reflections Uncategorized

Syllabus and Norms for a TPRS class

We have had one academic day of instruction. The administration suggested that teachers present syllabi on that day, but I decided to start straight away in Spanish as described in this recent post. Most classes went well although I started the day off a bit rusty, but one class made me remember all of the work that we do with norming a TPRS class at the beginning of the year so that students know how to learn.

classroom participation rubricOn Saturday morning I pulled together a generic syllabus that I use for Spanish 1-3 (non-heritage speakers classes). You can download a .PDF version by clicking here or, if you want to change it, then here is a .docx version (beware: lots of text boxes). The Listening and Speaking section (40% of the grade) is from an interpersonal skills rubric that was created through Ben Slavic’s PLC (thanks for the clarification Jen! See her comment below).

I suspect that this might be controversial, since many educators seem to be eliminating all grades based on observed behaviors in favor of solely recording grades that reflect demonstrated proficiency. I still record observed behaviors as a major part of the grade. I believe that if a student follows this behavior rubric in class, language acquisition will happen naturally at the pace each student is capable of progressing. For a teacher who can have up to 240 students at a time (right now I have 223 on my roll), I need a system that is both flexible (motivating students with different abilities) and efficient (allowing me to spend most of my class time delivering comprehensible input).


    1. What is it used for? My next thing, when I find time, is to try out Kahoot! but since I do not have a smart phone I haven’t even been able to try it out on my own.

      1. I look Kahoot! It’s a very fun way to review. I didn’t do it too often–so the kids never got tired of it. They would beg me “Could we pleaaaaade do a KAHOOT?”

  1. 223 students! That is crazy! I, too, count participation as a large portion of students grades. How do you keep track of this? I use a seating chart with a box for each day and I write down plusses and minuses throughout the class, but I sometimes worry that their grades are more subjective than they should be. Do you have any tips? Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Totally agree with you re: observed behaviors (aka skills). A main reason for this is truly the teaching of interpersonal skills, almost aside from language acquisition. It’s kind of a “twofer!” Kids acquire a language AND also some critical life skills that will serve them in all other interactions, personal and professional! Instead of calling it a participation rubric, which can sound vague, some of us call it “interpersonal skills rubric.” Maybe this is just a semantic difference but I think assessing the observable skills (eye contact, responding, not talking over, etc) is legitimate assessment for language acquisition. Language is a process, not an amassing of information / content. This is the part that is so different from every other school subject, and something that administrators often misunderstand. Language is not a subject, but rather a means of communication. Assessing a skill that’s needed to help the student acquire is legit! We’re assessing how the student demonstrates the various skills we specify. Just my take on it.

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