Monday, February 8, 2016

TCI-Friendly Homework or Assessment

photo credit at end of blog post
When I assign homework, it is with the purpose to have the students interact with a written text in the target language or listening to a text in the TL. Examples of some homework that I have assigned in the past are:
- read a story, one created in class or a parallel story of the one created in class, and answer comprehension questions related to the text
- work with an online site to reorder the text in a story, or other activities related to the text, or
- read a script that is written in the TL, but read it to a parent in English, or 
- add sentences with details to an already established story, etc.

Below is a screenshot of the homework that I gave to my students last week. This type of activity could also serve as an in-class assessment.

I refer to this activity as an open-ended task because students are free to choose what information to add and where to add it in the story.  Some students will be very creative and take risks in their writing. Others will stick to basic, short sentences.

The story in the document pictured above, was created in class through "story-asking" in the following steps:
1 - Write the 3 structures on the board for students to copy and to write the English meanings
2 -  Assign actors for the story.
3 - "Ask" the story with circling techniques used in TPRS.
4 - Verify facts with the actors in the story.
5 - Pause for students to retell sections of the story.
6 - Use the student artist's sketches to retell the story.
7 - Ask the questions written by the student whose job it is to write questions.
8 - Project and read my previously typed version of the story.

Then I distributed the paper pictured above and we read the story together.  Students had the remaining 5 minutes of class to add 4 new facts to the story.  

At the start of class today, I projected the story from the document above on the board. Students shared (some of) the sentences they wrote and told me where they chose to insert the sentences. I typed the sentences into the story to expand it, and then we read it together. 

Instead of taking a text and paring it down to make an embedded reading, the students and I took a text and added to it to make an extended reading. (Basically, the opposite of an embedded reading.)

If you are interested in using the story with your students, the basic plot of the story is: someone went on vacation but didn't speak the language to the place he went.  When he leaves the hotel he wants to travel somewhere in the city but when he gets into the taxi, the person doesn't speak his language.  

This story took on a life of its own when I had the two foreign exchange students in the class (1 is from Germany and the other is from France) play the role of two of the taxi drivers that the main character couldn't understand because he didn't speak their language. The two foreign exchange students made the story more "novel" and there was obvious student engagement and buy-in from the other students.

The next challenge is to have the same engagement in subsequent stories.  

Note: Thank you to Melvin Cass for commenting below and sharing with me the correct Japanese.  Those changes are reflected in the document above.  :-)

Photo credit: <a href="">NyC TaXi</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">


  1. Just wanted to help with the Japanese. The first one would be said, Doko ikitai desu ka?, and the second, Nan to iimashita ka?

    1. Wow! Thank you Melvin. :-)
      I'll make the changes on my pdf soon.