This section provides direction on portfolio expectations and on collecting data for the learners’ portfolios.
The About Me section includes the learner’s baseline information (needs assessment results, goal statement, the learner’s incoming CLB levels and learner samples of proficiency including an autobiography or piece of personal writing). Remember that you do not have to do everything the first day! Begin with one of the baseline information items that is of interest or is familiar, or that seems easy. For examples of tools mentioned in this section, see the handout “Sample Templates for Session 3” which was developed for the Implementation Package workshops (link).
Needs assessments are essential in learner-centred classrooms for curriculum planning, goal setting, teaching, and assessment. Needs assessments are used in the following ways:
Settlement-focusedprograms – Needs assessments are used to identify the social contexts (e.g. at the dentist, at the grocery store) or broader themes (e.g. employment, education) for instruction as well as related language tasks.
English for Specific Purposes (ESP)programs – Needs assessments are used to identify the communication network (people and positions) in which the learner needs to communicate in English, related language tasks, and other skills or information that learners will need for specific social contexts, such as a workplace.
English for Academic Purposes (EAP)programs – Needs assessments are used to identify the content of interest or importance to the learners in the particular subject areas in which skill development can be contextualized.
After learners have completed and discussed their needs assessment, have them put the results into their portfolios. At lower CLB levels, pictorial needs assessments are useful. At higher levels, consensus-building activities, questionnaires, and surveys work well.
Needs assessments should be revisited periodically to monitor progress and to capture new needs that may have emerged.
Language Learning Goals
A language-learning goal statement is a concrete objective that stretches the learner but is achievable within the timeframe of the term or course. It provides a focus for the learner’s language learning and a reference for discussions about progress. When planning, it may be helpful to consider the notion of SMART goals – goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.
Based on the CLB level of the learners, discuss the learners’ long-term goals for work, school, and/or the community. Talk about the situations for which they need English and the language skills and levels they need to strive for. Break the goals down into short-term steps. Help them to understand the importance of having clear language-learning goals, and have each learner write a language-learning goal statement that is challenging but achievable in the time frame of the term or course. Have them discuss their goal statements with the whole class or in small groups, and have them put the goal statement into the portfolio.
The goal statements of ESL Literacy learners may be pictorial. They might choose a magazine picture that shows a situation in which they want to be able to use English, such as a picture of someone working, shopping, or taking the bus. It might be helpful for the teacher to print the goal under the picture or have learners copy it from the board.
Personal Learning Goals for Life, Work, and/or School
In addition to helping learners achieve their language-learning goals, PBLA can support their progress towards language goals related to life, school, or work. These could include getting a driver’s licence, taking post-secondary training, upgrading computer skills, or improving a discrete language skill such as spelling, vocabulary, or handwriting.
At the outset of the class, have learners record their CLB levels from their CLBPT assessment or from their previous class. Put the record in the portfolio. In order to show progress in language development, learners need to know their starting place. ESL Literacy learners or learners in CLB 1 or 2 may find a graphic representation of their CLB levels (such as the one here) to be more comprehensible than a written form.
Graphic Representation of a Student’s CLB Levels
An autobiography is an important record of basic life facts and work experiences. It is an opportunity for learners to express who they are, to give voice to the richness of their lives, and to identify goals. It is generally not corrected and is not intended as an assessment task.
Have learners write a brief autobiography or a piece of personal writing for their portfolios after they have had sufficient opportunity to talk about themselves and develop and practise the language they will use for the writing task. Consider using a pictorial autobiography called “My Story,” (found in “Sample Templates for Session 3”) which is suitable for ESL Literacy or CLB 1-2.
NOTE: It is important to know the learners’ backgrounds prior to the autobiography task. Learners who have experienced serious trauma may find this task threatening unless the teacher is careful to set up the task so as to eliminate the need to share personally painful information.
Initial Language Samples
The language tasks that you do at the beginning of the term provide baseline information about what learners can do in each of the skill areas. If learners enter your class with a portfolio and have not been assigned new benchmarks, they should keep all their entries in the portfolio. If they were assigned new benchmarks, you may want them to keep a sample from each skill area to use as a starting point reference. These initial language samples will form the baseline data for your portfolio review at the end of the reporting period.
In addition to the above baseline items, several optional items may be helpful:
Next steps – Learners need to have an action plan so they have a sense of direction and understand the steps they need to take to achieve their goals. For instance, this plan may describe future language courses or may outline employment-related steps.
Learning, working, living in the community: Skills self-assessment – Learners can benefit from a self-assessment of their existing life and work skills and aptitudes that will be useful in their life in Canada. Skills such as the ability to work well in a group, to display leadership, and to be organized or prompt are important in many facets of community life, work, and school. This assessment might also include knowledge and/or experiences with other languages and cultures.
Work and volunteer experience – A record of the learner’s work and/or volunteer experience contributes evidence of employability skills and, if documenting work or volunteer experience in Canada, can be used when the learner is looking for work. For learners not destined for the workforce, these data show environments in which they may have functioned in English.
Résumé – For skilled workers and professionals, good résumés that meet the critical expectations of employers are essential for their job search. Learners who do not require résumés for employment or other purposes do not need to include a resume in their portfolios.
Work and volunteer goals – Learning is enhanced when learners have clear, achievable goals. Portfolios generally include a description of the learner’s long-term employment goals. For learners not destined for the workforce, a description of goals related to volunteering or community participation might replace employment goals. For learners with long-term employment goals, volunteering may be a short-term goal.
Learning Reflections and Self-Assessment
A goal of adult ESL instruction is to assist learners to become increasingly independent language learners. Assessment for Learning (AfL) research shows that regular self-assessment and learning reflection are key factors. Learners who understand the language learning objectives and assessment criteria, who are involved in goal setting, and who have opportunities to think about their learning process show greater progress than those who do not (McDonald and Boud, 2003; Davies, 2000). Regular self-assessment and learning reflection are essential features of PBLA.
Learning reflection considers the process of learning: that is, what helps the learner learn.
Example: Learners are asked to choose one of the speaking strategies that was taught in class that week and reflect on their experience of using the strategy. When did they try the strategy? What happened? What might they do differently next time?
Self-assessment considers what the learner can do and how well she or he can do it related to task criteria.
Example: Learners are given the assessment tool before completing a writing assessment task. They are asked to initial each of the criteria that they think they have met before handing in the task and assessment tool. The instructor provides feedback using the assessment tool and learners compare their self-assessment with the instructor’s assessment.
The self-assessments are filed with the associated language task in the Skills section of My Portfolio. The learning reflections can be filed together in the About Me section of My Portfolio.
Throughout the term, teachers have learners add language items to their portfolios. Unlike some other portfolio approaches in which learners self-select artefacts, with PBLA, the teacher tells the learners what to put in their portfolios. This ensures that learners have evidence in their portfolios that helps the teacher determine CLB outcomes. In field tests of PBLA, teachers noted that when learners self-selected artefacts, they often chose samples that were unhelpful for CLB purposes, such as the following:
Items that had been corrected or revised in a way that hid what the learner was able to do independently
Skill-building worksheets, such as grammar or spelling exercises
Worksheets that they had copied from another learner because they were absent when the activity was completed.
Consequently, PBLA protocols now require teachers to tell learners which artefacts to add to the “Listening,” “Speaking,” “Reading,” and “Writing” sections of their portfolios.
Consistent with Wiliams and Leahy’s assessment for learning strategies, instructors using PBLA will do the following:
Develop clear assessment criteria for assessment tasks
Share the criteria with learners before they begin the task
Provide feedback to learners in relation to the criteria with action-focused comments that learners can use to improve their performance
Provide opportunities for self and peer assessment.
The assessment tasks are included in the portfolio, along with instructions for completion of the tasks, assessment criteria (including any assessment tools such as checklists, rating scales or rubrics), self-assessment associated with the tasks and feedback to learners.
Tasks and Competency Areas
Although assessment tasks and skill-using activities sometimes assess only one competency area, especially at lower CLB levels, some will assess more than one competency. For example, a task such as making a doctor’s appointment may address getting things done, and sharing/comprehending information. Research indicates that sharing and understanding information is the competency most frequently employed in communication, so it is to be expected that this competency may be most frequently addressed in assessment tasks. However, since the CLB competencies are only a representation of the range of possible competencies, it is important that learners complete tasks that cover all of them: interacting socially, giving/comprehending instructions, reproducing information, getting things done, and sharing/comprehending information.
The Number of Language Tasks per Skill
To make an informed decision about a learner’s outcome CLB level at the end of term, there must be sufficient evidence in the learner’s portfolio to demonstrate the learner’s proficiency across a variety of tasks and competencies in a range of social situations.
Eight to ten artefacts per skill area seem to be a minimum on which to make a decision. The artefacts should consist of a balance of assessment tasks and skill-using activities (but NOT skill-building activities). For example, in a compilation of ten artefacts, six might be teacher-administered assessment tasks and four might be skill-using activities. The number of artefacts added per week will vary depending on the CLB level, the skills assessed, and the type of program in which the learners are enrolled.
It is important to remember that even though some learners may not complete a CLB level within a program-designated reporting period, their portfolios will still document their progress – an important advantage of PBLA.
The “Other” Section
Learners can use this section for artefacts that track progress towards a personal goal such as getting a driver’s licence or upgrading computer skills. They can also use it to show progress in addressing a troublesome, discrete language skill, such as spelling or handwriting.
Learners in specialized classes such as ESL Literacy, English for Specific Purposes (ESP), or Occupation-Specific Language Training (OSLT) may have goals related to those contexts. Teachers may wish to use the “Other” section for items related to the focus of their program or course. For example, ESL Literacy teachers might have learners use this section for numeracy tasks.
Planning for Skill-Using Activities and Assessment Tasks
In PBLA, skill-using activities and assessment tasks are communicative language tasks that simulate real world language tasks and are part of a continuum of opportunities for learners to
Practise new skills
Demonstrate what they can do in English related to CLB competencies
Get feedback on their performance.
Planning for assessment is an integral part of the instructional planning process, with assessment opportunities integrated both within and at the end of learning activities – assessment is not simply an “add-on” at the end of the instructional cycle.
In this section, we will
Look at how these two types of activities fit into a broader assessment for learning continuum
Discuss specific features of skill-using activities versus assessment tasks and provide examples
Provide a sample assessment plan over a partial semester
Discuss the role of skill-building activities.
The following excerpt from the revised ICLBA introduces a continuum of assessment possibilities. (See table below.) What we call skill-using activities in PBLA would be an example of planned integrated assessment and what we call assessment tasks would be an example of formal assessment.
Planning for Assessment Considers the Purposes for Assessment1
In classes that incorporate assessment for learning practice, all assessment is designed to enhance learning. However, the approach to assessment will differ, depending on whether the primary purpose is to provide assessment for learning feedback or whether the task will also be used to check what has been learned, to provide assessment of learning information. Determining the purpose(s) for the assessment will affect both the task design and set up (for example, how much support is provided), and the type of feedback that is provided.
The table below is adapted from the typology of assessment possibilities developed by Chris Davison (Davison & Leung, 2009). The table describes three possibilities that move from very informal assessment for learning-while-teaching (on the left of the chart), to more formal assessment of learning (on the right).
Implications for the CLB-Aligned Classroom
The approach to assessment and strategies used will depend on the primary purpose for the assessment.
In-Class Contingent Assessment: Within classroom practice, instructors include contingent assessment on a variety of skill-building and skill-using activities on a daily basis, giving informal feedback, and adjusting instruction based on learner response. They incorporate a range of strategies:
Feedback may be direct or may be indirect, through the use of open-ended questions to check for understanding, or learner self-reflection.
Feedback may be to the individual learner or to the group. For example, during a partner role play, the instructor might comment to individual learners or pairs while moving around the room, or might circulate, observe learners, make notes, and then debrief key points with the full group.
Feedback may be in the moment, or given after the task is completed. For example, in an ESL literacy class, an instructor might provide in-the-moment feedback by circulating while learners are filling out a form, or s/he might simply observe what the learners are doing, and address key issues after the task is completed or in an upcoming lesson.
Assessment may include informal notes about learners’ spontaneous use of language outside structured learning tasks. For example, the instructor might note a learner’s appropriate use of apology for arriving to class late and record this as evidence of this competency, for use in decisions about learner achievement.
Planned Integrated Assessment: As part of classroom planning, instructors incorporate a range of CLB-aligned communicative language tasks. Some will be designed primarily to provide opportunity for growth and development as learners practise new skills and will include only assessment for learning feedback. These are sometimes referred to as “skill-using” tasks and may incorporate a variety of strategies:
Tasks may include instructional support or scaffolding; for example, in a reading task, an instructor might begin by reviewing strategies learners can use to guess the meaning of new words in context. The level of support should be clearly indicated if tasks will be reviewed as part of the end of term evaluation process (e.g. in a portfolio).
The feedback provided within these language learning tasks will typically be descriptive and non-evaluative, focusing on how the learners can improve based on their current performance.
Feedback may include multiple sources (e.g. instructor, self, and/or peer assessment).
Formal Assessment: Other communicative tasks will be designed to give learners an opportunity to demonstrate what they can do related to benchmark expectations. Teachers will provide assessment of learning feedback, and tasks will include assessment criteria aligned to the CLB and an indication of what is required for success on the task. Learners will complete these tasks independently and the feedback to the learner will indicate whether or not they have met task expectations at a specific benchmark. In order to also provide assessment for learning support in the task, instructors will provide action-oriented feedback to learners to give them information they can use to improve their performance. For additional information related to providing feedback, see Integrating CLB Assessment (2016) Chapter 7.
Planning for two Challenges of classroom-based Assessment
Considering the purpose(s) for the assessment can help address some of the common challenges of classroom-based assessment. The first challenge, often expressed by instructors beginning to implement classroom-based assessment, is that they feel like they are on a teaching and testing treadmill. If you feel like this, you may be jumping too quickly to assessment of learning tasks without sufficient time to focus on assessment for learning. Early in the term when learners are developing new skills, tasks that provide opportunity for practice and non-evaluative comments-only feedback are particularly important for growth and improvement. As you plan your assessment opportunities, you might emphasize assessment for learning feedback in the early stages of learning.
A second challenge relates to what has been called a false positive effect: learners are so well prepared and rehearsed for assessment tasks that they are able to complete an end of unit assessment task successfully, but unable to demonstrate the same abilities in a similar task several weeks later. A false positive can occur if the assessment task is too heavily supported. When learners complete an assessment of learning task, they should be completing it independently, without instructional support. A false positive can also occur if a task is used first as a skill-using activity, and later duplicated as an assessment task. As you prepare an assessment of learning task, keep in mind that learners should have practised the underlying skills for the task, but should not have rehearsed the exact task. For example, learners at CLB 3 might partner together to practise a speaking task in which they sit back to back and give short directions to a classmate using a map of the school neighborhood. They use self and peer assessment by comparing maps at the end of the activity. Later in the unit of study, they might use the same skills in a different context for an assessment of learning task in which they record their directions to a classmate using a simple map of the downtown area of the city, and receive instructor feedback. This change of task and context helps avoid false positives.
Additionally, over a course of study, instructors should plan for activities that allow learners to transfer their learning to new situations and to demonstrate some of the key competencies in new contexts, with diminishing amounts of support. This sort of planning will ensure that learners are able to transfer abilities to new contexts, again avoiding a false positive effect. For example, in a unit on renting an apartment, learners might complete a writing task in which they write a note of complaint to a landlord. In a later unit on shopping, the instructor might return to the skills of writing a short note to complain, with learners completing an assessment task in which they send a short e-mail to complain about an item they ordered through a website.
Assuming that you will be using evidence from classroom-based assessment to assign benchmarks, the follow questions can assist in planning.
Over the course of studies…
Will the assessment tasks completed provide evidence of learner abilities across a range of competencies and contexts?
Will learners have sufficient opportunity to develop and practise new skills and receive non-evaluative feedback in order to build for success?
Will learners have opportunity to transfer their skills to increasingly distant contexts?
Consider the following example of assessment progression over a semester in a class working towards Writing Benchmark 4. Both examples could be included in a portfolio.
Writing Benchmark 4
early semester – Assessment for Learning task:
In a unit, Introducing Ourselves, learners are asked to write a paragraph to tell of their arrival in Canada for a classroom blog. One of the expectations for writing at CLB 4 is control of basic paragraph structure, but learners may not be familiar with the use of topic sentences. The instructor and class brainstorm possible topic sentences for their paragraphs and what information (supporting details) might be included. Criteria for the task are listed on the board and learners copy them onto their papers at the bottom of their paragraphs. Learners check each of the criteria they think they’ve met (learner self-assessment) before handing in their paragraphs. The instructor checks which criteria she thinks have been met, underlines selected errors for the learner to correct, and provides comments-only feedback to draw attention to one key thing each learner can do to improve.
Writing Benchmark 4
Mid semester – Assessment OF Learning TASK:
In a unit on local places of interest, the learners complete a similar task as an assessment task at the end of the unit. They are asked to write an e-mail to a classmate telling about a visit they have taken to a nearby landmark or place of interest. Learners complete the task independently. Before they begin writing, they are given the assessment tool – a rating scale with CLB-aligned criteria. The assessment tool indicates what constitutes task success at CLB 4. The instructor gives feedback related to task success using the rating scale, and supplements this with action-oriented feedback. Selected errors are circled on the email and learners can enlist help from a partner to correct their errors.
Comparing Skill-Using Activities and Assessment Tasks
Portfolios should contain a balance of skill-using activities and assessment tasks. The following chart compares the key features of skill-using activities and assessment tasks.
Skill-Using Activity (Task)
Opportunity for learners to practise what they have been learning
Opportunity for learners to demonstrate what they can do in English
Is a communicative task that relates to a Real-World Task Goal.
Instructions are given in learner-friendly language and give a clear idea of what learners are asked to do.
Alignment to CLB
Consistent with CLB expectations (competencies, indicators of ability, profiles of ability)
Criteria selected must be
· Appropriate to the task
· Appropriate for the CLB level
· Described in learner-friendly language.
Criteria should be drawn directly from the CLB document (Indicators of Ability, Profile of Ability, Knowledge & Strategies). Other criteria may be added that are specific to the task and consistent with CLB level expectations.
In productive tasks, one of the criteria often relates to overall effectiveness of communication (holistic). Other criteria relate to specific features that affect the quality of the communication (analytic).
In receptive tasks, the questions/required responses relate to more than one level of comprehension where appropriate to the task.
Over a reporting period, there should be examples of tasks across all four competencies in each skill area.
Sharing Criteria with learners
Instructors introduce and discuss key criteria with learners before undertaking the task.
Assessment/feedback criteria may be indicated on the task sheet or shared informally (e.g., shared orally or written on the board).
Instructors introduce criteria to learners before undertaking the task. Assessment criteria are indicated on the task or on an assessment tool.
What is considered satisfactory performance (performance that demonstrates that the learner is meeting the key criteria of the task) is indicated on the task or tool.
Weighting of criteria should reflect relative importance of criteria to the task. You may require mastery or a yes on certain identified criteria. You may put greater weighting on selected criteria that are more important for successful demonstration of comprehension. For example, in a CLB 5 reading task, Level 1 questions may receive one point, Level 2 & 3 questions receive two points, or a question about the main idea may be weighted more heavily than a question about details.
In the case where a “numeric score” is used, 100% mastery is not expected. Generally, about 70% is considered satisfactory performance if the task is at benchmark level.
Note: It is important that learners do not think that they have ‘achieved a benchmark level’ on the basis of one task. Do not use comments on the task such as, “7/11 = you have achieved benchmark 5.”To assign a benchmark you need multiple entries in a portfolio over time and across competencies to demonstrate achievement of benchmark level expectations. You could say, “You have successfully completed the task.”
Role of instructor
Instructor may provide some scaffolding or instructional support before or during the task. If so, it should be indicated on the portfolio entry.
E.g., in a writing task at CLB 4 learners brainstorm what could be included before writing their paragraphs independently
E.g., learners review and discuss an exemplar (speaking or writing) before completing the speaking/writing task.
Instructors review the expectations, but learners complete the task independently without additional peer, instructional or scaffolding support.
Assessment Feedback for Productive Skills Tasks
Learners may self-assess and/or receive peer or instructor feedback. Feedback may be written or oral, and may be anecdotal.
E.g., learners participate in a role play in small groups and receive peer feedback. Instructor circulates and makes notes. Instructor debriefs the activity with the class and makes overall suggestions. He/she may point out something a learner did particularly well and include these anecdotal notes during the review of portfolios. Learners include their peer feedback in their portfolio.
Learners receive instructor assessment feedback.
There should be evidence of self-assessment on some (but not necessarily all) assessment tasks.
Learner self-assessment may be a separate checklist, or the learner may put his/her initials on the same assessment tool that the teacher uses and hand it in with the task.
Assessment Feedback for Receptive Skills
Tasks are ‘marked’ by teacher or learner* or a peer.
Learners may reflect on strategies used (e.g., I listened for “stressed words” to help me understand the key details).
Tasks are marked by teacher or learner*.
Learners may reflect on strategies used (e.g., I used the pictures to help me understand the reading).
Productive tasks – feedback is specific, focused on how learner can improve. “For next time …” or “Please focus on…” are useful sentence stems to include on assessment tools.
Receptive tasks –action-oriented feedback may be included on the assessment task. Sometimes the teacher will discuss action-oriented feedback as a class and this will not appear on the assessment form. E.g., After a reading task, learners discuss in small groups where they found the information to answer the inference questions.
*Many instructors ask learners to complete reading or listening assessment tasks in pen and then learners self-mark their work in pencil. Instructors provide action-oriented feedback as they discuss the questions and answers with learners (e.g., How did you find the main idea in this passage? What information did you get from the caption to help you answer this question?). The instructor can then collect and review the learners’ work to note progress related to what constitutes success.
Tasks that can be Either Skill-Using or Assessment Tasks
The four sample tasks that follow can be used either as skill-using or assessment tasks, depending on how they are set up. Notes about task set up are included. In actual practice, an instructor would use a task as either as a skill-using activity or an assessment task but would NOT use the identical task as both a skill-using activity and an assessment task.
The example shown here is set up as an assessment task. Learners complete this assessment task independently at the end of a module on Home Safety. They have learned strategies for finding main ideas and completing matching activities and practised them in other activities.
Using the Task as an Assessment Task: Learners complete the task in pen. The instructor goes over answers and learners self-correct their papers in pencil. Criteria for success are clearly indicated. Instructor reviews criteria with learners before they begin the task. The instructor collects the papers and reviews Part C, completes the success chart and records learners’ success.
Using the Task as a Skill-Using Activity: If this were done as a skill-using activity, the teacher might complete the first entry with the class or learners might review strategies for doing matching activities before doing the task. Learners might complete Part C as a partner activity. Criteria for task success would not be listed. The assessment criteria are indicated on this task (e.g., understand the main idea). If they were not listed on the task, the teacher might write them on the board to focus learners’ attention on the purpose of the activity.
EXAMPLE 2: WRITING
CLB 4: Write a note to the landlord
The example shown here is set up as an assessment task. In a module on Housing, the class has discussed issues related to renting an apartment and communicating with the landlord. In a previous module on Consumer Rights, learners learned how to write business messages and wrote an e-mail of complaint as a skill-using activity.
Using the Task as an Assessment Task: The instructor shares the assessment tool with learners before they begin the task and reviews the expectations. Criteria for success are indicated. Learners complete the task and engage in self-assessment by underlining the parts of their note that explain the problem and that make a polite request. Instructor provides action- oriented feedback.
Using the Task as a Skill-Using Activity: If this were done as a skill-using activity, the teacher might choose three or four criteria and write them on the board. Learners could copy the criteria on their papers and do either peer or self-assessment. The teacher could review the notes, provide action-oriented feedback and ask learners to correct selected errors. The criteria for task success would be removed.
The example shown here is set up as an assessment task. The class has completed a module on Education – using a calendar for class events.
Using the Task as an Assessment Task: Learners complete the task independently. The instructor has added criteria for successful completion of the task. Note: Key vocabulary and abbreviations have been pre-taught.
Using the Task as a Skill-Using Activity: If this were a skill-using activity the teacher might complete the first entry together with the class so that learners know how to complete the rest of the calendar. Learners could complete the calendar in pen and self-correct their work in pencil. The teacher might collect the activity and note areas for further practice. The criteria for task success would not be included if this activity was being used as a skill-using activity.
The example shown is set up as a skill-using activity. The class is doing a module on In the Community – making small talk with neighbours. Learners have practised a number of skill-building activities around conversation strategies to maintain a conversation, polite expressions, level of formality and body language. They have also listened to an example of a small talk conversation between two people in the community.
Note: Learners use the prompts to initiate unrehearsed conversations. They do not write scripts for their conversations.
Using the Task as a Skill-Using Activity: In this activity, learners work in groups of four. Two learners do one of the role plays and the other group members give peer feedback. Then they switch roles. The instructor circulates, observes, and provides overall feedback to the class. Learners reflect on the feedback they were given and choose one or two improvements they can make next time.
Using the Task as an Assessment Task: If this were an assessment task, the teacher could turn this checklist into a rating scale and would indicate the criteria for task success. She would provide action-oriented feedback (e.g., “Continue . . .” “For next time . . .”).
Note: If learners tape their conversations using cellphones, they could replay them and complete self-assessments.
Sample Assessment Plan over a Partial Reporting Period – Level CLB 3-4
SU = Skill-using taskAT = More formal assessment taskI, II, III, IV = Competency Area
The following chart shows a sample assessment plan over a partial reporting period.
Each module has one or more tasks related to each of the skill areas, providing multiple opportunities to practise new language specific to the topic.
There are not always assessment tasks for each of the skill areas. When new skills are being introduced, a skill-using activity may be a more appropriate choice.
In some cases, learners will practise new skills using a skill-using activity and then do an assessment task related to the competency in a later module.
All the items listed could be portfolio artefacts.
The number of tasks per topic will depend on a variety of factors, including learner interest, hours of class per week, etc.
Sample Assessment Plan
L/S task: Introduce yourself to a partner. Introduce your partner to another person. (l, SU)
L/S Task: Introduce yourself to a partner. Introduce your partner to another person. (I, SU)
Read two passages about the lives of recent immigrants (source: English Express) to complete a retrieval chart that compares their lives with your experience. (IV, SU)
Write a short passage to introduce yourself and the activities you like to your classmates for a classroom blog. (IV, SU)
Selecting recreational opportunities in the community
Listen to a conversation between friends talking about family activities they do at a local recreational facility and answer questions related to their activities and preferences. (IV, AT)
L/S Task: Using a facility map (jigsaw activity), ask a partner about the location for various activities (e.g., yoga class) and locate them on the facility map. (II, SU)
Role-play asking questions at the information desk of a recreational facility. (III, SU)
Ask your partner questions about their favorite recreational activities and where they practise them. (I, AT)
L/S Task: Using a facility map (jigsaw activity), ask a partner about the location for various activities (e.g., yoga class) and locate them on the facility map. (II, SU)
Read a pamphlet from a local recreational facility and complete a retrieval chart to identify and compare key information. (III, SU)
Copy information from website sources about two recreational classes to decide which is the best choice. (II, AT)
Write a short e-mail to a friend telling about the activities you would like to do/did at your local recreational facility. (IV,AT)
Going to a walk-in medical clinic
Listen to conversations identifying health problems and symptoms and answer questions. (IV, SU)
L/S Task: Role-play making a request to see a doctor at a walk-in medical clinic. (III, AT)
Role play: Ask a partner about health and respond with sympathy. (I, SU)
L/S Task: Role-play making a request to see a doctor at a walk-in medical clinic. (III, AT)
Use a walk-in clinic poster to find key information and decide if it will be appropriate for your needs. (III, SU)
Find information from a medical clinic website and answer questions. (III, AT)
Complete a family health history. (III, SU)
Complete a medical intake form with correct information. (III, AT)
Returning an Item to a store
Listen to a conversation between two people who have had bad consumer experiences and answer questions. (IV, AT)
Role-play returning a faulty small appliance to a store. (III, SU)
Tell about an experience purchasing a faulty item. (IV, AT)
Read short refund policies from two stores and complete a retrieval chart to compare policies and choose the best for your situation. (III, AT)
Read instructions for returning an item purchased online and answer questions. (II, SU)
Read a review about how someone resolved a bad consumer experience and answer questions. (IV, AT)
Write a short e-mail to complain about a faulty product ordered online. (III, SU)
The Role of Skill-Building Activities
The goal of instruction and assessment is to prepare learners to carry out language tasks successfully in their interactions beyond the classroom. To prepare learners for these real-world tasks, instructors will include a variety of language activities and tasks that range from skill-building activities to communicative skill-using tasks that simulate real-world tasks.
Skill-building activities, such as grammar activities, pronunciation practice, and vocabulary exercises play an important role in developing prerequisite skills for more communicative tasks. However, they are not used in portfolio evaluation to determine achievement of benchmark level so are not included in My Portfolio. They can be included in the “My Notes” or “Other” section of the Language Companion.
The following continuum provides a comparison of skill-building and skill-using tasks, their uses and features.
The following chart gives some examples of skill-building activities that could be used to help learners develop skills for some of the sample tasks in the chart in Sample Assessment Plan over a Partial Reporting Periodfor CLB 3-4, above. The list is not intended to be exhaustive.
Sample Skill-Building Activities
Some Possible Skill-Building Activities that Prepare Learners for the Task
Selecting recreational opportunities in the community
Practise scanning pamphlets for key details (e.g. dates, time, location).
Review layout of pamphlets and practise getting information from headings, pictures, etc.
Practise matching recreational activity vocabulary to definitions.
Read a pamphlet from a local recreational facility and complete a retrieval chart to identify and compare key information.
Going to a walk-in medical clinic
Practise using vocabulary for common ailments and symptoms with associated verbs (I feel + adjective; I am + adjective; I have + noun).
Practise choosing expressions of sympathy appropriate to the situation (e.g. Sorry to hear that, that’s too bad, hope you’re feeling better soon).
Speaking – Ask a partner about health and respond with sympathy.
Returning an item to a store
Choose greetings and closings for informal and more formal e-mails.
Using picture prompts – identify a problem and ask for a solution for a variety of unsatisfactory purchases.
Write a short e-mail to complain about a faulty product ordered online.
Portfolio Entries: Summary of Expectations
The following chart provides a summary of expectations for your learners’ portfolios.
Expectations for Portfolio Entries
Item that must be included:
Portfolio Section: ABOUT ME
Format of autobiography is appropriate to CLB level:
ESL Literacy – may include drawings, collages
CLB 1 -2 – may be completion of cloze passages, words or phrases to complete sentence stems
Learners at higher benchmark levels may complete short passages, paragraphs, several paragraphs.
Note: The purpose of the autobiography is to get to know the learner. Generally, the autobiography is NOT corrected. Teacher responds to content. It may also be used as a writing sample for the beginning of the term.
Language/presentation is appropriate for CLB level (e.g., at lower levels may include pictorial needs assessments).
The needs assessment identifies social contexts for language needs, and when possible (depending on the CLB or ESL Literacy level), the language tasks of importance to learners.
There is evidence that learners have prioritized needs from a range of options.
The learner identifies a language-related goal(s) that he/she wants to be able to do for work, school and/or the community.
The goal(s) are specific and achievable within the duration of the term or course. There should be evidence that the goal(s) were reviewed during the course. Goals may be revised or new ones developed.
Note: In addition, at higher benchmark levels learners may identify mid/longer term language goals.
This activity is a regular aspect of the learning cycle (not done as a “one-off”). A reflection focuses on the learner’s thinking about the learning and NOT merely a description of what the learner did in class. It could be a comment on: what I learned in class and how I used it, how it helped me or how it was easy/difficult, etc.
Portfolio Sections: SKILL-USING ACTIVITIES and ASSESSMENT TASKS IN FOUR SKILL AREAS
An inventory precedes each skill area
Title of task and CLB level
Date task completed
Competency(ies) that the task addresses.
(Optional) Self/peer assessments, when used, identified as such.
Note: In some cases, a task may address more than one competency.
Skill- using activities and assessment tasks
See the chart, Comparing Skill-Using Activities and Assessment Tasks for the expectations related to skill-using activities and assessment tasks.
Portfolios contain sufficient evidence. Teachers should be aiming towards a minimum of 8 – 10 artefacts in each skill area as a basis for assigning benchmarks.
Artefacts should include a balance of skill-using activities and assessment tasks.
1From Integrating CLB Assessment, 2016
2Reading text from English Express: eaa.alberta.ca/englishexpress Task is teacher-developed.
3From: LINC Classroom Activities, LINC 1, p. 278
4From: LINC 5-7 Classroom Activities, Volume 1, p. 261