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Incorporating Content and Language in Assessment

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by Charlotte Hogan | 14 Mar 2016
Resource Description: This resources includes assessment models which could be modified for any content area or language proficiency.
Audience: Elementary, Secondary, Adult, University, Teacher Training
Audience Language Proficiency: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Teaching Tip:

Every teacher struggles to find enough time to fit all the crucial language skills and content knowledge in her curriculum. My experience has been that sometimes I will introduce skills, and lead students through practice during the unit. At the end of the unit of instruction, however, I am often left feeling unsatisfied with my students’ progress because I hadn’t had time to assess all the skills they had learned, and feared that I would need to ‘reintroduce’ those skills before long. In response to this challenge, I developed a ​more efficient way to assess skills, so that I collected all the information I needed about student progress.


I developed a unit about environmentalism in collaboration with a science teacher at my school, and decided to make cause and effect language the linguistic focus of the unit, since it is so prevalent in the language of science. Students read articles, excerpts of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, and watched short documentaries about environmental issues. Then, using cause and effect noun phrases (a main cause, the primary reason, ​a key factor, etc.), students developed their own sentences, and eventually a research essay about an environmental issue of their choice. The essay was one way I could assess their use of cause and effect language, but my teaching goal was to embed more checkpoints along the way so that students could truly understand and be able to use the linguistic form in their essay.


As a way to assess student progress before they wrote the essay, I gave quizzes which combined grammar, vocabulary, and the content knowledge they had been learning over the course of the unit. There were a variety of questions, such as identifying complete and incomplete sentences, error correction, writing about a picture using cause and effect language, and using vocabulary in a sentence. Normally, as I have indicated, I have struggled to find the time to assess the range of skills my students are ​mastering. In these brief assessments, however, I was able to evaluate multiple skills at the same time. In the constant quest for more time and efficiency, this was a helpful development in my teaching and in the way I approach assessment.


Click through the sample quizzes to see the types of tasks students needed to complete, and the information these assessments gave me.
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TESOL Interest Section: Bilingual Education, Elementary Education, English as a Foreign Language, Second Language Writing, Secondary Schools, Teacher Education