More Core Practice Number Three

Design lessons and tasks that have functional goals and objectives, to include specifying clearly the language and activities needed to support and meet the communication objective.

Use the three steps of backward design.

1.  Identify desired results.  What do you want students to be able to do?

2.  Determine acceptable evidence.  How will students be assessed as to how well they have meet the objective?

3.  Plan learning experiences.  What specific activities will students do to achieve the objective?


Here is a sample of backwards planning of a Carnaval Unit from the ACTFL Core Practices Webinar presented by Dr. Eileen Glisan.

Step #1  What are students going to be able to do?
Why is Carnaval valued culturally and socially in Spanish Speaking Countries?

Students can make cultural comparisons between Carnaval and Halloween.

Students can describe costumes worn by people to celebrate carnival.  Costumes represent super powers people would like to have.

Students can summarize events depicted in a video to describe Carnaval.

Students can analyze products, practices, and perspectives associated with Carnaval.

Students will interview a native speaker via skype about how they celebrate Carnaval.

Students will create an advertisement or infographic about Carnaval to be displayed around the school.

Step #2 How will you know when they know it?

Students will create a Venn diagram that depicts similarities and differences between Carnaval and Halloween.  They are assessed on the accuracy of the description of the products, practices, and perspectives.

Students will interview a native speaker via skype.  They are assessed on the quality of the questions and interactions.

Students will create an infographic to promote Carnaval.  They are assessed on creativity, the accurate use of cultural concepts, and linguistic accuracy.

Step #3 What will they do to learn the objectives?

  1. Play music from Spain’s Carnaval to pique interest and introduce novelty to the unit theme.
  2. Students describe and react to music.
  3. Teacher inputs concrete vocabulary for unit using TPR (words for costumes and practices in which people engage during Carnaval.)
  4. Students watch and interpret video.
  5.  Students describe the products and practices and their relationship to cultural perspectives, insights into why this celebration exits and why it is important to the people of Spain.
  6. Students create a Venn diagram to compare Halloween and Carnaval.


Planning your unit:

  1.  Identify desired results.  Post  objectives using ACTFL can do statements.  For links to can-do statements check out a former post on Core Practice number three.  Plan your unit around one of ACTFL’s Global Themes.

2.  Determine acceptable result.  How will students be assessed as to how well they have meet the objective.

“ACTFL has developed a prototype for assessing the progress language students are making in building their proficiency through the World-Readiness Standards. The Integrated Performance Assessment (IPA) is a cluster assessment featuring three tasks, each of which reflects one of the three modes of communication–Interpretive, Interpersonal and Presentational.  The three tasks are aligned within a single theme or content area, reflecting the manner in which students naturally acquire and use the language in the real world or the classroom. Each task provides the information and elicits the linguistic interaction that is necessary for students to complete the subsequent task. IPAs are designed for students at the novice, intermediate, and advanced levels of proficiency. They are standards-based, performance-based, developmental in nature, integrative.  IPAs are designed to be used with scoring rubrics that rate performance in terms of whether the performance meets expectations, exceeds expectations, or does not meet expectations for the task.”  from CARLA (Center for Advanced Research on  Language Acquisition.)

Some resources for IPA’s.

IPA’s for novices Madame Shepard French, including a blog post on 7 steps to creating an IPA.  I made a Spanish version of this IPA for Spanish low, IPA Spanish Greetings.  Also there is a step by step guide from CARLA and another great site called OFLA.  PBL in the Target Language is another good source for IPA’s, and has a novice IPA in spanish on school.

The CCFLT2012 wikispaces has lots of resources to get started with Integrated Performance Assessments.  Including links to other IPA’s by Toni Theisen. and Andrea Henderson.  Also check out Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers for more IPA ideas.

This book from ACTFL Integrated Performance Assessment is helpful.


3.  Plan learning experiences.  What specific activities will students do to achieve the objective? The brain loves novelty:  here are a few ways to get novelty.  Vary the classroom routine, integrate humor, package lessons in 15-20 minute sessions, involve students in hands-on activities, play target language music, use visuals like powerpoints or objects, use authentic materials or realia, include guest speakers, take field trips, incorporate technology like Skype, use props and speech bubbles, use Youtube and other video clips, incorporate children’s literature and novels.

For great lesson design get your objectives and assessments in line!


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