Thinking about how to grade participation in Spanish class? This is a tough one! We know our students need to be actively engaged and practice speaking, but our teenagers don’t always like to take risks. How can we measure how they’re doing with class participation? Read on for some of the different ways I’ve tried or seen!
Some teachers encourage students to participate regularly by giving each student a set of cards. These cards can be personalized if you choose, but must have their name on them. The teacher asks questions or sets up scenarios for students to speak in Spanish, and collects a card from the student each time. Students must “get rid of” all of their tarjetas by a particular date. The teacher tallies the number of cards to assign a participation grade.
Use a Spreadsheet To Grade Participation
Print a class list in a spreadsheet. You may want to have a clipboard where you always keep these lists. As students are working with classmates or when you ask questions, you give checks on your sheet. Periodically, you update students on how many checks they have, and you look for ways to call on or “catch” the quieter students speaking Spanish so they can earn their checks!
Class Discussion Strategy To Grade Participation
I use this method frequently in my AP class, and I think it works best when you have a smaller class or a longer chunk of time. I create a document with everyone’s name going down. Across the top of the grid I write the questions/topics that we will discuss. Here is what one looks like:
I display this chart while we discuss. You can use a projector or you can share the doc with students via Google Classroom (or other learning platform). As students participate, I type what they said. *As a bonus, I can correct grammatical or vocabulary mistakes without embarrassing them by writing what they wanted to say correctly. It also supports students who are struggling with understanding others because they can both hear and read class contributions!
As the discussion progresses, students can see how many times they’ve contributed, and so can the teacher. This helps because in almost every class, there are the kids that can’t participate enough! And there are always the students who would rather listen. This is a way that makes it easier for all voices to be heard.
At the end of the activity, the teacher can determine how to score participation. I have a pre-made class discussion template here, but it’s easy to create your own!
Create a Routine
Many teachers have a routine in their classes that allows students to take turns with presenting information. For example, maybe a different student each day greets the class, talks about the date and weather and reads the learning target. Other teachers might choose a new student each day to answer 5 questions. Students love routines and knowing what to expect. And there is some safety in this if they know that eventually everyone will need to do this!
My students love music! I will often use a listening comprehension activity and turn it into a speaking activity! After we have listened to the song several times and all the missing words are filled in, I invite students to sing. I sing too (even though I could break glass!). Once the mood is set and the music is loud, I get my class list out, and I give some checks to the students who are singing along! I remind students that speaking a new language takes coordination of the facial and tongue muscles and every time you practice, whether with speech or with singing, it helps your muscles learn how to work for that language!
If you have students who are reluctant to speak with or in front of their classmates, here’s an awesome activity! Yes, students will still have to speak Spanish! But if everyone is participating in this simulated conversation at the same time, your shyer students might feel a little more comfortable. (Speaking of getting students comfortable with speaking, you can read the linked blog post!)
A simulated conversation can be fun! Students will hear a recorded person start the conversation. They then hear a tone, and they have 20 seconds to respond. This continues for about 5 rounds, though teachers can create their own and have as many rounds as they would like! Best of all, the simulated conversation will let students know a general instruction about how they should answer!
Students record their simulated conversation and teachers can assign a participation grade, or use a rubric and count it as an assessment!
Here’s an idea of what a simulated conversation grid might look like. You can personalize the scenario and guide students in their responses.
If this doesn’t make sense, read my post about how to create these simulated conversations!
And if you just want to have them all done for you, here are some no-prep simulated conversations!
Figuring out a fair way to grade participation in Spanish class is difficult. It may involve giving your students a variety of ways to practice speaking in Spanish. If you have ideas that work with your students, leave a comment!