We did practice runs of finals this year in my Russian classes. The practice runs gave the kids experience with the form, and gave me a chance to tweak the finals. With a wide mix of student levels (level 1 or 2 to IB) in classes, I try to make the same assignments appropriate for all levels.
I really like Robert Harrell’s readers’ theater activity. It will be hard for me not to run it into the ground. As I should have known, it worked best in the class where all the kids have read the same book at some point. In the class with a bunch of different books, lower-level kids couldn’t recognize or understand some scenes, so the presentations weren’t comprehensible for them. Still, they had a good time,* and I have a clear feeling for vocabulary and structures that have been acquired.
I forgot to read the practice writing until two days ago. I belatedly discovered that, as Van Patten might say, I had required output above the ability level of some students. For the practice, I asked kids to do a fast-write reflecting on their learning and interest in areas we’ve studied and their hope for future study. The upper levels did that well, and complained about running out of time, but the lower levels finished what they could write comfortably in under ten minutes. So, two nights ago, I created a set of questions that could work with any of the books that we’ve been reading, and made the task open-ended. I’m pleased with the results! The lower-level kids did a lot of copying (as allowed), but they answered the questions. That made this into a reading assessment for them. The higher the level of acquisition, the less the students used the books, so the more mistakes of every kind they made, but also – the more interesting it was to read, and the more effectively I could assess writing. It was mostly fun to read these; Question #10 gave me TMI in two cases, and #13 was misinterpreted several times as being a dialogue between the writer and a main character, making me roar with appreciative laughter. Kids went wild with #14 and 15. I love creative kids.
Here are the questions that worked best for as a half-hour prompt for the upper-level kids.
*funniest malapropism of the day: one student, talking about having received a telegram, said that the father had text-messaged his family. Even I don’t have experience with telegrams!