There are lots of ways to assess our students, but eventually we need to have a test in the grade book to establish some credibility. I wish that I didn’t even have to give grades, but it is apart of the educational system and in order to keep my job I must.
Today, I decided to give my students a test today. I don’t know what to call it, so I am going to call it a Living Test. Basically, it is like storytelling only they are taking a test. Here is what I did.
- Students get out a piece of paper and a pencil.
- I grab the last few stories that I have been working on with my students.
- I look at the stories and on the spot I write a sentence from the story or similar words in Spanish on my laptop. [I let the class choose what font and color they want] This appears on my smartboard [or is projected from an LCD]
- The students then a) Write the sentence in Spanish on the first line, b) Write the English translation on the second line, c) leave a space on the third line. We could also have the students draw a picture of the sentence I wrote, with captions.
- We repeat number 3 as I continue to add sentences to the test. I try to keep the sentences of the test close to an interesting storyline.
- During the test as I am writing the examples, I ask the students for details. This makes them apart of the test and changes the test from strictly being regurgitation to a creative process.
- We go over it together and they grade their own paper with a blue pen. [If they “forget” the mark one wrong, it’s double off]
- It requires no prep time.
- Each test is customized to each class, making the process more fun.
- Involves meaningful reading and writing in the target language.
- I have a copy saved for any students that were absent.
- It is a test that gives them choices in the details.
- They grade them.
- I am still giving the authorities what they want without sacrificing my personal time and creative energy.
- It makes test taking a whole lot more fun, which is the bottom line.
I wish that we could get to a point where tests are celebrations of acquisition and knowledge rather than something that students dread. Maybe this will help students to get to this point.