Category Archives: Assessment

Examining the 2019 PBLA Guidelines: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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Instructors in the LINC program have been teaching within the framework of PBLA (portfolio-based language assessment) for a few years now with the most recent guidelines having been published in 2019. The 2019 PBLA Guidelines outline the history and rationale, address practical implementation, and conclude with a resource section. While some instructors have embraced its use and see its benefits, others continue to find that it impedes effective teaching and learning, consuming a lot of time both in and out of the classroom. Program costs, its impact on teachers’ time, and its accuracy in measuring student language proficiency are important elements when considering its effectiveness. In this blog, I consider “the good, the bad, and the ugly” in PBLA theory and practice. Continue reading

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Summary of the #teslONchat Alternative Assessment discussion with Marlaina Riggio

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Post by Marlaina Riggio and Vanessa Nino

On June 29, 2021 we gathered on twitter to discuss alternative assessments and interactive activities for ELT. The guest moderator of the evening was Marlaina Riggio (@MarlainaTweets). You can also connect with Marlaina through LinkedIn

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PBLA Assessments in Remote ESL Classes

Guest Contributor: Kasia Kasztenna

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Observing a student’s progress is an exhilarating moment in a teacher’s life. Creating, executing, and grading assignments however, constitutes the part of teaching that I enjoy the least. I invest a lot of time and effort in a fair and thorough examination of my students’ progress. Online English teaching has imposed new challenges, and opened new opportunities in assessing student progress. 

Based on my experience, how you apply PBLA assessments depends on whether you are using synchronous or asynchronous online teaching. PBLA assessments can be conducted with some modifications in both formats.   

 

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Effective Online Tools & Resources for Teachers and Learners

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Over the past two years, I have been attending a lot of webinars, presentations, conferences, dialogues and online courses. I’ve also been reading blogs and articles as well as doing presentations and writing blogposts. I’ve gained knowledge and collected remarkable resources. Tools like the ones below can help us design tasks that will engage and motivate our learners.

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Organizing Teaching Materials in Google Classroom

E-learning graphic organizer depicting a computer screen.
Image by B_A from Pixabay

No matter how trivial it sounds, in an online class the organization of course content is absolutely essential. Let me share a few practical observations.

1. Materials and Assessments

The most basic organizational tenet of an online classroom stems from the platform itself: in my case it was Google Classroom which gives an opportunity to divide learning content into assignments, quiz assignments, questions, and materials within a section called Classwork. It is a slight deviation from the terminology usually employed in the LINC/ESL world, but one easy for learners to accept. Understanding the distinction between materials and the other options is primarily important for students.

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From Day One to Year Ten

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When I first started out as a teacher, I was terrified, as I’m sure anyone would be. I had always wanted to be a teacher, but the way I’d imagined the experience wasn’t exactly how it turned out to be. 

I’ve worked in after-school programs teaching English as a Second Language and I’ve been a substitute teacher, but when I got my first college teaching job, it was intimidating to say the least. I was going to teach adults in a more formal environment, and that word, “adults,” had always scared me because although I was a 22-year-old adult at the time, most of my students were older than I was! 

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EAP Speaking Rubrics: A Student-Centred Approach

A Brief Introduction

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In this blog entry, I will attempt to briefly describe the contents of a presentation my colleague Glenn Ewing and I shared at TESL Niagara on February 8, 2020.

Glenn and I have been interested in EAP Speaking rubrics for many years. Information shared here and during the presentation is based on our personal reflection, professional experience, education, and research. Our focus is mainly on EAP speaking rubrics for midterm assessment. We maintain that typical EAP speaking rubrics often present some flaws which make them ineffective for the learner. We attempt to explain some of the problems, propose some principles of rubric design, and finally, promote, as an alternative, student-centred, formative speaking rubrics.

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Rubric Reflection

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Do you use rubrics to support self-assessment, peer-assessment, and skill assessment? Do you create a separate rubric for each assignment? Do your rubrics look more like checklists? Are your rubrics really assessing skills or simply the ability to follow assignment instructions? Have you ever thought of using one common skill-specific rubric for all related assignments?

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Who has the Final Say about Student Marks?

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Recently, we had a lively discussion at our school regarding who has the final say regarding student benchmarks at the end of the term – is it the teacher or the program administrator? 

When we look at the PBLA 2019 guidelines, it makes a number of statements like the following:“In all PBLA assessment practices, teachers’ professional judgments are central. From selecting or developing appropriate tasks, choosing or developing assessment tools, giving feedback on writing and speaking performance, to deciding when a learner is ready to progress to the next level, teachers make decisions based on professional interpretation and judgment” (PBLA Reporting, 2019, p. 31, emphasis added).

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Spring Reflections

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The cherry blossoms are out! It’s spring and finally warm enough to ride my bike to work.  I do my best thinking on that bike. With a new semester starting, I find myself reflecting on the semester gone by.  Peddling on cold, rainy days tends to cause me to remember my failures, but on warm, sunny mornings, I recall my successes.  For 16 years I have been teaching university prep writing, grammar, reading, speaking, and listening to students from around the world. 

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