La Clase de la Sra. Moloney

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It’s That Time Again…

It is oral assessment time!  In level 3, we are doing it a bit differently this time.  We have been studying the imperative mood and how it fits into daily life situations.  We also have been looking into cultural celebrations such as el Día de los Muertos, Halloween, etc.  Instead of having a specific question that students must address and answer, students were given open-ended “cultural scenarios” in which they had to give a friend a command.

For example: Escenario #1 – Eres mi amigo/a. (You are my friend) Estamos en un autobús en Oaxaca, México porque estamos de vacaciones durante el Día de los Muertos. (We are on a bus in Oaxaca, Mexico because we are on vacation during the Day of the Dead celebrations.)  Quieres mostrarme algo interesante que miras por la ventana. (You want to show me something interesting that you see out your window.)  ¿Qué debo hacer yo? (What should I do?)

Students brainstormed some unique ideas such as:

Look at the ofrendas in the cemetery! – ¡Mira las ofrendas en el cementerio!
Pay attention to the parade in the street! – ¡Presta atención al desfile en la calle!
Check out the costumes! – ¡Fíjate en los disfraces!

During the face-to-face oral assessments, students get to process and interpret these scenarios by:

  1. Hearing – students are given these scenarios orally
  2. Visually – student are able to read these scenarios AND have a picture or a some visual “cue card” to help them put their scenario into context.

Some examples of our visual prompts are:

By the end of Term II, all Spanish III CPS students will be able to interpret and respond appropriately to the following scenarios:


Escenario #1 – Eres mi amigo/a. Estamos en un autobús en Oaxaca, México porque estamos de vacaciones durante el Día de los Muertos. Quieres mostrarme algo interesante que miras por la ventana. ¿Qué debo hacer yo?



Escenario #2 – Eres mi amigo/a y te visito en EEUU por una semana durante Halloween. Soy de México y me gustaría experimentar una celebración típica de Halloween. ¿Qué debo hacer yo?



Escenario #3 – Eres mi amigo/a y te visito en EEUU por el mes de noviembre. Soy de Guatemala y me gustaría hacer actividades típicas durante el otoño.  ¿Qué debo hacer yo?



Escenario #4 – Eres mi primo(a) y te visito en Massachusetts por dos semanas durante el mes de diciembre. Soy de Paraguay y me gustaría hacer cosas típicas durante el invierno. ¿Qué debo hacer yo?



Escenario #5 – Soy tu amiga de Ecuador y te visito en EEUU para celebrar la Navidad en la Ciudad de Nueva York por una semana.  ¿Qué debo hacer yo?



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Habla conmigo…Level IV Oral Assessments

Screen Shot 2017-10-23 at 3.52.48 PMIt’s that time again!  Oral assessments have become the norm around here in the #niplang department for a variety of reasons.  In the past, students were able to “ace” 8-page written exams on vocabulary and grammar concepts.  These exams showed what these students remembered and memorized…and that’s about it.

Whenever past students would return home from college, they would tell me how much grammar they remembered and how their professors were so amazed by their vast vocabulary.  They talked about how they could conjugate all day long and translate like a pro.  They also lamented the fact that they “could write it” but “just couldn’t speak it.”

Ouch…  Professionally speaking, that stung pretty badly.  Not gonna lie.  I hated to admit it, but they were totally right.  Since, we NEVER really did speak that much in class, how could I have expected them to miraculously do that in college?  Speaking and instructing in the target language is the toughest thing to do as a language teacher, and I guess I had avoided doing it, at least with some level of consistency, for many years.  It was time to make a change.  Thus, the oral exam.

jobWe have been working over the past few years, slowly building on our successes and learning from our failures.  This year, for the first time ever, ALL 4 levels of Spanish are being assessed through a face-to-face interview in the target language.  This year’s Level IV questions have been reformulated and redesigned to make them more relevant and personal, giving the students more options to be creative and to take risks using the target language.

I don’t know that we will ever have a “final” set of oral exam questions, as our ideas and strategies are always evolving, but I do take great pride in #niplang’s reimagining of our world language goals to best serve our students.  Wish us luck!

By the end of Term I, all Spanish IV students will be able to execute (ask and explain) the following themes and questions:

  1. El primer día de clases, ¿cómo te sentías?
  2. ¿Qué puedo hacer yo para crear una clase interesante y emocionante?
  3. ¿Qué hiciste el año pasado que esperas hacer de nuevo este año?
  4. ¿Qué tipo de proyectos/actividades quieres hacer en la clase de español este año?
  5. Hasta ahora, ¿siempre tenías miedo de hablar en español en clase?  ¿Sí o no?  ¿Por qué?
  6. Dime un ejemplo cómo/cuándo trabajaste muy diligentemente en un proyecto.
  7. ¿Qué gramática necesito repasar contigo este año?
  8. ¿Cómo te ayudo a tener éxito este año?
  9. ¿Qué aprendiste con respeto a la cultura hispánica con el proyecto “Face Off”?
  10. Si prestas atención en la clase y te concentras en tu trabajo este año, ¿qué crees que vas a lograr?
  11. Describe una parte del proyecto “Face Off” que te fue muy difícil.
  12. Describe una parte del proyecto “Face Off” que te fue muy fácil.
  13. En la escuela primaria, ¿quién era tu maestro/a favorito/a? ¿Cómo era?
  14. ¿Siempre te gustaba la escuela? ¿Por qué? ¿Por qué no?
  15. ¿Seguirás estudiando español en la universidad?  ¿Por qué or por qué no?
  16. ¿Qué harás este ano para mejorar tus habilidades de comunicación en español?
  17. ¿Cuál sería tu trabajo soñado?  ¿Por qué?
  18. Si pudieras viajar a cualquier país, ¿adónde viajarías?  ¿Por qué?
  19. Si pudieras cambiar algo en Nipmuc, ¿qué cambiarías?
  20. ¿Cómo usarás tu español en el futuro?


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Student-Designed Learning

Screen Shot 2017-09-09 at 2.16.56 PMIf you know me, you might notice that I can be a bit “particular” and I like things to be “my way” (AKA perfect..all the time).  Unfortunately, my “control freak” nature (as some might suggest) is not always conducive to learning and can be a bit overwhelming.  This year, I am trying to step out of my comfort zone and surrender more control to my students.  This is not easy for me at all (because I feel the need to give people my opinion, even when not solicited, but I digress), but thankfully, my students have already responded in amazing ways.  (More details to come…)

Student-Designed Rubrics:  This year, I am offering student a few opportunities to create their own project rubrics.  To begin, students are given a problem/challenge/scenario and must create their solution/project/response with very limited guidelines.  As a class, students then collaborate on a Google Doc to identify and explain the objectives of the project and create measurable indicators for these goals.  Then, the class agrees upon the total point value for the project as well as the rubric indicator values.

Student-Designed Benchmarks: Additionally, students choose the due date of the project and identify important “check-in” dates and benchmarks where they can solicit student and instructor feedback on their project prototypes.

Is this going to work?  I’m not really sure, but I am extremely encouraged by what I have witnessed thus far.  So many students have stepped up and taken on leadership roles in this process.  It is not always a “pretty process”, but it doesn’t have to be.

My goal is that students experience a sense of pride and ownership, not just in their final product, but in the learning design process.  I want my students all to feel comfortable delegating tasks within their group and sharing responsibility for a common purpose.

Stay-tuned for updates!