This is a free write from a male student from 2013 in Spanish 2 course. I like that we often call these fluency writes because we are actually checking to see the level of fluency development. I can see some great things here, irregular preterits, proper use of indirect object pronouns, switching of tenses…
Is it perfect? No.
Should it be? No way.
Is this an excellent way for students to guide my instruction? Absolutely.
One year later I am proud of this stack of free writes. The spelling, grammar, usage, and story ideas are all pretty well put together. It is clear to me that great learning took place and the evidence is in the writing. Students were timed and are guided not to monitor their ideas…this is a very authentic display of student learning.
Using this type of formative assessment needs to be done thoughtfully because it must be understood that this is part of a process to develop communicative competence over a long period of time. Expecting students to suddenly produced language in a short period of time is not realistic or fair. Intuition and careful observations lead me to decide appropriate times to use this type of assignment. When I think they will do well…we do this.
Susie Gross wrote, “If you want to know your students’ acquisition level, talk to them! Notice where each student seems to stumble or break down or the most common errors. Make sure you are giving accurate and clear input.”
Free writes allow me time to process and reflect on my input. It is also very helpful when I am teaching 37 students 5 times a day to make sure we are moving along together with linguistic features found in the district’s curriculum.