This year I have made a pledge to myself that I will formally assess my students speaking at least every other week. It needs to be short and sweet, and it needs to be something that can take place and be graded all within the context of a class period. Sound daunting? Well, it is...but it's working.
I just ended my third week of school for the year and I have already formally assessed my students speaking two times. At the end of the second week, I had each student greet the class, introduce themselves, and give two pieces of personal information (age, where they are from, etc). At the end of this week, I had each student introduce one of their classmates giving the same information. All students spoke during one class period and I was able to grade as they talked.
Here are some things that have worked well:
1. Clearly establish the goal at the beginning of the week and refer to it often - "On Friday, you will be introducing yourself to the class in Spanish and telling us at least two things about yourself."
2. Develop a rubric and share it with your students ahead of time - ACTFL has great speaking rubrics that can be tweaked to go with just about any speaking task. Here is the rubric I used for my most recent assessment.
3. Have a task for the students who are not speaking at any given moment to work on - during the first week assessment, I gave each student a blank seating chart which they had to fill in with the names and ages of their classmates as they introduced themselves. During the second week, students worked on a written assessment and then an infographic reading activity while pairs of students introduced one another at my desk.
4. Make specific notations on the rubric when points are deducted - students need specific feedback to grow, be sure to write it immediately as you are listening to them. For example, as students introduced one of their classmates, some of them would say "tengo quince años" instead of "tiene quince años". I would write what they said and circle the incorrect part.
Here are some things that I still need to improve:
1. Although well-intentioned, my students seem to have a very hard time remaining quiet for an entire class period. I was interrupted by having to give reminders about staying silent numerous times. I could throw them out, but that's just not me - maybe it needs to be me.
2. Prompts for every topic - some topics, like introductions, lend themselves well to speaking. Other topics, I have a much harder time of thinking of an authentic speaking task. I need to get creative here.
How do you formally assess a student's speaking ability? How often do you assess student speaking?