A quick way to assess if your students have internalized structures is to have them give a short presentation. I limit these type of activities for the beginning levels, but I used the following as an informal assessment (i.e. not graded) to help me know how to structure the pacing of future classes.
1. Structures and Vocabulary:
- él no se despertó = he didn't awaken
- él se durmió = he fell asleep
- cuando él tren (or el autobús, or el avión) llegó
2. Ask personalized questions to students using the above structures (mostly whether they fall asleep in certain classes, at sports practice, at music recitals, and when they awoke that day).
3. Class helped to create story by giving details for the following storyline:
someone wanted to go somewhere and why, how they went there, where they didn't awaken, where they awoke and how they felt.
4. After students helped create the class story, the students wrote the story in their writing journals (I wrote it on the board as they retold it to me and they copied it) or they read a previous class's story.
5. The following day we read two stories from the previous year. This is the 3rd semester I have taught Spanish 2 in recent years, so I am accumulating a nice amount of stories by previous classes that are useful for additional comprehensible reading.
6. We also watched a similar story on Educreations that I made about last year's class story.
7. After those activities, I made a last minute change in my lesson plans and added an activity for students to create and present their own stories.
I wrote the following on the board (in Spanish for students, but it's listed in English for blog purposes)
- Name of the person
- where did they want to go and why
- what transportation did they use
- after how long did they fall asleep
- where was the bus/train/airplane when the person didn't awaken
- where did the person awaken and how did s/he feel
Students worked in groups of two. Each person had half a sheet of paper (torn lengthwise) and 10 minutes to create the sketches and practice their stories. Even though I told them to only use words they already knew, some didn't follow that advice, so while they were working, if they asked me how to say something, I wrote that on the board and the students had to point to that word and pause when they were presenting to make their presentations comprehensible to their classmates.
After 10 minutes they presented their stories to the class with the use of the document camera; no written notes, guided only by their sketches. In both classes, several groups quickly volunteered to take their turn, eager to share their stories with their classmates.
- It was easy for me to assess their progress on the target structures (a nice surprise was how well they were pronounced the words; but a few still stumbled on the pronunciation)
- The students were engaged. I didn't need to remind them to listen or pay attention.
- The structure wanted to + action (ex: wanted to go to Hollywood because he wanted to see the starts) was used in the story; a good review for many.
Two examples of students' stories and sketches:
Patricia quería ir al centro comercial porque quería comprar ropa nueva. Ella fue a la estación de autobuses y se sentó en el asiento. Ella se durmió inmediatamente. Cuando el autobús llegó al centro comercial, ella no se despertó. Ella se despertó cuando el autobús llegó a Goodwill. Patricia estaba contenta porque podía comprar mucha ropa en Goodwill.
Tim vivía en Harrisburg. Él quería ir a Hawaii. Tim quería nadar con tiburones. Él fue al aeropuerto y fue a Hawaii. Él se durmió en el avión y no se despertó cuando el avión llegó en Hawaii. El avión regresó al aeropuerto en Harrisburg. Tim se despertó en Harrisburg. Estaba furioso porque quería nadar con tiburones y no había tiburones en Harrisburg.
Why is it that many times the best activities I do in class are the ones that are last minute (literally, last minute - as in the idea pops in my mind during class) additions to my lesson plans. I'm glad that those last minute changes often go well, but it is frustrating that, in comparison, some things I spend a considerable amount of time working on and preparing for class, end with less than pleasing results!