First of all, it is important that you review the ACTFL performance descriptors for presentational communication. In this case, we will look at the Novice level descriptors since it is with these students that we have the most challenging task.
Prior to students drafting a presentation, spoken or written, brainstorming is an important but dangerous part of the process. Novice level students can not yet "think" in Spanish, so they come up with ideas based on what they are capable of talking about in their native language. Prior to brainstorming, I share this visual with my students:
Within one classroom, there are no two Spanish brains that are the same size. You may have, like I do, Native speakers mixed in with Heritage speakers, mixed in with gifted students, learning disabled students, and everything in between. Not all of these students will be capable of producing language at the same level, but that doesn't really matter. The goal is for them all to make progress.
The way traditional grading systems are set up, we set requirements that every student must meet, we assign points to those requirements, and we check off the boxes. When you are working in a classroom that is based on increasing proficiency, that grade is not static, it is on a fluency continuum. Your job is to move everyone further up that continuum. So, how do you make sure that everyone, from the weakest to the strongest is moving up? It all comes down to being able to differentiate the process, content, and product for your students. It's about helping them to walk a tightrope where there are dangers on either side.
This is where I am able to raise the bar for my more advanced students. Many times, we are so busy helping the kids at the bottom that we fail to move forward the kids at the top. One of the performance indicators identified by ACTFL is that students should be able to create with language, bringing in previously learned vocabulary and recombining it with more recent vocabulary in new ways. The problem I have found is that many of my more grade-conscious students, used to classes where there is the same minimum requirement set for all, tend to play it to safe. They give good presentations, but they certainly do not show growth or even what they are truly capable of.
Back to the card piles - when my students separate their cards into piles, my better students may have 10 cards in their "know well" pile and my lower students may only have 2, even after a couple days of practice. It is at this point that I ask them to add details to their presentation, but ONLY to the cards they "know well". It is in this way that I challenge and require more out of my better students but also acknowledge the baby steps (but still steps) that my lower students may need to take.
Here is a graphic organizer I use to encourage my Novice learners to add details. Not only does this help with their language function (a category addressed on the ACTFL rubric for the presentational mode of communication), but it also helps increase the impact/interest of their presentation (another category on the ACTFL rubric).
In the next couple weeks I hope to post some videos of these presentations so that you can see the range of fluency and we can look deeper into the intricacies of the ACTFL presentational mode rubric.