Series Content Conversations: Strategies for ELLs: Listening & Speaking: Formative Assessment

Listening & Speaking: Formative Assessment

Lesson Objective: Formatively assess speaking and listening skills
All Grades / All Subjects / ELL


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. How does Ms. Horwitz's use of the checklist help students focus on their speaking and listening goals?
  2. How does Ms. Horwitz use the data from the checklist?
  3. How could you adapt this checklist for use in your own classroom?


  • Private message to Karie Taylor

letting students know exactly what you are looking for / modleing/havng sentence stems to help talk about thier idea or just agree with anther students idea and restate it are powerful tools. I notied she definatley had done some training in discussion sentence starters and response starters to enhance confidence in stating ideas and questions.

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  • Private message to Asela Guillén

Mr. Horwitz sits them to check how they participate. She uses a check list to assess their students. She ensures that all of them participate, if they keep eye contact, who shows the skills she expects from them (bring a claim, offer evidence, a question, clarifying or elaborative). Then she thinks how to make the other students to step forward. She invites them to participate.

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  • Private message to Avery Baird

The method of allowing students to state their idea and answer questions is a great way to grow in communication. This teacher is also taking the initiative to understand each student's abilities in a relaxed setting of peers. Observing students and their participation is a way to ask them more questions and open up to the class so that they are not as hesitant in the future. I really liked that the teacher took note of language skills and other factors because each student is different and being aware of that will help the teacher understand how that student learns.


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  • Private message to Aidanelly Ortiz

Way to go Ms. Horwitz! The checklist is an amazing tool to evaluate the listening and speaking skills of the students because while they are having their academic talks the teacher can assess and make sure that everybody participates. Using the checklist she can monitor who is using eye contact to bring a new claim, support comments with evidence or even ask questions regarding the concepts. It also helps her see which are the students that hide and don't want to participate in order for her to encourage them to participate. I loved this strategy and I will definitely use it in class. It is an excellent strategy that could be use when students are working with the standard of providing details and supporting them with evidence or when students are looking for the theme of a passage because after stating their theme others can support it with evidence or providing different opinions which will promote an academic conversation in which they will use the listening and speaking standards to prove their points.

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  • Private message to Elnora Scott

The check list has multiple uses, for example the check list ensures that the teacher knows what areas indiviidual students need improvement in.  The check list can be used to better plan individual lessons to strengthen areas of need for students.  The check list provide data on student levels and a measuring tool to keep track of growth. 

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  • Listening & Speaking: Formative Assessment Transcript
    Teaching Channel

    +++ 00:00:03 +++
    Sarah Horwitz: Today for our academic discussion, we're

    Listening & Speaking: Formative Assessment Transcript
    Teaching Channel

    +++ 00:00:03 +++
    Sarah Horwitz: Today for our academic discussion, we're going to be sitting in line order.
    Listening & Speaking:
    A Formative Assessment Strategy
    Sarah Horwitz: And the reason is because that's gonna help me to be able to score you, so that I can be checking off to see how you're participating.
    Lower Third:
    Sarah Horwitz
    4th Grade Teacher
    Acorn Woodland Elementary, Oakland, CA

    +++ 00:00:18 +++
    Sarah Horwitz: Today was a new challenge for me of being able to simultaneously help facilitate the discussion, and also try to do some assessment during the discussion. Speaking and Listening Standards can only be assessed while kids are talking to one another and listening to one another.
    Sarah Horwitz: I'm keeping track of who's using eye contact. I appreciate Aisha, I see that she's using excellent eye contact.

    +++ 00:00:42 +++
    Sarah Horwitz: One of my main goals today with that strategy was to be looking at my checklist and really thinking about who was showing those three skills. The first one was whether students were able to bring a new claim into the circle, or bring evidence into the circle, so contribute an idea. And that's kind of Step 1.
    Student: In my opinion the California drought is the most important environmental problem, because it hasn't been raining for the past four years.

    +++ 00:01:14 +++
    Sarah Horwitz: It's the most basic. Because they don't need to have really been paying attention to what was going on in the rest of the discussion to do that. They can just look at their piece of paper to offer it.
    Student: I agree, but I think endangered animals is more important.

    +++ 00:01:28 +++
    Sarah Horwitz: The second thing is whether they're able to offer evidence that supports somebody else's claim, or somehow relate their comment to what's already been shared.
    Student: I want to add on to Sandra's, because like the climate change, there's a lot of methane.
    Student: And I also agree with you, and I wanted to add on Adelaide, because the more carbon dioxide and methane that we make, the more it's going to harm the ocean.

    +++ 00:01:54 +++
    Sarah Horwitz: And then the third is, which to me is again the highest level, is could they ask a question that's either clarifying, or elaborative of a student who's shared?
    Student: I disagree with the water. But I also agree with a lot of air pollution.
    Student: Carbon dioxide, where does it come from?

    +++ 00:02:11 +++
    Sarah Horwitz: So one of the most important things, for me, in teaching English Language Learners is that ELD is not just an isolated block of time. ELD is something that's taught all day. And through opportunities to really share about what they think, kids are most able to authentically show their language skills.
    Student: How do you know if he had diabetes?

    +++ 00:02:34 +++
    Sarah Horwitz: One thing that I'd really love to do, based on the evidence from the checklist is think about what it would take to support those students who were more hesitant, or participated less in stepping forward into the conversation.

    +++ 00:02:47 +++
    Sarah Horwitz: There are still some students who have not shared. If you have not shared anything in our discussion, I am now inviting you to come into the center of the circle.
    Student: Something that is important is to not waste water.
    Student: Something about--
    Sarah Horwitz: Whether it would mean giving them a set role, whether it would mean pre-teaching them, some way of participating or entering in.
    Student: Something that's important is not eat a lot of candy.

    +++ 00:03:15 +++
    Sarah Horwitz: Seeing, okay, "This is what the kid's content knowledge is at this point."
    Student: Something that's important is the ice caps.
    Sarah Horwitz: I do think that the kids really do notice.
    Student: What are diabetes?
    Student: Well, how does this have to do with environment?
    Student: That they see me checking it off, and it raises the bar for them of how they want to perform.
    Sarah Horwitz: Did you want to say more?
    Student: Yeah.
    Sarah Horwitz: Good!
    Teaching Channel

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School Details

Acorn Woodland Elementary School
1025 81st Avenue
Oakland CA 94621
Population: 292

Data Provided By:



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