Exams – end of Semester 1 – in a class using NOVELS, CI, and a teacher who is kinda into ACTFL 3 modes

First of all – I don’t know if I’m supposed to call them midterms or finals. I prefer midterms – Spanish is a yearlong class and the Midterm is in December. Apparently, I’m wrong. I know – unbelievable. So anyway – This post is referring to the Exams that kids take in December to end 1st semester when they are going to come back and see you in January for 2nd semester.

I’m pretty into how it went. I’m gonna go ahead and turn this into an autobiographical, tell-all post that is way longer than it needs to be. Ready?let's go!

I started my teaching career out of college planning on being a normal, traditional teacher. I ended up changing districts -a few times- trying to find my niche. I taught TPRS curriculums, ancient textbooks that I had to supplement, fancy new grammar textbooks… etc. Still, I hadn’t found my groove by 2015 – 5 years out of school.

I was inspired to change everything I was doing when I learned about ACTFL IPAs at an ICTFL conference. Learn more about my fascinating journey as a new teacher in my WHO AM I post. Then… I discovered the concept of using CI and SLA theory, etc. Then I QUIT my job because the crew there didn’t support me learning and doing new things.

boy bye

They liked their 2003 textbooks and worksheets, thank you very much. So now I’m at a school that lets me do whatever I want and completely trusts me… (yikes) and I’m now blending what I can about all my favorite parts of teaching Spanish. I use Martina Bex’ SOMOS curriculum and various comprehensible novels… but I’m still hanging on to some old thematic units around which I designed IPAs (family… health… school around the world…) and I still like seeing how the kids are progressing in the three modes of communication towards the Seal of Biliteracy hopefully some day. So I tend to give my students a “3 part final” or midterm: they have to chat with me/each other, then they have to read, then they have to write. INTERPERSONAL – INTERPRETIVE – PRESENTATIONAL. (Interpretive listening and presentational speaking tend to be too challenging for me to assess).

So anyway… here are my prompts and assessments and rubrics to evaluate all this stuff… and links to other things that have helped.

Both classes were assessed on the novels we’ve been reading. Spanish 2 – Noches misteriosas en Granada. Spanish 1 – Brandon Brown quiere un perro.


As for my finals writing prompts, I was inspired to use images broken down from a MovieTalk after doing this unit from Martina Bex – I can’t share my materials for that because it’s copyrighted, and I can’t share the speaking prompt images for Brandon Brown quiere un perro because those are also copyrighted. But that was my inspiration.

  • Here is a blank copy of my Brandon Brown prompt. I just put illustrations from the book in order in the columns (5 chapters) so the kids would have some memory-helpers when trying to summarize the plot.

Now, after doing a story or a MovieTalk I will typically illustrate a portion. That way I always have illustrations to use in the future.

  • Here’s two examples of drawings I’VE made for Noches misteriosas en Granada (Chapter 9) (legend of chapter 7) – as you can see I’m not a professional artist, but I include as many details as possible. I drew these on my lap while my kid was in the bath. And the kids have no issue identifying what my drawings are supposed to represent.  Or I’ll give it to my kids as an assignment and steal the best artist’s drawings and use them in the future (which they know). Here’s an example of my using my student’s art as an exam prompt – also came from a Martina Bex unit. We wrote a class story together, then they had to go home and illustrate it. Then I took the best copies and shuffled them around for a writing prompt.

As for grading – I’ve been working for a few years trying to rubrics them work for me and for students. This Doc is what I’ve settled on for now, evaluating presentational and interpretive modes. I basically play with the math to make their rubric score look good in the gradebook. Interpersonal is still killer for me to grade. (again – the three modes are an ACTFL thing). 

  • I was also inspired by Señora Chase’s interpretive evaluation rubrics. And made them my own on this document.
  • Here’s a Google Drive of Rubrics I’ve been changing for the past 4 years. I haven’t used any of them more than once because they always let me down somehow. My problem with rubrics has always been that if I actually follow the math, the kids do NOT end up with the gradebook grades I want them to have. That’s why I’ve been manipulating it a little with the doc I’ve been working on this year. Simple simple simple.

As for the question… how did finals go?!  (Oops – that was the point of this post, right???) – EXCELLENT. I bragged to my principal about how well everyone did. Check out some samples:


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