This Friday, our site is having a student free day (SFD) – meaning all staff will be attending a full day of professional development. Working this year at an R-12 area school, there will be a secondary program and a primary program running concurrently. The primary team is focusing on the grammar scope and sequence while the secondary is focusing on differentiation. Its novel having the opportunity to join other specialist subject teachers after years of primary PD, which ironically lacked in inclusivity and differentiation.
As the SFD backs onto a long weekend, I loose two days of lessons. Last Wednesday I had a brain wave. Why not create an assessment task for the Thursday/Tuesday lessons and hold over my planned lessons till next week thus reducing my planning load over the long weekend! I also wanted to address the appalling student behaviour in upper primary/secondary as experienced on Tuesday. There was no point continuing to story ask with so many students being disruptive. And on top of this, reports are due soon, so the idea of creating an assessment task to finalise grades which requires quiet independent work was extremely appealing. The task I created worked brilliantly and I am keen to share the idea with you.
Before students arrived, I arranged the chairs around the room evenly spaced apart – making sure that comfortable chairs were separated by plastic chairs to separate friendship groups that have preferences for one or the other. On each chair, I put a clipboard. As students entered the room, I informed them not to move the chairs unless they preferred the idea of sitting at the front of the room on the floor!
The tukang kertas (paper distributor) and the tukang pensil (pencil distributor) were asked to distribute lead pencils and blank sheets of blank A4 paper. Students were next instructed to lipat (fold) the paper tiga kali (three times) and I demonstrated several times as I repeated ‘lipat’. I gave my folded demo sheets to the tukang kertas & tukang pensil or anyone who walked in late.
This task is based on the Hadiah (The Present) film clip year 6-8’s have been working on this term, I created 8 sentences that represented the structures and gist of the story so far and then arranged them in length order.
Here are my sentences (Note the characters’ name as chosen by the 4 different classes!):
- Di dus ada anjing.
- Anjing punya tiga setengah kaki!
- Damo/Peppa Pig/Bruce/Fat Mike buka dus.
- Damo/Peppa Pig/Bruce/Fat Mike lempar anjing.
- Ibu kasih Damo/Peppa Pig/Bruce/Fat Mike hadiah.
- Damo/Peppa Pig/Bruce/Fat Mike bermain gem di TV.
- Tiba-tiba, Damo/Peppa Pig/Bruce/Fat Mike lihat kaki anjing.
- Ibu berkata, “Damo/Peppa Pig/Bruce/Fat Mike, ada hadiah di dus!”
Students were asked to listen to me say each sentence and then translate it into English, writing each one into one of the 8 squares. I repeated each sentence many times very slowly and only moved to the following sentence when I noticed that everyone had stopped writing.
When all sentences had been translated, I asked students to turn their sheet over. Depending on the amount of time left in the lesson, I asked for a number of the English sentences to be translated back into Indonesian and again one sentence per square. The choice of the sentences was entirely up to each individual student. Finally, students had to number their Indonesian sentences to indicate the order they appear in the storyline. This high achiever translated all sentences back into Indonesian!!
Some students struggled with both tasks and after looking at their work, I believe their struggle is closely linked to poor literacy skills and the low confidence this creates. I did emphasize before and during the task for students not to worry about spelling as you can see by the images above. I hoped that this would help lower anxiety and increase output and for some this really made a difference! For those who did struggle, I asked that they purely translated the single words/phrases they comprehended. Here is an example of work that I gave a D for:
Upon completion of the task, students were asked to choose between sitting silently or illustrating the sentences quietly. I did not want students wandering around the class or disrupting those still working.
- Next Tuesday, I will not state the number of translations back into Indonesian. Instead I will give students 5 minutes to do as many as possible in that time frame. This way everyone will finish together.
- This task beautifully clarified how much of the language we have been focusing on this term has been comprehended and acquired. Asking for an English translation was a more precise formative assessment task than doing a listen and draw would have been.
- After marking the two classes who did this task, I was blown away with the overall result. Unfortunately I did have to give a few D’s for work that was incomplete &/or incorrect. On the other hand, the number of students who received an A for the task was so heartening. Without a doubt though, the best moment was discovering that a year 8 student had transferred grammatical knowledge (noun adjective word order) covered last term into her translation. She also edited her code switching and removed the third person possessive ‘s’!! Woo-hoo!