Show and Tell

Show and Tell is an activity that is used in many language classrooms.  We’ve done it a couple times in level 3 this year, and I’ve been pleased.  It is a good way for me to evaluate speaking, and the students generally enjoy it.  Here are the instructions I give students:

1. You must bring in something of importance and speak about it in Spanish for at least one minute.

2. No notes are permitted.

3. Talk about how you got it, why it is important, what it is used for, describe it . . . etc.

4. When you are finished, you will answer questions from students.

5. Each student must ask at least two questions of fellow presenters.

Students are graded for completion (speaking for a minute in Spanish and asking questions), use of Spanish and flow (natural, smooth speech).  I’m always looking for a nice blend of preparation and spontaneity.  I don’t want a student reciting a speech from memory, nor do I want a student who runs out of meaningful content after thirty seconds.  Sometimes students forget to bring in something, so they talk about their car keys, cell phone or laptop.  I don’t mind as long as they can provide meaningful information in Spanish.

I was noticing today that some students seemed short on content in their presentation but were able to answer classmates’ questions with ease.  This is where preparation helps.  Preparation provides the student with a mental list of what themes to discuss.  Language abilities carry him/her through the presentation.  I remind students they need both.

I’m kicking around an idea for next time (probably next year).  I really want students to focus on sharing as much content as possible  in one minute.  I could count the number of words they speak or maybe number of points they state and give a score accordingly.  I may need to record the presentations to do so.  One of the goals of my “flow” category is to avoid intentional slow speech just to fill time.  A quantitative measure of words or ideas may be an even more proactive way to push students to speak more.

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