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Hide and Seek

I see you. Yes, I see every single one of you...despite the fact that most of you look down anytime I pose a question, ask for input, or request someone to model an activity in class. can't hide from me. I will make you accountable. I will make you take ownership of your learning. I will ask you to show me how and what you learned. #What'sup now?

Student accountability is an essential element of a dynamic learning environment. We all know that teachers must provide instruction, direction, modeling, examples, life lessons, and more to students in their classes; however, we must make ALL of our students accountable for their work and learning process. At times, this can be difficult, as we have material to get through during a lesson, and it is easy to just call on the students that constantly raise their hands and volunteer. The question becomes, how do we enable ALL students to take accountability for what they are learning? Better can we do this during a class period and get ALL students involved? These questions challenged my thinking this week as I continued to visit World Language classes, and I am excited to share some great lesson ideas based on what I observed and learned about during conversations with our awesome teachers.

Lesson Idea #1 - Consistent Bell Ringers and/or Exit Slips 
What better way to assess our students' skills and understanding than by asking them a question and having them share their thoughts, ideas, and answers. Doing a quick bell ringer to start class and assess students on what they learned the day before or prior knowledge from a previous class is an excellent way to collect some data about your students. Also, at the end of the class period, ask the students to answer questions about the lesson or reflect on what they learned. From there, you have their immediate thoughts and can modify future lessons as needed in order to help all students. With this, all students are accountable because they must all answer the questions provided and demonstrate their understanding or lack of understanding. Ms. Marge Urbanowitz poses questions in Google Classroom at the beginning of class in order to do this. She also takes student accountability to the next level because she will pull student responses, leaving out the student names, and share them with the rest of the class. When students know that their work may be shared with an audience beyond the teacher, their work automatically improves, as they are being held accountable for a larger group of people. Google Classroom and Google Forms can make this process quick and easy!

Lesson Idea #2 - Assign Roles to Promote Collaboration and Ownership 
Group work is a consistent part of a student-centered classroom. Before putting students in groups, assign different roles for the assignment in order to empower each person in the group and make all students accountable for their work during the class period. For example, each group might need a recorder, reporter, question-generator, and so on. From there, make sure that all students are placed in a variety of roles throughout the school year so that they are never too comfortable to not be accountable for their learning. For example, in Mr. Arnoldo Gonzalez's Spanish classes, in addition to various group roles, he always encourages one student in a group to be the language "helper" by having the Spanish-English dictionary ready to go on his or her Chromebook in case someone in their group needs help with a word.  In Ms. Karen Calvert's German classes, students were assigned different speaking roles while learning a variety of questions in German. Each student was involved in this process and had to take ownership of his/her role in the activity in order to provide their peers' exposure to the language. In Ms. Antonia Van Twisk's classes, students were assigned roles as teachers and had to develop lessons to teach their classmates about French vocabulary and grammar.  Want to take this accountability one step further? Ask the students to reflect on their group work and role during that work by completing a Google form at the end of the activity. You can also ask the students to complete a peer assessment for their group members and then share these results with the students - as a whole group or individually - with the hopes of empowering them to learn and improve.

Lesson Idea #3 - Get Creative with Assessments 
The need for assessment in the classroom is not a new idea. It is the way we, the teachers, gather information about how and what our students are learning. In addition, it helps us determine what's next for our students' success. In order to hold all students accountable for their learning, it is extremely important to vary our assessments and consistently assess them on various skills. Get creative with it! One of the perks of being 1:1 is that we can use fun assessments on a daily basis with our students, and there are numerous options out there depending on what you actually plan to assess. Need to assess vocabulary or mastery of information? Try using Quizlet or Quizlet Live. Ms. Sarah Bien, a Chinese teacher, uses Quizlet Live, a collaborative assessment tool, with her students in order to check their understanding of vocabulary. Ms. Andrea Smithers, a Spanish Teacher, also used this with her students this week. If you haven't used seen Quizlet Live in action, visit a classroom that is using it. The students LOVE it and have to work together in order to complete the assessment. Student accountability cannot be avoided as all students have a role in this assessment and must work together if they want to win.

Need to assess speaking skills or a student's ability to articulate what they learned? Use tools like FlipGrid, Screencastify, Soapbox, or a Smartphone camera to record your students. Ms. Kristina Beck asked her French students to provide a voiceover to a French weather report using Screencastify in order to assess their use of the language. Similarly, in Mr. Gonzalez's classes, he records the students' academic discussions. From there, the level of accountability increases, as students know they are being assessed in the moment, but the teacher can always go back and listen as needed. As a teacher, it can be nearly impossible to hear all parts of an academic discussion, so this recorded element is a life changer when it comes grading. Want to take this to the next level? Ask the students to reflect on past speaking activities that were recorded. Mr. Ben Tatham does this with his students as they create a portfolio for his class. He asks his students to document their growth in the language and connect it to the rubric. With this, he records them constantly while speaking, adding a layer of accountability to their work. Another great idea....make the students the evaluators of an assessment. Give them the rubric and have them assess their peers. Mr. Tatham does this for many of his speaking assessments.  From there, ask them to validate their remarks. Not only will they have to do some critical thinking in order to assess, but the teacher will also get to assess their understanding of the content, as someone must know the content well in order to assess other effectively. Boom.

No, we will not let our students hide in the classroom. They ALL must be accountable and ready to dominate the topic at hand! Ready or we come!!! #whatsup