As a constructivist, and a very early adopter of the Integrated Performance Assessments (IPA), I found that assigning most homework was an exercise in futility. The students who needed the work didn’t do it; I was stuck grading a bunch, assigning zeros, and calling in kids to get their work done on my time; and most students were stuck doing busy work.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t assign homework. I do assign homework, but I make the students come up with what they’re working on.
Studying, a lost art
If you’ve been teaching for a fair number of years, you’ve seen students lose the ability to study effectively on their own. In my own experience, the only challenging class in high school was French and I didn’t really study for it…so I was happy with my C. It wasn’t until college that I found I needed to up my game and actually study the material actively.
I introduce the idea of studying as a lifelong pursuit in the early days of the semester. I let students know that they’ll be submitting proof each month for these points. This is part of my class procedure to have them work through the welcome unit on Canvas. They see this page and read it.
Students go through a lesson about studying practices with examples. You can see the lesson here. They’re introduced to the idea that they will be submitting their work online through our learning management system. You can see the assignment details here, scroll down to view the rubric I use to grade their proof.
A word to the wise – if you decide to do this, it is important that you have students submit digitally. This is a way for you to check month to month when your spidey-sense goes off that something isn’t right or you’ve seen this before. You can always go back to their previous work and check it out. I’ve had to do this only a handful of times.
I let students use Duolingo as a way to study and prove they’ve studied. Duolingo has a wonderful (and free) school option for teachers, where you can assign lessons. I don’t do much of that, since my courses diverge from their lessons, but my most successful students have used Duolingo to acquire a massive amount of vocabulary to land them in intermediate!
How do they submit it?
Most students take images of their work and place them into a google doc. I give feedback each month on how to make their work more active, less passive, and target an area of improvement.
Some record themselves with their phone/chromebook listening/repeating, quizzing themselves, etc.
Some record conversations they have with other francophones.
Many take videos of notecards they’ve created, or labels they’ve made around the house.
When students complain about this, it’s usually that they don’t know how to document it because they’re studying passively.
Students have reported that they’ve seen improvements in other courses because I’m asking them to use study techniques.
This isn’t really student feedback, but I’ve seen that this goes hand-in-hand with extra input and letting students get to the highest proficiency that they can. Before, students were held back by the work I was handing out. Now, a second year student can be working on passé composé, l’imparfait, le futur proche, le futur simple, and le présent while their peers are just working on mastering the past or the vocabulary.
Image Source: Study from sobriquet.net