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Assessing the 4 C's in World Languages?

Assessing the 4 C's in World Languages?

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Dear WL Edutopians,

At my school we are discussing how we might fit all our assessments under the 4 C's of 21st Century Skills - communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration. Why? Because these four skills are our school-wide learning outcomes, and we want to see how we can make them more clear for students. We're trying hard to be more serious about these expected learning outcomes for our students.

It seems faily clear how World Languages fits under communication. Our national and state-level standards all aim at supporting students to achieve proficiency in a second language, in three modes of communication, oral and written production, i. e., interpretive communication (reading, viewing and listening for understanding), interpersonal communication (speaking and writing in two-way formats), and presentational communication (both speaking and writing to an audience). We have lots of rubrics to assess and guide students toward these outcomes, and according to proficiency levels - novice, intermediate and advanced. Accordingly, the biggest percentage of our grading system will aim at communication outcomes.

We also understand collaboration fairly well. We have students work together on projects, often in PBLL-aligned units, as well as in other small groups, and we have developed rubrics to guide students to demonstrate leadership and initiative, individual responsibility, and facilitation and support. We have already had some good success with these rubrics.

What about how to assess critical thinking and the creative process? We engage students often in inquiry-based learning, and ask them to create projects wherein they demonstrate critical and creative thinking as applied to their products. We do not have many grades in these two categories, however, so we feel as though it may be somewhat contrived to have separate categories for them.

The rub is this: what else do you think is worth assessing vis-à-vis these two particular skills in a World Language curriculum? What percentage of a student's grade would you consider reasonable to devote to critical thinking and creativity? What's more, are there other things you would want to include in an overall grading system which are not really classifiable under the four C's? If so, what are they? We have some ideas, but we're quite curious to know what you think as well.

So World Language gurus, we would love to hear your ideas. We're trying to make this work, but we're not yet sure how to solve the puzzle. Help us figure it out!

Looking forward to your comments, so until then, cheers!

Don


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Sra. Spanglish's picture
Sra. Spanglish
Spanglish teacher in pursuit of real-world learning experiences

I'm intrigued by the idea of the standards-based grading practice of having separate behavior reports that don't actually factor into the grade. Alternatively, my district requires 3 different types of grades: test/project, "quiz," and daily work. Perhaps the 15% "daily work" segment could be reserved for the other 3 C's? I'm not opposed to incorporating them into the grade, as I believe they are proficiencies that ALL educators MUST address if our students are to succeed after high school.

I think some written L1 reflection citing specific instances during the grading period where the student demonstrated each C (or growth in each) would be in order for each. Perhaps there are some rubrics out there that could help with evaluation?

Don Doehla, MA, NBCT's picture
Don Doehla, MA, NBCT
2015 California Language Teacher of the Year, Co-Director Berkeley WL Project at UC Berkeley Language Center

We are being asked to put all grades into one or more of 5 categories only: communication (which is where most of our grades will go in WL), collaboration (that's an easy one for us as well), critical thinking and creativity (these are less clear for us - not that we don't do these, but when and how much to assess, what goes into these categories besides what we do in PBLL...), and the last category, which we are calling practice and preparation - i.e., homework, participation, etc. Our big questions are about critical thinking and creativity and what we put into those categories. We're still thinking! Thanks Laura!

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