, while it may be more time consuming to mark final projects at the end of the semester, I feel that these project choices give students the chance to show off their creative talents while demonstrating their learned concepts in an authentic way.  All it takes is planning the criteria and learning how to use the tool.  Make sure you know how to use the apps beforehand in case of questions which could be time-consuming.

My FSL project choices, based on the content learned in class:

  •  A 6-page magazine spread/brochure of current fashion trends (using BOOK CREATOR) from one of the cultures.  Prices and colours must be included in the description of 20 clothing items. You will do a voice-over recoding of this magazine to describe each item of clothing worn by the French models.   4 pages must have models photographed in a Francophone area and you need to include a brief description of the site on each page.  The last page must include a written paragraph written by a fashion “critic” using the structures you have learned in class.
  • A comic book (Comic Life): A minimum of 12 box comic book strip story that is the theme of a trip to a restaurant or a story about a group of friends from a Francophone country what they like and do not like (to do, to eat, classes).  There must also be a physical and a personality description of the family members.  For example, the characters may say: “I am sociable and I am tall”.
  • A rap song and music video (iMovie) including vocabulary that you have learned this semester.  The music video must include images or scenes that represent the content of the lyrics.  The theme of the song is your choice (restaurant, people, places). It must include a chorus and a minimum of 2 verses.
  • Puppet Pals HD: Use this app to create a story about characters of your choice.  The characters must come from a Francophone country/region.  Have them speak to each other in a conversation (like a podcast) and walk through some of the cultural monuments you have learned about in le Grand Voyage.   They need to communicate using what you have learned in the course (likes/dislikes, -er verbs, what they are wearing etc.)
  • 20 picture yearbook of an international school (using BOOK CREATOR): Each page should have one picture of a different student (they may be fictional), as well as a picture that shows them participating in their interest (must be the same person in both pics).  It needs to include teenagers from at least 3 different French cultures and students of different ages.  Each caption needs to include their ages, a personality description, where they are from as well as 1 activity they like and 1 activity they don’t like to do/play.
  • Wedding Planner(s) (using BOOK CREATOR): You are in charge of organizing this party!  Create a seating chart and label each person’s seat with a description of the person’s name, age and relationship to the bride or groom.  Write the foods that the guests like to eat and do not like to eat for dinner.  Use the verb “to go” (aller) to explain what you are going to do during the event.  You, as the wedding planner, will record your description of the evening as you are presenting it to a couple that are getting married in 2 days.  Everything should be planned perfectly to avoid any problems.
  • An original story (using BOOK CREATOR): Write an 8-page story on about a teenager from one of the Francophone cultures.  You need to include members of his/her family and elements of their culture (traditions, places in their city) as well as at least 1 picture per page.  There should be at least 2 sentences per page.  It can be a formatted like a story for children.
  • iMovie: Create a newscast in iMovie that includes the name of the show (in French) and the date.  You need to hand in a good copy of your script.  You can do your newscast on the following:
  1. The new hot restaurant in town. Explain what they serve, what you order, how is the food, what does the restaurant look like, what is the service like and if the price is reasonable or not.  The food needs to be representative of the Francophone culture.
  2. A subject of your choice, to be approved by Madame

These are my Spanish project choices, based on the content learned in class (some are similar to the French class as this is the first level of Spanish even though it is with students of a higher grade):

  • A 6-page magazine spread/brochure of current fashion trends (using BOOK CREATOR) from one of the cultures.  Prices and colours must be included in the description of 20 clothing items. You will do a voice-over recoding of this magazine to describe each item of clothing worn by the models.   4 pages must have models photographed in a Hispanic area and you need to include a brief description of the site on each page.  The last page must include a written paragraph written by a fashion “critic” using the structures you have learned in class.
  • A comic book (using COMIC LIFE or Pixton): Create a minimum of 24 box comic book strip story that is the theme of a trip to a restaurant, a story about a family or a group of friends and what they like and do not like (to do, to eat).  The characters must be visiting or from a Hispanic culture.  There must be elements of the culture and city added into it.  There must also be descriptions of the family members.  For example, the characters say “I am serious and a hard worker”. Your comic must be made into a book using Book Creator once you are done (using screen shot) and then recorded.
  • Puppet Pals HD: Use this app to create a story about characters of your choice.  The characters must come from one of the Latin cultures we learned.  Have them speak to each other in a conversation (like a podcast) and walk through some of the cultural monuments you have learned about.   They need to talk, using what you have learned in the course to communicate (likes/dislikes, -ar/-e verbs, what they are wearing etc.)
  • 20 picture yearbook of an international school (using BOOK CREATOR): Each page should have one picture of a different student (they may be fictional), as well as a picture that shows them participating in their interest (must be the same person in both pics).  It needs to include teenagers from at least 3 different Spanish cultures and students of different ages.  Each written and recorded caption needs to include their ages, a personality description, where they are from as well as 1 activity they like and 1 activity they don’t like to do/play.
  • Wedding Planner (using BOOK CREATOR): You are in charge of organizing this party!  Create a seating chart and label each person’s seat with a description of the person’s name, age and relation to the bride or groom.  Write the foods that the person likes to eat and does not like to eat for dinner.  Write a plan for the evening, aim to please the most people (music, dancing, activities).   Use the verb “to go” to explain what you the guests are going to do during the event.  You, as the wedding planner, will record your description of the evening as you are presenting it to a couple who are getting married in 2 days.  Everything should be planned perfectly to avoid any problems.
  • An original story (using BOOK CREATOR): Write a An 8 page story on about a teenager from one of the Latin cultures.  You need to include members of his/her family and elements of their culture (traditions, places in their city) as well as at least 1 picture per page.  It can be a formatted like a story for children.
  • iMovie: Create a newscast in iMovie that includes the name of the show (in Spanish) and the date.  You need to hand in a good copy of your script.  You can do your newscast on the following:
  1. The new hot restaurant in town. Explain what they serve, what you order, how is the food, what does the restaurant look like, what is the service like and if the price is reasonable or not.  The food needs to be representative of the Latin culture.
  2. What to do in a Latin-speaking city.  Talk about what you like to do in the city, what are the activities you can do in the morning, afternoon and evening.  Present the city in the travel section.  Talk about how much things cost to do.
  3. A subject of your choice, to be approved by Sra. No

Please use any of these ideas and adapt them to your own teaching style…I would love other types of suggestions for next year.  Please write your comments and/or any questions you may have.

Next blog post: comments from student surveys at the end of the year

 

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