Welcome to Language Latte: a conversation about teaching world languages. I’m Becky Morales from Kid World Citizen and today we’re talking about assessments in world language classrooms- specifically IPAs, Integrated Performance Assessments. Treat yourself to a latte, and settle in, so we can start our chat!
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In every episode of the Language Latte podcast, I examine issues that world language teachers face when trying to help our students achieve proficiency. If you go to KidWorldCitizen.org and click on podcasts in the upper righthand corner, you will find a complete listing of all of our episodes along with their thorough show notes, and all of the links that we mention here today.
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In this episode we are discussing assessments. Let’s first look at IPAs in detail, and then I’ll interview Jen Shaw, a high school Spanish teacher who many consider to be a guru of IPAs. She’s going to give us some very practical advice regarding their implementation.
What in the world is an IPA!?
IPA stands for Integrated Performance Assessment. It’s a classroom-based performance assessment model developed by ACTFL to assess the progress that language students are making towards proficiency. The IPA includes three separate tasks, each one reflecting one of the three modes of communication: there will be one Interpretive, one Presentational, and of course one Interpersonal task. The idea is that the tasks are aligned across a common theme, and reflect how students would naturally acquire and use the language in the real world. IPAs are designed to be used at any level of proficiency- from your novice to advanced students. ACTFL based the concept of IPAs on their standards, identified in their bookWorld-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages (2015). You can read all about IPAs in The Key to Assessing Language Performance: A Teacher’s Manual for Measuring Student Progress.
IPAs are performance-based, not knowledge based, and they are designed to be used with scoring rubrics, where the teacher determines the student’s performance has either met the expectations, exceeded them, or does not meet them for that task. IPAs are not: fill in the blanks, matching, short answer, multiple choice, or essay type tests.
We have to use backward design in order to come up with the IPAs. Thus the IPA units begin with the goals of instruction for the unit, and will integrate the 5C goal areas of the ACTFL Standards (which are Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities). Once you have determined the goals of the unit, you pick a theme or big idea. Educators will devise instructional goals- basically, what you want your students to know- and these goals are related to the 5Cs I mentioned.
Once you have decided where you want students to be at the end of the unit, how will you determine that the students have reached the goals? This is where the IPA comes in. Like I mentioned before, utilizing the three modes of communication: interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational, students will show you if they are able to do what you were aiming for.
The Interpretive Task
Beginning with the interpretive task, you will first need to find an authentic resource for kids to interpret (which language teachers have been hashtagging “#authres” on twitter). Authentic material is authentic when it is created by native speakers, for native speakers.
Where can you find these authentic resources for students to interpret? Facebook, twitter, pinterest, and obviously google have tons of infographics, ads, menus, schedules, letters, short articles and more. One tip is to search in the target language for the theme you are doing. Another tip: google will give you different results- for the same search term- depending on your geographic location! So set your google to the country of your choice (for example by adding .mx for Mexico or .fr for France). I’ve included a link for every single country’s google home page. I’ve also included a how-to video for EdPuzzle, which allows teachers to use authentic youtube videos, and create questions for your students to answer.
Once you’ve picked out a couple of authentic resources that relate to a certain theme, you’ll create a scenario that describes the big picture and ties into the Can-Do Statements that we talked about in Season 1, Episode 6.
You will decide what you want the students to do with the authentic resources. The idea is to have the students look at a piece of text in the target language that they haven’t ever seen before, and interpret meaning from the different sections. The Dept of Education in Ohio has an incredible template to follow that I will link to- to guide teachers in creating the interpretive task.
The Interpersonal Task
The second part, is the interpersonal task. In this task, there needs to be a spontaneous exchange of information. It should be a natural conversation about the theme- not a memorized script. You could include cultural information while using short texts, photos, videos, and prompts. Some teachers pull up students one by one, but others pull up pairs of students to respond together, ideally with the natural back and forth communication. Prior to the IPA, the students should have had lots of communicative practice, and should be comfortable in the organic turn-taking of asking and answering questions.
The Presentational Task
The final portion of the IPA is the Presentational Task, which can be written or spoken, or a combination. Some ways teachers ask students to respond to the authentic, primary resources are by explaining, comparing and contrasting, describing, choosing an option and defending it. They might even create a couple of slides of a power point, an infographic (check out these examples), a prezi, a piktochart; one teacher has their students create short videos on flipgrid. graphic organizer
Throughout all 3 of the tasks of the IPA, learners are attempting to understand, interpret, and analyze when they are reading, hearing, or seeing. In order to do so, they are attending to meaning, interacting, and negotiating meaning.
The teachers are observing and reviewing the students, using specially designed rubrics.
Let’s talk about the rubrics for a minute. The rubrics are designed to show movement over the course of an entire language program. If we, as teachers, think of language skills from a lens of proficiency, we understand that they develop over time. Using the IPA rubrics, we are describing “quality” not “quantity” of student performance. Students see what they can do to raise their performances, which helps students progress to the next level.
The Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition at the University of Minnesota has a phenomenal set of resources related to IPAs.
I am going to include the link to their IPA resource page. You guys! They have so many examples of rubrics!! You will find samples in Arabic, Chinese, Dakota, ESL, French, German, Italian, Latin, Ojibwe, and Spanish. The language functions, priority vocabulary, and sample learning activities students need to practice are also included.
I am also including a link to the Ohio Department of Ed rubric templates. If you have never seen or used an IPA, these rubrics are a fantastic look into how teachers are assessing proficiency based on ACTFL standards. Along with their rubric templates, I am sharing their list of unit examples that include Spanish, ASL, German, Chinese, French, and Arabic.
Interview with Jen Shaw: Practical Advice for Using Integrated Performance Assessments
Let’s bring in Jen Shaw. Jen has a B.A. with Honors in secondary education with concentrations in English and Spanish and an M.A in Library and Information Science. She is in her 14th year of teaching, and believes in proficiency-based instruction and technology integration. After presenting all about IPAs at various educational conferences, she recently won Best of Michigan at Central States. Welcome to the show Jen!
1) Tell me about yourself.
- 14th year teaching, MI; SC, Spanish 1, 2, now 6-8
- Redesigning the Spanish 1 curriculum again
- Blogging on 2 blogs
- Presenting about IPAs at state conference, won Best of Michigan, at Central
- States, local districts
- Wife, mom, and foster mom
2) Some people have heard of IPAs, Integrated Performance Assessments, many teachers haven’t. Can you explain what IPA stands for, and what makes them useful in language classes?
- 3 tiered assessment (though some do 4)
- Assesses what students can do and not just what they know
- 3 Modes of communication
- Listening- EdPuzzle
- Reading- infographics
- Speaking- usually my focus
- Writing (think texting)
- Must be spontaneous, not a skit
- 5cs- communication and culture should be at the center, also love to focus on comparisons
3) Why use a proficiency-based assessment?
- Reflects what students CAN DO with language and cultural knowledge in communicative tasks
- Authentic communication with longevity
- Ss take risks; innovate
- Reach and retain students
4) Do you have any tips for a teacher who is writing their first IPA? What do we need to consider?
Look at lots of samples, and find rubrics you are comfortable with. Prepare students by showing examples- you may have to change aspects of your teaching.
- IPAs on TPT and samples of them on my blog
- Lisa Shepard
- Ohio Dept. of Ed.
- Backwards planning
- Can Do statements should guide your lesson planning, unit planning, and thus your assessments
- More motivating
- Ohio interpretive task guides
5) Where can teachers look for authentic materials as they prepare their IPA?
- Infographics- google infografia or infografica and keywords in the TL
- Twitter, pinterest
6) Where can our listeners find you, if they want to learn more?
Blog posts Related to IPAs and #Authres:
- Overview of IPAs: http://spanishwithsrashaw.blogspot.com/2016/05/how-ipas-interim-performance.html
- The interpretive task: http://spanishwithsrashaw.blogspot.com/2016/05/how-to-create-and-give-ipas-part-2.html
- Finding authres: http://www.secondaryspanishspace.com/2017/03/how-find-authentic-resources-on-social.html
- Presentational ideas: http://spanishwithsrashaw.blogspot.com/2016/07/how-to-create-and-give-ipas-part-6.html
- Infographics as presentational assessments: http://spanishwithsrashaw.blogspot.com/2016/02/infographics-as-presentational.html
I know a lot of teachers have been using the same tests for years, but I hope everyone can see assessments in a new light, and maybe even make some tweaks.
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