Exam week. Two words to send shivers down every student’s spine. Two words that too often take students out of their best habits. They cram. They cry. They lose perspective. They lose sleep.

I have tried a simple process this week to get them back on track, one that gives them some choice about how we work together and how they assess what they need and how I can help.

Back to September…

This year I have used Explain Everything to create flipped lessons for my Spanish 1 students. These videos have covered topics from linking (pronunciation) to verb conjugation to agreement rules. I’ve enjoyed the process and my students have responded with positive feedback. They now have a full semester archive of tutorials from every lesson.

Back to the present…

Up to this point, these tutorials have been my choice. I’ve targeted key topics from each lesson and worked from there. For the last tutorial, I opened up the process to my students. I was interested in beginning to have them assess what they know and what they need to know. I created a Google Form with six choices. I asked them to vote for the topic they most needed some extra help on.

One More Tutorial Video
Google Form that allows them to express what they want to see in the last tutorial video of the semester.

The people spoke. My students wanted more on “Asking & Answering Questions.” Based on the results of their vote, I put together a three minute session this morning. They will need to be able to answer personal questions, and they will also be asked to answer questions on a reading passage. This was time well spent and them and for me.

Why do I say this? I say this for many reasons. First, this process drew their attention to resources they have at their disposal. (We use Schoology as our LMS and most everything from tutorials to assignments lives there.) Second, this exercise required them to consider some further topics and make an individual assessment about what their weaknesses were.  Third, I this simple gesture allowed my students to take control of their own review and invite me along. Fourth, the end product was something that they could use and review as part of their exam preparation.I’m happy with how things have gone and I am dedicated to doing this more next semester.

I recognize that this process works best for structured, sequential topics. For example, it’s easier to talk about sentence structure in a few minutes than it is to analyze a sonnet. At the same time, I think student-directed flipped model has potential as a mechanism to show students how to analyze a sonnet or how to structure an argument. I have done this with my level 1 students and I hope to move up to my level 4s in the spring.

We’ll get through exams just fine. We always do. Plus, if we do things the right way, we’ll come away from the exam period with a better understanding of the Spanish and the tools we have in order to move into a successful second semester.

Screen grab from the student-selected tutorial on “Asking & Answering Questions”