Connecting can-dos to assessments

By Helen Small
Curriculum Coordinator

Most teachers understand the use of Can-Do statements as daily learning targets or for the purpose of student self-assessment as quick exit slips or in connection to the Portfolio. They are written in student-friendly language; represent short-term, achievable goals; and relate to real-world communicative tasks. In this post I’d like to explore the direct connection between Can-Do statements and the formative assessments in our EntreCultures and EntreCulturas French and Spanish series.

In our J’avance and En camino formative assessments, each performance task is paired with a Can-Do statement that allows students and teachers to get right to the heart of the real-life, communicative purpose for that task. In most cases, the same type of task with the same (or very similar) Can-Do statement has already appeared in the previous section of the unit, so there should be no surprises when students get to the formative assessment. The direct pairing of Can-Do statements with specific tasks also allows students to easily connect their learning to a specific language performance. Learners can readily see how well they have met their learning goals. The assessment tasks can then be used as evidence in the Portfolio, although students can certainly choose other pieces of evidence as well. 

Current research shows that students cannot reflect deeply in a second language at the novice and intermediate levels. For this reason, we suggest that reflection on Essential Questions and Can-Do statements be done outside of class using the online Forum or the Portfolio to preserve class time for use of the target language.  In our newer series and in future editions, the Can-Do statements will be in English through level four.

You may be wondering why we do not pair Can-Do statements with the tasks of the J’y arrive or Vive entre cultures summative assessments. These performance tasks are more global and would include more than just one Can-Do statement for each. We prefer to focus here on the connection to the unit’s Essential Questions, but encourage learners to choose summative tasks as evidence for the Portfolio, if they are good indicators of the student’s self-assessed proficiency level on one or more of the unit’s Can-Do statements. 

Not all of the Can-Do statements are linked directly to assessment tasks. We strive in each unit to provide a balance of Can-Do statements for all modes of communication as well as for interculturality, while limiting the total number to a reasonable amount and including the various language functions described in the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements’ Performance Indicators. 

For more information about using Can-Do statements in your classroom, see the Assessment Guidelines in your Teacher Resources folder in Explorer. In this folder, you will also find a correlation guide that links Wayside’s Can-Do statements to the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Performance Indicators.

Helen Small is a Curriculum Coordinator with Wayside Publishing and works directly with our talented French and German author teams as they develop resources. Prior to joining Wayside, Helen served as a classroom teacher of French and German, a district world language supervisor, and a state foreign language specialist.

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