It is widely known that to learn Spanish (from English) it takes about 600 hours of study time. I’m guessing this is for the “Advanced Mid” proficiency range (Actfl.org).
For my students, this can seem like an insurmountable goal. For instance, just with class time, my students would only be getting about 130 hours per school year. As you know, testing and extracurricular absences eat into this precious time, and I estimate that most of my students end up with about 110 hours of instruction per school year. I do assign homework and projects, so they get some time outside of that. My point is, that in 4 years of 130 hour study, a student would still fall short of that 600 hour goal. This is one reason why I emphasize homework and study assignments outside of class. Students bound for year 4 of Spanish will need all 600 hours!
In my years of teaching, I haven’t found an effective way to convey the importance of this journey to my students and their families… or to other people in my various schools, for that matter. My class is often viewed as the “elective” class. I am bombarded with requests to visit the counselor, or finish a project for another class. (I say NO!) Parents find that my class is the ideal one to schedule that dentist appointment during. Other school professionals use my class for “pull outs”. Each precious 45 min session is a step my kids fall behind on their journey.
Let me stop here and say: I DO NOT THINK THAT MY CLASS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT CLASS IN THE WORLD. No, I simply believe that it IS important. School IS important. Art IS important. Spanish IS important. All the classes are important.
Ok. Off my soap box.
Now, how can I convey this message more effectively? This coming school year, I have decided to use an online badge system to acknowledge and celebrate student achievements. These may be academic achievements, cultural achievements, milestones of development or even simple citizenship in our classroom community.
To begin, I have chosen to use Credly as my badge platform. I will then award badges to students and they can collect them in the Credly app in their own accounts.
Where does proficiency come in? This year, students will keep their own logs of hours. When they attend class, when they do homework, etc. They will tally their hours each week. When they reach specific milestones, they can earn a badge.
Here’s an example:
|Date||Task||Time (15 min = 1 point)|
|8/26||study vocab||1 point|
|8/27||homework & vocab||2 point|
|total||12 pts (3 hours)|
I plan to offer badges in 10 hour increments, increasing to 25 hour increments after 50 hours.
My hope is that students will harken back to the days of AR points and put in additional time, not assigned by me, in an effort to see and track their own progress.
Realistically, I know that some students may not buy in. To increase buy in, I hope to relax my homework requirements in favor of options students can use to get more points. This way, a student facing extracurricular stress in a specific week can earn less points for that week in favor of catching up in the next week. I do still plan to assign mandatory assignments, but less frequently and more judiciously chosen.
Lastly, This log will play an important role in my student’s portfolios in the coming year. Last school year I wrote and received a grant from the CISD Education Foundation for Chromebooks for my “Going-Google” project. In it, I describe how we will use chromebooks in the classroom to develop a language learning portfolio in Google Drive and Google Classroom (in addition to using Google’s fantastic collaboration tools to increase production!). Students will fill in a Proficiency Log Template, updating it throughout the year, and add it to their portfolios. It will be part of their final portfolio evaluations.
So, what do you think? Am I crazy? On the right track? Do you want to try it too?