Notes on pre-assessment, oral proficiency

I am in the process of pre-assessing my classes.  For the oral assessment, they had one minute to read a prompt and prepare, then one minute in which to speak.  I feel like this is an important practice because of standardized tests that use this format.  The prompts were different for my Spanish II and Spanish IV classes, but I noticed some trends in both.  

When given time to prepare, many students wrote out, word for word, what they planned to say.  When the time to speak began, they read from the paper, which only took about 10-20 seconds.  At that point, they became stressed and flustered and couldn’t think of what else to say.  

I am going to start off by using my visual boards to have them practice note-taking for an oral.  They will look at an image and write down five nouns, five verbs, and five adjectives.  They then have one minute to speak, looking only at the words that they wrote down and the visual.  

Once in a while, we will do the same activity, but looking at a writing prompt instead of a visual.  They clearly need to practice speaking from notes (and knowing how to write the notes).  

Also, many of them sounded like they were listing responses to the questions in the prompt.  I am going to work on having them create a topic sentence then support it.  We’ll start this practice in writing, then practice it in speaking as well.  When looking at a visual prompt of a child who dropped his ice cream, “Carlos was having a bad day” is a better way to start than just by saying, “The boy dropped his ice cream.”  

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