Wednesday, September 09, 2009

First assessment from The Shlenker School

I received a tablet laptop to help me evaluate Hebrew conversation in the classroom in real time. During the summer I developed a simple chart to help me assess the quality of sentences, taking into account length and grammatical errors. I've started using it in class and found that it allows me to go about the business of teaching as usual while making it possible to quickly assess the level of each sentence a student produces.

As the second part of the grant we received MP3 player/recorders to help speed up assessment of reading comprehension. Both the students and I love theses little devices. The student love them because the enjoy the novelty and using technology rather then pencil and paper, and I love them because they promise to provide us with many different creative learning opportunities, beyond the original purpose of the grant.

The Shlenker School emphasize Hebrew conversation, reading, and less so - writing. Because of that we looked for ways to cut on the time students labored writing their answers to the reading comprehension questions, and the MP3 devices provide the solution: the students record their answers and I retrieve and grade them later. They also present another neat technological twist: I have a "mother" MP3 recoreder and a dock through which I can record my directions, questions, etc. into all the other devices at once - and erase all at the end of the cycle.

So far I've found a couple of small setbacks. One is that it took me much longer to retrieve the recordings and grade them later than glance through a written test. I hope to improve my speed with practice, but the process does take more time. Also, wrong answers need written feedback. So there are wrinkles to be ironed and challenges to be worked out, but this is what I enjoy. The main challenge I'm looking forward to this year is finding forms of assessments that will make good use of the technology and reflect the oral goals of our program.

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