Results: Beginners after 10 weeks of T.P.R.S. (Fall 2014)

I did my stats today on my beginning Spanish class.

Relaxed write (they have 35 min to re-write a modified version of our most recent story, or to make up their own):

Average word-count = 360 words
Average grammar mark = 1.9/3

Speedwrites (they have 5 min to write as many words as possible. Topics alternate between a) describe yourself and b) describe a picture on overhead (the picture will be of someone very like in our most recent story)):

Average wordcount = 60 words
Average grammar mark = 2.2/3

The grammar marking rubric is this:

3 The writing flows smoothly and logically, with minor errors that do not interfere with meaning, and no what? moments.

2 The writing mostly flows smoothly, with a few rough spots and the occasional what? moment

1 The writing is rough and/or illogical, hard to follow, and has many what? moments.


— I have one student with real problems– some home stress, attendance issues, and she has difficulty focusing in class– whose writing is simply not improving. Without her, the speedwrite wordcount goes up by about 7 and the grammar mark by .2. Relaxed write wordcounts & marks would also be higher.

— Of course I also have superstar Shayla, who wrote a letter-perfect 550 words last relaxed write.

— the speedwrite grammar marks on the “describe yourself” tasks are better because– I think– the work is more repetitive, and because the input is as well. If I am constantly asking my actors “are you a guy?” or “do you live in North Korea?”, the class will be hearing the answers– the “describe yourself” vocab– more than the story vocab.

— the speedwrite marks on “describe the picture” tasks are a bit lower, because there is less repetition and more new vocab. Also because they are a “two-step” process: they have to look, think, then write.

— course goals: write 100 excellent words in 5 min; write an excellent-grammar 800-word story in 40 min. I am hoping that 9 of 10 kids can do this and that 1 in 10 will do 80/500 words at grammar level 2

— so far we are well on track to course goals. I am speeding up story-asking process (5 days/story including one block for speedwrite and relaxed write and introducing vocab for new story). I am hoping to do six more stories (plus novel reading) so 11 total– we should be well into the past-tense stuff

— overall I am pleased and this year I am going to take video of some beginners’ oral output at end of year (just to document how far they got, not for marks)



  1. Do you spend a 5 full class periods on a story? I recognize that the kids need more repetition, but they are pushing back like crazy and checking out…. I think I can either do a full class period or split it into smaller chunks that go over 5 days.

    1. Ya they MUST be structure focused. If I am teaching “is getting bad marks” we have 2-3 characters in the story doing that. Then we have it in a movie and we also do 10-15 min of picturetalk about that. No such thing as too many reps. Just vary where they see them

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