It’s that time of the year to assess 29 students’ speaking skills in two forty-five minute periods. My students need to produce eight sentences, comparing their actual schedule with a schedule from another country.
One common way to speed things up is to have groups of two come up and ask and answer questions. The only problem with this is that I use my speaking assessments as a minute to individually touch base with my students beyond the context of what they have to present, and to convey something personal and positive to them.
Therefore, I must speed up managing the transitions between students and here is how I do it:
1. When students come into the room, they see their names on the board, garnering curiosity. (I am able to export their first names from our grading program to Excel, and from there copy and paste on to my flipchart that I use every day. I can drag their names around using a pen at the board, or my cursor at my desk.)
Since my students are a blended class that will soon be sorted into Honors and College Prep for next year’s scheduling, I tell them that if they want to be considered for honors they need to present first and not hang back. I tell them to raise their hands and start lining up the names in order of presenting. Once they stop volunteering, I just line up the rest of their names.
2. The first person sits in the chair facing me, with their back to the class. The second and third students are hovering nearby to my left, filling out the rubric sheet with their names and numbers so that when they sit, I can start grading. (This saves me many minutes compared to when I would hand out the papers, the students would come up to my desk without their papers, go back to their desks, and waste a half minute . . . almost every student!) The two on deck are helping one another with last minute preparation.
3. When the first student is done, I glace at the board and call up the fourth person to join the third person as the second person slides into the chair. I found that with their names on the board, students were moving to the “on deck” slot on their own.
That’s it – try it and let me know how it works for you! If you want a few more ideas, continue reading . . .
I make notes on the rubric page and grade as I go, sharing the final grade and feedback with the students so that they know their grades immediately. I also freeze the slide with their names and open up the grading program on my computer so I can be putting in the grades as each student is done.
When students are painfully slow because they really aren’t prepared, I tell them their grade so far, “hmm with this you are at a 74” and usually they stop and say “great, that’s what I wanted!” This amazes me that so many just need a passing grade, but it save me the agony of the dead time while they search for the next two elusive words.
I give the students something to read and illustrate for points. If they do it in class, they won’t have homework. This rewards students who complete the assessment early and keeps them busy enough to not create behavior problems. Many students just use the time to keep honing their presentation.
My students need to mention two of their favorite classes and why they like them. This is the perfect segue where I fake emotional distress if they don’t mention our class. I ask them what they like about the class so far. I ask how long it took to prepare or how they prepared. I usually end with telling them how much I enjoy them in class and why, giving them the mental paradigm that they are enjoying class sets them up for the long winter months until Spring break.