One of the major shifts I have made is in my assessment practices. I really started getting into it around the semester switch last year and I found it to be very effective. Rather than the usual pen and paper exam with a random oral exam thrown in, each unit has three major summative assessments: presentational, interpretive, and interpersonal. I talk a bit about those in THIS blog post.
Getting students to talk to one another is difficult, as they tend to gravitate towards the same friends each time. It occurred to me to try something different so that they can "interview" a lot of people in one chunk of time. I decided to set it up like speed-dating (but of course in junior high we call it speed-friending). For a class of 24 students, I set up 12 desks in a circle facing the outside, and then another 12 desks facing each desk from the inside circle. I then told them to sit in any random desk.
Once students are in their seats, I set a timer on the board for two minutes. They are required to speak French the whole time. Then, after two minutes I have them rotate. I've varied how they rotate. Sometimes it's just one space, sometimes I roll a die to determine how many spaces.
This activity helps prepare them well for the interpersonal exam by helping them to be comfortable not only just speaking, but speaking with whoever they happen to be paired up with.
I've even taken it a step further sometimes (for example during the free time unit) and had them take notes on each person they interview. Then they are required to write about who they want to be friends with and why.
|photo from cvamemphis.org|