The beginning of the school year provides teachers and students alike, a fresh perspective and endless possibilities for changing the way things “have been done.” The AAPPL offers teachers an external measurement as their student move towards proficiency, which can be used for a multitude of different reasons.
Such data can be used for:
-Evidence for Student Learning Objectives (SLOs)
-Measuring program success
-Evaluating different methods of instruction/practice
-Verifying and celebrating what students can do in the target language.
So, why should you think about administering the AAPPL now? As the final few weeks of summer fade into the beginning of the school year, and students begin to fill the currently empty seats in your classroom, the free time that fills the lazy days of summer will also come to an end. By thinking about how you will organize your curriculum for the upcoming school year, you can better prepare for success on the AAPPL. Each year, ACTFL and LTI release the topics that will be present on the test, by using these topics/themes you may choose to reorganize how and when you plan to teach a certain unit, based on when you will test students. By beginning this process now, you have an opportunity to plan backward, with the end goal of administering the AAPPL later in the school year.
For example, I want to administer the AAPPL in February, and my students in French II have only studied French for one year prior to my meeting them on the first day of school. I know that I typically teach certain topics in the fall and others in the spring, but I know that several of the topics that have been released on the AAPPL are not typically taught in my French II class until late spring, while other topics that I teach are not topics included in the AAPPL. With this in mind, I can easily switch a few of the topics from fall to spring, or vice versa, to provide my students the best opportunity to demonstrate their abilities in French when they take the AAPPL in February.
By planning now for testing later in the school year, you can easily identify goals that can be attained throughout the fall and/or spring semester(s) and use these goals to help keep both students and yourself accountable for valuable instructional time. In beginning to plan, one of the first steps is to view the AAPPL demos and tips videos available online. These demos and videos help to show students, and teachers, exactly what the formatting of the test will be so that they can prepare and practice for this type of assessment. Although speaking with an avatar may seem like something that would be easy and almost second-nature like for students, the reality is that they are often surprised by the testing format, so helping them to understand the format of the test will help ensure their success when testing days arrive later in the school year. Teachers can also use the demo to help frame some of the lessons and activities that they will do throughout the school year, and provide students with AAPPL-like scenarios, which can be based on what is being studied in class at the time.
No matter the skill area that you seek to use, there are many ways that students can practice strategies that will be helpful for their success on the AAPPL. The AAPPL Score Descriptions provide a wonderful resource for teachers and students to help move up the performance toward proficiency scale. These documents offer strategies that are written in student-friendly language and can help language learners to begin to understand their own language learning journey.
So, won’t you consider planning for the AAPPL now and giving your students the best opportunity to show how much they can do with their language skills?
James Wildman is the head teacher for the Glastonbury Public Schools’ Foreign Language Department and a Spanish teacher at Glastonbury High School, Glastonbury, CT. Mr. Wildman is the Past President of the Connecticut Council of Language Teachers; during his presidency the state passed legislation and implemented the Seal of Biliteracy. Mr. Wildman currently serves on the Northeast Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (NECTFL) board of directors, and the CT COLT conference committee. Additionally, he has served as Program Director and Program Coordinator for twelve years for the Glastonbury Public Schools’ STARTALK Summer Programs, in both Chinese and Russian. He is the recipient of the CT COLT Pegasus Pride Award, Distinguished Service Award, and a NECTFL Mead Leadership Fellow.