Assessing with Storytelling: Reimagining the Syllabus

Happy New Year! Feliz Ano Novo! ¡Feliz Año Nuevo! Etcetera!

The new year is always a time of reflection for me. What went well? What was a disaster? What could I cut and what could I reimagine? There’s much to upon which reflect.

On the surface, last quarter felt like the best term I’ve ever taught, and yet I still find myself back at the drawing board. You see, I was overassessing and had too many assignments during the last week of class.

I did feel satisfied with the assessments I created, but it was too much of a burden on my learners. Additionally, overassessing didn’t provide me with much insight into how learners were progressing (How much could they acquire from Monday to Tuesday?).

With this in mind, I have created a new set of assessments, listed below, in no particular order. Notice that the grammar tests are gone, although I will still assess grammar in other ways.

Oral Story Test100
Timed-Writes (8 x 25 pts each)200
Quizzes (10 x 6 pts each)60
“Yo puedo…”s 4 x 50200
Online Homework (VHL Central, Canvas)200
Attendance/Interpersonal Communication275

Oral Story Test

This is the same assignment as last quarter. It is the capstone to my course, letting learners demonstrate their ability to communicate orally.


Again, this is the same assignment as last quarter. I liked this, as it forced students to re-read the stories we co-created in class.


This has evolved since I last posted about quizzes in my courses. I will update the quizzes post/write a new one in the near future. It deserves a revisit.

“Yo Puedo”s – “Can Do”s

This is a new assessment in my classes that I will detail further in a new post. I’m excited about these because they are replacing the old “textbook” tests I was giving before. They will oral assessments, and I will be grade them with ruthless efficiency (My favorite way to grade).

Online Homework

VHL Central (Online Workbook)

My students have to buy a textbook that comes with an online workbook (not a fan, but has been the textbook since before I got there). I know it’s expensive, so I make sure they use it. Its grammar focus leads me to believe it has little value for actual acquisition, so I have them complete this as homework.

It does provide some input, and the students that complete it do acquire more Spanish. The students that don’t complete it (a surprising number) demonstrate why it’s not the ideal use of time – It’s too incomprehensible and not engaging!

Canvas (LMS)

I have written a number of short stories and have designed comprehension activities to go along with them. I plan on making this portion of my class available after a few more rounds of revision.

Attendance/Interpersonal Communication

This is much the same as last quarter. You have to be there to demonstrate interpersonal communication./Showing up is half the battle.

Looking Forward

I will continue to revise my assessments every quarter from now until I retire from teaching. It’s something that I have to do to keep improving as an instructor, and it’s something that I will continue to share with you as I make incremental (or huge and abrupt) changes.

Happy storytelling!

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