Sunday, October 3, 2010

Motivating Students with Authentic Assessments

Yesterday I was at a meeting for the eLinguaFolio pilot and I had the privilege of hearing Betsy Burton, from Caldwell County Schools, speak about Using LinguaFolio to Motivate Students.

It was really inspiring to listen to Ms. Burton talk about the way she approaches her ESL class and I wanted to share a few of her thoughts. She encouraged us to value what our students don't know and to show them that what they don't know is just an opportunity to grow. She said that when students come in and say "No hablo ingl├ęs," she responds with "Oh, that's fantastic! There's so much for you to learn then!" This really impressed upon me a different way of looking at learning that is so well exemplified in the LinguaFolio project. The "I can" statements are followed by the choices, "I can do this" or "This is one of my goals" but to really think of goals as opportunities for learning is a wonderful perspective.

This is the way I like to approach implementing authentic assessments in my classroom. At FLANC on Friday, I gave a presentation called Getting At What They Really Know: Simple ways to create authentic assessments and keep students motivated. I really believe that the key to keeping students motivated is letting them make some choices and set some learning goals. Human beings want to learn--it's why we're alive. The trick is to get students to see and reflect on what they want to learn.

For example, I have my students write a paragraph about our unit topics. While students are constructing these paragraphs they are using the structures and vocabulary of the chapter (what I want them to learn) and they are asking me, "How do I say..." (what they want to learn). These authentic assessments allow me to structure what I teach to focus on who I teach and keep them interested in what we're doing and motivated to learn.

Check out my FLANC presentation website and my site It Just Keeps Getting Better, which highlights my research as I develop my thesis, to continue exploring the topic of authentic assessment and student motivation. I'd love to hear what you think! Please leave your questions and thought in the comment section below. Thanks!

1 comment:

  1. Hi amanda, I really thank you for the kind words. I wish I had your tech skills. I think you must be a fantastic teacher. I am looking for your websites to see what your research is showing. Thanks again.