Students do not like tests/exams either.
They are, for the most part, created and administered with a "gotcha" in mind. For the most part, tests are to reflect what the student learned and can demonstrate. They cause so much anxiety in students and they're not accurate of the actual learning students acquired.
As I created my newcomers' final exam for our ESL for Beginners course, I created it intending to reflect on my teaching abilities and my skills to help students understand and ability to re-tell what they've learned. Their scores will evaluate ME.
I also wanted our final exam to serve as an opportunity for my newcomers to show what they've learned over the past few weeks.
A couple of days before our course final exam, I shared a book with my newcomers and we discussed our school's exam schedule. I needed to make sure students knew exactly what was happening during exams' week.
I shared with students how our course exam was going to be based on the book "FOUND" from our Saddleback kit Welcome Newcomers.
The story has all the elements students have learned all year in ENG I, in ENG II course, and in our ESL class too.
The Story - FOUND
In a nutshell, the story is about a teen named Oban who was adopted from an orphanage in Benin, Africa, and now lives in Chicago. One day he receives a letter from the orphanage and finds out he has a brother who also lives in the USA. Oban and his mother go on a trip to meet Oban's brother in person.
Even though this is a very short story and is mainly to teach students about the many different transportations we can use while living in a busy city; we mostly focused on the important events that make the story interesting.
The Teaching Lesson - Intentionality
I have access to the online version of Saddleback books so I was able to pull up the book on the Smartboard for all students to read along.
As we read, I had students take notes on what was important as we read - for example:
We practiced listening to oral and written questioning and how to answer in complete sentences. For example, I'd say, "What is the name of the main character?". Students would answer with just the name but I would encourage them to respond in complete sentences; for example, "The main character's name is Oban." and "The main character was born in Benin, Africa". "Oban's parents' names are Mary and Scott".
The story was divided into two parts. I stopped at the point where mom was about to give Oban some news so students were eager to read it the next day.
There were parts of the story I didn't emphasize. They were not relevant to the flow of the story. I'm sure higher English proficiency English learners would easily answer questions without intentionally pointing them out.
The Exam - More like "The Opportunities"
Needless to say, I had a blast creating our final exam based on the learning we acquired while reading the book.
My questions followed somewhat the ACCESS test asking for lists, matching, phrases, sentences, and longer answers.
You can click THIS LINK and make a copy of the exam and edit as you'd like. You can use this format for any book your students read.
Here's a differentiated version of the same exam for students with higher proficiency.
The exam day was smooth. I went around the room and answered any questions students had. Many parts were interactive (matching, cut and glue) and some were a struggle but a PRODUCTIVE struggle. I didn't want them to be frustrated but to just work on it at their best.
Thank you for reading this post. If you find this post helpful and decide to use it in your classroom, I'd love to know. Please share your awesomeness!!
Thanks for reading!