Tuesday, September 23, 2014

SLOs for the New School Year

I'm not sure how many teachers out there are dealing with SLO's (Student Learning Objectives) at the moment, but since it's something I've been working on lately I thought I'd share.

Our county asks us World Language Teachers to come up with two SLOs - one for Content (Presentational Writing/Speaking, Interpersonal Writing/Speaking, Listening, etc.) and one for Literacy (Explanatory, Argumentative or Summary Writing).  We pick one class to collect data for, gathering a baseline score at the beginning of the year and then at least two more times to measure student growth.  Obviously the goal is for students to improve or to at least maintain the level they scored on the baseline assessment.

Last year I focused on my AP students, but this year I'm working on my German 2 class.  They're a weaker class in part because last year they were on an A Day/B Day schedule (I only saw them once every other day).  I'm also worried because they are on that same rotating schedule this year.  By the end of this year, I will have spent less time with them than with any other German 2 class I've taught.  Part of my goal with these SLOs is to help them improve to where they need to be by doing periodic checks and by showing them this data.

Here's a look at my two SLOs for the year and the baseline assessment for each.

For the baselines, I didn't give students a grade for them.  You'll notice that the rubrics are holistic and not analytic - it's a way for me to give them feedback in specific, targeted areas without them feeling the pressure of a grade.  I might decide to use an analytic version for their later assessments, but that's something to think about later on.

Content: Presentational Speaking
I know these students are weak when it comes to speaking, so I really want to emphasis it this year.  We're slowly transitioning into them speaking more German in class (German 2 currently has an extensive grammar review unit built into the beginning of the school year), and the baseline assessment seemed like a good way to show my expectations for more speaking.

For the baseline assessment, I started by having five objects in a bag (pig, apple, socks, calculator and a ball).  We played Was ist in der Tasche? until students were able to guess all the items.  Once we had them all, I asked students to tell me why they thought I had each item - what could I possibly do with these things I was carrying around in a bag?  (Yes, they said I was going to eat the pig.)

After we'd done this introductory activity, I gave students their prompt:  I was going to give them a bag and they had to identify the items in it and explain why they had them.  I told them to tell me as much as they could about the items in their bag, which contained a cat, a water bottle, a highlighter, an agenda book, and a scarf.

Our department has a set of digital recorders that we share for speaking activities.  I had students go out in the hallway to record their responses one at a time while the rest of the class did some review activities.

If you'd like to see the Level 2 rubric the HCPSS World Language Department has provided us, please click here.  The rubric is great - it's easy for the kids to see what they need to do and the level they're trying to achieve.  And it's based off the ACTFL Can-Do Statements... when these kids get to German 3/4, they'll be familiar with the phrasing which will hopefully help them learn to better rate themselves.

Here are some other activities you can use to evaluate Presentational Speaking:
One thing that they've been emphasizing is not to make your prompt too specific.  Don't limit them by saying, "You must say six sentences.  You must use three different verbs.  You must use twenty different vocabulary words from the vocab list."  Give them some freedom - just tell them to give you as much as they can (maybe within a time limit).  Weaker students will place on the lower end of the spectrum, but this will give stronger students a chance to give you more and truly show you their capabilities.

Literacy: Summary Writing
While we do other types of writing, the idea of doing 3-4 argumentative writing assignments throughout the year seemed a bit much.  I decided to go with Summary Writing because it seemed the easiest to incorporate multiple times throughout the year.

For our baseline assessment, I showed students the video below.  The prompt was: Create a timeline of events that took place in the video (Yes!  I had them draw out a line, label the left side "Anfang" and the right side "Ende").  Be sure to include the beginning and end, as well as details in between.  Tell me as much as you can about what happens.

We first viewed the video once.  The second time through, I told students they could take notes if they needed to (I didn't want any distractions the first viewing, so I made them hold off on notes).  Then students had time to complete the prompt.

I think this was a great video for a German 2 class.  There will be words they don't necessarily know (leise, rufen, etc.) and tenses they haven't formally learned (Present Perfect Tense), but the visuals help and the speaking isn't too fast (and it's fun!).

And this is a great way to practice circumloqution.  I maybe don't know how to say "rufen," but I can describe what they're doing as "singen."  I might not pick up the word "leise" but I might be able to figure out that Bert wasn't "laut" enough.  I don't know how to say shark, but I can say "gross Fisch."
It's perfect for giving students the chance to show what they can do - I got everything from 1-2 word phrases from some students to students who were able to give lots of details in complete sentences with a variety of vocabulary.

Here are some other activities you can use to evaluate Summary Writing:

If you'd like to see the Level 2 rubric the HCPSS World Language Department has provided us, please click here.

I'm looking forward to seeing my students improve over the course of the year!  I'm already thinking about what to do for their next assessment ;)

- Frau Leonard

Credit where credit is due - the amazing rubrics I'm using for my SLOs were provided to us by our World Languages Coordinator in Howard County, Leslie Grahn, and World Languages Resource Teacher, Jen Cornell.  She is an amazing educator and does a lot to support us.


  1. Thank you! I was having such a tough time with these!

    1. No problem! To be honest, I really didn't have to do very much... our county has been so good about providing us with rubrics and examples. I just have to come up with and grade the actual assignments... and even then, they've given so many examples it's not that big of a deal.