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Up/Down Listening Assessment

March 27, 2011

An Up/Down Quick Quiz is a simple, formative listening assessment that I use at the end of almost every class period. I first learned about Up-Down Quick Quizzes when I observed a TPRS lesson for the very first time in Michele Whaley's class last spring. It is an easy way for teachers to get a quick read on what their students are understanding, and what they aren't, after a period of input.

Image description: The title "Up-Down Quick Quiz Formative Listening Assessment" is printed in black text on a yellow background with a photo of many hands raised above it.

An Up-Down Listening Assessment is very quick, easy, and informative. Here's what you do:

Up/down Quick Quiz Content

On the spot, think of several true/false statements or yes/no questions about the content or the language that you've been working with all class period. Some examples are:

  • In the sentence, "El chico camina a la escuela", the word "chico" means "girl". (FALSE - chico means boy).
  • If I want to say, "I'm going to my house", I should say, "Voy a mi casa" (TRUE).
  • ¿Sí o no? Cari nunca cierra la puerta (TRUE) ("Yes or no? Cari never closes the door." - this would be a statement about the story we had done in class).

What students are doing during an up/down Quick Quiz

During the Up-Down Listening Assessment, students sit with their heads down and eyes closed. They listen to statements, one at a time, spoken aloud by the teacher.

If the answer to the statement or question is "true" or "yes", students raise their hands. If the answer is "false" or "no", students leave their hands down.

This can be very challenging because, during class, students have likely had the visual support of core/new vocabulary written on the board. Listening to the words without being able to see their written form may be difficult for many of your students!

What the teacher is doing during an up/down Quick Quiz

The teacher makes each statement and then observes which students raise their hands and which students leave their hands down. Make a note of who misses each question, perhaps on your seating chart. Ask three to five questions, and you will quickly see which students are well on their way to acquiring the material, and which ones are having a hard time understanding without the textual support provided by the words written on the board.

An Up/Down Listening Assessment is a formative assessment

It is important to note that an Up/Down Quick Quiz is a formative assessment, so it should not be entered as an assessment in your grade book. This is something that will give you a quick snapshot of how well your students have understood some chunk of spoken Spanish. It is meant to be given while students are in the process of learning the material, not after they are already expected to know it. Furthermore, it is far too easy for students to cheat (open their eyes, listen for the sound of their neighbor's arm moving) to count this as a grade.

Formative vs Summative by @bryanMMathers is licensed under CC-BY-ND

Formative assessments like this are helpful for you as a teacher to determine whether your students are able to interpret the language that you have been using with confidence and are ready for more language or new ideas to be spiraled, or if they could use more time working with the same language in order to process it.

This formative assessment can also help you identify which students might need a little extra support. As a language teacher, the goal is for ALL students to understand, and especially in large classes it can be easy for students to get lost in the crowd. Use your data from this Up-Down Quick Quiz to know who needs what kind of support in the coming days!

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