When teachers make clear to themselves and students what learning matters most, design performance tasks that fully engage students, and invite them to manage their learning by creating student-friendly learning targets and learning scales, then students are empowered to determine where they are and what steps they need to take in order to achieve mastery. In a walk-through of Monsieur Grace’s French IB class, I observed students highly engaged in a standards-based performance assessment task. Students were addressing CCSS Three for writing. Monsieur Grace provided students with a “Basic French Level I Storytelling” task. Below is the student handout that describes the standard to be achieved; the learning targets and learning scales.
One student was on his computer writing his narrative. I asked, “What are you learning?” He response did not just describe the task of writing a story in French, but about learning the elements of a narrative. He explained how he was able to use the “learning scales” to help him know where he was in terms of his own development for writing a narrative and how he could improve his work. He really appreciated the clarity offered by the targets and scales and felt it made a meaningful difference in his learning.
I then chatted with a group of three who were reading from a script. It was a final product – a narrative, and the students were preparing to present it to the class. Below is the storyboard the student drew to accompany his narrative. Monsieur Grace uses the Teaching Proficiency Through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) methodology, an interactive approach for teaching language acquisition with an emphasis on ‘comprehensible input’. One component of the TPRS is the “storyboard”; it is an excellent strategy for moving language from the working to long-term memory as it creates more connections and touches upon more regions used in the brain. It also provides visual clues to go along with what the listener hears to increase comprehensibility visually, prompts the story teller facilitating the recall of the key elements of a narrative.
The storyboard was scanned and projected during the presentation.