Syllabus and Norms for a TPRS class

We have had one academic day of instruction. The administration suggested that teachers present syllabi on that day, but I decided to start straight away in Spanish as described in this recent post. Most classes went well although I started the day off a bit rusty, but one class made me remember all of the work that we do with norming a TPRS class at the beginning of the year so that students know how to learn.

classroom participation rubricOn Saturday morning I pulled together a generic syllabus that I use for Spanish 1-3 (non-heritage speakers classes). You can download a .PDF version by clicking here or, if you want to change it, then here is a .docx version (beware: lots of text boxes). The Listening and Speaking section (40% of the grade) is from an interpersonal skills rubric that was created through Ben Slavic’s PLC (thanks for the clarification Jen! See her comment below).

I suspect that this might be controversial, since many educators seem to be eliminating all grades based on observed behaviors in favor of solely recording grades that reflect demonstrated proficiency. I still record observed behaviors as a major part of the grade. I believe that if a student follows this behavior rubric in class, language acquisition will happen naturally at the pace each student is capable of progressing. For a teacher who can have up to 240 students at a time (right now I have 223 on my roll), I need a system that is both flexible (motivating students with different abilities) and efficient (allowing me to spend most of my class time delivering comprehensible input).


    • What is it used for? My next thing, when I find time, is to try out Kahoot! but since I do not have a smart phone I haven’t even been able to try it out on my own.

      • I look Kahoot! It’s a very fun way to review. I didn’t do it too often–so the kids never got tired of it. They would beg me “Could we pleaaaaade do a KAHOOT?”

  1. 223 students! That is crazy! I, too, count participation as a large portion of students grades. How do you keep track of this? I use a seating chart with a box for each day and I write down plusses and minuses throughout the class, but I sometimes worry that their grades are more subjective than they should be. Do you have any tips? Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Totally agree with you re: observed behaviors (aka skills). A main reason for this is truly the teaching of interpersonal skills, almost aside from language acquisition. It’s kind of a “twofer!” Kids acquire a language AND also some critical life skills that will serve them in all other interactions, personal and professional! Instead of calling it a participation rubric, which can sound vague, some of us call it “interpersonal skills rubric.” Maybe this is just a semantic difference but I think assessing the observable skills (eye contact, responding, not talking over, etc) is legitimate assessment for language acquisition. Language is a process, not an amassing of information / content. This is the part that is so different from every other school subject, and something that administrators often misunderstand. Language is not a subject, but rather a means of communication. Assessing a skill that’s needed to help the student acquire is legit! We’re assessing how the student demonstrates the various skills we specify. Just my take on it.

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