Reflections on IBL and Week 7

In this last unit, as we have looked at assessments, both formative and summative, and the use of rubrics to assess process and content in a more authentic type of assessment, some of my own beliefs have been affirmed.

I use both exams and authentic, project-based assessments in my German classes. I have come to really like using rubrics because of the specific feedback I can give students on their projects or papers. I do use both formative an summative assessments, but I really do increasingly enjoy creating projects where students can demonstrate their learning in a more authentic way than simply taking a test.

Technology makes group work and the writing process so much easier than it used to be. I use Google docs to have my students write and revise and I give them feedback directly on their document as it is a work in progress. I love the Revision History feature that lets me see when and for how long they worked on their writing, and I love that students can work collaboratively on a document to peer edit, for example.

Wikis are also fantastic for group projects because they facilitate collaboration among group members, both inside and outside of class, and they also allow me to see the work in progress and to see who contributed what and when, so that I can more accurately give feedback and a score on 21st Century Skill like collaboration.

In this course, I have learned how to incorporate the Inquiry Based Learning process/es in my authentic assessments, and I feel this will help me to help my students to become better at identifying what they want or need to know and then to develop investigable questions to frame their research. At the outset, I thought that IBL was really a ‘science thing’. But now I know how I, as a German teacher, can also help my students to learn these habits of mind.


Reflection on week #6 – the 5 E’s

Over the past week I have learned about the 5 E’s : Engagement, Exploration, Explanation, Elaboration and Evaluation

that are helpful in planning for an IBL lesson or unit. I already do most of these steps, but now I am consciously aware of them and will tweak my lessons to make these elements more distinct. I outlined on my Google site a unit that I do for German 3 where I explain how I will use the 5 E’s.

In general, some ways that I implement the 5 E’s are:

Engage – I like to use a video or recorded interview segment to introduce a topic. YouTube has many resources. Sometimes I use a German news website to introduce a current events topic.

Explore – I usually use authentic websites for my students to explore a topic. is a good website for current events information and I use it frequently.

Explain – I encourage my students to choose Prezi or Power Point or Glogster or Voice Thread to present their findings to the class. I usually give them a choice so that I get varied presentations rather than cookie-cutter projects that all look the same.

 Elaborate – I also encourage students to explore new Web 2.0 tools they have not used before to extend their portfolio of digital tools. Sometimes I have them record their presentations rather than present live. For this we use Google Voice or Voice Thread or even Blabberize. Usually they do a project in the Explain phase that outlines what they learned from their research, and then another presentation where they extend what they learned and apply it to a new context for the elaborate phase.

Evaluate – I have students submit their work to me as a reflection on a blog or submit it to a Discussion Forum on Blackboard so that I have an easy place to review and score them. I either create a Symbaloo page to aggregate all of their blog sites or I subscribe to them and get RSS feeds that make it easy to see who has updated their blog and when so I can save a lot of time checking so many pages to grade work. I really like that with all the digital tools we use, they also are building an e-portfolio of their work over multiple levels in German classes.

This week’s learning has further clarified  the IBL process for me and helped me to make some more connections for how I can use IBL in my German classes. I feel like I have come a long way from the first couple of weeks of the course when I thought IBL was really a ‘science’ thing,  and I wasn’t sure how it would apply to my German classes.