“Relax” by Andrés Nieto Porras; source: Flickr


There are a lot of mixed reviews, mixed research, mixed attitudes, and well, mixed everything on the topic of forced output.  I, for one, fully understand and support the research that says that it’s not healthy to force output…to an extent.

I’m not going to dive into my own philosophy here, but I will tell you that moving to quarterly oral evaluations has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my teaching career. At each quarter I have an individual interview with each student in my Pre-AP Spanish 2 and Pre-AP Spanish 3 classes. At the end of the first and third quarters the assessment is primarily for formative purposes, although I do assign 20 points to the task because it takes SO much time out of our day (sorry, I really do know how wrong it is to assign points to formative assessments). The second and fourth quarter oral evaluations are summative, with a point total of 100 points.

Why has this been so great?  First of all, I get to know things about my students that I never would have known otherwise. No piece of paper can give you the same information as a one-on-one interview. Second, I get to know my students’ abilities on a deeply personal level. Third, and this is the one that will get me in trouble with a lot of the “experts,” is the motivation for improvement and the understanding of HOW to improve that the task provides to my students.  The highly (and I MEAN highly) personalized feedback that students receive on their formative oral evaluation is way more motivation than I can provide or that they could possibly muster up by their own accord. In fact, many students end up exceeding expectations on the semester, or summative, oral evaluation, because they finally get a clearer picture of what they individually need.

Ok, so what does Google have to do with all of this?!  Well, as you can probably imagine, scheduling anywhere from 65 to 150 kids to have individual interviews is a logistical nightmare. In the past, I have wasted way too much class time conducting these evaluations (I’m talking two and a half weeks– WHOA). Then, finally, I woke up and wised up and began to use Google Calendar appointments to schedule my students. Here’s how it works:

  1. Create a Calendar in Google Calendars ( that is only for your evaluations. I call mine “Oral Evaluations.”  Ooo, so original.
    create new
    You’re going to want to make sure that you make this calendar public, too, so that you can share it with your students.
    make public
  2. Now you’re ready to set up your appointments in Google Calendar. You want to go to Day or Week view in the calendar.
    Day or week
    Click on the day that you want to start the appointment, and click “appointment slots” at the top of the box that pops up. Then, I prefer to click “edit details” in the bottom right-hand corner. Also, make sure that you have the correct calendar selected (see the red arrow).  Notice how here I do not have the correct calendar selected!
    pop up box
  3. Now we’ll tailor your appointment slots. I prefer to do two, fifteen minute slots per class period. I also add two slots before school, two during my planning period, and two directly after school. Here’s how to tailor the time slot:
    You’re going to name the slot (1st period 1st evaluation, for example), then edit the times, and THEN you can also set it to repeat!  You do this by clicking “edit” next to the “repeat” box.
    Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 6.20.23 PM
    You’ll repeat this process for each time slot you want to create.
  4. Once this is complete, you’ll have a calendar that looks something like this:
    Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 5.31.15 PM
  5. Now it’s time to let your students make their appointments! You want to go back to the edit screen for any of your appointments and select the HUGE link that appears next to “This calendar’s appointment page.”
    Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 6.25.10 PM
    Copy this link and paste it into the Google URL shortener.  Share it with your students on Google classroom, or however you typically disseminate your information to your students. For me, this meant pasting it into a document and printing it off.  I ALSO included, though, a QR code so that students with QR code readers could go straight to the calendar from their phones.WHEW!  That’s a lot of explanation, but I promise it pays off. Now I just sit back, relax, and let my phone tell me when my next interview is.

    I know you probably have a lot of questions like, “How do you score these?” and “What are the other students doing at this time?”  Don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging!

    In short, I use the heck out of the rubrics at the end of the ACTFL Keys to Assessing Language Performance book.  There are leveled interpersonal rubrics that are perfect for this evaluation and they even have a spot at the bottom for strengths and suggestions for improvement. As for the other students, this is the perfect opportunity for some problem/project based learning! My “winter celebrations” mini-unit and my book review project are just a couple that have worked very well in the past. 🙂

Do you do any kind of individual oral evaluations with your students?  I’d love to hear about them!

Buena suerte,

Profe C.