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Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: Workshop

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Video Summary

In “Planning for Assessment,” Understanding by Design education consultant Allison Zmuda describes the components of a good assessment plan. Ms. Zmuda also joins a round-table discussion on ways to assess student performance and on the use of rubrics and feedback to inform assessment. The discussion is moderated by University of Pittsburgh professor Richard Donato and includes teacher Paris Granville of Pleasant Hill, California, and language coordinator Elizabeth Runnalls of Nanuet, New York. The video also features excerpts from Ms. Granville’s and Ms. Runnalls’s classes, as well as other classes across different grade levels and languages.* The video addresses the following questions:

  • How do you assess performance?
  • How do the standards inform assessment?
  • What are the roles of rubrics and feedback?

*The classroom excerpts featured in this video are from the Teaching Foreign Languages K-12 video library. To learn more about the featured lessons, go to the Library Videos Chart.

Watch the Video

Watch the video “Planning for Assessment,” and take notes as you watch. Consider pausing at the end of each section to answer the questions before moving on to the next section. If you are working in a group, discuss your responses; if you are working alone, reflect on them in your journal.

1. How do you assess performance?
In this section, Ms. Zmuda talks about different kinds of assessments that teachers can employ. Also, Ms. Granville and Ms. Runnalls describe their approaches to assessment on recent performance projects.
  • What characteristics of informal assessments do you see in the classroom excerpts in this section? What characteristics of formal assessments do you see in the classroom excerpts?
  • In the classroom excerpts, what do you observe about students’ performances during interpersonal communication? What criteria might you use to assess such performances? How might those criteria differ from criteria used for evaluating a presentational performance?
  • In the classroom excerpts, how did teachers inform students about their assessment criteria?
  • What are the advantages of assessing students on what they can do rather than on what they can’t do?

2. How do the standards inform assessment?

In this section, the group discusses ways to incorporate the standards into assessment plans. They also talk about the challenges of assessing both fluency and accuracy.
  • Why do performance assessments tend to focus on the Communication standards? What portion of your assessments typically focuses on the Communication standards?
  • What are the challenges of measuring student performance in the other goal areas: Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities? How might these goal areas play a role in the classroom, even when they are not being formally assessed? In what ways have you tracked students’ growth in these goal areas?
  • In a rubric for assessing communication, what is the role of linguistic accuracy? How might you assess the different modes, particularly interpersonal communication and presentational communication?

3. What are the roles of rubrics and feedback?

In this section, Ms. Zmuda talks about how rubrics and feedback can help students become aware of their growth over time. The teachers then share their experiences with designing and using rubrics and discuss the role of students during assessments.
  • What are the advantages of rubrics as evaluation instruments? What are the challenges in creating a rubric?
  • What might lead you to revise a rubric?
  • When teachers plan from the standards, they must move beyond determining what students should know and be able to do (content) to determining how well they should be able to do it (performance). How do you determine the performance level of your students? How might you design a rubric to incorporate standards other than the Communication standards?
  • When might you translate rubrics into numerical or letter grades, and when might you use them just to provide feedback? How do you decide the relative weight of the categories in your rubric for calculating grades?