This is the first in a series of posts drawing attention to the intersection of our English Learner (EL) students or English Language Learner (ELL) students and the goal of the Visioning work of making public schools better for all Texas children. All Texas children.
This post focuses on the use of the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS) Proficiency Level Descriptors as a tool to guide formative assessment in the classroom.
First, TELPAS is designed to determine a student’s English language proficiency in four language domains – listening, speaking, reading, and writing, in addition to providing an overall composite rating. The Proficiency Level Descriptors articulate specifically the stages of second language acquisition through four levels: beginning, intermediate, advanced, and advanced high for each of the four language domains.
The purpose of classroom formative assessments is to inform the teacher of ongoing progress of the student’s language acquisition, both in terms of adjusting current instruction in order to ensure it is accessible as well as to continue to provide opportunities for the student to demonstrate skills articulated in the next proficiency level.
Through formative assessment, it is our goal as the teacher to be able to see into the minds of our students and clearly recognize the level of understanding at any point in the learning process. In addition, our goal for our students is to have the meta-cognitive skills to do the same, noting their own level of understanding as well. The first step to actualizing this is to design and collect artifacts of learning. Knowing the TELPAS measures listening, speaking, reading, and writing, those artifacts will need to be dynamic. And, in today’s Visionary schools, we have access to technology that supports collecting such artifacts.
In order to capture artifacts of LISTENING, I recommend utilizing a tool that can capture both the content in which the student was to listen as well as the student’s response to listening to the content. This response may be measured through following directions or responding during a discussion, for example. Apps such as Notability and Explain Everything can be used as one-stop-shops for collecting audio and visual notes to archive records of students’ listening skills. The Voice Record Pro app allows the user to record audio and export the file via Google Drive, DropBox, send via email and save in Photo Album, all of which could be connected to notes taken by the teacher or student related to the student’s listening skills.
In order to capture artifacts of SPEAKING, I recommend utilizing a tool that can capture both sound and images in a video format, in order to paint a clear picture of the environment and situation related to the speaking task. Apps such as Apple’s new Clips, which utilizes iOS dictation with Live Titles enables students to create videos in a single setting and share via mail, Google Drive, Messages or many other platforms. Photo Booth or the Camera are also simple solutions to capturing evidence of students’ speaking skills.
In order to capture artifacts of READING, I recommend the same tools as for listening: Apps such as Notability and Explain Everything which can be used as one-stop-shops for collecting audio and visual notes to archive records of students’ reading skills. Photo Booth or the Camera are also simple solutions to capturing evidence of students’ reading skills.
In order to capture artifacts of WRITING, I recommend utilizing the Camera. Once students have completed their writing sample, use the Camera to snap a photo. To convert the image to a PDF for archiving, open the image in Photos, tap the share button, choose print, pinch out to zoom out and tap the share button one more time. This time you can share the image as a PDF via platforms such as mail.
The first key to formative assessment is in the design of the task. Begin with the end in mind, focusing on what skill you seek to measure. Then, select the format and tool in which to collect the artifacts of understanding. Efficiency is important – consider investing time into developing a structure that works for you as the educator as well as your students.
The next key to formative assessment is in the use of the data. Develop a system to reflect regularly on the artifacts that are collected related to the TELPAS Proficiency Level Descriptors. This intentional effort will provide insight into necessary instructional accommodations and extensions appropriate for each student.
Finally, empower the students. Provide age-appropriate opportunities for the students to collect their own artifacts of listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills and empower them as owners of their learning to reflect on the progress they are making throughout the year.
If you would like to discuss the use of digital tools to support formative assessment related to the TELPAS Proficiency Level Descriptors, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me (Mary). My contact information is available on the Authors tab at the top of this blog.