asessment – ¡Vámonos!

Category: asessment

As promised, here are some of the trioramas made by Y6 at WCPS on the subject of Mi pueblo. The pupils were very excited about making them and whilst one class did a better job than the other, there were some excellent examples created. Each classroom has a (static) Spanish display and I’ve added some of the trioramas to the border of them. I was going to attach them like a row of houses but decided that it was batter with the writing flush to the wall and the townscape facing the floor so that they could be read!

Why spend the time making them?

  • Yr6 needed a bit of motivation!
  • It encouraged them to do their best work and take pride in presentation in a way that writing in their books doesn’t.
  • Their work is now on display, or has been taken home (I took photos of them all to stick in books.)
  • Others within school have commented on the work; again this would not to be true if it were in their books.
  • It celebrates all the work that they have put in over the previous few weeks.

Evernote Snapshot 20151016 104158My session at the wonderful Practical Pedagogies conference centred around the use of technology to enhance Primary Language Learning.

Key points I made included:

  • technology is not  just for the pupils but also for the teacher;
  • it is just one tool we have to use;
  • it is not always the best tool for the job.

I went on to suggest online tools as well as apps that might be useful in a range of contexts and situations.

My presentation is below and there is wiki with links to tutorials, examples and ideas that accompanies it. Feel free to ask questions via the contact form or @lisibo on Twitter.

And thanks to Marisa for sharing her notes (and photographs!) here.

On Tuesday I was in sunny (yes, it was sunny!) Manchester, delivering my AQA course.

Apart from the problems with the internet, I believe a good day was had by all – lunch was once more a highlight!

Rather than repeat all the links, can I refer you to my last post where you will find all the ‘new’ links about PLL, and also some recommendations from other delegates of sites and learning materials that they’ve found useful.

I forgot last week to put a link to a resource listing many many games and quick activities for the PLL classroom, so here it is.

After my post earlier in the week about assessment I was interested to attend the session on Asset Languages at the Birmingham Primary Languages Conference. I knew a little of Asset from previous presentations but I was interested to hear if there had been any changes since I had last been updated.

John McNutt began his presentation with the statement –

‘Asset Languages is …a new way of assessing languages against the CAN DO statements of the DSCF’s Languages Ladder. It uses discrete assessment of the four skills of speaking listening reading and writing, allowing assessment to be done in as many or as few skills as wanted. It marks a move away from a content to skills based approach – not what you know but what can you do and work out with what you know; not just learning a language but learning how to learn languages.’

He gave us examples of how the first level descriptors look for Speaking and showed us by teaching us some Chinese that we all could attain this level quite easily.

  1. I can repeat a short phrase.
  2. I can ask a few questions.
  3. I can answer a few questions.

He pointed out that it’s easier to see your progress and your success if it’s in small steps like this.

Asset can be carried out through teacher assessment, external assessment or a mixture of both.
If you do teacher assessment, you can do it on your own at any time – can be done without telling pupils and you can issue your own certificates. John suggested that if the children don’t know they are being assessed, what’s the problem? Fair point I guess. He also highlighted that it is based on what pupils Can Do not Can’t Do.

I liked John’s honesty on the subject of external assessment – If you do external assessment, there is stress! So why do it? He did suggest that it could be done at the end of Yr 6 for transition documents? this caused a sharp intake of breath from a number of people as they thought of SATs and already stressed out 10 and 11 year olds being faced with more exams.

The assessments are available in a range of many languages – and it is possible that a generic English pack will be produced so that any language can be assessed – good idea! The teacher assessments can be adapted as long as they fit the can do statements although external assessments are obviously set externally.

John wanted to demonstrate that assessment can be fun and asked for a volunteer. Having been met with silence, I took pity on him and volunteered, little knowing that i had to prepare the ‘class’ for an Asset Languaeg assessment in 5 minutes! I had to teach the ‘class’ a song in another language – guess what I chose? La Vaca Lola! Soon the whole class were waving their tails and mooing in Spanish – great fun!

Advantages of using Asset:

  • A way of providing baseline data (in the future!)
  • No need for QTS status.
  • Kudos of having a certificate to recognise their achievements in languages.

So what do you have to do and how much does it cost?

Primary Starter pack – Breakthrough £75 +VAT (covers all languages)

Certificate packs – 1st pack of 125 is free, after that, costs can be as low as 26.7p +VAT

For external assessments – £1 per skill per pupil.

I asked the question – Do you have to be accredited teacher?

If you want to issue certificates, you complete the self access DVD and it covers you for all languages. As a training exercise rather than pass/fail – and you can be an accredited teacher for any number of schools. This is a change from the previous system where you had to complete the course for each language and each level that you wished to test!

Registration is free – you pay as you go!

Centre coordinator training is free and organised regionally – one day to become an administrative expert on Asset – not compulsory but recommended.

Asset seems to have adapted to become much less of an administrative burden than it used to be. I like the idea of not having to externally assess to use the system, and also the ability to reward certificates as and when you see fit (obviously assuming pupils have met the standards!) Perhaps it’s something I should investigate further – although I’m still a little reluctant!

A couple of local news items about been brought to my attention by Google alerts, both related to young language learners.

The Mirfield Reporter covered the story of a Year 4 class at Battyeford Primary School who learned a song in French, La Meteo, that they performed in assembly. Not just for fun, but also in order to achieve Asset Languages level 1.
The class teacher mentions that they are the first class to achieve the award – how many other schools are already going for accreditation for their pupils? She also thanks the teacher at Castle Hall School for her help. Sounds like an example of cross KS links / liaison to me.

The second article, from the Liverpool Echo is headlined School girl wins award for language.
It reports that Elizabeth Foulkes, whilst a pupil at Grassendale’s St Austin’s Catholic primary school, achieved the highest score of all primary children tested in Spanish for Language Ladder Asset Languages exams. With Liverpool so hot on primary languages, it doesn’t surprise me that the girl comes from that area, especially as St Austin’s is a centre of excellence for Spanish, having a FLA and an advisory teacher working with them as well as a link school in Spain, parents encouraged to learn alongside their children and weekly language lessons for teachers. Shows that the effort is worth it!
Elizabeth has now moved on to high school and is quoted as saying –
“Learning it means now when I’m on holiday in Spain I can understand things, like menus – especially useful because I’m vegetarian!”

The children I teach love learning Spanish and one of their reasons for enjoying it is that they don’t have to do exams and aren’t labelled as ‘level 3s’. So there’s a tension for me between knowing that there is a need for some kind of assessment of progress but also not wanting to remove one USP of PLL. But here we have examples of pupils having fun and learning useful stuff for personal interest, and at the same time gaining recognition for their efforts. Mmmm.

What do you think? Should we be looking at formal ways to assess PLL like Asset, or is informal assessment sufficient?

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