Category Archives: Assessment


Well, although I was taken away from this blog for a while, I am now back with some ideas from the semester. I can officially say that I just had the best semester of my teaching career. It wasn’t perfect, but the work that I did over the summer has paid off! My classes have been stronger than ever and I really feel like that the students have acquired a lot.

I am getting to that time of year where I like to find out what has worked for students and what has not worked. I really like doing this because it helps to make my classroom better. There are a few ways to do this and I have tried all of them. I will tell you what has worked the best for me.

How to evaluate?

  1. Have a discussion with the class.
  2. Make a paper survey and have them fill it out.
  3. Use an online site to make a survey.

I have found that using an online site works the best. It gives me statistics, I don’t have to make copies, and it is automatically saved for future reference. The site that I use is I chose this site because I can also create quizzes and games. It is easier for me to have one site that does multiple jobs.

Making a paper survey is the next best thing because then I can hear from all of the students rather than just a handful. Also, if needed I can show them to parents at conferences.

For me, the class discussion comes in last place. The reason is that it is really hard to control and can quickly turn into a complain fest, which is never good for a class. Also, you can’t refer to it later because it happens in the moment and you run the risk of a small, loud group voicing an opinion that does not reflect the thoughts of the whole group. With an online evaluation, students can voice their opinion without feeling peer pressure and the data is more reliable.


  1. Before the final test
  2. After the final test

I tend to prefer giving it before the final test. The reason is that a final test is a culminating event. After a final, you feel done with the class and are ready to move on with your life.

More Tips

  1. Keep the questions relatively short and simple.
  2. Try not ask yes or no questions. This will give you more data.
  3. Have a mixture of multiple choice with essay.
  4. Have no more than 10 questions. 5 or 6 is probably good enough. They don’t want it to take forever.
  5. Keep the name optional. This will allow a choice for those who want to put their name on it, while keeping a certain amount of anonymity for others.

I am really looking forward to the evaluations this year. I value what my students have to say and desire to make my classroom more effective. The information that the students give us in invaluable and could really make a difference. I am sure I will find myself saying, “Wow. I never thought of that.”

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Filed under Assessment, Teaching Discoveries Graphic Organizers


Filed under Assessment, Mixing it Up

Here is a short animation that I made online. I think this took me 10 min. Take a look when you get a chance. It is a good way for students to show off what they have been acquiring lately.


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Living Tests

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.

  1. Students get out a piece of paper and a pencil.
  2. I grab the last few stories that I have been working on with my students.
  3. 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]
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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]

The Pros:

  • 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.

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