Modes of Communication


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Examples of integrated performance assessment units can be used or adapted to fit your classroom.

Level: Novice

THEME: Cities

ESSENTIAL QUESTION: What do you see in your neighborhood?

Students have learned about shopping, school, weekend activities, and how people in the target culture get to school, work, and do their shopping.

Interpretive Task:
Students read a short article from a local paper or magazine about a community event. Then, they complete a worksheet to check their understanding. (The worksheet could ask students for the main topic of the story, to underline phrases or key words that contain that information, or to summarize the main idea in one sentence).

The task is Interpretive because students read the descriptions in the target language and answer questions either by underling the answers or summarizing in English. They are not asked to produce answers in the target language. The assessment focuses on understanding of the text.

After completing the interpretive task, the teacher leads the class in a discussion about neighborhoods, what makes up different neighborhoods in their city or town and what students think is important to a neighborhood.

This second part of the Interpretive task prepares students to think consider the theme “Where we live” on a cultural level as they consider target language towns, cities and neighborhoods. Teachers can present pictures of streets and areas in TL cities. Below are some questions you may wish to consider asking your students:

  • What do you notice in the picture?
  • Where might this be located? City- town - rural area?
  • What might influence the kinds of things you find in cities, towns, on streets of the target culture.
  • What is interesting about each--why?

These questions can be answered with one word or short phrases but can be a springboard for a rich discussion about cultural perspectives in housing, neighborhoods, transportation and use of resources as a reflection of culture. Students may want to express ideas for which they may not have the target language. Teachers may consider using a defined time for discussion in English to allow students to express their thought and connect to geography, history, social studies, economics and others.

For an assignment that evening, students sketch a draft of a target culture neighborhood and bring it to class for the interpersonal task.

Interpersonal Task:
Students work in pairs to construct neighborhood. They draw a blueprint or map of their neighborhood using a large piece of paper. Using the target language, students use the ideas from their homework to negotiate and reach agreement on what should be in their neighborhood: the location of the buildings, parks, transportation, places to shop, streets, and recreational places.

This task is interpersonal because it is spontaneous and requires negotiation. The neighborhoods the students planned at home are resources for their conversation. The discussion is not about what they had done at home, but rather negotiating a common design from their ideas. The discussion is interesting because it is based on their opinion of what their new target culture neighborhood includes and looks like.

The discussion could be videotaped or recorded for the teacher to review later. Or, the teacher, using a checklist, may move among the groups to listen to the discussion in each group. The teacher may also choose to pull one or two students aside and discuss the neighborhood with these students in detail. Students can also be asked to do a self-assessment of the discussion, including what might help them in interpersonal tasks.

Presentational Task:
Students make a brochure advertising the neighborhood they constructed with their partner. Each student is asked to write two short paragraphs about the neighborhood for the brochure. In paragraph one, they tell about the neighborhood. In the second paragraph, they take the role of a resident and tell why they like living in the neighborhood.

This task is Presentational because the students are writing for an audience that requires writing a rough draft, getting feedback from the teacher and/or peers and making changes.

Peer feedback:
Peer feedback generally works best when students are given very specific tasks and are held accountable for completing those tasks. For example, peers could verify that the contents of the two paragraphs matched the instructions, check for subject-verb agreement or correct genders (if applicable), or that no words were left in English.

Give students a short checklist (two or three items) to use in providing feedback. They can complete the checklist, write their comments, and sign their name to the checklist indicating that they have given appropriate feedback.

Teacher feedback:
Teachers should remember that s/he is not writing the essay for the student. Before accepting a rough draft, give the students a list of non-negotiables. Rough drafts should not be accepted unless the non-negotiables have been met.

For example, in this essay a non-negotiable would be two paragraphs addressing the topics outlined in the instructions. A non-negotiable might be how many sentences must be in each paragraph as a minimum. A non-negotiable might be that no English can be left in the draft, or that it needs to be typed. By outlining three to five items that the student can control, the draft will be of higher quality and the feedback can focus on clarity of the communication in both structure and content.

The interpersonal and presentational tasks are evaluated using a rubric (see the Evaluation section for information on constructing rubrics), while the interpretive task is evaluated from the students’ worksheets.


See more examples of complete standards-based integrated performance assessment units.


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