I can do it!

Thanks to Toni Thiesen and Christine Lanphere’s table talk at ACTFL, I have more ideas about how to use Can-Do statements as I teach.

Either Toni or Christine (sorry, can’t remember which) gives students a “can-do bubble sheet” to kids at the beginning of a unit. The kids pick three of the can-dos that they want to master. They write a reflection about how they plan to learn them, and at the end of the unit, they write up how successful they were.

I’ve been using the can-do statements in a much less structured way. But as I’m writing my finals, I figured out how to use a bubble sheet with the can-do statements to help kids prepare for the oral part of their semester final. I’ve put 15 can-do statements (with one blank one) on a page. My year one students are going to pick between 12 and 15 to demonstrate for their final. They get to organize them in whatever way they want: they can work them all into a story that they will tell, or they can put symbols onto a picture or presentation to guide them. Whatever they do, it will be scanned or turned in electronically to become a part of a class powerpoint for presentations.  Here’s a picture of their bubble sheet:

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 3.19.12 PMI will advise them that they can tell a story with a lot of dialogue, or they can just demonstrate each piece one at a time, whatever suits their style. Each day until we have our final, we’ll do five minutes’ worth of different activities for them to practice and feel secure about this final: inner/outer circles, highlighting the ones they have done; time in the lab to scan or send their pictures and practice with partners, volunteers coming to the front and showing their stuff. But I will also give input each day so that students hear all of these things from different points of view, with different pictures.

We’ll also have listening and reading sections for the final. I don’t assign writing on finals because we have to have our finals graded so quickly.

While I’m on the subject of Can-Do statements, I realized I’ve learned something. We’re learning a Russian New Year’s song, one we practice every year. We always talk about the story of the little tree, but because of the Can-Do statements, I decided to be more transparent about our goals with the song. The song starts with talking about where the tree was born. We’ve talked about where people were born in class, and this was a wonderful opportunity to connect that. Then it goes on to how she grew up in the forest, later how she slept in a snowstorm and finally how she got all dressed up to come to the party with children. A bunch of the Can-Do statements I have in the bubble sheet came out because of thinking about what students could do if they used vocabulary from the song, or if they told the story of the song. It has everything, from season, to holiday, to weather. It’s pretty cool! I don’t think of myself as “doing” units successfully, but by planning around this song, I realize that we are pulling a lot of pieces together here at the end of the semester.

3 responses to “I can do it!

  1. Love this post!! I just had a conversation with some other language teachers the other night on Twitter about how to have Can Do statement be more personal and tied to each student’s individual learning goals. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So glad you liked it! I am feeling out how to use these without feeling driven by them. They are so helpful when kids can see that they’re accomplishing tiny steps in language acquisition, especially when the Proficiency Guidelines are so broad as to be difficult to see any progress beyond Novice.


  2. This is great! 😀 Looking forward to trying it with my students.

    Liked by 1 person

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