"Girl Writing" from Negative Spaces 100% free-license pictures
“Girl Writing” from Negative Spaces 100% free-license pictures

Good Friday to you!

Today I thought I would share with you our Friday routine, which has proven very powerful for my students this year and me, as well, with my 1 billion preps (it’s only six…but, SIX?!). Warning: I’m going to get through the boring stuff that probably isn’t new to you before I get to the interesting stuff! ūüôā

Every Friday is reflection/assessment day in my classes. The students keep notebooks in which they answer a reflection question and a few assessment questions. I have a fabulous list of reflection prompts generously provided by @ProfeAshley (Ashley Uyaguari). Check out her blog at https://deskfree.wordpress.com/about/. If you ask nicely, she might even share her prompts with you!

The assessment questions vary depending on the topics we have covered during the week. I always ask “¬ŅC√≥mo te sientes? y ¬ŅPor qu√©?” first, because I think it is nice to know what affective issues my students are dealing with.

This week, something interesting happened. Things have been getting a little stale. Our routines are too predictable and I feel like that is causing some side conversations in the L1 (English). So we shook things up with some target language team building games this week. That was fun, and it helped a little bit. But the most helpful thing was the self-assessment that took place today. Before my students began their assessment, I decided to take some time away from the target language to run through this slideshow and let students assess their own writings from the previous week.

This was an eye opener for my students and it gave us a space to talk about the importance of staying in L2 even during sidebar conversations. When you are pushing your brain to communicate, you are pushing towards language creation. This is critical for reaching the Intermediate level.

Let me add that all the “four sentence” business in the slide show is arbitrary. I didn’t tell my kiddos that, though. I feel like if they are writing to get beyond¬†four sentences per question, they will get closer to creating with language and further from memorization. The main idea is to get students into the mindset of assessing their own progress. Meta-cognition does NOT come easily, especially to adolescents!

Let me also add that I realize this is technically¬†a performance assessment upon which I am placing proficiency terms. It is important to understand that in my class, we don’t follow themes, per se. This is the fourth straight month (including April and May) that I have “de-unitized” my lower levels. Our structures and repetitions are taken from the students’ lives, the goings-on in the class, and from current events. We get a big mix of vocabulary from a variety of topics during the week. This is why I feel comfortable placing proficiency terms on these performance assessments. When I ask my Spanish 1 students to “tell me about yourself,” and they write a whole page and a half…I feel pretty confident in assigning a proficiency level to that artifact. If you are interested in learning more about this “organic” way of language acquisition, click here.¬†

Another thing that I love about this Friday system is that after our writing, we get to do the “extra” fun stuff that doesn’t fit in elsewhere. For example, did you see today’s Google Doodle? It celebrated the 99th birthday of El Santo! I took this opportunity to put a link to the doodle on Google Classroom, and to also add a link to a couple of Zachary Jones’s resources on El Santo. After the assessment, students grabbed their laptops and headphones, and sat back to enjoy the fun.

“TGIF” carries a whole new meaning for me this year!