performance tasks

MEXTESOL - October 16, 2008

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Designing performance tasks as an alternative form of assessment through a backward design (UbD)


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MEXTESOL - October 16, 2008

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Theoretical Framework

Work with sample performance tasks

Designing performance tasks

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Soccer Match





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Designing Performance Tasks as an

Alternative Form of Assessment


Designing Experiences – teacher plays

a role as facilitator and coach

Performance Tasks (authentic, credible,

and user-friendly)(Wiggins, 1998, p. 139)

Alternative Form of assessment

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Language-enhanced instruction (LEI) (Brinton, 2007): “…aimed at developing skills as

well as content knowledge”

Shift from drill and practice to

understandings and application of


Levels of understandings as opposed to

“right-and-wrong” answers

Shift from superficial to in depth


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Feedback is fundamental to learning

Focus not only on the what but the

when, where, why, and how of the

language, understanding, knowledge,

content, skill, etc.

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Backward Design

Enduring Understandings

Four skills (subskills)

enabling knowledge (content)

Desired Results

Assessment Evidence

Learning Plan

Critical thinking

(meta) cognitive





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PTs provide evidence through:


Doing (language)

Knowing (discrete facts)

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Six Facets of Understanding

Can explain

Can interpret

Can apply

Has perspective

Demonstrates empathy

Reveals self-knowledge

See handout, page 155 .

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Backward Design

Performance task

Four skills/vocabulary



(enabling knowledge)

Desired Results

Assessment Evidence

Learning Plan

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FrameworkEnduring Understandings and Integration of Target Language

Concepts, Purpose or rationale, Strategies, and Contexts

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Types of Assessment

Informal checks for understandings


Observations and dialogues (alternative)

Tests and quizzes (traditional)

Academic prompts (alternative)

Performance tasks (alternative)

(Wiggins and McTighe, 2005)

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Examples of PTs

Examine the following performance task

vignettes on the following slides. What

distinguishes these tasks from typical,

standardized test? What common

features or characteristics do these

share? List characteristics or features

that you observe.

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Express Yourself

You have recently analyzed the narrative

work of Faith Ringgold to identify ways

she communicated ideas about her

world. Think about your own world, your

friends, family, daily experiences, and

the things that are important to you.

Select a drawing or painting, or use

mixed media to create your own

narrative work that communicates

personal ideas about your world.

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We Salute You

Your tutor, English teacher, etc. Mrs. ___,

has done many things to help us

throughout the year. When people do

things for you, it is important to show

appreciation. We will each be writing a

letter to her to thank her and let her know

how she has helped our class. Your letter

should include all the parts of a friendly

letter. Be sure to tell her at least three

ways she has been helpful to our class.

Include at least one thing that you

especially appreciate about her.

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Mail-order Friend

Imagine that you have an opportunity to

“order” a friend by telephone from a mail-

order catalog. Think about the qualities

that you want in a friend. Before you

“order” your friend over the telephone,

practice asking for three characteristics

that you want in a friend and give an

example of each characteristic.

Remember to speak clearly and loud

enough so that the salesperson will know

exactly who to send.

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GRASPS Task Design Prompts





Product, Performance, and Purpose

Standards and Criteria for Success

See handout, page 172 .

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Essential Questions –

Nutrition Why do people have poor eating habits?

Must food that is really good for you

taste bad?

Why do experts often disagree about

dietary guidelines? What agreement

exists amidst the disagreement?

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What distinguishes a fluent foreigner

from a native speaker?

What can we learn about our own

language and culture from studying


Essential Questions –


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What makes a good friend?

How do friends resolve conflict?

How can conflict be a good thing?

Essential Questions –


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Things to consider:

Teachers are experience designers,

assessors, facilitators, and coaches

PTs allow ELLs to “do” English

PTs are a concrete way of providing

evidence of learning, understanding,

and transfer

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Design principles for PTs

Learning-appropriate goals

Scaffolds for student and teacher


Frequent opportunities for formative

assessment and revision

Social organizations that promote


(Fisher and Frey, 2007)

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Effective techniques for using

PTs Multimedia presentations

Electronic and paper portfolios

Visual displays of information (e.g.,

graphic organizers)

Public performances

(Fisher and Frey, 2007)

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In summary…

PTs that include the six facets of

understanding: explain, interpret, apply,

perspective, empathy, and self-


PTs: phonology and phonetics,

vocabulary, cognitive, metacognitive

strategies are embedded in


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In summary…

PTs are presented to ELLs at the

beginning of the course/unit

Performance tasks should require

reflection, explicit self-assessment, and

self-adjustment, with reasoning or

rationale made as evident as possible.

(Wiggins and McTighe, 2005, p. 167)

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Final thought…

Designing performance tasks should be a

collaborative effort among all stakeholders.

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Email: [email protected]


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Bransford, J., Brown, A., and Cocking, R. (2000).

How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and

School: Expanded Edition. Retrieved on

September 13, 2008 from

Brinton, D. M. (2007, July). Two for one? Language

enhanced instruction. Paper delivered at the

TESOL ESP Symposium, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Available at:


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Bruner, J. (1960). The Process of Education.

Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University


Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and Education. New

York, NY: Touchstone.

Fisher, D. and Frey, N. (2007). Checking for

Understanding: Formative Assessment

Techniques for your Classroom. Alexandria, VA:

Association for Supervision and Curriculum

Development (ASCD)

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Marzano, R. (2007). The Art and Science of

Teaching: A comprehensive framework for

effective teaching. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

McTighe, J. and Wiggins, G. (2004). Understanding

by Design: Professional Development Workbook.

Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and

Curriculum Development (ASCD).

Popham, W. (2008). Transformative Assessment.

Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and

Curriculum Development (ASCD).

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Wiggins, G. and McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding

by Design. Alexandria, VA: Association for

Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).

Wiggins, G. and McTighe, J. (2007). Schooling by

Design. Alexandria, VA: Association for

Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).

Wiggins, G. (1998). Educative Assessment:

Designing Assessments to Inform and Improve

Student Performance. San Francisco, CA: