Online Course: Formative Assessment to Inform Quality Adult ESL Instruction

Use this discussion thread to post your response to the question below from the ELL-U online course, Formative Assessment to Inform Quality Adult ESL Instruction. Please share your comments and feedback on the course.

  • What is one important thing you are taking away from this online course? What do you hope to implement in your classroom?

Comments

I hope to implement many of the strategies and activities to strengthen my teaching and student learning.

I have used many of the strategies in my teaching and will continue to use them.  All have been very effective.

Formative Assessment

This class was very informative. The most interesting to me was learning about Backward design. I will definitely use this new knowledge in the design of my classes. I plan to incorporate students’ learning needs and modification of lesson plan to meet students’ interests.  I was also intrigued with “Portfolios” as a record keeping for students' learning outcomes.

Katrina

 

One important thing that I have taken away from this course is the process of formal assessment. Although I had studied this in my course at the university, this particular vignette when farther into detail. 

I have found that doing frequent learning checks is very effective in my literacy class. Students show us what they have learned through a dictation, reading a list of words or sentences, or answering questions individually. I have a volunteer each day that the class meets, and between the two of us we can do several of these mini assessments quickly each day.

My lesson goal today in Level 1 was: TSWBAT talk about a picture of a classroom using common verbs in the present progressive and correct subject pronouns. Ex: "He is standing and talking to the teacher. She is coming in the class. She is reading a book." After TPR, demonstrations of key vocab, asking and answering the question, "What is he/she doing?", I had two activities that I would consider formative assessments. First, a comprehension check: I described people in the picture, modeling the type of sentence I want students to practice. Students put a plastic marker on the person I described. Second, I asked students to talk about the picture in English for 10 minutes. My volunteer and I circulated, making note of which students successfully used complete sentences with the present progressive. About 70% of the students were able to use the present progressive correctly, with varying consistency. So my formative assessments are telling me to keep practicing this skill with different content, but keep using pictures as prompts since that was a successful way to get them talking.

Thank you for this assessment example. I also use TPR in my Level ! class, mainly everyday classroom verbs, such as read, write, point, and spell.

I will use picture cards demonstrating these verbs and assess our new goal: spelling  these verbs.

Hi Shelley -- I like the idea of the plastic markers next to the person.  How were these positioned --- on a poster at the front or by pictures that each student had?  I would find having students talk for 10 minutes (each? or in a small group?) about a picture might be long.  I don't know if I could do that! ;-)  After this activity, would you change the time or did you find it comfortable?

 

TPR is just a resource that can be used with certain words and situations.It is not something that applies to every case, eg: abstract terms and grammatical concepts. Certain gestures are not universally understood or accepted . TPR must be tailored to students' culture.  

I have used many of the assessments in this course to help with the quality of my ESL instruction. What I plan to do is tailor my structure to help in the student's learning needs.

The most important thing I learned on this course is to use the students' background knowledge, and specific needs (as a valuable frame of reference) for designing  "outcome-driven" and "learner-centered" lesson plans instead of putting an enphasis only on "teacher-centered" or "materials-centered" lesson plans.

 

 

 I use students' oral and written responses to gauge understanding. I pay attention to facial expressions and body language as well. My agency uses TABE for formal assessments. I am still learning how to interpret the results from the ESL TABE tests. I came from another agency that used TABE for ABE which I am used to analyzing.

My program has been using TABE CLAS-E for a few years now, too. Is that what you're using for ESL? It's a much better assessment of skills than BEST Literacy -- CLAS-E has allowed us to "keep" our students longer so they can hone in on their skills where BEST Literacy exited them out of our program before they were ready for the next step, which is taking the HiSET/GED in English for our ABE program. We don't use use the CLAS-E speaking as it seemed way too time consuming for teachers, so we still do BEST Plus 2.0 to assess speaking, since both programs are approved for Wyoming.

Learning Goal:  Given visuals of house/apartment in disrepair, report problem and request repairs.

Task:  With a partner, look at the picture. (1) Choose one item in the picture you need to have repaired. (2)  Decide who you need to call to get the repair done.  Look up the number in the phone book and write it on the sticky note.  Write the name of the company and the phone number. ( 3) Use the cell-phones on the table and pretend to call the repair company.  Partner A will be the customer, and partner B will be the company.  Switch.  Practice.  After break, you will perform this activity in front of the class.  In the skit, include the name of the company and the phone number.  Describe the problem.   Tell your address and phone number, and record the time the repairman will come to your home. 

Thank you for this exercise!  I am in Havre, MT - a very small rural area.  At this time I have 2 ESOL students - a mother and daughter from Russia.  The daughter has picked up the language quickly, but mom is not doing so well.  I think it is because it is easy for the mother to talk Russian to the daughter to get the "explanation" she needs.  I can partner with her in an exercise of this type to challenge her!  

Frankie, this is an excellent exercise as I find most of my ELLs either have apartments or are on migrant farm premises about which they have to call someone if there is a problem. Usually this would always be the landlord (or the farmer), but in some cases they may need to call other tradesmen.  I would like to know if you found a handy source of pictures that show a broad range of typical home repairs, or if you just went on line and looked.

I use both long term goals and short term goals for each topic we focus on.  Short time goals would be learning vocabulary related to the week's study.  How to pronounce it, and what the word represents.  For instance, ten body parts.  The long time goal would be for students to be able to apply the knowledge learned in the unit to be able to call a doctor and tell the doctor - what hurts, and why the appointment is needed.  I think one area I could improve on, is to slow down with instruction, and break it into smaller parts.  I also would like to take the time to create more hands-on actifities and conversation drills on the topic we are doing.

I find it helpful and interesting to use verbal feedback as opposed to relying on test scores to assess the needs of the class as a whole and each individual student.

I love to see students journaling. We have several students who journal out of a desire to communicate in a way other than orally. I think this practice is a wonderful way to assess their understanding of not only written but verbal language. Students welcome the feedback of the teacher and this type of journaling opens up endless classroom conversations.

I also have used journaling for my students at every level.  I was encouraged by an ELL PD instructor at one point who reminded us that even entry-level ELLs can journal writing what letters they see outside the home... Or copying words they want to learn... Reminding folks they can always draw a blank (line), use a picture, or write in their native language when they are stuck.  I used to clip pictures like crazy from magazines and have my low-level ELLs try to write every week about what they see in the picture or what they want to know.  I would choose randomly some to come up and read and talk about their journals, and at other times have them read together in pairs or small groups.  Of course there may be some journaling activities that some Ss will not want to share with anyone else but the teacher.

I have asked students where they most need English.  It has been helpful to know which textbook themes need additional support.  And, I ask my (level 0-1) students to tell me when they successfully use English outside the classroom.  We had a celebration when one of my students was able to order a pizza!

 

As per the request to submit a summary of a lesson plan designed to give the instructor practice in determining an appropriate assessment that meets a learning goal, I submit the following.  One choice was to give the students a map (although most would immediately use their phone for this), and to ask/give directions to places in the community. This exercise would divide the students into pairs.  Each pair completes a task upon which the next pair builds.  For example, pair one would work to create a replica of the neighborhood, shopping area, etc. on a table using masking tape as streets (or anything that can be the shape of a street), and placing buildings (from old monopoly set, or wood blocks, whatever) along the route.  (A snapshot of a google map would work great, as a good photo shows buildings in place.)  An assessment of this first part of the lesson is evident in the outcome of the replica.  Continue with pairs to manuver a vehicle (also from monopoly, but any toy will do) to the appropriate address/place.  Much vocabulary essential to following directions is needed to have a successful outcome.  Students get immediate feedback when they make a wrong turn, etc., and each pair must convey appropriate directions throughout the exercise. *You may want each pair to work "blind" to the previous pair, so they do not yet know the desired location on the map replica.  The formative assessment strategy focuses on receptive skills.

In my experience, the Metalinguistic approach to error correction is often needed to help high intermediate and advanced students understand the rules associated with an error.  However, first I observe the error in question over repeated attempts by the student to use the verb tense, article, etc. until I am certain that they may need a greater understanding of the error in question.  Sometimes they know about the error, but have not mastered omitting the error in conversation (or writing) and tend to get it right most of the time.  In such cases, I ask the student to paraphrase the rule they know before I correct/volunteer more information.  Students appreciate a simple, easy to understand explanation.  (Which is not always easy to give!) They also appreciate a reminder or assurance that the knowledge they already have is correct.

Implementing formative assessments in the classroom is a strategy that will take some work on my part, I must admit.  I am pleased with the focus of this training, and plan to implement these strategies into our program.  While I already employ many of the strategies mentioned, I feel I can implement them better by extending much of the responsibilties to the students by allowing them to monitor and track their own progress.  This training module helped give me some ideas on how to accomplish this goal.

I found this short course to be helpful and thought-provoking. Like other recent contributors (e.g., Mark, above), I realized that there are a range of useful assessment tools that I should be using in my class throughout the session. I plan to implement some of them in the near future. Journaling for a few minutes during each class and the "exit ticket" both struck me as productive ways to ensure that students reflect on their own progress at the end of every class. I tried to help students set and monitor goals during this nine-week session, but I think there are ways in which I could help students make their goals more concrete; for example, probe students to identify very specific conversational skills that they want to master. I also discovered that assessments can take a variety of fun and creative forms. I liked the idea of using peer assessments and dialogues or conversation practice as formative assessments. This was a good course. Thanks.

Performance Learning Goal:  Students will successfully demonstrate the use of the "sequence words" by both formulating the "Directions" for a given recipe as well as by creating and answering questions about it.

Task: Students are placed in pairs and given the name of a recipe, a listing of the ingredients, and a listing of the "Directions" in incorrect order.  Student A must compose the "Directions" for the recipe using the correct "sequence words." (First, Next, Finally)

Student B asks Student A questions about the recipe employing the "sequence words."

Student A answers the questions successfully by using the "sequence words."

Students switch roles with a second recipe.

 

 

I have regularly written objectives and goals in course planning but have not employed regular formative assessments as often as I should.  I plan to employ more formative assessments and to engage students more in setting goals and welcoming assessment as a valuable part of the learning process.

I prefer to us informal assessment because it gives me a better picture of my students needs. It places the focus on them and this motivates them to show what they know. They try their best in all activities but enjoy the feedback of genuine interest in their abilities. Once I know what they are able to do and what they are still struggling to do I can design fun lesson to teach them new skills

In my class what I have found is most useful is pairing my students and having them ask one another questions and then presenting what they have learned on the topic, one another, etc.. topic range from work, doctor’s visit, play dates, accidents, etc… sometimes these interviewee/interviewer become role playing activities. The change of activity style are at times decided by my students which is fine with me because I get to assess them in what they consider real-life setting.

Interesting assignment.  I am preparing to change the focus of a small group ( 2 students) I have been working with over the last year.  We will be addressing Job-seeking skills. 

Goal:  The students will be able to interpret a simplified job advertisement

Skills to practice will include Reading job advertisements and Describing the specified job to their peer.

Assessment will be done on an ongoing basis as we chart each week can they

- pronounce  the vocabulary used

- describe what tasks are required for the job

- what are the requirements to be considered for the position.

 

I welcome feedback because this is truly something I will be doing soon.  Thanks

 

 

I find that I use Implicit correction primarily in informal setting ( general discussions, etc) however as we are doing exercises and reading from a book, Iwill tend to you esplicit correction.  I will use metalinguistic correction only to get to detailed information when rarely needed.

I have found this course quite useful.  It has placed a theoretical framework on what I have been doing and provided some very helpful tools to assist me to provide a more professional approach in teaching my students as well as working with other tutors.

1.  Performance learning goal: CALL IN SICK TO WORK
2.  Assessment goal to be fulfilled: SUCCESSFULLY CALL SUPERVISOR/BOSS; IDENTIFY SELF;  COMMUNICATE CONDITION/ILLNESS; COMMUNICATE ESTIMATED TIME OF ABSENCE;  EXPRESS SORROW IN NOT BEING ABLE TO ATTEND WORK; EXPRESS GRATITUDE
3.  Assessment activities:  Intermediate ESL students; Desired result is correct vocabulary/telephone skills/ability to communicate reason for absence with appropriate manners.  Therefore, I need evidence that the students feel confident in HOW to communicate and actually in communicating to their supervisor over the phone with clarity.
4.  Teach telephone skills through vocabulary/dialog/props.  Teach illnesses/conditions through pictures/pantomime/written corresponding words.  Teach final skills through chain drills/controlled dialog/ quizzes using pantomime/final role playing in pairs
5.  Evaluation criteria:  teacher observation/ students understanding each other and communicating this task to each other in role playing; informal quizzes on health vocabulary and conversation skills via telephone; regular reviewing and activities to foster retention

 



 

Many of these ideas were not new to me, but I realize that as I implement these techniques I need to improve my record keeping to mark the short term progress that my students are making.  As I plan my next class, I am going to to formalize the goal-setting process and ensure that I incorporate more real-life uses of the language into my assessments.

Hi Donna, You've noted an important take-away from the ELLU Formative Assessment online course. Keeping records of students' short term progress -- and even having students keep their own records-- can make a big difference in achievement as well as persistence.  Formalizing the goal-setting process is also likely to have a positive impact on learner persistence.

I wonder if members of the community could weigh in on this. How are teachers keeping track of learner progress? What are some useful strategies for formalizing goal-setting?

Cheers, Susan

Moderator, AELL CoP

I have used several different techniques to assess my students.  However, I have never had my students choose a "theme" to cover in the classroom.   I feel that by allowing the students to make a choice on a topic, they may be more interested and involved in their learning.  I plan on using this format to my future students.  Liz' techniques were very interesting.

Goal:  Call in sick to work.  (For lower level.)

Assessment:  Through oral response, during role plays with groups and in pairs, student will call their employer and ask to speak to a supervisor.  Student will identify themselves first; then proceed to state that he/she is ill and will not be able to go to work that day.  In oral reviews and during assessments with teacher, the student can state that he/she is ill, and therefore will not be reporting to work that day.

Because it is a lower level, the section on describing symptoms will also be discussed and practiced, to achieve better performance. 

 

Goal:  Call 911 for medical or other emergencies, which identify the emergency type, location and personal information.  Lower-level students.

Lesson will include:  A review will be presented about why it is important to memorize some of their personal information such as home address and telephone numbers. 

Learning will include memorization of spelling their complete name, their home address and telephone number.  They will also be given the telephone numbers needed to call for emergencies.  Students will learn who to call for a specific accident/incident, i.e., the police department, the fire department, or an ambulance.   Students will work as a group, with the teacher, then students will work in pairs.  They will be provided with guidelines/scripts for students A & B for assistance  Student A will be the person calling in and providing little information about the problem, providing the address and telephone number, and Student B will be asking the questions and taking down the information of the whereabouts and a brief description of the incident.  Afterwards, they will reverse rolls.  Once they have practiced in pairs they will be asked to work with a partner, to prepare for an assignment.  They will be given time in class to work with their partners.  On a scheduled date, students will perform a role play for their peers. 

Assessments will be done during the beginning of the lesson, i.e., asking students for their names, address and phone numbers.  Another assessment will be conducted while they are performing their role play, and a final assessment will be conducted towards the end of the semester on a 1-1.   

Goal:  Call 911 for medical or other emergencies, which identify the emergency type, location and personal information.  Lower-level students.

Lesson will include:  A review will be presented about why it is important to memorize some of their personal information such as home address and telephone numbers. 

Learning will include memorization of spelling their complete name, their home address and telephone number.  They will also be given the telephone numbers needed to call for emergencies.  Students will learn who to call for a specific accident/incident, i.e., the police department, the fire department, or an ambulance.   Students will work as a group, with the teacher, then students will work in pairs.  They will be provided with guidelines/scripts for students A & B for assistance  Student A will be the person calling in and providing little information about the problem, providing the address and telephone number, and Student B will be asking the questions and taking down the information of the whereabouts and a brief description of the incident.  Afterwards, they will reverse rolls.  Once they have practiced in pairs they will be asked to work with a partner, to prepare for an assignment.  They will be given time in class to work with their partners.  On a scheduled date, students will perform a role play for their peers. 

Assessments will be done during the beginning of the lesson, i.e., asking students for their names, address and phone numbers.  Another assessment will be conducted while they are performing their role play, and a final assessment will be conducted towards the end of the semester on a 1-1.   

 

Hi Gladys, Thanks for sharing how you assess students' during lessons on calling in sick to work and calling 911. Of course, learners at the beginning level need a great deal of practice. The series of activities you have them engage in allows them to practice in different ways with the language they are learning. Role plays are a useful way to assess how well students have learned. I will often videotape the role plays and ask students to assess themselves and each other, which is easy to do using a smart phone. This adds another layer to the lesson and engages students in self- and peer- assessment, which can also be valuable.

I'm wondering what other strategies members of the community use to assess learners' progress.

The self-paced ELLU online course on formative assessment, which is available through LINCS Learning Portal, includes a great many examples of how to effectively assess learners' progress. Some members may be interested in checking out this course or one of the other ESL online courses also available through LINCS.

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, Adult English Language Learners CoP

 

I feel that I am able to perfume assessments while in the classroom.  However, when tested, my performance is not reflected.  I did enjoy this and feel the notes I took will help me with future assessments.

Lots of valuable information.  Took lots of notes.

I like the way the assessment plan is broken down into its various parts with performance learning and assessment goals and activities. Very helpful!

Perf. Learning Goal:  Interpret simplified job advertisements.  Assessment Goal: Goal 2:Apply language to Realistic Language Use outside classroom.

Assessment Activities:   1)  Vocabulary quiz with job ad abbreviations  2)  Video role play of student applying at Temp Agency

Assessed role play of:  Correct Greeting/  Explanation of where found Ad  /  Explanation of which job applying for along with using vocab from advertisement 

Formative assessments are significant in scaffolding and increasing students learning and overall academic success. This course has reiterated the importance of these assessments in regards to ELL students. It permits the instructor to evaluate areas that are challenging for students. This provides instructors key information when tailoring/creating instruction to facilitate learning and a positive learning experience. I plan to implement additional conversations with my students about their long and short term goals pertaining to their course work. Incorporating what they need and want to learn will increase their motivation and make the class more meaningful.  

I usually choose themes in my teaching and always cover “small talk” but think this semester I will let the students have much more choice in those larger themes and topics to ensure they feel included in the decisions. I am very excited to try journaling with some of my more advanced students. While they often have a great deal to say, they still need to work on their writing skills while I work with some of their other classmates and this will be a great way to keep them stimulated. This course has given me so many wonderful ideas and techniques, I have taken pages of notes!

Goal 1: Use the newspaper ads to make a grocery list and budget

Goal 2: Product-based assessment: Students Books for children; • Criteria for a successful product should be developed with student input and shared with the class. 

Performance-based assessment:  Students will telephone the school office to report a child’s absence. Give the name of the child, the child’s teacher or class, and the reason for the absence. Performance task: Students will leave a message for the teacher, or record a message, without a script, using a tape recorder. 

Goal 3: Journals, journals, journals! Also, these can serve as our original materials and formative assessments.

Goal 4: New Vocabulary words are written on the board, while two students will be given two flyswatters. They will stand up front at the board. Only one student knows the word and will only be allowed to say “up, down, left, right.” I will give the definition at the beginning and end. Other students can write down the word if they know if and check with me to join in helping with directions.

Goal 5: Picture Story Books with magazine clippings for Beginners;  Intermediate/High Level will work on re-telling stories in their own words both written and orally

Activity

Performance Learning Goal:Call 911 for medical or other emergencies, identifying nature of problem, location, and personal information.

Course Reflection

I have experienced success in one-on-one evaluations with students throughout the semester as an assessment as well as writing exercises where they choose the prompt/topic. I think I still need to be more creative with the ways I assess and tailor skills throughout the semester. Specifically with my quietest students who like to draw little attention to themselves. I learned some really interesting new things I hope to get to try with them this semester.